Making the most of 10 snow days in 2009, Holy Spirit High School alumna Tracy Boswell decided to complete a project that had been on her mind for some time.
She created a website to reconnect with all her high school mates.
A teacher a Pleasantville High School, Boswell, of Margate, isn't just using the site for the purpose it was created, but also shows it to her students to exemplify how easy it is to create a website such as the one she created for the class of 1977 from the school in Absecon.
"They won't realize how much fun they are having until graduation," Boswell said. She hopes they will be inspired to create similar sites and keep in touch over the years.
With each year going by, "we are not getting any younger," Boswell said - which is why rather than waiting for the school's reunions, the site helps her organize a casual reunion every year.
"We have been able to reconnect with a lot of people," she said.
One of the seven others who helps her with the organization and website upkeep, Maria Ricciardi Nakeshian, of Northfield, said the number of people on the site is significant, especially compared to other sources.
Of the about 400 people in the Class of '77, 197 members are on the site, she said. This is an encouraging percentage, considering most of it was accomplished by word of mouth.
The project began in 2009 when they were trying to organize the 33rd reunion, Nakeshian said.
"We found that with Facebook, not everyone was on," so it was hard to spread the word or communicate, Nakeshian explained.
Because of the website, which can be fully accessed only by those who have registered, attendance reached 120 people for that year's reunion. It was the first time meeting, for some, after 35 years, she said.
"Everyone was excited about the website," Nakeshian said.
The website lists all the members of the graduating class and allows members to invite those they know through e-mail. In addition, most of the information is private and can be accessed only after logging on. Each member has a profile and can put as much or as little information as they want, allowing privacy but keeping them in the loop when information is communicated.
"Tracy makes it fun," Nakeshian said, because Boswell keeps the site active and keeps visitors interested.
For example, an alumnus of the school was featured on the cover of a magazine. Boswell posted the picture of the magazine cover, as well as the senior yearbook photo of the person on the site.
This way, members are able to see what their classmates are up to.
"Sometimes she puts up baby pictures, or some people will send wedding and event pictures" to keep their classmates updated on their lives, Nakeshian said.
But the site also has served a purpose greater than reuniting the members. Boswell noted that when a classmate's son died, information about efforts to help the family was posted on the site and was an effective way to get responses.
"It's reconnected old groups and old boyfriends and girlfriends" as well, Nakeshian said.
And the eight who are in the area and active with the site, including Boswell and Nakeshian, now meet at least once a month and have become close friends, Boswell said.
The other members of the committee are Absecon residents Joann Rongione Gallagher, Patty Dalton Birkbeck and Michele Ireland Bishop, Maryann McElroy Kinghorn, of Margate, and Northfield residents Patty Schilling Reale and Wendy Smith Schulman, Boswell said.
The website was paid for by the tickets of the 33rd reunion, and Boswell selected a site that was easy to maintain and easy to navigate.
To find Holy Spirit's Class of '77 and other schools, see class
Contact Anjalee Khemlani: