Everyone clicks now that cliques are gone

Remember when cliques were so important in high school that it limited who you had as friends?

Well, years later those cliques disappear, and that was very evident July 23 at the annual South Kitsap High School ‘60s Alumni Picnic.

A big reason for the event’s popularity is that the picnic offers something that other class reunions do not — the chance to make friends outside your own class, committee member Francine McKinley said.

Class of ‘67 alumni Dottie Backman also made the point that high schools were made up of different social groups, clubs and organizations. “Now, as I get older,” she said, “the cliquey lines have sort of faded, and you get to know those people better and you get some social life with them now.”

The event, which began in 2000, has continued to be one of the biggest alumni gatherings in Kitsap County, celebrating all members of the graduating classes of the decade.

SK alumni Charlene Doolittle serves on the Alumni Picnic Committee that organizes the event every year. She said that the attendance of both older and younger classes continues to be impressive. “I graduated in ‘69, but we have a lot of folks that are here from the early part of the ‘60s too, which is wonderful,” she said.

“I like doing this picnic because you can see people from classes before your class and after your class that you wouldn’t see at your normal class reunions.”

Dennis Murphy, who graduated in ‘62, said that his enjoyment of his class reunion and the intrigue of meeting new people motivated him to come to this event. “You get to see somebody a little older, a little younger. Those who are a class or two ahead of you, you remember them from school as well.”

This year’s picnic took place at Jarstad Park in Bremerton, and included activities such as raffles and class pictures.

Backman said that she’s attended on and off for a few years, but comes back “just to see the kids you went to school with, and they’re still the kids you went to school with.”

While some alumni still live locally, others travel thousands of miles to be a part of this reunion.

“There are some folks who have moved to Arizona, some people who have moved to Florida…California in years past,” Doolittle said. “We had a gal, she and her husband were living in Mexico, so we have had people, you know, living on foreign soils.”

Folks also come to pay respect to those who can no longer make the trip or have died. McKinley said that while there is still a lot of life in those who are there, there is no telling when someone is attending for the last time. “As we get older, we all are, we’re losing a lot of class members, and if you don’t see them now, you may never see them again,” she said.

One of the most-recent deaths was within the planning committee itself, as Bill McGee passed away July 1 at the age of 77. Doolittle said that McGee meant a lot to many of those who attended.

“He helped out at the picnic. He would direct traffic. He would do the bullhorn announcements. He would do whatever we asked him to do. Such a sweet guy, and we miss him a lot. May he rest in peace, and we’ll see him in heaven,” she said.

Alumni eat and talk at one of the picnic tables.

Alumni eat and talk at one of the picnic tables.