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The central theme of this portion of our web guide is alumni resources and class reunions.

Alumni refers to individuals who have attended or graduated from a specific school, college, or university, while class reunions are organized gatherings of former classmates who graduated from the same institution, often held at or near their former high school or college.

The term alumni has its roots in Latin. It is the plural form of alumnus, which means a pupil or graduate of a school. The word itself comes from the Latin alere, meaning "to suckle" or "nourish." Figuratively, it refers to someone who has been nurtured or educated by an institution. The plural form (alumni) has been in use since the 1640s.

Historically, alumnus and alumni were the masculine forms of the word, while alumna and alumnae were the feminine equivalents. Increasingly, alumnus and alumni have been used to refer to both men and women. However, alums, alumns, alum, or alumn are used for gender-neutral alternatives.

According to the United States Department of Education, the term alumnae is used in conjunction with either women's colleges or a female group of students, while the term alumni is used in conjunction with either men's colleges, a male group of students, or a mixed group of students.

In British English, the terms old boy or old girl are often preferred for a former pupil of a primary or secondary school, while British universities refer to their former students as alumni.

Some universities, such as the University of Cambridge and Yale University, include post-doctoral researchers as alumni, in recognition of their trainee status, while others, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, refer to them as associate alumni, without full access to alumni benefits.

Although the term is sometimes used to exclude those who have not graduated from the school, college, or university they attended, the term is not synonymous with graduates. To be an alum, having graduated from the institution isn't necessary.

In general usage, alumni refers to a collective group of former students or graduates associated with a specific school, college, or university. Alumni often maintain connections with their former alma mater, participate in alumni events, and contribute to the institution's growth.

Many institutions, particularly at the university level, have alumni offices coordinating fundraising and offering benefits to registered alumni. Alumni reunions are popular events at many institutions, organized by alumni offices or alumni associations, and are often social occasions for fundraising. Universities often limit alumni association memberships to graduates rather than to all alumni, leading to the term being considered synonymous with graduate.

While alumni reunions generally include anyone who had graduated from the university, regardless of when they attended the institution, class reunions are also popular events.

Class reunions are meetings of former classmates, often held at or near their former high school or college. Reunions are generally organized by one or more class members and scheduled near the anniversary of their graduation year, such as every five or ten years.

High school class reunions are more likely than university alumni reunions to include anyone who was a part of that class, whether or not they graduated from the particular school. For example, I graduated from Stephenson High School in 1969 and attended that school for all four of my high school years. My cousin, who was in my grade, moved with his parents to another state while he was in the 11th grade, but he would still be welcome to attend an SHS Class of 1969 reunion. Frequently, teachers and administrators are also invited.

Entertainment at a high school class reunion often includes music that was popular during the years that the reuniting class was in school, and attendees will usually reminisce about their student days, and bring one another up to date on what has happened in their lives since they last met.

The further away a class gets from their year of graduation, the more likely it might be that multiple grades will be combined in a reunion event, as former classmates die or move far away from their former high school. For example, our 50th Class Reunion included the Class of 1968 and the Class of 1969.

Searching for former classmates to invite to a reunion can be challenging, as alumni often lose touch with one another. Thus, social media sites like Facebook are often used, and there are also several web platforms designed for that purpose, on which alumni can register with their class, and reunion organizers can post announcements or contact former classmates through the platform.



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