Virtual Coffee Zoom Mini-Reunions

Notes for Participants in U High ’67
Virtual Coffee Mini-Reunions

All U High ’67 classmates are invited to join in a series of “Virtual Coffee” mini-reunions using the Zoom meeting platform.

Our first Virtual Coffee took place July 14, 2020. The second call (VC2) is scheduled for Tuesday, January 12, 2021, at Noon CT (10 am PT, 11 am MT, 1 pm ET, and 7 pm in Europe and South Africa). We will share registration, Zoom links, and conversation starters soon as planning goes forward. The Zoom link will take you to a Zoom registration page. After you complete the registration form you will get a personalized link to join the meeting.

Video and audio recordings of each Virtual Coffee call will be available to review or download for approximately 90 days following each call.


Helpful Information and Hints for Zoom Users

If you’re unfamiliar with Zoom, click here to go to section of this page that can help you get set up to participate in the call, or simply scroll down past the Conversation Prompts.

If you have followed the instructions but are not sure whether you have set up Zoom properly, go to the Zoom Join Meeting Test page and click “Join”. You will join a test Zoom call with only yourself in it, and Zoom will prompt you so that you can test your speaker, microphone, and camera. 

While you’re getting used to Zoom, please make sure you know how to do the following three essential tasks that you will need to do during the call:

  • mute/unmute your microphone
  • stop/start your camera
  • open the chat window


Agenda for the Call

Brief Re-Introductions

Many of us haven’t seen each other in many years. So we’ll kick off the call with very short (20 second) re-introductions, each sharing our names, where we currently live, and very briefly, one of the following:

  • the best thing that happened to you in the past week (it could be just some little thing that put a “smile on your face”)

  • a “silver lining” you’ve discovered from this stay-at-home period — something good that’s come of it.

Storytelling Prompts

Later in the call you will have the opportunity, only if you wish, to share some experience or thoughts. Below are some questions to help “prime your pump.”

Feel free to answer one of these questions, or simply share any personal story or experience that is meaningful to you in some way, or just funny.

Elementary and High School
  1. What is one of your best or funniest memories of high school?
  2. What did you want to be when you were 16 years old?
  3. What memories do you have from elementary/high school summers?
  4. “My favorite teacher was…” Why? Do you remember an anecdote about the teacher?
  5. If you could go back and “re-do” high school, what would you do differently? Or, if you could travel back in time to offer a word of advice to your 18-year-old self, what might you say?
  6. “I’ll never forget the time when…” (Something that sticks in your mind from UHS.)
  7. What was something in high school that only you and a handful of others knew about?
  8. “One of the hardest things for me at UHS was…”
  9. What was one of the best things that happened to you in high school? Example?
  10. What was your nickname in high school? Who gave it to you, and how did you feel about it then? Today?
  11. What was your “role” at UHS and give an example.
  12. Can you remember any UHS pranks?
  13. “A particularly memorable UHS event for me was…” (Prom, senior skip day, sports event, graduation, etc.)
  14. How did you feel coming to UHS at the very beginning?
  15. Did you ever feel like an outsider at UHS? Did anything help?
  16. “One of my happiest times/moments at elementary or high school was when…”
  17. “My best friend in (pre-school/elementary/high school) was…” Do you know where that person is now?
  18. What is one of your earliest memories of elementary or pre-school?
After High School (in the 53 years since)
  1. How did you meet your spouse/partner?
  2. What was your first job after high school or college and how did you feel about it?
  3. What hobbies did you have that you no longer do?
  4. How many places have you lived since high school?
  5. What did you think you were going to do when you finished high school?
  6. High points of your life since high school?
  7. What’s something you went through or saw during the crazy ’60s or the years after graduation?
  8. What’s something (large or small) that you once did that turned out more successful than you imagined?
  9. Who was the best/worst/craziest/most fun/weirdest roommate you ever had, and what did they do that showed it?


