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NHS Grad Creates ‘5 Year Reunion’ Podcast



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It had been five years since Emily Charash had spoken with many of her fellow 2016 Newtown High School graduates; then she decided to make a podcast that turned into an opportunity to catch up with nearly two dozen of them.

“I graduated high school five years ago. Last month I messaged 23 of my former classmates on Facebook and asked them to have a conversation with me about the past five years of their lives,” Emily explained in a trailer for her “5 Year Reunion” podcast. “...So I went on a road trip to see what their lives are like and who they are now as people.”

There are some reflections of Newtown and personal stories throughout the podcast episodes.

“What has changed since high school?” Charash asked one interviewee. Readers will have to listen to find out.

In a recent phone interview, Charash explained she works on assignment for different company podcasts and she is currently working on a podcast in Alaska for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Charash began her career by working in music production and has been working “in audio for years.”

For the Class of 2016, being 22 and 23 years old now is a “tumultuous” time, Charash reflected, and the podcast documents that.

“I think people are always wondering what [they] should be doing and where [they] should be right now,” Charash said, adding that she really wanted to find out where and how everyone was doing.

Where Are They Now?

There is a tendency to socially compare, and with social media the comparisons are based on select information that presents the best version of themselves, Charash shared. Her podcast aims instead to share where her classmates really are now, five years after graduating from NHS.

She used an app to randomly select members of her graduating class, then began messaging them online. She wanted a diverse representation of the Class of 2016.

For this graduating class, the final year of college studies — for those who chose to go to college — was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Charash said at the time she was anxious for her future and wondered where she would end up. After attending 11 colleges, ending with a degree from State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz, N.Y., Charash knew her fellow graduates would have their own stories to share.

Once she heard back from people, 23 in total, she began driving to interview them. Many of the trips brought her back to Newtown, and the farthest trip was to Baltimore, Md.

She also spoke with other people for the podcast, like First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and The Newtown Bee Editor John Voket.

‘A Really Fun Thing’

“This has just been a really fun thing,” Charash said, musing on what it has meant to reconnect with her fellow 2016 graduates. “...I’ve just always had a really special connection to Newtown and the people I grew up with and think this is a really special way to connect with people and see where they are at.”

Sharing that Newtown is her home and she hopes people will get a sense for what Newtown is like, Charah said listeners will hear the diverse range of personalities that capture what this moment in time is like for the 22- and 23-year-olds.

Charah already has plans for keeping the podcast going.

To her fellow 2016 grads, Charash said, “Maybe see you at the ten year reunion, and I hope everyone is doing well and navigating these next couple years.”

All the discussions are featured on the episodes of the podcast, available online at linktr.ee/5yearreunion.

Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at eliza@thebee.com.

Emily Charash
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