Green grass, blue skies, and cool breezes welcomed Pelicans and their families as they returned to the Island June 10–12 for the first in-person Reunion Weekend since 2019.
Alumni/ae from near and far came to reconnect with friends, faculty, and other school community members during a weekend full of gatherings, presentations, learning, and enjoyment for all. Because the pandemic forced the cancellation of reunions for the last two years, this year’s event celebrated the Chaffee, Loomis, and Loomis Chaffee classes from years ending in 2s and 7s, 0s and 5s, and 1s and 6s as well as alumni who graduated more than 50 years ago.
The festivities began on Friday afternoon with a golf outing at Wintonbury Hills Golf Course in Bloomfield and several on-campus events, including a presentation about Evelyn Longman hosted by the school’s archivist, Karen Parsons; a wine tasting; and a 25th Reunion reception for the Class of 1997. The day culminated with dinner and dancing for all classes under the tent in Grubbs Quadrangle.
Saturday morning’s events started off bright and early with a “Birding on the Island” walk with Head of School Sheila Culbert. Later in the morning, several events took place in the newly opened John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols Center for Theater and Dance. Rebecca Pacheco ’97 led a mindfulness session in the building’s Dance Studio; Associate Head for External Relations Nat Follansbee interviewed Scott Havens ’91, chief executive officer of Bloomberg Media, for an audience in the Norris Ely Orchard Theater; and Sheila delivered her State of the School address in the NEO, where she spoke on a wide-range of topics from the school’s response to the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic to the admissions data showing the unprecedented recent rise in interest in Loomis Chaffee among prospective students.
Following the State of the School, the festive Alumni Parade of Classes wove its way through the campus, ending in Grubbs Quadrangle, where food trucks and family activities awaited the attendees.
Later in the afternoon, alumni attended a memorial tribute to longtime visual arts teacher Walter Rabetz in the Sue and Eugene Mercy Jr. Gallery of the Richmond Art Center. The gallery featured an exhibition of works by Walter; his wife, Marilyn, who also was a longtime visual arts teacher and gallery director at Loomis Chaffee; and Sarah Lutz ’85, an artist and former student of Walter and Marilyn. As part of the tribute, Marilyn and retired philosophy and religion teacher Dom Failla read selected poems from their own collections.
The crowd then moved outside for a dedication ceremony for the newly remodeled Ratté Quadrangle, named for former Headmaster John Ratté, who spoke at the event. In his remarks, John reminded attendees of the history of expansion and growth on the Island, in both learning spaces and educational practices. The campus is now “linked in a steady flow ... up and down the river-like Way,” he concluded, indicating the pedestrian pathway that now winds from north to south thru the campus. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Duncan A.L. MacLean ’90, Sheila, and Karen Parsons also spoke at the event.
The day’s activities also included an overview of the latest campus master plan; an open house at the Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; a sustainability tour of campus hosted by the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies; alumni lacrosse, soccer, and tennis; and an alumni remembrance service in Founders Chapel. Children's activities included robotics, “Fun in the PHI” in the Pearse Hub for Innovation, and mini golf and other games on Grubbs Quad.
On Saturday night, reunion celebrants gathered for class dinners followed by an all-class dessert and dancing under the tent in Grubbs Quad.
The weekend concluded with a Sunday morning breakfast, where alumni bid each other farewell until next time.