As Staples High School’s Class of 1986 prepared for their 30th reunion, there was the usual excitement — from some alums. Others thought: meh.
A couple of months ago, though, came news of the suicide of a class member. It was the 2nd in a brief span. Not long before, Westport police sergeant Robert Myer killed himself.
The deaths threw Craig Librett for a loop. A public relations expert now living in upstate New York, he had not been involved in reunion planning. But — feeling shock and grief — he did what many classmates did: He went on Facebook.
Like other classes, ’86 had an occasionally-looked-at page. Librett posted some thoughts.
Suddenly, the floodgates opened.
“The suicides struck a chord with almost everyone in the class,” Librett says.
“People did more than just comment. They shared intimate things — about depression, suicide, themselves and their families. They really talked about what was going on in their lives.
“If it’s possible to feel something over Facebook,” Librett adds, “we felt it.”
The outpouring of emotions — and levels of honesty among people who had not seen each other for 30 years — was astonishing.
Then Andrea Greenberg contributed a long post. She called her class a “tribe” of people who had always been there for each other.
That word resonated. “Tribe” became the symbol of the Staples Class of ’86. And the reunion became, Librett says, “transformational.”
Members realized the upcoming event could be more than just a gathering. Plans snowballed — not for mourning lost classmates, but for celebrating their own and their classmates’ lives, 30 years after graduation. A large number will come together tomorrow night (Saturday, July 30) at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.
At the same time, they’ll honor the half dozen or more who have died. Tomorrow morning there’s a ceremony at Winslow Park.
The class is doing more, too. They’ve already raised more than $4,000 for the American Society for Suicide Prevention.
And on October 23, they’ll participate in the organization’s “Out of the Darkness Walk” at Sherwood Island. Librett has helped formed a “My Tribe ’86” team.
It will be a very different walk than the one they participated in 30 years ago, at graduation. But just as important.
Thirty years have not dimmed the Staples Class of 1986’s tribal spirit.
They’ve only enhanced it.
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