Members of the Lebanon High School Class of 2000 have pretty much seen it all. Most of them were born right alongside the cultural revolution known as MTV. They cut their teeth on music videos, Barney the Dinosaur, and were pretty much the official founders of the generation we call “Millennials.”
As toddlers they watched the Challenger Space Shuttle explode on television in real time. By their grade school years, thousands of Germans were tearing down an old barbed wire-top and graffiti laden wall in Berlin. Of course the Gulf War was on the nightly news, and then, for a startling moment, talk in the cafeteria at lunch revolved around a place called Columbine where a couple of students had gunned down random people at a school there.
Senior year came for the class of 2000 amid lots of adult worries, rumors, and speculation of life after all of our computer driven devices (might) crash when the clock struck midnight on 12/31/99. So, Prince’s song “1999” got a whole lot of extra airtime, along with REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know it.”
Lebanon resident Chris Jones, one of the organizers of the Y2K Tigers reunion this year, admits he had a big stash of bottled water in his room back in 1999. “You know, I don’t really remember thinking about it that much – the whole Y2K thing – but just in case, I had plenty of water,” he laughs.
It’s likely those seniors were too busy having fun and pushing the rules of the school administrators’ envelope to worry about worldwide power grid collapses, etc. “One day, we may have got in a little trouble for an impromptu grill-out in the parking lot,” Jones said. He admits the big cookout was not a “sanctioned” event. “But, when we got caught, they were pretty cool about it and we just drove the hot coals – grills and all – over to the park. Luckily, a certain classmate had an El Camino, so that worked great.”
If it sounds like the class of 2000 had a penchant for having fun and maybe stirring the pot, it’s because, well, they did. As planning for their 20th reunion became increasingly difficult due to pandemic restrictions (yes, we can add a pandemic to their list of strange occurrences in life), the committee joked that they’d likely triggered it several years back.
There was an “incident” when their class made the customary trek to St. Louis for cultural exploration. All went well in the land of Mark Twain, but on the way home, a class member was busted for a shoplifting offense when the bus full of students stopped for fuel and restroom visits.
Jones noted that the accused would remain nameless, but that all were in agreement that the “shoplifting” call was a harsh label for what actually occurred. “So, our class was banned from taking the big traditional Chicago trip. That’s where all the karma for the whole 2020 mess must have originated, or at least that’s what most of our classmates think,” Jones joked.
But the Class of 2000 didn’t laugh when they started their sophomore year at college. “Everyone just sat there watching the TV, wondering what was next,” said Jones. Sept. 11 left many of the Y2K class stranded at schools near and far.
“You couldn’t fly and even though my sister and I were just at ISU, we couldn’t afford the gas to get home,” Jones said. “It went to $4.85 a gallon in minutes after those planes crashed. And some of our classmates immediately signed up to serve in the military. It was a really weird time, everything was shut down.”
So after all of this, what could stop this class from having a 20th reunion?
After lots of plans, backup plans, and back to the drawing board moments, the 20-year reunion for the LHS Class of 2000 was finally settled. Though the class is now scattered far and wide and several were not able to get back for the big 20th, accommodations were made. Millennials are the generation that technology was made for. So those who made it to Moontown Brewing Company in Whitestown were connected via live feed with others who attended “remotely.”
“The Moontown venue turned out to be great,” Jones explained. “We were in a gymnasium where we could all spread out, have room for a big screen, and our live feed area, and the food was awesome!
“The DJ played all ’90s (music) all night with a mix of old school rap (yes, that trend started during their lifetime too) to a little Nirvana. I think the guy noticed my Nirvana T-shirt.”
Chris notes that a hemp necklace completed the authenticity of his ensemble for the evening.
“Even some plus-ones participated in dressing up for the party in throwback clothes,” he said. “We had a Madonna-look-alike in the crowd.”
The in-person attendance was small, with less than 40 party goers, but fewer than a dozen were dates, spouses, and “significant others” (another term coined during the Millennial era).
“Using the live feed was cool,” Jones said, “because people could drop in all night and just randomly talk to anyone who was near the laptop station.
“There was a special pre-party event the night before for anyone in our class who wanted to come. Our classmate, Dustin Grove, opened up his brewery in West Lafayette – The Brokerage Brewery – to the Class of 2000 and bought the first round for everyone.”
As is traditional, those who gathered in person or virtually, paid homage to those they have lost over the past 20 years. The class even went the extra mile to let the families of their eight departed classmates know that they too were a part of the celebration.
“A lot of people were kind of shocked, and they really appreciated what we were doing by remembering these kids,” Jones said.
Also in “virtual attendance” was class member Derek Reckley who gave those gathered a preview of two new songs. Profiled last fall in The Lebanon Reporter, DBone rocked the old Whitestown High School gym at Moontown for the private party.
Overall, there was lots of hand washing, masks and social distancing, and a few funny photos where the group came together, held their breath, snapped the photo, and stepped a good 6 feet away from each other before taking their next breath.
“Maybe there will be a 21st or a 25th,” offered Jones. “This one was so much fun.”