With permission from Sandy Stert Benjamin, originally printed in Reunions magazine.

High School Reunion

by Sandy Stert Benjamin

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee. 

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.  When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.  He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was. 

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.  He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was. 

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.  Of course, the sand filled up everything else.  He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed. 

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions--and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.

The sand is everything else--the small stuff.  "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you." 

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Play with your children.  Take time to get medical checkups.  Take your spouse out to dinner.  Play another 18.  There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.  Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand." 

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.  The professor smiled.  "I'm glad you asked.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."       

Distinguished Alumni Award

In 1995, The Mounds View High School Alumni Association created a Distinguished Alumni award program to recognize graduates for outstanding contributions to their own community, society, profession, or vocations.


Nominees must have graduated at least ten years ago.  Nominations may be made without completing an official form, but these must include a letter of support attesting to the qualifications and character of the candidate.

Judging and recognition

The panel of judges will consist of the Board of Directors of the Mounds View High School Alumni Association.  Decisions will be determined by a majority vote of the panel of judges.  Those selected will receive their  awards at a school ceremony designed to introduce them to the community and school.


1995  Kate Green (1968) and Paul Dye (1977)

1996 Dan Buetnner (1978), Steve Buettner (1963)  and Nicholas Buettner (1986)

1997 Gary Brudvig (1972) and Tom Manuel (1965)

1998 Joyce Clausen Kloncz (1959)

1999 Ellis Ohnstad, posthumously (1958)

2000 Jack Oman (1978)

2001 John Kubiatowicz (1983)

2002 Kirsten LeVander Dawson (1960)

2003 Lynda A. Morrison (1978)

2004 Dr. Steve Lentz (1975)

2006 Duane Condiff (1957) and Kristi Hawkinson  Glass (1965)   

2009 Heidi Collins (1985)

2010 Karen Anderson (1960) and Ted Vessey ( 1956)

2014 David Saar (1964)

What happened to those handsome guys

with washboard abs and muscled thighs?

Those youthful, energetic teens

with roaming hands and urgent jeans?

And all the girls with tiny waists,

some were loose and others chaste?

We had that storied teenaged glow

the world was there for us to know.

Now everybody looks the same

we're age-enhanced and lost our game

The boys who had the perfect bods

are doughy or as thin as rods.

Those who had the thickest hair

now boast a strand, just here and there

The pretty girls, once shaped like 8

don't have the curves to celebrate.

It seems the older we become

we're less unique and all just one.

recalling life when it was fun,

stick a fork in us - I think we're done!