More than 375 alumni and friends returned to campus June 10-12 to celebrate Alumni Weekend. This year’s event welcomed alumni from classes ending in 0s, 1s, 2s, 5s, 6s, and 7s to celebrate milestone reunions. Alumni traveled from as far as Paris, Seattle, Charlotte, and Minneapolis, and some from just down the street in Washington. More than 25 members of the Class of 1987 turned out to celebrate their 35th Reunion. Their enthusiasm was closely rivaled by about 20 alumni from the Class of 1982, celebrating their 40th Reunion, and 18 from the Class of 2002, celebrating their 20th!
Many returned to a campus that has been transformed since their last visit and enjoyed touring the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center for the first time, and relaxing and catching up on the Koven-Jones Glade, adjacent to Solley Dining Hall. Alumni were also invited to take a virtual tour of the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship, scheduled to open in 2023. This new, 24,000-square-foot academic building will house the school’s science, math, engineering, technology, entrepreneurship, and citizenship programs and overlook the historic Quad. The building site was already under construction, as the former Science Building is being removed to make way for the new center.
It was awesome to see so many generations of alumni, current and former faculty, and faculty and alumni children gathered on the Koven-Jones Glade and Solley Dining Hall terrace for the Red and Gray Soiree, and the beautiful weather held throughout the weekend for alumni to celebrate, reminisce, reconnect and just enjoy being back together on the campus.
The Red and Gray Soiree and Lights of Gunn
Friday brought some alumni to campus early to participate in the annual Alumni Golf Outing at Washington Golf Course. Members of the Class of 1957 gathered at the Tisch Family Library to hear from one of this year’s Gunn Scholars, Robin Wright ’22, reminisce over yearbooks, and meet with Librarian and School Archivist Moira Conlan P’26.
On Friday afternoon, alumni attended the open house in TPACC, the school’s new, 32,000-square-foot arts and community center, and enjoyed a coming together to celebrate the past, present, and future of Gunn at the Red and Gray Soiree on the Koven-Jones Glade and Solley Dining Hall terrace. This event included a cocktail reception, a beer tasting with selections from Reverie Brewing Company, hosted by Reverie’s Managing Member and Co-Founder, Ryan Broderick ’05, and dinner from the Big Green Pizza Truck and El Camion Taco Truck. The day’s festivities concluded with the Lights of Gunn, which featured the lighting of luminarias in honor of Gunn classmates, friends, family members, teachers and coaches.
Rusty Krause ’02 and Nate Crafts ’02 personalized their luminaria in honor of their former teacher and football coach, the late Hugh Caldara, while Trustee Sarah Scheel Cook ’82 personalized a luminaria in memory of the late Pam Taylor. “I played field field hockey. She was my coach, and she was my English teacher.”
Alumni Association Annual Meeting
On Saturday morning, alumni crisscrossed the campus, joining student-led tours, attending a Strategic Plan Update with Head of School Peter Becker, and an overview of the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Center for Innovation and Active Citizenship presented by Chief Development Officer Sean Brown ’22 before lining up for the parade of alumni. Led by three bagpipers from Litchfield Hills Pipe Band, alumni processed, carrying banners and flags denoting their years of graduation, from Tisch Schoolhouse to TPACC, where the Annual Alumni Association Meeting was held for the second consecutive year.
Laura Eanes Martin ’90 P’20 ’23 ’25, President, Alumni Association Executive Committee, delivered an address, inviting alumni to reflect on the individuals who made the greatest impact on them when they were students here.
“How many of you had Mr. Haddock for a teacher?” Martin said, pausing to see how many hands were raised in the audience. “How many people had Mr. Small? How about Ms. Taylor? How about Mr. Theobald? Mrs. Croft? How about Cal? I’m going to venture a guess that you’re here today not because of your fond memories of your room in Bache or Bourne, or because of the meals in the dining hall, or even because of the name of the school, but because there was at least one teacher that believed in you. There was at least one adult that, despite your teenage angst and sophomoric tendencies, took the time to show they cared and that pushed to be your best 17, 18, or 19-year-old self. I invite you to take a moment to think about that person or who those people were. For as long as The Gunnery has been a school, there have been teachers showing care and compassion for students, in the classroom, the dormitory, on the athletic field, at kitchen tables, in Adirondack chairs, or over iced coffee at The PO.”
“As a child, I remember countless students in my house, doing their laundry, sitting at the kitchen table, unloading their stresses on my mom,” Martin continued, referring to the years she lived on campus as a faculty child and student, with her parents, former Head of School Michael Eanes H’90 P’90 GP’20 ’23 ’25 and Susan Eanes H’91 P’90 GP’20 ’23 ’25. “As a dorm head myself, my husband and I had the Butler and then Gibson boys at our house on Saturday nights for food. We entrusted our children to them when we needed babysitters, I gave math help at the dining room table.”
