Celebrating Reunion Weekend right in the middle of Commencement Weekend makes for a very busy time on campus. Friday’s schedule includes the afternoon Senior Tea and the evening Commencement Concert along with the 50th Reunion Class gathering in the afternoon and numerous alumni parties on Friday night. Sunday’s schedule includes a brunch for alumni in the morning and Class Day and Baccalaureate for the graduates in the afternoon and evening, respectively. During these days, I often feel like I am being pulled in several directions.
Saturday and Monday are more focused: Saturday on alumni events and Monday on Commencement. On both of these days, however, our current student body commingles with our alumni through acts of service, and vice versa. This interaction enriches the weekend for both groups, and it has become one of my favorite things about this busy time.
On Saturday each year, we honor our Alumni Council and other benefactors at our Thaddeus Fairbanks Society Luncheon. This year, we gave attendees gifts of maple syrup made by some of our graduates as part of the Forestry program. At the same event, graduates Gwen Frechette, Matteo Dill, and Madison Suitor gave speeches, highlighting how their Academy experience changed their lives and how these benefactors’ contributions had made a difference. In addition, the String Ensemble played throughout the luncheon, and the dining hall was decorated with an array of student-made prints from our Intaglio Society.
Immediately after this event, we celebrated the renovation and restoration of Brantview, which was made possible in part by the generosity of many alumni, with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. The Brantview event was attended by some of our student electricians and woodworkers who worked on the project throughout the school year. Freshman artist Gracie Villareal created and presented a portrait of Phillip Fairbanks, who was born in Brantview and later became President of the Board of Trustees. Phillip Fairbanks’ son and current Trustee Bob Fairbanks was present at the event to witness the unveiling of his father’s portrait and express his appreciation to Gracie.
Later Saturday evening, our girls’ track team proudly paraded into the Alumni Banquet to show off their Division I Championship trophy (the fourth one in a row, eight in a row if you count indoor titles!), and throughout the night, the alumni were served by our current students as waiters, who ended the night by leading the alumni in the alma mater, which has become a Banquet tradition.
On Monday, the tables turned, and members of our alumni body served our current students. Alumnus and former Trustee Greg Boardman ‘75 spoke eloquently to the graduating class about resilience and perseverance in the face of failure. Then dozens of graduates received awards funded by generous alumni (we gave out over 100 awards over the weekend!), and each graduate received their diploma from alumnus and Board President Jay Wright ‘87. There were also hundreds of alums in the crowd of 3000 gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class.
All weekend, I was surrounded by reminders of how deeply integrated the past members of our student body are with today’s Academy students. One of my favorite symbols of this connection between the past and the present is the relatively new tradition of the graduating class partnering with the 50th Reunion Class on their Class Gift. This year, they combined resources to fund the landscaping for Brantview, including the beautiful new elm trees that now line Brantview Drive. As I walked from the Senior Tea at the Headmaster’s House to Brantview to greet the 50th Reunion Class of 1968, I passed the elms and reflected on how, in 50 years, these graduates of the Class of 2018 will combine resources with the Class of 2068. I have no clue what they will fund, but I know that by joining together to leave this place better than they found it, they will carry on a tradition that continues to make the Academy a great place.