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National

75th High School Reunion

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Let's go back to high school for this next story; specifically, a high school reunion. One graduating class celebrated their reunion this past week, but it was their 75th consecutive reunion. They graduated in 1944 from Philadelphia's Central High School, and they've gotten together every year since they graduated. We're joined now by Jules Silk. He's 92, a retired lawyer and the organizer of these reunions. Welcome to the program.

JULES SILK: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We should mention that it was your son who wrote in to WEEKEND EDITION to alert us to this story. He's clearly proud of you.

SILK: Oh, it's very nice.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Can you tell me a little bit of the history of your high school?

SILK: Yes. Central High School is the second-oldest public high school in the United States. It started in 1836, and we had very, very good teachers. And as a result, those who went to Central - and I feel this way; many of us do - our high school experience was even more rewarding and, in a certain sense, memorable than our college experience.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I understand a majority of your graduating class served in World War II, including yourself.

SILK: Yeah, that's correct.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did you manage to get class members together for the first reunion let alone 74 more every single year?

SILK: Well, truthfully, I don't know how it happened in the first year because I was in the Navy when the first reunion occurred, but somebody did it. And that's sort of lost to history.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

SILK: But it happened, and I was back for the third reunion. And somehow, I got on the reunion committee. And it used to be my job every year to invite teachers. I invited the teachers I liked.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

SILK: There's certain teachers I didn't like, so they never got invited to our reunion.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) And how many people showed up this year?

SILK: There were 10 of us this year. There were 173 who graduated. There are 26 of us who are still alive. And the ones who come to the reunion are the ones who come every year or almost every year who live in the Philadelphia area. And I guess we'll continue as long as we can still have these reunions.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What do you think we can learn from something like this? - seeing someone gathering with the same group of people for 75 years.

SILK: I think it's that old friends are important. And therefore, I think it makes us feel good that we are able to get together with people we have known so long and that we are still able to have something in common and to enjoy ourselves. When you get to be 92, you have a paucity of friends. And therefore, it's wonderful to have old friends that you can get together with and talk about old times.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, Mr. Silk, I wish you many more reunions. That's Jules Silk, a member of the class of 1944 at Philadelphia's Central High School, which celebrated its 75th reunion last week.

Thank you so much for talking with us.

SILK: Well, thank you for calling me. This has been a big thrill for me, I can tell you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Aw, I'm really pleased.

SILK: Made my day - made my year.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.