Reunion Weekend

A memorable few days with the ’3s and ’8s.
On June 8, over 500 guests converged on Casa de Piedra, ready to enjoy a full weekend of Reunion festivities and to reunite with former classmates and teachers in the Ojai Valley. Classic Ojai weather—sunny and warm, blue skies all around—and green hillsides speckled with post-fire regrowth (laurel sumac, blue dicks, coastal lotus, wild cucumber) greeted our alumni from the class years ending in 3 and 8, along with the many partners and children who joined the fun, too.

[Interested in perusing and downloading photos? Click here to view the album and use case-sensitive password Thacher to download.]

Friday afternoon saw guests registering and settling in, with some taking advantage of horseback riding sessions, tours of the School led by students, open access to the library archives, and a 50th Year Celebration Luncheon for CdeP 1968 in the Library Courtyard. In the evening, mingling on the Pergola was followed by class barbecues (hosted at various faculty homes and on the Pergola, depending on class year), which offered a chance for alumni to reconnect and catch up.

Some also attended the Boot Hill Legacy Society Cocktail Hour at the head of school’s home, a chance to show gratitude for and celebrate those alums who have agreed to leave a legacy gift to Thacher and, in so doing, support the long-term health of the School.

Afterward, guests reconvened on the twinkle-lighted Pergola for an amazing spread of desserts and the musical stylings of local talents Alan Thornhill and Martin Young. At 8:30 p.m., the gathered crowd paused to toast Michael and Joy and offer remembrances and gratitude for their 30+ years of selfless service to the School. Cindy Castañeda CdeP 1988 and Justin Myles CdeP 2013, as well as Joy and Michael themselves, each shared thoughtful remarks and lifted a glass.

Later in the evening, interested guests also got the chance to tour the newly-renovated, now state-of-the-art Thacher Observatory with Dr. Chris Vyhnal and to hear about the impressive student work happening there.

Saturday began with—what else?—brunch in the Hills Dining Hall and continued with Trap Shooting, more horseback riding sessions, screenings of special Thacher films, a co-ed alumni soccer game, and a slate of seminars on a variety of topics.  

At the Reunion Weekend Trap Shoot, range masters Steve Kanaly, Chris Van Son, Michael and Jim Finch and student assistants Tyler Berndt ’20, Max Golbère ’19, and Wesley Porter ’19 oversaw a busy range, with 63 rounds of trap shot on 13 quads.

High Trap Round:
Tim Butler and Kirk MacDonald (21/25)

High Class:
Class of 2008
Alessandra Waste (15)
John Neville (9)
Ethan Nonomura (16)
Emmo Gates (18)
Logan Kroloff (18)

High Family:
Caroline Butler (18)
Bob Butler (18)
Sam Butler (15)
Tim Butler (12)
Tiffany Butler (13)

“Special thanks to maintenance for supplying extra tables and chairs and to catering for an array of refreshments,” said Kanaly. “All the snacks were eaten and the water canisters refilled on this warm and busy day.”

As for seminars, alums and guests were able to enjoy:

Growing Up at Thacher, by Kim Chase CdeP 1968 and Nick Thacher CdeP 1963
Two children of former heads of school, each of who grew up on campus and later attended the School, shared stories of growing up at Thacher and resurrected an old tradition: Parlor Games.

The Greater Good, moderated by Cindy Castañeda CdeP 1988, with panelists Laura Van Winkle James CdeP 1993, Justin Myles CdeP 2013, and Shayla Yellowhair CdeP 2003
An interactive discussion about the many ways one can be involved in volunteer service as it relates to Sherman Day Thacher’s vision of Thacher graduates “living for their own greatest good and for the good of their fellow citizens.”

Andrew & Polly Mini-Concert, featuring Andrew Barkan CdeP 1998
Award-winning children’s songwriters staged a casual family sing-and-dance-along on the Pergola.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Mulligan Holds Forth on the Best Stories from 32 Years at Thacher by Michael K. Mulligan
During his last Reunion as head of school, Mully shared the best stories from his 32 years at Thacher.

Stories from my Father
In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Thacher becoming co-ed, a conversational seminar featuring Thacher women who grew up hearing stories from the Thacher men in their families about an all-boys school—but who later attended themselves.

In the evening, guests dressed up for cocktails and class photos on the Upper Field, followed by the Alumni Banquet beneath the traditional big white tent. Things kicked off with the singing of Domine and remarks from Michael K. Mulligan. Emcee duties were handled by Nick Thacher CdeP 1963 and class toasts were delivered by each of the following individuals:

Mac Jordan CdeP 1938
Sam Wright CdeP 1948
Lee Follett CdeP 1953
Tony Thacher CdeP 1958
Steve Griggs CdeP 1963
Dyke Messler CdeP 1968
Walter Rieman CdeP 1973
Michael Brown CdeP 1978
Bruce Somers CdeP 1983
Jamie Araujo CdeP 1988
Jean Richards Damon CdeP 1993
Caroline Ferris White CdeP 1998
Owili Eison CdeP 2003
Lucy Phillips CdeP 2008
Shelby Luce CdeP 2013

Dinner closed with a raucous rendition of The Banquet Song and was followed by music and dancing on Upper Field, courtesy of Charlie Limousine.

Sunday proved to be another beautiful day at Casa de Piedra. In the Dining Hall, a delicious brunch was once again on offer and out at the Outdoor Chapel, that favorite spot overlooking the Ojai Valley, many attended the annual Memorial Service, this year led by CdeP 1968. Amid the sounds of the nearby barns and the smell of the sagebrush, main alumni remarks were delivered by Michael Torre CdeP 1968, along with other thoughtful readings and music.

During his talk, Torre said: “The setting is the school, as are its Horse and Outdoor Programs. Without them both, Thacher simply is not Thacher. By rights, living in this beauty day after day should have made each of us ready to be good stewards of our common home, mother earth. At so many times, how could our spirits not soar? How could we not but be happy and thankful for the opportunity to take in what was being offered?”

Happy and thankful indeed! While some squeezed in a final horseback riding session, others prepared to depart, and soon everyone began to set their sights for home and the wonderful weekend came to a close…

Until next time!

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