As a current parent, Martin said she continues to be in awe of the compassion and care that the current faculty give students, including her own three children, a 2020 graduate, a rising senior and a rising sophomore. “Despite their differences in personalities, strengths, challenges, intellectual curiosity, and innate academic ability, each of them has been inspired by and cared for by more than one of their teachers. More importantly, it’s when things haven’t been going that well or when they struggle that the care is most evident,” she said.
“Peter and his team have done a phenomenal job of evolving our school while staying true to who we are. While all this is evolving and growing and adapting, the one thing that has stayed constant is the day-to-day, in-the-trenches commitment of the on-the-ground faculty, the people coaching JV lacrosse and the people teaching Algebra I … the people doing dorm duty with sophomore boys and driving the vans to the lake every day for crew,” Martin said. “In coming back to celebrate and in supporting our school, you allow these teachers to do their best work. And for that, this alumna, this spouse, this parent, is very grateful. Thank you all for coming this weekend.”
Honors and Awards
As part of the annual meeting, Brown announced the preliminary winners of the 1850 Fund Awards. The goal for this year’s annual fund is $1.7 million, he said, noting that last year was the school’s third consecutive record-breaking year, at $1.66 million. This year’s annual fund awards will not be finalized until the end of the fiscal year. As of June 11, the winners were as follows:
- The Kenneth J. Browne Class of 1911 Award for the Largest Class Gift: Class of 1956
- The Margaret P. Addicks H’02 Award for the Highest Class Participation (min. 20 class members): Class of 1959
- The Susan S. Graham Award for the Young Alumni Class (up to 10 years out) with the Highest Class Participation: Class of 2014
- The W. Russ Elgin Award for the Young Alumni Class (up to 10 years out) with the Largest Class Gift: The Class of 2012
Three alumni were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year: Jerry LeVasseur ’56 was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, and Stu Levitan ’71 and Tom Braman ’57 were inducted into the Arts & Letters Hall of Fame.
The Alumni Association Meeting also provided an opportunity for the community to pay tribute to Trustee Emeritus David N. Hoadley ’51, who passed away January 14, 2022, following a long illness. “It really is hard to imagine anyone loving this school more than David,” Becker remarked. “He leaves a really incredible legacy here. He was a loyal Trustee, a dedicated alumnus who served for 28 years as a Trustee, President of the Alumni Association, Chairman of the Annual Fund. He was instrumental in the construction of the Edward Buxton Alumni Center. He is the namesake of an annual fund giving society, also the boys soccer MVP award and varsity baseball coach’s position is named in David’s honor. He was the first recipient of the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1989 and truly embodies the spirit of that award, so well that we named it after him in 2021. Most recently, we etched his name on this podium. This is the place where every guest speaker, every junior speech giver, every student leader delivers their address to the community.”
Becker noted that he traveled with Board Chair Patrick Dorton ’86, Trustee Emeritus and past Chair Gerrit Vreeland ’61, and Trustee and past Chair Stephen Baird ’68 to Hoadley’s memorial service, where he was remembered for his contributions to his town, including as a Little League umpire, and as an accomplished runner who participated in 54 marathons in his lifetime, starting at age 36. “He will be greatly missed by his classmates, family and friends.”
One of the ways the community will continue to celebrate and remember Hoadley is through the presentation of the David N. Hoadley ’51 Alumnus of the Year Award. As Brown noted, this award is given annually to the person who, in the opinion of the Alumni and Development Office, has contributed most significantly to the school through his or her volunteer efforts, and who, in those efforts, has represented The Frederick Gunn School to the highest standards. Past winners include Trustee Emeritus Leo Bretter ’52, Chris Healy ’76, Trustee Jon Linen ’62, Andrew Sacks ’86, Nick Molar ’72, Sarah Scheel Cook ’82, Frank Macary ’77 P’03 ’05 ’07 ’15, and most recently, Trustee Tom King ’60 and Tim Gaillard ’61. The David N. Hoadley Alumnus of the Year Award for 2022 was presented to Trustee Peter Houldin ’92 in recognition of his years of service to the school, including a decade on the Board.
The annual meeting is also a service of remembrance, and alumni paused to remember those who are no longer with us and celebrate their lives. Class Representatives stood to read the names of all alumni from classes ending in 0, 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7 who had passed away since the last reunion of their class.
The Pinning Ceremony
Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, Brown invited any alumnus or alumna who had not previously received their alumni pin to do so. This relatively new tradition was instituted by the school in 2016. As the final, formal step to induction in the Alumni Association, every Gunn graduates receives an alumni pin.
