Written by Ali Hodge, Class of 2009
Eek! COVID-19 really ruined a lot of our plans, didn’t it? Unfortunately, all of the class reunions that were planned for this Fall have been cancelled. However, you don’t have to go another year without seeing your classmates if you don’t want to! Below we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you make the most out of a virtual class reunion!
Reach Back Out to the Central High School Foundation!
Just because you won’t be visiting your alma mater in person does not mean we do not have a ton of valuable resources and experience to help you craft the best reunion! Reach out to us ahead of your reunion planning by contacting the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or by giving us a call at (402) 556–1996.
Reimagine and Reassign Your Reunion Chair Positions
When you and your team met before the chaos of 2020, you may have assigned Reunion Chair positions such as Treasurer and Event Manager. Now, your Event Manager… may need to become your Technology Manager. Go back to the drawing board with your team. Reimagine what your event will look like, and try to locate the leadership roles you’ll need filled to make everything run smoothly. Then reassign responsibilities based on these new needs!
Some possible roles may be:
- Community Organizer
- Technology Chair
- Marketing Chair
- Treasurer and Registration Chair
When Choosing a Platform, Stick to What People Know
When the pandemic hit, Zoom became a household name overnight! Since March, it seems impossible that someone hasn’t used Zoom! So, as you’re planning your virtual reunion activities, stick to what people have already become familiar with. We recommend using Zoom. For a small subscription a host can hold meetings longer than 40 minutes. Also, with advanced features, participants can break away into groups and come back together. We promise there is a feature to meet nearly every need you may have!
Need help? Check out the complete zoom guide here!
Organize the Entire Event into an Easy-to-Understand Email or Newsletter
Plan ahead! Plan ahead! Plan ahead! Every element of the event should be outlined in a single chronological agenda for your invitees, including all zoom links, times, and dates. Send this to them in the form of an email or a digital newsletter. We recommend MailChimp for great, easy-to-navigate newsletters! In your communications, offer a reliable and quick option for contacting a member of the Reunion Committee if they need help logging in, or if they have a question. And provide attendees with enough advance notice to plan how they want to participate.
Start With a Large Welcome Address…
Addressing all alumni in a large Zoom gathering is important for establishing a sense of unity for the event. We are all here together! Even though we are safely social distanced. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to speak during the welcome address, especially if more than 50 participants are on the call. Therefore, we recommend the following:
- Design a short agenda for the event
- Assign a moderator to help manage the flow of the agenda, and act as a welcoming presence
- Greet alumni as they are admitted into the event; time-budget for the event to start 3–8 minutes late to give everyone a chance to log in
- Create a slideshow to screen-cast with photos from your graduating year to play during the introduction! You can gather photos from the online O-Books by clicking here!
- Plan a short series of welcome speeches from members of your class and Central High School. We recommend a speech from your Class President, a beloved teacher from Central (The Central High School Foundation can help you get in touch with them!), a classmate with a sense of humor or special notoriety, and others!
…Then, Offer a Virtual Activity Menu!
It can be so challenging to host a large Zoom meeting for 100 or more alumni and still leave people feeling included and engaged. Unlike a cocktail mixer, not everyone can speak at one time on Zoom! Therefore, we recommend offering your alumni a small-group activity menu to attend according to what they’re interested in! The ‘menu’ should be included in the agenda email you send out to your attendees, and should include a title of the small group, a description of the activity, and a link to the Zoom room. Activities should have a leader (preferably one of your fellow alumni!) whose job it will be to take the group through the activity and generate conversation in a fun way. Your activities should also represent a variety of interests and include general materials that everyone has in their home. Some example activities for a fun menu might include:
- Passing Notes: Creating Old School Paper Airplanes and Fortune Tellers Join us for chit chat as we reminisce about the old days sitting in Central without air conditioning! The young kids will just never understand… We will be folding paper airplanes and making finger fortune tellers as we talk about some of our funniest experiences of high school!
- Breaking a Sweat: Yoga and Stretching with the Class of 1999! Were you a former athlete? Or have you become athletic since your time at Central? Then you should join our small group as we do some yoga stretches together and talk about our time as athletes at Central. Wear your purple and white!
- In Chorus Together: A Virtual Talent Share Were you in the Road Show, choir, or marching band? Do you still play your instrument or sing? Join us in our small group as we share our skills with each other, sing together, and reminisce on days spent in the CHS Auditorium!
- Sip and Create with The Class of 1999 Fellow art nerds unite! Join us as we draw or paint (depending on the materials you have in your home) our best image of Central High School! Bring a glass of wine and get ready to chit chat as we sip and create!
Host a Virtual Q&A with The Central High School Foundation!
Many in-person reunions hear from a representative of the Central High School Foundation as they talk about what’s happening today at Central High School, and what we are doing at the Foundation to support all of that great learning! Alumni usually love asking questions that help them get a better sense of what life is like at Central today, and we love responding! In addition to your questions, we could provide a short presentation on some of the following:
- Our scholarships
- Our Hall of Fame inductees
- The new building addition, and what it was like to make that happen
- Or whatever you’d like to hear about! We are happy to customize it to your class’ needs
Invite Your Classmates to An Upcoming Affinity Reunion Hosted by the Central High School Foundation
Affinity reunions bring together Alumni based on their involvement in a particular activity or student organization rather than by graduating class. These fun virtual reunions will be hosted on Zoom, will be free to participate, and will be hosted on the second Tuesday of the month for the remainder of the calendar year from 7 p.m. — 8 p.m. CST! You can schedule your reunion to include participation in one of our Affinity Reunions, and then gather later for a Zoom cocktail to talk about what you heard and reminisce on your days at Central!
For the full schedule of Affinity Reunions, click here!
The Central High School Foundation is a 501 c(3) and was established in 1996 to provide support for present and future Central High School students. To ensure that the tradition of excellence continues, the Foundation supports the school through a variety of activities including alumni relations, fundraising, grant writing, student scholarships, capital projects, and teacher and classroom grants. With your support, the foundation can continue to honor the past, live successfully in the present, and plan for the future. Click here: https://chsfomaha.org/support