Centennial Reunion 2011 broke records with over 1,300 alumni, friends and family members joining the festivities held throughout the weekend of June 3-5.
It started off with a bang Friday night: an amazing display of fireworks in honor of the College’s 100th anniversary. From a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to an explosive birthday cake, Tempel Green was on fire with the spirit of celebration.
“It’s hard to put into words. It feels so good to be back at the place I loved. I knew this year would be a really special reunion and I wasn’t wrong,” said Chloe O’Connell ’06.
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It was a reunion year for alumni whose class years end in ’1 or ’6, but all members of the College community were welcome. Members of classes celebrating their reunion in 2012 also were on campus for Insights, to begin planning their own festivities.
The theme was the Centennial, and it was reflected in many of the weekend’s events.
Blake McDonald ’10, who is preparing a National Register application for campus buildings, spoke of how the campus grew out of a small orchard (now Unity House) and blossomed into a community whose structures focus on “areas for community interaction.”
A panel discussion featuring alumni from a cross-section of decades shed light on the traditions of the College, covering everything from comprehensive exams to the Camelympics. Joan Jacobson Kronick ’46 recounted her experiences helping the war effort during her freshman year, when students were asked to take shifts to scout the sky for enemy planes. Kronick recounted her trepidation as she would study the drawings of aircraft and then pray that the night would unfold uneventfully.
Paul Marthers, author of “Eighth Sister No More: The Origins and Evolution of Connecticut College” addressed members of the Sykes Society, for alumnae who graduated 50 or more years ago.
"[The Centennial] provides a time for Connecticut College to look back and look forward at the same time," he said. He said it's exciting to see the College reclaim its heritage as an institution seeking to right a wrong: the exclusion of women from four-year liberal arts colleges in the state. "It's a fascinating story," he said.
The weekend was filled with special dinners and receptions, as well as golf, yoga, and a 5k campus fun run for the early risers. Tom Gately '91, an animator with Pixar, talked about his work -- and drew Simba from "The Lion King" -- for an appreciative audience that packed the lecture hall on the first floor of Olin.
At Convocation, President Higdon described the investment in campus programs and facilities made possible through the Campaign for Connecticut College. It was an important part of the festivities for Elise LaPointe ’06. “It’s important for me to see the improvements happening since I support the College,” she said.
At the all-campus picnic, classes gathered to enjoy some much needed shade from the summertime sun. Looking out over Tempel Green, Ryan Poirer ’06 commented that the view is one of the very reasons he came back to campus.
For Beth Block ’86, the weekend was a special one she won’t soon forget. “I couldn’t resist being here for the Centennial. But the best thing is just walking around and being able to revisit some of my favorite spots.”
Insights participants were delighted to get a head start on planning for next year’s reunion -- and to be part of Centennial Reunion. “Next year is my 20th reunion," said Jennifer Stefani '92. "It’s great to have this opportunity to see what works so we can put it into the mix for next year.”