From near and far, from the Class of 1947 to Class of 2017, Spence alumnae returned to the Red Doors for the first in-person Reunion since 2019, gathering for three days of celebration and togetherness. During the Reunion festivities, which saluted in particular graduates from class years ending in “2” and “7,” alumnae toured Spence classrooms, reconnected with old friends, classmates and teachers, and got to see all that the new 412 Academic and Educational building has to offer. Amidst these joyous moments were also poignant ones, as current seniors were inducted into the Alumnae Association with a yellow rose ceremony, and soon-retiring Head of School Bodie Brizendine presided over her final Reunion after 15 years at Spence. [Click here for photos]
Introducing Brizendine during the Reunion Luncheon, Rebecca Blandón ’12 reflected on the qualities that make Brizedine’s leadership unparalleled. “I’ll never forget my senior year in 2012, when Ms. Brizendine got up to learn a fun but very challenging dance move every teen was obsessed with at the time called the ‘Wobble.’ And I remember thinking…our Head of School can do it all––she can teach Shakespeare, she can run the School and, of course, she can master the ‘Wobble,’” shared Blandón, invoking the Spence motto as she added: “Ms. Brizendine has transformed our beloved School into an ever-growing community where students from all backgrounds are given the opportunity to learn, not just for School but for life.”
The thread of learning for life was echoed by Brizendine as she reflected on the significance of being able to come together at Reunion––despite years stretching between the Class of 2022 and those that came before them, they share Spence, and they share the values that come from full membership in the Spence community. “The special moment right now is having all of us in the same room,” said Brizendine. “You have the seniors on the cusp of joining each and every one of you in the Alumnae Association…we have Spence as a common denominator, and we’re all living, ‘not just for School but for life we learn.’”
In her remarks, Senior Class President Hailey S. reaffirmed the strength of the connection between current Spence students and its generations of alumnae. “Whether it be five, 10, 50 or 75 years ago, the alumnae paved the path on their long road to establish and shape the community that Spence is now,” Hailey shared. “Countless times I’ve discussed a club, initiative or performance with my classmates, and we cannot help but remember a Spence alumna who left a legacy in that area, and then we determinedly attempt to follow in their footsteps. We’re constantly inspired by the alumnae during lectures panels and Career Day. We are honored to join this impressive and welcoming alumnae community.”
The Reunion Luncheon also included a performance by Select Choir, the singing of the Spence School Song, and the presentation of the Distinguished Alumna Award, recognizing acclaimed dancer and choreographer Sidra Bell ’97 for her professional accomplishments and service to Spence. “A lot of my dreaming started here at Spence, in classrooms and the Spence Dance Company,” Bell said as she accepted her award. “I’m so honored to be recognized and look forward to being part of the fabric of Spence for many years to come.”
Head of School Bodie Brizendine’s final “View from the Seventh Floor” talk later that afternoon began with a moving introduction from Remy Gwertzman ’17. “How could I introduce the woman who truly needs no introduction?” Remy posed, recalling a piece of writing advice from Brizendine’s Shakespeare class that has stayed with her over the years. “While writing our papers, Ms. Brizendine implored us to find the ‘why’ in it all,” shared Remy, adding: “Whether she paints beside you in your Lower School art class, chats with you at your Middle School lunch table, or cheers you on from the sidelines of your high school game, Ms. Brizendine is always there, a calm but formidable presence who, in her own subtle but deeply powerful ways, helped us all find the ‘why’ in one another.”
For Brizendine, beginning as Spence’s Head 15 years ago, the ‘why’ was rooted in the history of the School and the words of Clara Spence. Reflecting on how she began her tenure by devouring a box full of Clara Spence’s writings from the School’s archives, Brizendine shared: “My experience here has been shaped by digging into the files of Clara Spence and finding her purpose. The more I read, the more I thought about the awesome––and I mean that in both ways––responsibility and also the joy of joining the School.”
Other highlights of the festivities included the Reunion Tea at 412 honoring 1892 Society members and inductees––Eden Williams ’87, Petra Hoerrner Eger ’02, Alexandra Lamm ’07, Lizzie Speyer ’15, Dayna Joseph ’15 and Ray Bird––as well as a Saturday brunch with a host of fun activities, from a Triple Trio Performance and school tours, to a multitude of Spence classes for alumnae to join, including ecology classes and squash lessons at 412. Many thanks to all who made Reunion possible, particularly Reunion Co-Chairs, Eden Williams ’87, Nazma Muhammad-Rosado ’92, Petra Hoerrner Eger ’02 and Rebecca Blandón ’12, and the nearly 100 volunteers who contributed their time. Thank you for helping to make Reunion 2022 such a resounding success!