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Making virtual Reunion meaningful

Blog | 08.05.2020

By Sarah Stultz Mahady ‘05, Director of Alumni Relations

As we planned the Reunion celebration for this year, I never dreamed that the world would change so dramatically that we would have to postpone the event. With the decision to combine 2020 and 2021 Reunions, we wanted to still create something that would give the Reunion years of 0’s, 5’s and MLDs the chance to have a few moments of virtual celebration during the originally scheduled event.

We love connecting with our alums, and with the new norms of virtual interactions, we wanted to take the time to do just that by still honoring such meaningful traditions here at The Woods. I personally love staying connected with our alumni and hearing how they are doing, so not coming together for Reunion was heartbreaking.

Because I am new in the role as the Director of Alumni Relations and helping plan my first Reunion, it was very hard for me to process the decision of postponing the College’s in-person Reunion. However, our utmost concern is always the safety and welfare of our alumni and guests. 

While the news was unfortunate, we hope it also provided a level of certainty in otherwise uncertain times. The decision was a difficult one, but one that was made to protect the health and well-being of our College’s alumni. Knowing that our alums had been planning to attend their Reunion where they look forward to reconnecting with classmates and friends, their emotions and feelings of disappointment were ones that we shared right along with them. 

Although it was not the same, the College wanted to take the time to celebrate and honor our alums who have passed away through a virtual “We Remember, We Celebrate” where we had a flower at the Grotto for every alum who has passed in the last five years. Sharing the view of the campus and hearing the church bells ringing while we took a moment of silence to pray for those who we have lost was such a meaningful moment to remember and celebrate those who are not with us today. 

The College also wanted to share the beauty of the campus with a virtual Walk in the Woods. Even though our alums could not be here on campus, we could take them on a virtual walk and make them feel like they were right at home.

Our Young Alum Committee of the Alumni Board wanted to take the time to still connect through a virtual toast where photos were shared via posts on their Facebook group. It was fun to see how alums miles away could still get together during a time of separation. 

President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. and Board of Trustee Chair, Barbara Brugnaux ’70, partnered to toast the classes who were missing their Reunion year. President King started the virtual toast with a few words for all the classes. A special toast to the Golden Girls from the class of 1970 was given by Brugnaux. This class was celebrating their Golden Reunion of 50 years. 

A special, private celebration of the class of 1965 met virtually on Zoom to honor and celebrate their classmate, Betty Borders McAndrews, who is the 2020 Frances Murphy Rumely Award winner. 

The decision to roll this year’s event to May 21-23, 2021, where we will plan to celebrate two Reunions in one will be an extraordinarily special gathering! 

With Reunion 2021, the College will be celebrating milestone years of 0’s, 5’s and MLDs, as well as 1’s and 6’s. We are excited to have everyone come together for what we have dubbed a mega Reunion. The alums who we have had the opportunity to connect with are excited because they have never celebrated a Reunion with the class that was before them. Some of the alums have not seen each other since graduation, in some cases dating back 50 years. We are still focused on celebrating both Golden classes of 1970 and 1971 as well as the other milestone years. 

Seeing everyone back on campus during Reunion, reminiscing and sharing stories is a feeling that cannot be put into words. It is a time where alums come together and connect just as if no time has passed. The chatter and laughter that overtakes Le Fer, as well as the singing of songs they sang while a student here is an experience that is so moving. I cannot wait to see you all when we can safely return home!

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