While classes with a few more years between themselves and their St. Ambrose experience made use of more formal settings two floors above them this past October, the Class of '02 was perfectly content to celebrate its 10th reunion in the former game room on the lower level of the Rogalski Center.
They called it "The Kid's Table." And loved every minute, especially when members of those older classes crashed their party as the night rolled on.
"We were glad it was open and something people felt comfortable coming to as Ambrosians," said Matt Ehlman, who helped plan the party over the span of two months along with four fellow '02 classmates.
Paul Thompson, the former senior class president, led a weekly teleconference with Ehlman, Dorothy (Anello) Lange, Kylene Canham and Julie Kronlage. As members of the class, they assumed ownership of their reunion in a manner SAU Alumni Director Anne Gannaway applauds.
Gannaway hopes "Reunion Volunteers" can help the Classes of '63, '73, '88, '03 and '08 put together similarly self-constructed reunions for this year's Sept. 27-29 Homecoming celebration. "We are trying to help it be more alum-to-alum interaction, a personal connection that is different from being invited by a staffer," she said.
One thing planners of the '02 reunion set their sites upon early was inviting faculty members and administrators who had been a part of their SAU experience. That proved to be a big draw for the turnout of between 50 and 60 class members.
Joined by additional class members as the planning continued, the reunion committee also chose the music, collected donations for an open bar, and contacted other class members to encourage attendance. At the reunion, class members pledged to raise an additional $75,000 by 2017, matching what the group had donated to the university since graduation.
Thompson said group members invested perhaps an hour each week over the course of two months to make the party their own. "I think it is a good template going forward for any class," he said.
It is indeed an "own your reunion" approach that Gannaway hopes will spread. And it just might. David Burke '73 is among the volunteers who began working this past spring to make their September reunions a success.