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Reunion 2017: Reconnecting, Reminiscing, Remarkable

Reunion 2017: Reconnecting, Reminiscing, Remarkable
Meredith Berry-Toon

Graduates from classes ending in 2 and 7 began arriving on campus Friday, June 9, for a fun-filled weekend of events and activities.

"I thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many members of the extended Canterbury family during the weekend," said Head of School Rachel Stone. "My personal highlights included joining members of the 50th reunion class for dinner on Friday, engaging in the Q&A, and hearing the Athletics Hall of Fame announcement. I genuinely appreciate the strong alumni engagement over the course of this remarkable three-day event."

Three special dinners kicked off Reunion 2017. The 50th Reunion class enjoyed a private reception and meal in Steers Admission Center. Concurrently, the Class of 1972 gathered at Lucia Ristorante, a local eatery, and all other guests relaxed in the company of classmates in Steele Student Center to partake in a delicious meal, to reminisce as well as to catch up on each other's lives.

Saturday's robust lineup of events started with the Parade of Classes from Sheehan House to Hume Hall for the Society of Alumni (SOA) Annual Meeting.

After an opening prayer by Canterbury theology teacher and deacon Frank Bice '77, Peter Tucker '78, president of SOA, welcomed the graduates and guests. He recognized the 50th Reunion Class of 1967 (led by Mike Foley and Bill Ranger), the 25th Reunion Class of 1991 (led by Patricia Sordoni Rasmussen), Bill Morrison '45, the oldest graduate to return, and Peter Berry '13, the youngest.

In addition, Peter Tucker welcomed members of the "Old Guard" from the classes of 1956, 1957, and 1962.

Alumni traveled from near and far to attend the weekend. They hailed from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and even Brazil.

Among the attendees were Chris Hume '72 and Greg Hume '72, grandsons of founding headmaster Nelson Hume; Gary Sheehan '67 and John Sheehan '72, nephews of second headmaster Walter Sheehan; and Rudy von Bernuth '62, nephew of fourth headmaster Rod Clarke '46.

"We welcome Rachel Stone, our head of school, to her first Canterbury reunion," said Peter Tucker. "This weekend is the 'last of your firsts' as your first year as our new Head comes to a close. As they say, we've saved the best for last."

Members of the SOA to attend the meeting included: Jim Briggs '56, Victoria Bundonis Rovin '81, Tom Esposito '80, Will Finn '07, John Gaffney '90, George Malhame '74, John Niles '68, and Patricia Sordoni Rasmussen.

John Niles '68, co-chair of the SOA nominating committee, submitted the following slate of executive committee members for a three-year term: Tom Esposito '80, Emily Kloblen '00, Andrew Garvin Hammer '85, Robert Maloney '95, John Niles '68, and William "Macy" Steers '04. By unanimous proclamation, the assembled guests approved the nominations.

Next, John Niles put into nomination four retiring faculty members, Kathy Bolster (34 years), Sandy Behan (35 years), Vivian and Guy Simonelli (36 years), and JP Mandler (46 years), to be honorary members of the SOA.

Said John, "This designation is bestowed upon non-graduates who have adopted Canterbury School as their own through uncommon and long-standing service, and who have made significant contributions to the School's mission, prestige, and reputation for excellence."

Each retiree received the Jim Briggs '56 Honorary Alumni Award. Jim was the driving force behind formalizing SOA. He has served as trustee since 1993, was the 2002 recipient of the Canterbury Medal, and, in the 1960s, was a faculty member and coach.

Designated speakers presented remarks about each of the retirees: Bridget Heaton '07 reflected on Sandy Behan; Chris Bolster '04 and Ian '07 Bolster spoke about their mom, Kathy; Adriano Echavarria '07 talked about Viv and Guy Simonelli, and Peter Tucker '78 honored JP Mandler, who is Canterbury's longest-serving faculty member.

Rudolph "Rudy" von Bernuth '62 received the Thomas J. Sheehy III Distinguished Alumni Award. Rudy has worked in the field of humanitarian relief and international development for forty-five years. He began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, and thereafter worked for CARE or twenty years before joining Save the Children, from which he retired in 2015. Head of School Rachel Stone presented him the award.

Following the presentation of awards, a video entitled "Canterbury Core" described a key component of SOA. Canterbury Core creates opportunities for graduates to interact with each other and the School by contributing their time, talent, and knowledge. To close the program, graduates sang "Cantuaria Floreat," the school song.

Saturday afternoon's activities included BBQ lunch, class photos, family fun, a Q&A with Rachel Stone, and the 2017 Class of the Athletics Hall of Fame.

At the Q&A, head of school Rachel Stone summarized her first year on the job, sketched out plans for the future, and then fielded questions that ranged from positioning Canterbury in today's marketplace to the status of current enrollment.

Jim Stone, director of athletics, announced the following individuals and team to be honored in October: Lawrence Lessing '28 (hockey and lacrosse), Thomas Haire Sr. (football), Terence McBride '66 (golf), Robert Gilbane '67 (hockey and track and field), Edward Wallace '67 (swimming), Robert Steele '72 (golf), Michael Bourdeau '73 (soccer, basketball, and baseball), John Sargeant '75 (lacrosse) Debra O'Connor Cully '78 (soccer and track), Sandra Foster '82 (swimming), Peter Lapin '84 (hockey), former faculty member Don Robert (wrestling coach), and the 1970 wrestling team (10-0 season).

Fr. Mark Connell celebrated the Alumni Memorial Mass in the Chapel of Our Lady. The following reunioners participated in the service: Bob Cusack '62, Chip Daly '67, Chris Doyle '67, Peter Miller '67, Diane Bourdeau Barton '77, Larry Fisher '77, Mary Kate Shea '77, Jeff Jayson '82, Alex Browning '92, Tim Coleman '97, and Danielle Enage Conkling '97.

Throughout the weekend, current students led campus tours.

Saturday's events concluded with the All-Class Reunion Dinner in Steele Hall Dining Room. This formal celebration featured an outstanding strolling gourmet dinner, cocktails, and live-band entertainment and dancing.

On Sunday morning, graduates bid farewell to their classmates and friends at an informal brunch.

To view photos of the weekend, click here.