Joliet West Class of 1969
50th Reunion

The Reunion Year in Review (September 2019-September 2020)
by Rick Tapio

What a difference a year makes! 

We were very fortunate that our 50th reunion was last September, because since then, the world certainly has changed.  It was on January 30th that WHO declared the coronavirus as a global health emergency and on March 11th, the COVID-19 outbreak was officially labelled as a pandemic.  We all know about the shutdowns including Joliet West, which will not have a fall homecoming as the football season is delayed and students work remotely.  However, there is some optimism as a football season could take place in the spring.  The high school is reviewing their situation every 6 weeks to determine when students can return.  Some teachers are working from their classrooms and others are not.  The free lunch program for community kids continues to provide.

Amid concerns about the coronavirus, we saw the Dow Jones Index suffer its biggest point fall in history closing down 1,190.95 in late March.  This 20% decrease ended an 11-year bull market.  The President declared a national emergency, freeing up $50 billion to fight the coronavirus COVID-19.  Today the market has rebounded and gained back its losses & is almost back to the February high mark.

During this past year we saw the president impeached by the House of Representatives on December 18th and then acquitted on the articles of impeachment on February 5th.  Super Tuesday revived Joe Biden’s campaign as he won nine states, setting up the two candidates for the next election.

During this past year ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was confirmed killed, the UK formally withdrew from the EU, Prince Harry & Meghan stepped back from the royal family, oil prices hit record lows, and George Floyd died in police custody leading to global protects and the BLM movement

Natural disasters also took center stage this past year as we saw record flooding from high tides in Venice, bushfires in southeast Australia, a volcano eruption in the Philippines, and wildfires in the American West – over 2 million acres in California alone -more than the state of Delaware.

Since our last reunion…while the sports world mourned the death of Kobe Bryant who died in a chopper crash and John Lewis who crossed over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma for the last time.  We mourn the death of fellow classmates Debbie (Klein) Fritts, Michael Vollmer, Don Miller, Steve Anderson, Rex Easton, Thomas Pasteris, Jay Rubens, Patricia Seybold, Brian Karneboge and Linda Faye Blackmon.  May they rest in peace.

On a positive note, we did have a Super Bowl when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31 to 20 and J. Lo and Shakira crushed the halftime show.  Drive-In concerts became popular, there was a concert – One World Together at Home.  Billie Eilish swept the Grammys and we heard Italians sing from their balconies.  We also received secret recipes from restaurants for cooking at home and celebrated our heroic healthcare workers.

Women also were in the news with major achievements.  We saw the first-ever all-women spacewalk. We saw the first women to reach the deepest point in the ocean and we saw former Sacramento State softball player Alyssa Nakken become the first woman to hold a coaching position on a major league baseball staff in San Francisco.  Kamala Harris also accepted her nomination for vice-president, becoming the first US woman of color to be on a major-party ticket. 


AND… just in case you missed it…since our last reunion, the world survived a close call when a mile-wide asteroid named 1998 OR2 passed within 3.9 million miles of earth.    AND, just in case you missed it…scientists revealed the oldest material existing on each is the Murchison meteorite that fell to earth in Australia in the 1960's which is 7.5 billion years old.   AND…just in case you missed it…Diego, a giant 100-year-old tortoise was retired to the Galapagos islands after his high libido saved his species……AND, just in case you missed it…scientists identified the first animal that doesn’t need oxygen to breathe – a tiny parasite living in salmon tissue.  Yep, all this happened since our reunion last September.  What a difference a year makes.