The 10th annual Fall Alumnae Dinner welcomed back cherished members of the Hockaday community.
The Biggs Dining Hall has been transformed; the tables are draped with green linen, autumn decor fills the room and faculty and alumnae are seen greeting old friends and chatting merrily.
Last Thursday, Oct. 22, the 10th annual Fall Alumnae Dinner was held at Hockaday with the theme “Celebrating Friendship.” Dating back to 2006, this event is a way to celebrate alumnae friendships and to honor beloved faculty members, both retired and current, who have 20 or more years of service to the school.
According to Director of Alumnae Relations Amy Spence, the need to bring alumnae back to campus at a time other than Alumnae Day weekend spurred the creation of this event.
“Being a girls’ school, we don’t have a homecoming weekend, so this serves as a way to celebrate Hockaday and friendships and to recognize the faculty members that have played such an important role in the lives of Hockaday alumnae,” Spence said.
The event is organized by the Fall Alumnae Dinner committee, chaired this year by Peggy Black Meyer ‘81.
“As Immediate Past President of the Hockaday Alumnae Board, it was my pleasure to be asked to chair the Fall Alumnae Dinner this year,” Meyer said. “The Fall Alumnae Dinner was always one of my favorite events on campus, not only to celebrate our Ela Hockaday Distinguished Alumni Awardees but also as an opportunity for fellowship among alums and faculty and staff.”
Planning for the event began over the summer when Meyer and the committee began working on invitation design. Over 6000 invitations were mailed to alumnae, faculty members and members of the Board of Trustees at the beginning of the school year. Additionally, the kitchen staff, headed by Director of Food Services Torie Reynolds, began planning the menu and the decor, including table linens and centerpieces, months in advance.
At 6:30 p.m., the evening program began with a reception with recognition and introduction of all the retired and current faculty in attendance. After dinner, Liza Lee was the featured speaker honored at the event. About 250 people attended.
Given this year’s theme, “Celebrating Friendship,” the event host committee chose to honor Lee’s return to Hockaday.
“In past years we would honor the Ela Hockaday Distinguished Alumnae,” Meyer said. “But we thought, what better thing to celebrate this school year than Liza Lee’s return to Hockaday as Interim Eugene McDermott Headmistress?”
From an alumni perspective, Meyer sees this event as an opportunity to reconnect with longtime Hockaday friends and faculty as well as an opportunity to meet new friends from all classes and generations.
“We have such a shared bond having experienced Hockaday collectively.” Meyer said.
Faculty who attended the event also saw this event as a valuable opportunity to reconnect. Upper School science teacher Beverly Lawson believed seeing her former students at the dinner was very special.
“They’re all grown-up and married and have children of their own and careers,” Lawson said. “It’s neat to see them, having them known them as girls and now as very accomplished women in their own right.”
Ed Long, Upper School Fine Arts teacher, also attended the dinner, enjoying both Lee’s speech and the meal itself.
“[Lee] gave a really wonderful speech with a lot of poetical references from Dryden to Yeats,” Long said. “And there was a great meal on top of that!”
According to Spence, everyone appreciates this event.
“Alums love it because they get to see their old teachers and friends that they haven’t seen in a long time,” Spence said. “We had alums attending from as old as the class of 1944 junior college to most recent graduates of 2011.”
Overall, Meyer feels grateful for the warm welcome always given to Hockaday alumnae.
Meyer said, “I cannot say enough about the Office of External Affairs, the Alumnae Office and the entire staff at Hockaday who welcome alumnae through the doors of Hockaday on a daily basis and still make them feel so connected to a school that has played such a major role in our lives.”