Thursday, March 19, 2009

Interview with Gerry Garatino Burns

Gerry (above left with Lou Carlucci) is the chairperson of the Class of 1968 Reunion Committee.

So how did you get the job spearheading the reunion for your class?
Some of our class officers tried to get a 5th reunion together but it never happened. I guess most people were trying to decide what to do with their lives back then. I was never a class officer, but I really wanted to have a 10th reunion. So I contacted a few friends and we literally scoured phone books from all over the state of New Jersey, and called parents and siblings to try to locate as many of the 268 classmates from the NPHS class of 1968.

Have you done it for all reunions?
Yes, started with our 10th in 1978 and have chaired ever since and I love doing it! It’s so exciting to contact my old friends and make new ones. This will be our 7th reunion.
Have you attended all the class reunions? Which one(s) was most memorable….and why?
Really can’t say that one stood out more… Each reunion was unique. While there are some regulars, we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of different classmates attend each one. Many traveling from all over the world. Over the years we’ve even had many faculty members attend the reunions too like Mrs. Abrams, Miss Bellino, Mrs. Besaw, Mr. Pecoraro, Mr. Stec, Mrs. Johnson, to name a few.

Do you work with the high school in organizing the reunion? I mean…is there somebody there who advises you or guides you in any way? Is there a book you can read like “Class Reunions for Dummies?”
I never worked with the high school. It was a labor of love to just start looking through local phone books (this was before personal computers) to try to locate people. Then contact parents and siblings that still lived in the area. Trial and error from there…I would send out letters and see what was delivered. Some classmates will send me contact information. With each reunion, the attendance has improved. When the internet became popular, I created a website and I update the information often. The site has created a way for people to contact me with changes over the years.

Does going to the class reunion make you nervous or anxious in any way? (In other words….are you just like us?)
Of course I want everything to be perfect. After all these years I think I have it down to a science… but I do worry that something won’t go as planned. I have a great committee from my class that support me and pitch in where they can. Working with Kathy and Janice has been a pleasure. Kathy approached me several years ago wondering if I was interested in combining the classes for the 35th reunion. We had never combined in the past, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. But it worked out beautifully. We work together well and financially it allowed us to keep the event affordable for everyone.

Will our class be having a 45th class reunion? If so, any idea where it will be?
Yes, and God willing, I hope our reunions will continue every 5 years for a long time to come.

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