Archived Voice Articles

Ten years later: Twenty-three '98 grads reunite

By Sarah (Nieuwsma) Schemper

It was so hard to know what to expect. Ten years is a long time, and while I’d seen several of our Dordt friends more recently, there were those who I hadn’t seen since pulling away from campus with my ’85 Honda piled to the roof with trash (literally; I’d taken others’ castaways because I liked free stuff). I guess I feel like the same person I was then (I still like free stuff) though a mellower, NPR-listening version of the girl I once was. Blame it on my children, I don’t know, but it happened and it’s okay.

It would have been easy to lose track of everyone after graduation, except that Carie (VanderVeen) Molloy has compiled bi-yearly newsletters with updates from each person. So when Tamara Heibult began planning a ten-year reunion, she had contacts for everyone. She chose Park City, Utah, because it’s rather central, close to a major airport, with several things to do around the area, and she found large multi-room condos for rent at a reasonable price. Twenty-three of us met, from both ends of Canada and the U.S. Several guys brought along their wives, and almost all of the women left their husbands at home. Three babies, five months and younger, were taken along for the ride—belonging to Jill (Schemper) Bute, Willem and Angie Van Niewenhuiyzen, and Jason and Yvonne (Vaags) Kimm.

On the way to Park City, I bet Jodi (Groen) Schiebout that all the guys would have gained weight (no offense, guys). So my first surprise when we arrived was how good we all look! My second surprise was that although everyone had matured (Willem apparently called “Kansas,” a.k.a. Mark Schlatter, before leaving to see if he needed a porta crib brought along for his baby!), everyone was the same. Yodi Drost and Tamara still got thrown in the hot tub (with their clothes on), but thankfully the duct tape was left at home.

My final surprise was how easily we picked up where we left off, only ten years later. There was plenty of reminiscing, but mostly we caught up on where we are now and how life has changed. As corny as it will sound, I feel like we’re family, somehow connected for life through our short four years at Dordt—albeit a slightly dysfunctional, brutally honest, but extremely enjoyable family. And that feels really good.

We’ve decided not to wait so long before the next reunion, not only because ten years is way too long, but because by then we’ll all be 42. And old. I have a VHS tape where seven of us are piled up on top of each other on an East Campus love seat, discussing where we’d land in five years. I wonder if, when we’re 42 and look back at our 30s, we’ll think we were just babies. It makes me wonder what future conversations will bring…and where in the world they will be brought.