Reunion Weekend 2018: Reconnecting, Recommitting, and Celebrating CA Milestones

It was a beautiful New England spring weekend ideal for reuniting old friends and mentors. Held from the evening of Friday, June 8, through the morning of Sunday, June 10, this year’s reunion welcomed around 275 alumnae/i and former faculty back to Concord Academy’s campus for receptions, class dinners, panel discussions, and back-to-school sessions with current teachers — including nearly 30 members of the class of 1968 celebrating their 50th reunion, and more than 10 each from the classes of 1958 and 1948, celebrating 60 and 70 years respectively since their graduation from Concord Academy.

The weekend opened with a casual welcome-back celebration on the Chapel lawn to the music of the Ross Adams and Jonathan Fagan ’11 jazz duo and closed with a jazz brunch with John Funkhouser ’84. In between those musical bookends, alumnae/i had many opportunities to reconnect and explore the current campus and curriculum of CA — to look back to their formative time together and orient toward the future of this distinctive educational community of creative and critical thinkers and impassioned citizens.

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In the CA Labs building, which many alumnae/i set foot in for the first time, English teacher Sabrina Sadique welcomed a small group of graduates to preview a literature course she’ll teach at CA next spring. In close readings of poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, and Emily Dickinson, she led alumnae/i in an exploration of formal risks and the relationship between art and artifice. In a neighboring classroom next to the maker-space often used by the school’s engineering club, science teacher Max Hall offered a crash course in computer-aided machinery, then gave alumnae/i a hands-on demonstration of the school’s laser cutter. Participants had a chance to emblazon their names and a CA chameleon on maple blocks.

Sunny skies and ideal temperatures tempted many to join off-campus excursions too, including a guided walking tour of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery with former History Department chair Bill Bailey P’87, ’88, ’91, GP’21, with several dozen in attendance. Standing before a sculpture by Daniel Chester French, one alumna asked how many on the tour had taken history with Mr. Bailey, and around 15 raised their hands. “You taught me to like history,” she said. Others took a local guided cycling ride or explored the Sudbury River by canoe.

Don Kingman, director of campus planning and construction, offered campus tours to showcase the progress and priorities for CA Houses, a critical initiative of the Centennial Campaign for Concord Academy made possible by the support of CA alumnae/i and families. To learn more about CA Houses and the campaign, visit www.concord100.org. In the Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel, a memorial service celebrated the lives of former CA students who had passed away in the previous year, noting the impact they had made in their communities and in the lives of those who remembered them.

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An audience including many members of the class of 1983 gathered in the Performing Arts Center for honor Catherine Saalfield Gund ’83 with the Joan Shaw Herman Distinguished Service Award, the only award the school gives, and that, fittingly, for service to others. Unable to attend in person, Gund sent a moving video acceptance that incorporated scenes from many of her documentary films, which demonstrate how powerful art with a social justice mission can be. Gund plans to come to campus to share her work and speak with the CA community in October.

The 50th reunion class organized a nonpartisan panel discussion that drew nearly 50 alumnae/i from a wide range of classes. With so many questioning what they can do to create a stronger and more vibrant democracy in this politically polarized time, several individuals shared how they have gotten involved. Some have dived deep into issues with the League of Women Voters. Others have run for local office, or canvassed door-to-door. Others are championing donor-matching programs and voucher systems to make a start at shifting the balance away from interest groups and big money in politics. The lively impromptu discussion offered many ways for those wondering how to make an impact to get started.

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Many CA community members headed over to the Moriarty Athletic Campus to relax and chat, join in lawn games, and enjoy some cold treats from Christina’s Ice Cream, owned by Marion Odence-Ford ’82. The Moriarty Field House was filled to capacity for a panel discussion, “On Following Your Passion,” with alumnae/i who found their creative spark at Concord Academy, and kindled it into so much more. Facilitated by Ben Stumpf ’88, who teaches computer science, film, and graphic design at CA, the conversation among theater director Grady Gund ’08, National Gallery curator Meg Grasselli ’68, architect Becky Seamans Egea ’93, and opera baritone Colin Levin ’03 was wide-ranging and insightful. Panelists spoke about their career paths, how shifts in technology have in some cases entirely reshaped their practices, and, in the spirit of Concord Academy’s mission to instill a lifelong love of learning, how they continue to stretch and grow in their artistic disciplines. A show of hands and brief introductions demonstrated how many CA alumnae/i in the audience were working artists as well.

Finding voices, following passions, and making a difference in the world. Thoughtful inquiry, hands-on exploration, and a healthy dose of laid-back fun. The spirit of this year’s reunion couldn’t have been more in the spirit of CA.

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