Still Red Rambunctious After All These Years!

Featured in 2014 Fall Issue of Rambunctious

By Sue Ferrara, ’72

A note landed in my email box from Atlanta-based, J-D classmate Warren Abrahams. Titled: Information on Rambunctious, Warren added this note to the email:  Here you go, Sue. Submit a tick article to Rambunctious. There are no rules that alums cannot participate. He also sent it two days before the submission deadline.

Dear Warren. Like many of my classmates, he knows my life has been ruled by the consequences of two tick bites my daughter received nearly seven years ago, while working as an apprentice bird bander here in New Jersey. She was thirteen at the time and her medical mystery tour continues as doctors around the world grapple with questions about how to treat pathogens transmitted by ticks. And, this is a good story, but one I’d rather write for Ram Pages should the editors be interested.  Today I’d rather contemplate Rambunctious.

Looking at etymology.com, I discovered the word rambunctious might have actually evolved from the 1778 word rumbustious. Think of that word as a slurring of two other words, rum and boisterous. The word rambunctious apparently came into fashion in 1859, long before our high school rose on the Hilltop!  Yes, our high school.  Jamesville-DeWitt will always be your high school, my high school and every J-D graduate’s high school because that is the kind of culture and community that has long been nurtured within the walls of Red Ram land.

And, while many of you might consider your high school years as a time and place which will be long forgotten one day, I am here to suggest, maybe not. Allow me to support that claim forty-two years out from the graduation of the J-D Class of 1972.

Three hundred and fifteen of us raced from the front lawn of the high school to the gym in our caps and gowns as the sky opened up and rained down on our graduation ceremony. The gym was much smaller then and hot for June. Warren, our de facto class archivist because he has held on to all things J-D, posted graduation pictures ahead of our fortieth reunion.  Those pictures, thank goodness, were the moment in time. I have to say most of us have aged like fine wine and have better haircuts. And by the way, during the last twelve months, many of us have celebrated what we euphemistically call our second 30th birthday. Saying sixty years old just doesn’t roll off Rambunctious lips easily.

And, rambunctious we were in high school (there are still teachers floating around who can tell tales!) and rambunctious we remain. 

One third of our classmates still live in Central New York.  The rest of us are scattered about the country and the world. We remain in touch with two of our foreign exchange students from our senior year. One lives in Thailand; the other is a physician outside of Pisa, Italy.  We have ex-pat classmates. One lives in Nepal; two live in Australia, and one lives in Canada. The next highest concentration of ’72 Red Rams live in California.

The Class of ’72 has 12 PhDs and 15 physicians, including dentists and other graduate level health care professionals. We have scads of lawyers; one rabbi who leads Congregation Anshei Israel, a temple in Arizona, and an Episcopal priest who is the rector at St. James’ Church in New York City. And, we all happily claim world-renowned classical guitarist, Eliot Fisk, as a fellow classmate.

But whether our classmates had degrees or not, they all had special gifts and talents they put to use making the world a better place.  We have teachers and two winemakers. We have nurses and financial wizards, writers, artists and now many classmates carry the title: grandparent. But most of all, as we travel through life, many of us (although certainly not all) are happy that thanks to Facebook and other Internet treasures, we still have each other. We mourn losses with one another. We celebrate job promotions, weddings, births and now retirements! Many of us can still have a spirited debate like we did during our years in the UN Club or in student government.

Sadly, we have lost thirty classmates over the years, including two from AIDS. One of our classmates was a physician who was infected while attending to a patient in the ER; the other was an up and coming fashion designer with an impeccable eye for style. Many classmates succumbed to various forms of cancer. One of our classmates died when his Cirrus SR22 crashed in Oswego County, a very emotional day for many of us. We keep those classmates with us by remembering them at each reunion. 

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention our teachers. Tom Muench, a one-time social studies teacher turned guidance counselor still refers to all of us as kids. Tom (yeah, how cool I can call him by his first name after all these years!) has become the King of Selfies and one of the most prolific Facebook posters. Vince Monterosso (disclosure statement—he’s my fifth cousin or some such) will email once in a while, but would rather see one of us on his doorstep or hear our voice over the phone.  Chemistry teachers Hugo Polichemi and John Stopher are relieved none of us went on to blow up the world, accidentally of course! Art teacher Reginald Adams still invites us to his art openings. Bonnie Nye, Ron Nuzzo and Vic Russo, our fabulously supportive music teachers, also stay in touch with us, and we with them. And the current J-D Superintendent? She used to teach science when we were at the high school.

Yes, being Red Rambunctious can last a lifetime thanks to the spirit and community built by teachers, students, administration and staff working together.  Maybe my favorite J-D math teacher, Marshall Nye, unknowingly coined the definition of Red Rambunctious. He often told us: Life is about working hard and playing hard. And lots of Red Rams, my classmates included, have gone on to do just that.

See us at www.jdhs72.com

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