More than 50 years later, these junior high grads still reunite once a month

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TACOMA – A few days after we ran a piece at Tacoma’s McCarver Elementary for our Teacher Appreciation Week, I received a message from a viewer. She wanted to tell me she had seen our piece, and would we be interested in knowing there is a group of McCarver grads from the 1940s and 1950s who still get together?

Heck yes!

Sandy Leyda, who made that phone call, invited us to join their small group of about 20 women, who still meet once a month for lunch after all of these years. What we discovered taught us a lot about lifelong friendships and community.

It all started with a few friends who wanted to do a yearly picnic. That was ten years ago; since then, this smaller group of ladies decided once a year wasn’t enough, and they’ve made monthly lunches their priority. What really unites them, they say, is the sense of community they had while growing up together in Tacoma’s Hill Top neighborhood.

"There’s something about growing up in that neighborhood that was very special. The whole neighborhood, there was a connection, a glue," Nola Tresslar told us. "We were raised without having any thought of race being different, somebody different, less or anything. We’d go to everybody’s house, try different foods, and walk to school together."

And in a time before people could further their friendships by texting and emailing, bonds were formed over playing outside until it got dark; having long conversations in each other’s homes; and learning about the different cultures around them.

When they attended McCarver in the '40s and '50s, the school was both an elementary and junior high, running up to 9th grade. Many of the ladies told us they feel a deeper bond with their years at McCarver than they do with their years in high school.

The lesson? In an era where so many of us are maintaining our friendships with a quick text, or an impersonal email; perhaps what we really need is some good old-fashioned face-to-face time with the people in our lives who mean the most.

Just look at the McCarver grads- young students, who put in enough time over the years to become old friends.

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