In an effort to stay connected with former classmates, alumnus John McManus ‘86, created a Facebook group chat called “Albion College- The 1980’s” with over 290 members.
“We talked to the college about doing a reunion because it’s our 35th, and then we decided because of COVID-19, we wanted it to be more inclusive of other classes because our class wasn’t the only class we were friends with,” said McManus. “And because of COVID-19, it was trying to bring the people we actually went to school together with [to] come back and all have an experience together again.”
Not every Albion alum comes back every year, but, according to the group, most try to return for significant anniversaries. But there are a few alumni, like alumnus Michael Haines ‘85 that comes back every year.
“I try to come every year and try to be on campus for other events, not because my sons were here but just because I love going to the play, I love talking to my friends on the faculty and just being social with it, not talking about anything necessarily academic,” said Haines. “They’re just great people and I love being around them so I try to come at least once a quarter. So I am here every other month during the academic year.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the fall 2020 semester, alumni were not able to come to campus for homecoming.
“All of last year, there was this emptiness when you couldn’t be on campus. I couldn’t see students. I had a son here that I couldn’t visit,” said Haines. “It was just like the whole world was incomplete. It was miserable to be honest.”
This year, some COVID-19 restrictions were uplifted and allowed groups to have tailgate for the 2021 homecoming season in the Ferguson Hall parking lot.
“It’s been one of the best homecomings I’ve ever had just because we haven’t been able to see each other. I mean Tracy [Donahue ‘86] and I see each other all the time, and then there’s some of these guys I haven’t seen since I graduated,” said McManus. “But all of a sudden I think it’s this opening up of people wanting to come out and connect. It’s been amazing.”
In an effort to have an 80s homecoming reunion, McManus started a Facebook group opened to all Albion College alumni that graduated in the 1980s to reach out to as many people as possible.
“I think the 80s group too expanded because ‘86 really is, I mean we get together a lot, we’re pretty close. ‘86 is a really close year and there are a lot of other years that are really connected with ours,” said Donahue. “They’ll come to our reunions and not theirs.”
The group included all classes throughout the 80s partly because the ‘86 class were friends with people beyond their class . Each year they spent at Albion, the 80s classes intermingled with the classes below and above them.
“We have people from ‘83 and ‘89 that come to our reunions,” said John McManus.
Due to being friends with people outside of their year, there are some alumni that come back repeatedly to the reunions for the class of ‘86.
“I think everyone joined to see what everyone posted,” said Alumnus Elieen Smith ‘86. “It was a connection.”
When the Facebook group was first created it took some time for others besides McManus to post.
“At the beginning, it was me posting things and I was texting people saying it’s not about me, c’mon,” said McManus. “Then all of a sudden people started posting more and it was like ‘oh my god.’ It was awesome to see.”
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this wasn’t their biggest reunion. At the 30th reunion for the class of ’86 in 2016, there were around 70 people in attendance, overfilling Cascarelli’s.
“I think people are still a little reluctant to gather,” said Donahue.
According to the 80s alumni, they made an effort to come to homecoming because of the connections they made and to see the people that shaped their experience here at Albion College.
“I have so many great friends that I have accumulated through this experience,” said McManus. “Like I can name fourty people that I am still in touch with from 1986 from 1982. It’s just awesome. I don’t know how to explain it. My sisters, my nieces [and] my parents are all fascinated by the fact that all these friends from all these experiences have stuck and we still are there for each other I mean no matter what. It’s crazy, it really is crazy.”