Getting Ready for a Zoom Virtual Meeting —
Easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

(Adapted by Tom Smerling)

First - pick your device


  • Recommended
  • Bigger screen


  • Good Choice
  • Audio and Video

Cell Phone

  • Not recommended
  • Screen too small

Second - pick your seat

Find a spot where signal strength is strong. Get closer to your WiFi modem if signal strength is low. (The more bars the better.)

Avoid locations where signal strength is weak. Also, consider “wired” connection (see below).

Third - practice and PLAY before the session starts

Load Zoom Software

Watch TWO 2-minute training videos

Practice and play!


First - What DEVICE should I use?

  1. The bigger the screen the better! A large screen will display more images in more detail (laws of physics). Normally, your computer at home has the largest screen. But — your device needs to have SOUND as well. And a camera is helpful too. We are all cooped up at home and it is good to see each other! So, ask your home tech support if your home computer has a SCREEN, CAMERA, and SOUND. (Cameras and speakers are common as “standard” equipment on laptops. This is less the case with desktop systems — they are likely not to have a camera or a microphone; the speaker or speakers, if installed, may provide less-than-acceptable sound quality).
  2. Tablets are a very good choice as well. Modern iPads, Android devices, and other tablets have screens with integrated video and audio. This may be the best choice for you if you are not comfortable with desktop/laptop computers. Think about using a stand — a video for a simple homemade stand is HERE.
  3. Cell phones will work, but are not recommended. The screen is typically too small to see everybody and see screen-shared graphics. For the best experience, we suggest a computer or a tablet. However, you can always join by telephone (cell or land), which will be audio-only, of course.

Second - Where do I sit?

  1. You want the best signal you can get for smooth audio and video. Find a comfortable place to sit where the signal meter reads the highest. In general, the closer you are to your router (usually an ATT box, a SPECTRUM box, or a GOOGLE box) is best. Note than in a number of markets, the modem supplied by your service provider (e.g., Cox, Xfinity, etc.) has a WiFi router built in.
  2. For the very best possible speeds and the ultimate in reliability, connect your computer to your router with an Ethernet CABLE — watch THIS. Note: many late-model laptops are not equipped with an Ethernet jack; in that case, you may require some type of adapter (e.g., Ethernet-to-USB-C).
  3. Consider the lighting in your space — if there is a large, bright light source directly behind you (for example a picture window) you may end up “backlit”. This might make you look rather tan (if you’re Caucasian) or even like a wrinkled-up old raisin if you’re a darker-complected person-of-color.

Third - How do I get started with Zoom?

  1. First, establish a FREE Zoom personal account and download/install the Zoom app.
  2. Next, watch TWO tiny training videos
  3. Finally, Practice and Play - For many people the easiest way to get comfortable with Zoom is to simply start (i.e. host) a private solo practice meeting. Here’s how:
    1. Go to the Zoom website at and login to your account (in upper right).
    2. On the Zoom home page, mouse over the “host a meeting” button in upper right from the dropdown menu, and select “with video on”.
    3. A small pop-up window will appear asking, “Open Zoom Meetings?” Click button to “Open Zoom meeting”.
    4. Another small pop-up will appear with audio options. Click the blue button to “Join with Computer Audio”.
    5. You’re in your own meeting now! Take it for a test drive.
    6. To see the Zoom in-meeting controls, mouse to the bottom of the screen until the Control Panel pops up.
    7. Then try out these three basic controls, which are all you need for most meetings including the U-High Virtual Coffee.
      • Mute/Unmute your microphone 
      • Start/Stop your camera
      • Open/Close the chat window
      Note: How to use these and other controls is explained in training video #2 above.

A final tip: If you ever get stuck and can’t figure something out, the fastest way to solve a Zoom problem is simply to Google the question. The first results will include a Zoom tech support page devoted to your exact question.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that Zooming is fun and a great way to connect with friends and family. Enjoy!

PS: If you feel you really have this “dialed,” and would be happy to lend your new-found expertise to a fellow classmate, let us know — depending on how popular these sessions become, there may be a role for an entire “help desk” department (of which you could become a founding member!)