La Reina class of ’84: Life-long bonds support a classmate

Ideas, like friendship, faith and goodness are hard to explain. How does one do justice to them?

Sometimes a single story can do it best. The La Reina High School Class of 1984 and what they are doing for their classmate, Barbie Kilbourne Larson, is just such a story. As Stephanie Saunders Halverson, who has spearheaded the class’ outreach to Barbie says, “Barbie's story is heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time, and totally covered in God's mercy and grace.”

Barbie is facing her third bout of cancer in five years. After her first round of chemo, Stephanie had a meal sent from a local restaurant and called Barbie that night to see how she was doing. Stephanie noticed that Barbie laughed a lot when the two reminisced about their high school years at La Reina. When their conversation ended, Barbie said, “Thanks for the therapy.”

Then Stephanie came up with the idea of “The La Reina Girls’ Dinner Club.” In Stephanie’s words to her classmates: “What I am wondering is if we could create a ‘La Reina Girls’ Dinner Club’ for Barbie: providing dinner and a story. Each one of us could take a different week. As far as the meals, you could donate directly to Talbert Foundation on Barbie's page or you could send a little care package (always fun to open treats) with a gift card for takeout.

“It doesn’t have to be a lot, just symbolic of our love for her, telling her, ‘We are with you in this.’ You can put a short note in the mail to her reminiscing about La Reina days to put a smile on her face…. So if you are in and would like to love on Barbie and her family, please sign up for a week.”

Thus began an outpouring of love and care packages and La Reina stories from all over the country — and as word spread, more classmates signed up. More than half of her classmates have responded with some sort of outreach.

In the words of Erin Carraway: “This really is a breathtaking example of the bond we all developed more than 30 years ago.”

Or in the words of Susan Sunde Laschi: “Look at us, still bonded by La Reina. I wouldn't trade our time there together for anything. Both of my daughters go to La Reina and I can only hope that 30 years after they leave, they'll still have LR ‘sisters’ like I have with all of you.”

So this is what it means to be a La Reina alumna: It means you will never walk alone; you will be “loved on” and cared about forever, and that the values of compassion and kindness and service to others endure.

Betsy Potts is director of Alumnae Relations at La Reina High School, Thousand Oaks.



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