This past Wednesday I spent the evening in Manhattan at the Yale Club, attending a regional event for Stony Brook. Every so often the school hosts events around the country, providing an opportunity for alumni to gather and to connect with one another. This was my first time to attend one of these events and I looked forward to dressing up a little bit more than usual and traveling to the city. I also knew that this might be the only chance I could see inside the Yale Club as you have to be a member or invited by a member to get through the door.
I didn’t have any specific duties outside of taking some photos and mingling, so as the room began to fill I wandered around and introduced myself to those gathered. One of the cool parts of working at a school that has existed for ninety-one years is the stories you hear. The mix of ages and class years attending this event was varied. I saw name tags with class years in the 60s, the 80s, the early and mid 2000s. Some of the senior faculty members, who attended this event, had these very people as students. How wild, I imagine, to see the grown-up version of some of them! It reminded me that the students I taught back in Ohio right out of college are now in their mid-thirties, most likely married with their own children. My first set of students at Live Oak, who I taught as third graders, are now freshmen in high school! Perhaps one day I will see them as adults and marvel at the ways they have grown.
One former faculty member who is now retired and eighty-eight years old shared his love for the school and a couple of stories from when he was assistant headmaster. I guess the school had a lot of pranksters back then because he talked about the many pranks the administration had to deal with and how difficult it was to punish the students because some of the pranks were pretty funny.
After the reception ended and we headed back to Stony Brook, more stories were shared on the bus ride home. Names of students that I don’t know were mentioned and the stories that surrounded them. As exhausting and demanding as boarding school life can be at times, it really is an amazing privilege to walk alongside these students in such an intimate way. I remember when Brad and I came for our interview and one of the faculty members, who has been here for sixteen years, mentioned how several of his former students are now friends of his. I look forward to the day when I will reconnect with some of my students, recalling the stories of when they were students and, Lord willing, celebrating who they have become.