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Organizing Your First Reunion

What does it take? It takes hard work and perseverance. And a bunch of dedicated people to get the job done. The first reunion gathering is by far the hardest to organize since you're starting from virtually nothing. You've got no list. You've got no money. And you've got only yourself. But it really only takes one person to get the ball rolling. It's best to start as early as possible as you'll no doubt hit some roadblocks, but don't be discouraged, even a small, last-minute gathering should be worth the effort.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. If you're a seasoned reunion animal and have more tips and tricks, please feel free to pass that along and we'll post it on the site. Please also include your name and class year. If you don't want your name and class year posted, let us know in the email. Email your tips and tricks to webmaster@mckinleyaa.com.

Don't Do It Alone

Although it only takes one person to get things started, don't think you can do it all yourself. First of all, get in touch with a few classmates for help. If you prefer, try to get in touch with someone from the last student body council. If you know who your last class advisor was, and he/she is still at the school, given him/her a call. Some advisors do keep in touch with their prior officers throughout the years. Another person in the school that you could call is the Student Activities Coordinator (SAC). The SAC might be able to provide you with some information or refer you to your last advisor.

And don't exclude classmates that currently live on the mainland. They may be a valuable resource in helping to coordinate communications and more.

At the point where you've got more than a few enthusiastic classmates, you may or may not want to create an official reunion committee. This is something you need to collectively decide on depending on your situation.

Free Money

There's no such thing. But once you've got at least a few classmates to help, designate a representative for the class to call the school's Business Office via the main number at (808) 594-0400. Inquire whether the class had any surplus of funds leftover after you graduated. If there is, the Business Office will give instructions on accessing the funds for your reunion event expenses.

Finding People

Without people, you can't have a reunion. Therefore, this is where you'll need to dig in deep to start the network. Start gathering names and contact information (phone, email, mailing address, etc.). This would also be a good time to ask for help from others for general committee help or to be involved in sub-committees at a later time. Have a designated person collect all contact information and be responsible for keeping and updating the class roster.

School

Unfortunately, the school cannot give you a list of your classmates due to privacy rights.

People to People

You're most likely still in contact with a few classmates. Start there. Have them start contacting anyone they know and so on. This includes communication via phone, email, snail mail, or just plain face-to-face contact.

Newspapers

some newspapers allow for individuals/groups/organizations to post messages in a particular section for free. Some newspapers to check are The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Downtown Planet, Midweek, etc.

Banners

A banner is a good way to convey your message. Like real estate, the three important elements are location, location, location. The location should be visible in a high traffic area. One excellent location is at the school corner of King and Pensacola. But you'll need to first contact the school's Business Office for permission. And banners may only be posted for 10 days there. Since classmates may now live in different areas of the island, you will need to determine some alternate locations.

Banners can be made yourself or through a print shop (e.g., Kinko's). Professionally made banners are a bit pricey though. Anywhere from $50-200 depending on size and features.

And most importantly, please remember that you will need to obtain permission for posting banners on private property and refrain from posting on city or state property (light poles, freeways, etc.).

Internet Search

Use your favorite search engine and start searching for people's names. You could also search for "mckinley high school class of ______ honolulu hawaii" (without quotes). You may be surprised. Someone may already have started a Web site, Web log, etc., calling for classmates to start a reunion.

Alumni Service Web Sites

Two useful Web sites to check are classmates.com and reunion.com. Take a moment to register yourself. You can search their directories to see if any of your classmates have registered there. Browse any applicable information that you can gather from there (but you won't find any personal info due to privacy rights). Registering is usually free; however, to communicate with other classmates via these Web sites, you would normally be required to opt in for a "paid" subscription. You'll have to decide if it's worth the cost. You may also post your own message for other classmates to read, and to contact you if you desire.

MAA Web Site/Pinion

The MAA keeps a list of known class reunions on this Web site. You may post a full description of your reunion or a simple request for a class mailing list update. If the timing is right, your listing will also be posted in the next issue of the Alumni Pinion.

Your Own Web Site

There are a bunch of free online services that allow you to build your own Web site using their easy-to-use (and some not-so-easy-to-use) tools. Some examples are Tripod and Geocities. But you need to remember that nothing in life is free. These services normally insert commercial ads into your Web site. Some internet service providers (ISPs) such as AOL, Hawaiian Telcom, etc., may even offer an accountholder a certain amount of "Web space" to create a Web site. These ISP Web spaces do not usually have ads inserted.

Planning

Next to finding people, the planning of the event(s) will certainly test everyone's resolve and patience. But don't worry, simply do what you can with what you got. Don't overextend yourselves and don't expect to organize a gala. Start with the basics of journalism: what, when, where, how, and why.

Again, depending on your situation (how many are interested, how many you may expect, do they have kids, amount of time to organize, etc.), decide what type of event would be appropriate. You may even decide to have multiple events so that no one is excluded. Multiple events are very common. First reunions may typically have a picnic, dance club night, and/or an organized brunch/lunch/dinner.

"When" is probably the most difficult issue to decide upon. As far in advance as possible is the best bet, but you may not always have that luxury. Make sure the date is not too close to a major holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.). Consider times when vacations are common to allow alumni on the mainland the opportunity to attend (if held locally). If time permits, you may even ask the classmates you've already contacted what date would work best for them. But at some point, pick a date and stick with it.

Next would be to decide where to hold the event. Potluck at Magic Island? Drinks at Ocean Club? Dinner at Treetops? Consider whether the venue can accommodate your expected number of attendees, has reservation requirements, etc. (Note: one alumnus recommends Rumours Nightclub as a good venue to hold a reunion gathering.)

How? How much will it cost? How will classmates get there? How will you collect the monies? Can classmates bring guests? Oops, that's not a "how." Make a list of what issues need to be addressed.

Why organize a reunion? For the memories.

And no shame copy. View our list of Class Sites and see what other classes have done.

Finances

Don't take this lightly. Watch where your money goes and know what you need to pay for. If you've got any money that is. If your class did not have any surplus in funds, then you will have to decide how to get that money. Consider having classmates send in their RSVPs and monies as far in advance as possible to help pay for the upfront costs (as well as the event itself).

Unless you trust your treasurer with your life, it's suggested that a separate account be opened in the name of your class if monies are to be collected. There may be some restrictions and requirements between the different banks, so shop around.

Donations

Another thing you might want to plan for is donations. Monetary donations are nice, but you could also solicit for door prize donations. Who doesn't like to win stuff? Does your classmate work for a company that can donate golf balls? How about Jamba Juice gift certificates? Movie tickets?

Advertising

Once you've got a handle on completing the planning phase, you need to get the word out. Many of the points outlined above, under "Finding People," are the same ways you can advertise your reunion plans.

Board Meetings

Curious what goes on behind the scenes at the Board meetings?

Feel free to attend.  Board meetings are normally held monthly on the first Thursday of the month, 7 p.m., at McKinley High School-Hirata Hall.