More than 230 Spence alumnae returned to the Red Doors for the 2018 Reunion, which honored alumnae from classes ending in “3” and “8” in particular.[Click here for photos]
The celebrations started on Thursday, April 12, with a tea at Head of School Bodie Brizendine’s home for the Reunion year alumnae, members of The 1892 Society (including eight new members) and the alumnae board.
On Friday, alumnae enjoyed breakfast in the Drawing Room, followed by class visits and campus tours. At the luncheon, the senior class was welcomed into the alumnae legion with yellow roses, and the School also recognized the 2018 Distinguished Alumnae Award Recipients
, Anya Herz Shiva ’88 for her service to Spence and Tensie Whelan ’78 for professional achievements.
“I continue to be inspired and engaged every time I’m here or anywhere else where I meet a fellow Spence student or alum,” Anya said. “I hope that all of you have the opportunities to get to know each other better, and I encourage you to get involved and get that energy from amongst yourselves.”
In accepting her professional achievement award, Tensie referenced an article she read about how accomplished women often had two things in common: going to all-girls schools and playing team sports.
“Spence gave me the opportunity to do both those things,” Tensie said. “Spence gave me the confidence to say what I wanted, to think what I wanted. Growing up here and learning to speak our mind and think critically was critical for me.”
Brizendine thanked all those involved in the planning and execution of Reunion and read a speech that a Grade 12 student had written from senior retreat. Class president Mado Watts ’18 also took the podium and spoke about how honored the class was to join the Spence alumnae community. Mado also talked about how proud she was of her fellow classmates.
“I believe we are a class made of future entrepreneurs, diplomats, theoretical physicists, movie stars, best-selling novelists and more,” she said.
The luncheon concluded with Select Choir singing “When I’m Sixty-Four” and the School song alongside alumnae.
After more opportunities for class visits and campus tours, alumnae were then invited to a discussion with Director of Institutional Equity Rebecca Hong, who talked about the K-12 equity curricula. Hong also talked about some of the opportunities parents have both for affinity groups and for meeting parents with different backgrounds, including the Parents and Guardians of Children of Color group, Tapestry and Snowball Dinners.
Brizendine then offered her “View from the Seventh Floor,” a kind of State of the Union address for the School, in the theater. Miriam Zlotnick ’13 introduced the head of school with a story about her experience coming to Spence in 2009 and learning that Brizendine extended an offer for each ninth-grader to pay her a visit in her office individually.
“It was an invitation to begin a dialogue that goes well beyond our years as students, but it was also a powerful gesture that I think says a lot about Ms. Brizendine,” Miriam said. “She’s one of those people who effortlessly makes you feel seen, heard, embraced and important. She genuinely wants to know you and connect.”
Brizendine covered a wide variety of topics in her talk, such as updates on the 412 Athletic and Educational Facility, innovation grants, Teaching Institute, Spence Perspectives assemblies with alumnae speakers and the cross-divisional Kindness Council. She also talked about how current events have affected her role as head of school over the last two years.
“When Charlottesville happened, there was this sense of clarity around trying to keep a school honestly open to debate and yet not hate,” she said.
Brizendine met with students to brainstorm ways to encourage more open conversations, and two ideas that stemmed from those meetings were: the first Conference on Civic Engagement, which this year tackled reproductive rights, as well as Topics of the World dinners at the head of school’s house with guest speakers.
Following Brizendine’s talk, alumnae gathered for a cocktail reception then headed to private class gatherings.
Many alumnae returned to Spence on Saturday for a mimosa buffet brunch, school tours, a Triple Trio concert and a film screening of Harry & Snowman with producer Nancy Stanton Talcott ’78. Finally, alumnae had a chance to take a class with a Spence teacher, staff member or former teacher. Brizendine, Mary Frosch, Michael McGowan, Chef Danilo Giraudo, Denise Adorante, Eileen MacLellan and Arnold Orellana offered English, dance, cooking and PE classes.