“The pin itself is small and simple. What it represents is quite the opposite. The pin can only be worn by an alumnus. And like the numbers after your name, the pin is earned. Additionally, the pin must be placed on you for the first time by a fellow alumnus. The ceremony of being pinned by another graduate links you not only to the pinner, but to the person who pinned them, and so on. It’s the continuation of a chain that stretches back as far as our oldest living alumni, and should always serve as a reminder of the bond we share as Highlander Faithful. In addition to giving these pins to seniors before they graduate, we started giving them to alumni who come back for a reunion a few years ago,” Brown said. “While many of you have been graduates for many, many years, we’re excited to welcome you into the Alumni Association officially with the pinning ceremony.”
Celebrating Alumni Artists
Campus was a flurry of activity throughout Saturday afternoon and evening, with Gunn Detective Sleuthing in the Paula and George Krimsky ’60 Archives and Special Collections, the annual Alumni Row from Beebe Boathouse on Lake Waramaug, an Underhill Society reception and presentation on estate planning by Paul McManus ’87 P’21 ’23, Belmont Stakes viewing, and the Gunn Gala, a semi-formal dinner with dancing under the tent on Edward Wersebe Memorial Field. On Sunday, alumni joined Marlon Fisher ’01, Associate Director of the 1850 Fund, and Dan Fladager, Director of Outdoor Programs, for a hike at Steep Rock.
During quieter moments throughout the weekend, alumni and friends had the opportunity to view an Alumni Art Exhibit that opened in the Perakos Family Cares Gallery in April, coinciding with the official TPACC opening celebration. The exhibit was curated by Visual Arts Chair Andrew Richards P’20 ’23 and Lincoln Turner, Visual Arts faculty, and was three years in the making. “For me one of the wonderful things was learning about someone like Rowland Scherman ’55 or Peter Cree ’71 or Charles Hollinger ’04, all these different artists that we have, young and old alike,” Turner said.
A reception was held on Saturday for all of the artists who lent their work, including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, and hand-crafted furniture: Roman Cohen ’18, Peter Cree ’71, Phil Dutton ’81, Tim Galliard ’61, Andy Glantz ’67, Charles Hollinger ’04, Robert Houser ’85, David Kaplan ’81, Sarah Kushwara ’00, Davina Perl ’86, Sarah Rinaldi ’04, Rowland Scherman ’55, and Robert Shillady ’66.
In addition to this, members of the Class of 1957 gathered in TPACC on Saturday for the dedication of a sculpture titled “Totem,” by Norm Hines ’57, an artist who was commissioned in the mid-1980s to create Caelum Moor, a megalitic sculpture park in Arlington, Texas, that was intended to be reminiscent of Stonehenge.
Hines “cared deeply about the people around him,” Richard said at the dedication. “This is obvious in the determination that his fellow classmates have shown to get this beautiful sculpture here for us to appreciate. This is an intimate sculpture that seems to be about the person. There is the head with a small circle that represents the eye, and the jagged line that represents the hair, but the part I love the most is the bell, which seems to represent the heart. I love the fact that he is incorporating sound into his sculptures. It means that he can incorporate more of our senses into the sculpture.”
Peter H. Smith ’57 reflected on his friend and former classmate, who came to what was then The Gunnery from New York City, having lived since the age of 7 at the Madison Square Boys Club. A natural athlete, he excelled on the football field, as captain of the wrestling team, and as an artist, winning the Excellence in Art award at Prize Night. He was also an accomplished rower, who contributed to the success of the school’s first boat as well as to the four-man crew team that nearly won a place at the 1956 U.S. Olympics, “losing to the U.S. Naval Academy by one-tenth of a second,” Smith noted.
Decades later, Smith said Hines reflected: “As difficult as it was and as out of place as I often felt, I know that much of the success I have had in my life came directly from my years at Gunnery. I don’t mean so much what I learned in the classroom … but rather what I learned from the faculty and other students. [Previous experiences] had taught me how to survive and protect myself, both emotionally and physically, but they had not taught me how to care and certainly not how to love or even consider the possibility that I could be loveable … I had no idea what a family was like or more important, what it was supposed to be, and I had certainly never felt that I was part of a family.”
“Norm’s deeply personal appreciation for the benefits of education, which had played such a crucial part in his own life, was reflected in his long career,” Smith said. “Even as his reputation grew, Norm remained loyal to the ideals of arts education, with an emphasis on personal creativity rather than social standing, reputation, or financial gain … He was a person of substance.”
To view photos from Alumni Weekend 2022, please see our SmugMug Gallery.