Friday, November 5, 2010

Victory Christian Academy Reunion August 2010

Thanks so much for all of you who reached out to support the reunion. Those who contributed financially as well as those who spent hours in the planning process many thanks to all of you! Thank you to the San Vicente Resort for giving us such a great weekend at the resort and the discount price. The people at the resort were so amazing really working hard to make this reunion a special time for all of us. It was the perfect place for this reunion. Thank you to SIA Organization for all your dedication and support! My hope is this is the first of many reunions to come for the Ladies of Victory Christian Academy and those who couldn’t come to this one will hopefully make the next reunion.

It has taken me some time to write about the reunion. I think because I was trying to put into words something that for me is too hard to express but I am going to try.

Planning the reunion and getting everything together was a whirlwind, there were times that I thought that it might not happen. I questioned whether anyone would come I don’t know maybe my fear of being rejected and thoughts of inadequacy coming into play. The strong propelling need to see these ladies again kept all of us moving forward. A big part of the reunion was finding these ladies and Jaimie was our “detective” spent many hours tracking ladies down and getting in contact with them. Many thanks to you Jaimie for all your hard work! There were 17 women in all who attended and it was a magical weekend.

Driving down to the San Vicente Resort was a mixture of emotions and really I think most were lost in their own thoughts as they took the journey to the resort. The questions mulling through my mind were about rejection. Will they accept me? Will they enjoy the reunion? Did we do the right thing in the planning? How will I feel going to the school and seeing that haunting place again? Was this the right thing to do? Too late we are here. ……….This is happening……..Here we go!

It is so funny how the mind works, I remember the feelings more than I remember anything. Being nervous, anxious, scared, excited, and happy all rolled into one. The feeling of peace, thinking finally it is happening after 20 years I never thought this day would come. We all had been through so much in our lives and to be able to share and express ourselves to those who understood was this amazingly beautiful experience. Some ladies came from far away while other like me had to take the road trip down to San Diego. Meshell came from Idaho, kelli came from Utah, and I think the farthest was Christa who travels the world and happened to be in town on the weekend of the reunion. Those who traveled so far to come and be a part of the reunion hadn’t experienced seeing anyone from Victory in a very long time. For them to take a leap of faith to come to San Diego was so courageous and really awe inspiring. It didn’t matter if you knew the other ladies or if they had been at Victory before or after you the strong bond that we shared was prevalent throughout the reunion.

The first night was about reuniting and fun. We came together in the conference room to meet up again and talk about our lives after Victory and also share our thoughts and experiences and express our feelings about our time at Victory. It was very open, a band playing in the bar adjacent to the conference room and the door right next to the conference room that led outside. Hugging each other, crying, and sharing the emotions were so strong. Expressing this in words is tough for me. We shared this bond that will never be broken. We go about our daily lives but we know that we have these friends that will be forever friends. We all gathered together after in our room and most stayed up until the wee hours of the morning laughing, talking, and remembering. It wasn’t your typical High School reunion but it was similar in that we all wanted to catch up on each other’s lives and talk about times from long ago.

The next morning we gathered in the conference room again and we went around the room to introduce ourselves, when we were at Victory and what we hoped to gain from the experience of this reunion. Most said they wanted healing and closer and also to rebuild friendships and to meet others who had been through the same experience. As we went around the room looking at each of these ladies I was struck by the strength empowerment that I felt. All of us together with one voice speaking out it was at this moment I knew we did the right thing all of us together it was meant to be.

Later that afternoon was the time we dedicated to going over to the school and doing the tree planting ceremony. The emotions for me and I know for others was so strong. This was going to be hard and painful. Was I ready for it? To me this part of the reunion was the most difficult because going back to that the school ( I use that term loosely) took me back to a place in time that was so hard but the need to close this chapter of my life was stronger that the fear and anxiety of going back. I can’t do justice in expressing what was felt that day at the school. Many tears were shed; emotions came up from this deep place that can’t be put into words. Dwayne Walker, who is part of the SIA organization came and filmed that day and captured on video what I can’t express in words. Video of the Reunion or you can view here.

We needed to do this to understand that part of our lives. As we gathered around for the Tree planting ceremony Shaundra Stoever spoke. Her words were moving and so meaningful to each of us. She spoke of the importance of the tree planting ceremony and how it says yes we were here and yes these things happened but mostly to honor those who lost their lives tragically so young and say with one voice We Remember .

Maggie Harris owner of National City Trophy has committed graciously to a dedication plaque to go in front of the tree in remembrance. The people who now own the property were so understanding in letting us walk the property. Not many who have been in this type of facility have an opportunity of closure as we had and we thank those at Mt. Sinai Spanish church that allowed us this experience and to plant a tree on their property.

The rest of that night was again filled with bonding, sharing, growing, and understanding. We all did independent things; some went to the pool while other went back to their room or went for a walk. It was a time really of contemplation and taking it all in. This to me was the point I felt a little numb like my mind needed more time to absorb and to take in all that had just taken place at the school. We all gathered again in our suite and the suite above ours just to be together. Christie Niznik put together these fabulous gifts and we played games and passed out these gift boxes. Each box was different filled with various items that she handpicked for the ladies of Victory. The ladies went home with at least one gift box, the memories of the weekend and the promise of getting together again. It was so comforting to be able to talk about things with others who understood my feelings and who had shared the same experience. We are bonded forever, we will never forget, we have strength together. I didn’t want the weekend to end I wanted to freeze time so that I could stay just for a little while and be with the ladies a little longer.

On the last day of the reunion we all gathered in the suite passing around phone numbers, emails and addresses with the promise of keeping in contact. There were awards and thanks given to those who were part of the planning of the reunion but also a tribute given to those who helped get the school in Ramona closed down. Maggie Harris owner of National City Trophy donated the beautiful awards that were given out. I was surprised with an award from Maggie and the ladies that I will cherish forever. We then went around the room and said what we got out of the weekend. Healing and strength was the consensus and the overwhelming feeling of friendship new and old friends. We have this bond that will never be broken the sense of belonging and acceptance. It was truly a weekend of respecting, remembering, reuniting.