Arabella was on the playground at St. Camillus in Silver Spring in fifth grade when she first found out that Julio liked her.
“I didn’t care for him. I really pretty much hated him,” she said, recalling Julio pulling her hair, chasing her at recess and laughing at her.
But once Julio laid eyes on her, he said: “It was love at first sight.”
Thirty-three years later Julio and Arabella Estrada, of Westminster, are married with four children and attending their 30-year reunion of graduation from St. Camillus, where it all began.
“It’s exciting and nostalgic. When you see these people after 30 years, it’s kind of exciting that these are the same kids we played with,” said Julio Estrada, a fork lift operator at Costco. “St. Camillus brought me my wife.”
Arabella Estrada, a paraeducator with Montgomery County Public Schools, and her best friend and classmate Adele Michael, of Northern Virginia, arranged the reunion at the Pooks Hill Marriott in Bethesda after a fellow classmate, Norris Hanes, of Waldorf, posted their class photo from 1982 on Facebook. Once the conversation generated on the tagged photo, Arabella put together a committee of seven fellow alumni to plan the event together, meeting both in person and via Skype. Planning for the reunion on Saturday took more than a year, Michael said.
Of the 51 classmates from the class of 1982, two have passed away, 14 were found but were unable to make it to the reunion and seven were not found in time for the reunion. The remaining 28 classmates participated in a class of ‘82 trivia game, shared their favorite St. Camillus memorabilia and listened to the songs popular in 1982, but saved the last dance for Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” a tradition that began at their school dances in the ‘80s at St. Camillus.
Among the classmates in attendance, who traveled from as far as San Francisco, were Sean Michael Dargon, of the Sean Michael Dargon band, who played two sets on the bagpipes as he used to at the school.
“It was really great catching up with these folks,” said Hanes, who still keeps in touch with some of the guys he played football with in elementary school, which has since merged with St. Mark’s in Hyattsville to form St. Francis International School about two years ago.
Arabella Estrada attributes the closeness of the class of ‘82 to their proximity to the school and their families’ involvement in the Catholic church.
“They all attended the church there,” she said. “It was a community.”
Though many of the classmates had lost touch through the years, Michael said she still remembers everyone.
“There’s something about us being together at St. Camillus at that time,” said Michael, the godmother to the Estradas’ oldest son, Robert. “We were bonded because of St. Camillus.”