Rite of Spring: Reunion Weekend 2018

Alumni gathered to make new Sidwell Friends memories.

“Welcome home, everyone. It’s great to have you here.”

Head of School Bryan Garman kicked off the Distinguished Alumni Awards presentation with a moving welcome to the 13 classes gathered before him and seated at tables by year.

“Thank you for letting your life speak so loudly and so clearly, and thank you for taking the values of Sidwell Friends out into the world,” he said to this year’s awardees, Maren “Marnie” Imhoff ’73, Matthew Denckla ’83, Vincent “Vo” Cohen ’88, and Natalie M. Randolph ’98.

“This award caused me to really reflect deeply on how Sidwell Friends has impacted my life,” said Marnie, who is vice president for development at Rockefeller University. “It was truly a revelation—how much of my career, who I am, and how much my values shape my decisions. Sidwell Friends is the origin.”

“It feels good to see my classmates’ reaction to my work,” said Natalie after accepting her award and excitedly posing for a photo with Bill Nye ’73. She works as a Title IX coordinator for the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education.  

A Lemonade Toast to the Passage of 50 Years

Each year, 5th graders correspond with alumni celebrating their 50th reunion and then invite the class to school to meet in person and see their work—and what SFS looks like now—as part of Reunion Weekend.

“I feel like I’ve stepped onto another planet,” Askold Boretsky ’68 said as he enjoyed lemonade and cookies with Jada, his 5th grade pen pal, who had just given him a full tour of the Middle School. The school building and the campus are much different than they were in Askold’s time, but he was especially impressed by the students’ work in Chinese, physics, and math.

The Class of 1968 also enjoyed a special lunch at Zartman House on Friday afternoon, where they were treated to a guest lecture by history teacher Robbie Gross.

A Full Slate of Events

In addition to the Class of 1968, alumni from 12 other reunion years—1953 to 2013 in five-year increments—returned to campus to reminisce and reconnect.

The official opening celebration for the weekend came Friday night with a reception for everyone. As the sun set and a cool breeze kicked up to ease the unseasonable heat, former classmates gathered in a tent behind Zartman House to toast the quick passage of time.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy and cooler, as alumni made their way back to class with some current Sidwell Friends teachers. History teacher-turned-Head of School Bryan Garman gave a lecture, as did French teacher and Upper School principal Mamadou Guèye.

Spanish teacher Camila Villanueva ’03 faced a special challenge: adapting her yearlong Spanish-language seminar to a 45-minute presentation for English-speaking alumni, including several of her own former classmates.

“It was fun. I was nervous at first,” said Camila. “But it was an opportunity to show my friends what I do. I would have wanted to see one of my friends doing her job, so I was happy to present.”

On Saturday evening, the classes broke up into individual celebrations, one last official group gathering before another five years goes by.

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