Some students get homesick when they arrive in September. They hanker for the places and community they have left behind for this new and strange environment. Alumni receptions are like homesickness in reverse: they tug you back to the strong affection for old friends, where you feel the forgotten embrace of a place and a community that was, for many, like a second home. In September, 2001, my wife, Joan and I were planning our trip to the New York alumni reception when the September 11 bombings occurred. In response to the emails we sent asking if we should still come, our alums there said – yes, please do come, it will feel like home is coming to us. True story.
Last night we had our Vancouver reception. It tends to be larger than most, for understandable reasons of proximity. Interestingly, for the first time this year, nearly all the attendees consisted of students who had graduated while I have been Head of School. They are all doing exciting things. One is starting a medical residency which, six years from now, will qualify him to practice medicine with a specialization in the kidneys. Another is working with a large agency in the east side of Vancouver that provides substantial support in the lives of women who have been victims of violence. Another is a Bitcoin broker. Our grads do exciting and fascinating things.
They are eager for news of the School. How is everything? I always touch wood, not wanting to jinx anything. Depending on when their last visit was, of course, there might be a new building or two. The School has added about forty boarders, and about sixty day students in the last twelve years. Some teachers they know have retired. Then I tell them the really core stuff: our grads go on to great and varied institutions of higher learning; our athletic teams are thriving; most of all, we continue to have the best teachers you can find in a school anywhere. Last night, the exact reply I got to these last three observations was “Oh great! Just like when we were there!” I kid you not.
Great students make great alumni.