Sunday, December 31, 2000

Wyoming class has 1st holiday homecoming

Some find adjusting to college challenging

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

   In the year 2000, the Enquirer brought readers the stories of many Tristate individuals and families. Some of these survived, thrived and experienced the depths and heights of human emotion.
        They're a tight-knit group - having shared toy trucks and secrets about their crushes, team camaraderie and firm handshakes or embraces after graduation.

        Many of their parents became friends, and some can't remember whether they met through the kids, at church or elsewhere.

Lifelong roots
        Some have been pals since they were toddlers, living just a few houses down from each other or a few blocks away in the small, tree-lined city of Wyoming.

        But last fall, Wyoming High School's class of 2000, which the Enquirer has chronicled since they were kindergartners, parted ways.

        The holidays brought many of them back home.

        For a short time, it's high school all over again - right down to the NHL 2001 PlayStation battles among a group of boys or trips to Skyline Chili. And for parents, it's the joy of setting that extra place at the table - even if just for a few days.

Gone, but not completely
        “It's delightful having him home,” said Helen Patch of her son, Stewart. “Nothing has changed. We just fall back into a routine. It's like he's never been gone.”

        But he has been gone. Stewart, 19, left for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August.

        Though he loves home, he wanted to get away to a big university — with tons of new people and a big sports program, he said. Total uni versity enrollment was more than 24,000 last year, according to the admissions office. The 2000 class of Wyoming High had about 130 students.

        Adjusting was tough at first.

        “I haven't had to make new friends since grade school,” Stewart said.

Parallel existences
        In some cases, leaving home means stepping into a different culture. And coming back can be culture shock.

        "I feel slightly rural (coming home) because I don't step outside and see giant skyscrapers,” said Meghan Elizabeth Keswick, 18, who now attends Columbia University in New York City.

        Like Stewart, she also had to make new friends, but that's been fun, she said. It's also nice to come home and hang out with her high school friends, Meghan Elizabeth said.

        “Everyone's a little more grown up but we're still pretty much the same.”

        Stewart also settled in quickly. He joined the fraternity Sigma Chi and found his niche, he said. Now, he has a posse of 60 new friends.

        “I've made some really good friendships there,” Stewart said.

        He's getting used to living parallel lives, he said. So are the parents.

        “You miss them, but you're happy they're growing up,” Ms. Patch said. “This is what we prepared them to do.”


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