Leave it to Naperville to have a high school reunion that might be one of the most unique in the country.
There once was a time when students living in Naperville went to split high schools with a freshmen-only campus at Naperville North and the rest of the students at Central. But eventually, crowded conditions forced District 203 to split up the freshmen class and begin forming two four-year schools at Naperville Central and Naperville North.
Last weekend, that “divided class” came together for a two-day bash that included a reunion at the VFW in Naperville Saturday night, followed by a block party Sunday afternoon held at Kreger’s Brat and Sausage Haus, complements of Bill Kreger himself, who was a member of the Class of 1978.
Kathleen McCarthy, another member of the Class of 1978, said the class has been holding reunions every five years and that Saturday’s celebration, which included over 200 people, was such a blast that the decision was made to combine class celebrations from now on.
“When we were freshmen, they divided our class using Washington Street as the dividing line,” she said. “Half of us went to Central the next year and half to North. Last night we had the colors of both schools on display, which was really neat to see, and we decided we’re going to continue to combine the reunions of both schools from now on.”
Folks from the Class of 1978 arrived before 11 a.m. Sunday morning at Kreger’s establishment, which featured everything from scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes to a whole lot more. Janis Hoffman Baie of Hinkley said she grew up in Naperville right on Ellsworth Street. She was enjoying the reunion and some fellowship with her classmates including lifelong friend Francie Wehrli.
“This is just a fabulous event and the work done by Christopher Jackson, Gretchen Lent and Bill Kreger to put this all together was just wonderful,” Baie said. “A lot of the people here still get together a lot through coffee clatches and things like that, but it’s really good to see them all together.”
Wherli said it was great to hear “all the stories people had to share” and that, to her, some of the most important aspects of people haven’t changed.
“When you look in people’s eyes, you can still tell it was them from years ago,” she said. “My understanding is that a lot of this was thrown together pretty quickly using Facebook, which is kind of amazing. Janis and I were split up when they starting sending freshmen to both schools, but we’ve remained lifelong friends.”
Kreger said he offered to be on the reunion committee a while back and that he was not really surprised by the reunion and what people looked and acted like 35 years later.
“Even though with some people it’s been at least 30 years, you start talking and before you know it, you pick up right from where you left off,” Kreger said. “It’s been pretty easy to rekindle these relationships and it’s just been a really great weekend.”
Kreger’s friend Don Carlsen, who still lives in Naperville, helped whip up another batch of scrambled eggs in Kreger’s kitchen. Carlsen said even though the people at the reunion were in their 50s, “I don’t feel like a lot of them look that old.”
“I think a lot of the folks here have aged really well,” he said. “I often say to people, it’s a good thing we didn’t have cellphones back at the time. It seemed like we always found plenty to do and if we had phones back in that day, we’d have gotten into a lot more trouble.”