The year was 1974, and President Richard Nixon had just handed over a partial transcript of the Watergate Tapes. Slugger Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record, writer Peter Benchley saw his novel "Jaws" published, and "Sting" won the Oscar for best picture.
That same year, some 535 seniors graduated from Prospect High School -- including the future mayor of Arlington Heights, Tom Hayes -- filled with optimism and excitement for the future.
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Little could they have predicted the future, and just how much technology and the digital age would impact their lives -- for the better.
"There was no Facebook or the Internet," says Nancy Majkowski of Arlington Heights, a 1974 graduate, and registered nurse who specializes in pediatric peritoneal dialysis at Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago. "We couldn't get in touch with everyone like we can now. It's just amazing to see what many of our classmates have accomplished."
Majkowski and her classmates have embraced social media in their efforts to organize their 40th reunion. It takes place this weekend across the Northwest suburbs, with stops Friday afternoon at Arlington Park, Friday night at Mac's on Slade in Palatine and Saturday night at the Metropolis Ballroom in Arlington Heights.
More than 300 classmates have signed onto the website they created, and more than 200 have paid to come to the individual events, though even more could show up.
Those who identified themselves now live in 37 states across the country, and overseas in countries including the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Nearly 60 percent of them live in Illinois.
Their careers are equally varied. Class members have become doctors, lawyers and successful business owners. The class includes the former director of the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and a person with a Ph.D. in plant science who appeared on "The Dr. Oz Show."
Kevin Kelley, an assistant baseball coach at Hersey High School, who retired last month from Niles North High School, led the planning committee. He started working on the reunion two years ago, after attending the wake of a classmate's father, he says.
The class hadn't gathered since their 20th reunion, but why wait until their 50th, he reasoned. There seemed to be a strong interest in reconnecting, in reminiscing, he said, but also in celebrating their community as a class.
"I loved high school and the people I became involved with," Kelley says. "I had fun and really appreciated the teachers I had -- so much so, that I went into the education field."
The reunion weekend kicks off Friday with a return to their youth, as they retrace their steps at their alma mater, where they plan to walk the halls, locate their old lockers, check out the new theater and sit on "the ledge."
They also plan to visit the school's memorial garden -- which was established by students 20 years ago -- where class members are fundraising to add memorial bricks with the names of the 34 students in their class who they know have passed away.
"I'm just really proud to have been a Prospect Knight," Hayes says. "And like many of my classmates who have remained in the area, we've been able to see subsequent Prospect students and grads excel in their chosen fields and give back to their local communities."
Any 1974 Prospect graduates still interested in attending any of the reunion festivities should contact Kevin Kelley at email@example.com.