In Class Reunion Planning: Reunion Committee, you’ll find tips on creating a class reunion planning committee and a sample agenda for your class reunion committee’s first meeting. In this article, you’ll find suggestions for ways to begin locating classmates.
The whole point of a class reunion is to reunite, and you can’t do that without your classmates. To ensure you find as many people as possible before the class reunion, start locating classmates early, perhaps even a year prior to the event. This will also help spread the word that a class reunion is being planned.
Create a Master List
Before you begin searching for your classmates, you need to make a list of everyone you’re trying to locate. Create a master list of classmates’ names using the yearbook from your senior year. Another good reference, if you still have a copy, is your high school graduation program, which should contain a list of everyone who graduated with you. If you can’t locate either a yearbook or a program, contact your high school to see if the registrar or school secretary can provide you with a list of your classmates.
Start a spreadsheet so that you can keep all the information you find on people in one place. You can also use it later as a database for class reunion promotional mailings. Your spreadsheet might include each classmate’s: last name, maiden name, first name, postal address, phone number and e-mail address. It’s also a good idea to have a notes section for each classmate in which you can enter leads or tips you need to follow up on.
Once you enter all your classmates’ names in your spreadsheet, fill in the contact information for the people with whom you’ve stayed in contact. In this age of e-mail, it’s easier to stay in touch with old friends, so start by contacting any classmates in your e-mail address book to ask them for their current contact information.
Surf and Search
Another great place to start locating classmates is Classmates.com, a Web site where you can search for your high school and graduation year to find a listing of classmates who’ve posted online profiles. When you’re planning a class reunion, it’s definitely worth the money to become a gold member of Classmates.com. With a free membership, you can only view classmates’ profiles; a gold membership allows you to send them e-mails. You can also become a “reunion contact” on Classmates.com and post information about your upcoming class reunion. The boards are also a great place to get the word out about your class reunion and to ask about “missing” classmates.
MySpace.com is, of course, another great option for locating classmates these days. You can search for a listing of people who’ve listed your high school as their alma mater, or you can search for an individual classmate by name. You might even want to create a MySpace.com page yourself so that you can post class reunion information on it.
Other people-finding Web sites such as reunion.com, switchboard.com and whitepages.com are also good places to find contact information for classmates.
Do it the Old-Fashioned Way
Don’t forget your low-tech options people finding. Check the phone book for the town in which your high school is located. You just might find missing classmates listed there. If not, see if you can find the names of their parents or other relatives who might be able to lead you to the people you are looking for.
Your high school might be able to provide you with a list of classmates’ last known (probably their parents’) addresses. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
When you do locate classmates, ask them for the contact information of other classmates they’ve stayed in touch with. If they don’t have actual contact information, they might have other tips that could lead you to the people you’re searching for (who they married, last city they were living in, etc.).
Ask Other Classmates
If you still have classmates who are “missing” by the time you are ready to send out your first promotional e-mail or mailing about your class reunion, include a list of those classmates in the e-mail or mailing. Ask the classmates you’ve located for leads or tips on finding the missing people. If you create a class reunion Web site, post the list of missing classmates there, too. Let found classmates know that you need their help in locating the missing people.
Locating classmates is an ongoing project during class reunion planning. Don’t expect to finish the task before you begin other aspects of class reunion planning. While your biggest push in locating classmates should be made before your first promotional e-mail or mailing, you should continue the effort until the day of your class reunion so that as many people as possible can be included.
See also Reunion Planning: Reunion Committee, and click here for more articles on various aspects of class reunion planning, including tips on budgeting, promoting and more.