The usual 50th-reunion milestone was not the only reason for members of the Class of 1966 to celebrate this year. Reunions weekend also marked the graduation of members of their “grandchild” Class of 2016. Over the last four years, the two classes have enjoyed a relationship that began with pizza parties and tailgates and culminated with a stand-up comedy show featuring performances by members of both classes. The classes marked their relationship by carrying a joint banner in this year’s P-rade.
“Even before ’16 arrived on campus, we decided that we were going to set the standard in terms of activities and interactions,” said Charles Plohn ’66, president of the Class of 1966.
The first known grandparent-grandchild partnership began with the classes of 1952 and 2002 and was focused on career mentoring, said Dottie Werner, coordinator for class affairs. Often, members of the grandparent class (which celebrates its 50th reunion when its grandchild class graduates) are at a point in their lives when they have time to give back to the University, and many enjoy spreading the Princeton traditions they knew as students, said Marguerite Vera ’79, former associate director for class affairs.
Over the last four years, more than 300 members of the Class of ’16 and about 85 members of ’66 have participated in joint summer activities, including lunches, sporting events, and other networking opportunities, Plohn said. Of the 80 scholarships awarded by the Class of ’66 over the last three academic years, 72 have gone to students in the Class of 2016.
“The relationship has done wonders for our class,” said Justin Zeigler ’16, who served as class president for three years. “Sixty-sixers have not only helped ’16ers in traditional ways like with internships, jobs, and letters of recommendation, but [they] have also served as a source of inspiration, mentorship, and friendship.”
Other classes have begun to look to the relationship between ’66 and ’16 as a model. Brandon McGee ’18, who recently was elected vice president of his class, ran on a platform of class relationships; the classes of 1969 and 2019 also held cross-generational events.