Beaufort Water Festival

'Next-generation' high school reunion draws a crowd

As the Lowcountry welcomed the annual return of the Beaufort Water Festival, more than 250 alumni of four Beaufort-area high schools welcomed the return of some of their former classmates.

Students from the 1987 through 1992 graduating classes of Beaufort High School, Battery Creek High School, Thomas Heyward Academy and Beaufort Academy met at Panini's Cafe -- a venue just a stone's throw from Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park -- to celebrate their 20-year high school reunion and the start of the 54 Annual Beaufort Water Festival.

The reunion was the brainchild of two Beaufort brothers, Craig and Greg Rickabaugh, who decided to take a next generation approach to reuniting their former classmates by setting up a page on the social networking Web site Facebook.

"This was absolutely the best way to do it," Craig Rickabaugh said Friday as he and his fellow Beaufort-area alumni mixed and mingled, each wearing a nametag emblazoned with the Facebook logo, their name and the high school from which they graduated. "The feedback has all been so positive. We noticed that a lot of the reunions we went to, no one showed up, so to have this many people here has been great."

Facebook was an integral part of the evening. In addition to the nametag logo, the logo was featured on a large banner hung outside of the restaurant, and an award given to the reunion attendee with the most Facebook friends.