Last week, just as they do every year on the first weekend in May, hundreds of SMUS alumni came home. Particularly since the centennial celebrations in 2006, the Alumni Weekend and Community Celebration is one of the most anticipated events in the school calendar, offering a rare opportunity for all members of the SMUS community to come together.
With the official opening of the Monkman Athletic Complex last Friday, this year’s reunion for graduates of the class of ’68 and earlier got off to an extraordinary start. Bill Monkman ’62 was the guest of honour and with his family in attendance, Bill spoke movingly about the role the school had in laying the foundations for success in his life and of his wish that the school will make similar impacts on the lives of today’s SMUS students. Afterward, alumni and other invited guests toured the new phase, where our young squash players were breaking in the new courts with demonstration games and the fitness and change room facilities were sparkling with shiny new equipment and fixtures.
In the marquee tent on the playing fields, alumni from the classes of 1998 and 1988 gathered in record numbers for their class reunions. More than 80 alumni from 1988 and more than 60 from 1998 enjoyed catching up with old classmates and teachers. Besides the sheer number of alumni who came out, last weekend was also notable for the distances alumni travelled in order to be here. Courtenay (Mitchell) Lyons ’98, now a lawyer living in Woollahra, Australia, flew in just for the event and enjoyed a 24-hour visit before returning home again. Alumni also came from England, Mexico, Hong Kong, Malaysia and all over Canada and United States.
The celebration continued the next day with a special Chapel service followed by the dedication of the new Heritage Walk. After the dedication ceremony, Alumni Association president Gareth Rees presided over the distribution of grad bears to the 2008 graduating class. The grad bears are a traditional gift from the alumni community to welcome the graduating class into their ranks.
On the playing fields, the Senior Girls Soccer team played a demonstration match again the Junior Girls Soccer team, with both sides showing off considerable skill. They were followed by the much-anticipated yearly face-off between the SMUS 1st XV and Oak Bay. By the end of the first half, when a beautifully costumed group of Korean students took to the field to perform a traditional dance, a very large crowd of spectators had gathered, many wearing school colours and sporting SMUS tattoos. Up in Wenman Pavilion, a cheerful crowd enjoyed refreshments and the excellent vantage point as the 1st XV went on to beat Oak Bay 22-17.
Meanwhile, the International Marketplace was also a hub of activity. With students decked out in cultural dress, the marketplace did a brisk business in food and gifts from countries as diverse as Greece, India, Germany, Korea, Mexico, England, Japan and the Caribbean. By the end of the day, the marketplace had brought in more than $4000 for the International Council’s scholarship fund.
As the afternoon turned into evening, Tony Cordle and the band Nova – whose members also include SMUS alumni and parents – entertained the crowds that had gathered for the BBQ dinner.
The weekend closed on Sunday morning with its traditional finale, the Billy G. Alumni Basketball Classic.
Thanks to all the alumni, faculty, students, parents, staff and friends who came out to celebrate with us and make the weekend such a terrific success. We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.