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Five Decades of Alumni Gather at Joel Barlow

Mary Mahony rode the school bus with Sam Morrissey when she was 10, and the two graduated from Joel Barlow High School in 1966. Now, 45 years later, the two put together a reunion party for 50 years of alumni from Easton and Redding, which drew more than 650 Joel Barlow High School graduates on Saturday, June 11.

"In our class, we had three people come that had never been to a reunion. It's special when you finally reconnect after so many years," said Mahony.

The Tallardys graduated in 1961 and got married just out of high school. At the event, they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Reuniting 50 years of graduating classes in one combined party made it possible for Mahony to see seniors she rode the bus with when she was in seventh grade — back when Barlow was a junior high school as well.

"The greatest thing was to see so many people still here. We lost more than 12 percent of our class," said Mahony.

An exchange student from Brazil spoke during the event, saying how thrilled she was to be back and how her time at Joel Barlow had been the most amazing experience, said Mahony. She and Morrissey plan to host the event once every three years and expect it to grow each time. Mahony said many graduates tend not to attend reunions straight out of college.

"All of a sudden, after 15 years — you get a wake up call — 'oh my gosh, I haven't heard from them in five years!'" said Mahony.

The reunion raised about $10,000 for the Joel Barlow Alumni Fund, which sponsors scholarships for high school students.  "What made it a success was that we had 100 percent support from the high school staff. They were as excited for us as we were about the event," said Mahony. Barlow students volunteered to do face painting, take pictures and help at the tables selling drinks.

The program for the event is still available for purchase. It includes a history of Joel Barlow as well as pictures of old yearbooks and senior pranks through the years.

Mike Handy put together a website , which will now be a permanent website for Joel Barlow alumni. To make a donation to the alumni association, send it to Tanya Kontra, 100 Black Rock Turnpike, Redding, CT 06896. To join the alumni association committee, email Mary Mahony at .

Did you reunite with a long-lost classmate on June 11? Send your story to .

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