Oh, What a Time it Was, a Flock Reunion to Remember

Blue skies and balmy temperatures greeted more than 500 Martlets who gathered on Williams Hill for Westminster’s three-year Flock Reunion. Over the weekend, alumni reconnected with classmates, former teachers, coaches and advisors and took part in a range of activities, including a golf tournament, a co-ed softball game, coffee on Keyes Patio and line dancing on Commencement Lawn.
For many alumni, returning to Westminster felt like coming home, a sentiment shared by former Head of School Don Werner P’79,’82, who served the school for 33 years beginning as a teacher. “I feel great warmth just being here among friends. I have so many memories,” said Werner, who caught up with former students and colleagues at the 50th class reunion dinner held in Gund Dining Room Friday evening.
The reunion officially kicked off on campus Friday afternoon with tours, archive visits and faculty-taught classes as well as an alumni art collective opening in Baxter Gallery, featuring the work of 12 alumni artists. Outside the Cole Library, a book display showcased the work of 22 alumni authors.
In the archives, alumni poured over their yearbooks and looked over the treasure trove of Westminster memorabilia. Susan Gossling Walters ’75 was thrilled to unearth a stack of black-and-white photos that included images of her former teacher Charlie Dietrich. “Charlie is the reason I came to Westminster,” she said. “I babysat for his children. He tutored my brother and that’s how I learned about Westminster and ultimately why I convinced my parents to send me here.”
Alumni mingled on the Keyes Patio for coffee or under the reunion tent for cocktails and listened to the music of Firetown Road, featuring faculty member Dan Aber P’16,’18,’20 along with former faculty members Michael Cervas P’96, ’01,’10 and Grant Gritzmacher. Those celebrating their 50th, regrouped by class for dinner in Gund Dining Room, others gathered at area restaurants and private homes and on the Sixth Form Lawn where they enjoyed entrees from food trucks serving wood-fired pizza, barbecue and Mexican fare.
On Saturday, the day’s events started with a brisk run around the campus for those willing early birds. Later that morning, alumni had an opportunity to take a more leisurely walking tour of the campus, join in faculty-led yoga or engage in a networking session. In the afternoon, architect Graham Gund ’59, whose firm designed Werner Centennial Center along with other campus buildings, gave an historical overview of the school’s physical growth. Affinity and Alliance groups gathered in Adams Dining Room, and Head of School Elaine White hosted a cocktail hour in Keyes Study for women who attended Westminster in the 70s.
Popular faculty-led lectures continued Saturday including an ethics workshop with history and ethics teacher Todd Eckerson P’09,’11,’17,’21. Since the pandemic, Eckerson has been offering the class to alumni over Zoom, drawing attendees from a wide range of class years.
Eve Percival Poole ’90, who traveled to Westminster from her native Scotland, said having the opportunity to meet other alumni from the online class was one reason she looked forward to returning to Westminster for reunion. The other, she said, was to personally thank Eckerson for offering the class to alumni.
“During the past four years, we have studied the most extraordinary books, and it has kept my learning alive in a way that nothing else could possibly have done,” Poole said. “And, the friendships I’ve made through that class have been extraordinary through a very difficult time. So, as many of us who could agreed to come to the reunion to meet in person –– and it has been just great.”
For many other alumni, every Westminster reunion is “must attend” on their calendar. “I’ve come to as many reunions as I can,” said William Foy ’90. “Westminster was literally the best educational experience I ever had. It made my college years easy by comparison.”
His classmate, Veronica Flores ’90, concurred. “Before Westminster, I had been attending an inner-city school in Manhattan but coming here I experienced another way of life and culture. It opened a lot of doors for me,” she said. “I am really appreciative of the school and my education, so much so that I want my daughter to come here.”
At the chapel service in Andrews Memorial Chapel, the school remembered those alumni who passed away since the last in-person reunion held on campus in 2022. Their names were read aloud by Director of Advancement Newell Grant Jr. ’99 and Director of Alumni Engagement and Giving Joe Rodrigues ’96, P'23,’27. Chapel speaker Jillian Gregorski ’24 spoke about her difficult decision to stay at Westminster for a fifth year.
She took to heart the advice her father gave her to ‘trust the process.’ Last fall, Gregorski co-captained the girls soccer team, which won the Class A New England Championship for the first time in the school’s history. Looking back, she said her Fifth Form year gave her more time to find a college that met her criteria academically and athletically and to further grow socially, academically, emotionally and athletically. Named an All-American by the United Soccer Coaches organization, Gregorski will begin her freshman year at the University of Kansas this fall.
Following the chapel service, bagpipers led the Grand March to Werner Centennial Center for the presentation of the Alan F. Brooks ’55 Distinguished Alumni Award. Head of School Elaine White presented the award to Michael “Spike” Lobdell ’75, P’07, who was inspired by Westminster’s core values when he launched New England Science and Sailing Foundation (NESS) in 2002. The nonprofit teaches life skills and STEM-based education to youth from all backgrounds, providing them with an opportunity to get out on the water and have fun regardless of their financial needs or their ability. Following the award presentation, White delivered the state of the school address, including an update on the strategic plan.
“It is a broad, comprehensive and aspirational plan,” she said. As part of the process, White said, “We have drawn some lines in the sand. Three strengths that shouldn’t surprise you: relationships, holistic education and a commitment to Grit and Grace. These hallmarks of a Westminster education cannot be lost and must be strengthened.”
Looking forward White said: “It is a tricky balance to try to hold onto everything that has defined Westminster for more than 130 years — the ethos of Grit and Grace, the role of community, the palpable impact of faculty living and working with students –– and still evolve and improve to meet the needs of our most current students and to anticipate the needs of future generations.”
Remarking on the journey students make from when they arrive as wide-eyed Third Formers to when they graduate as seniors, she said, “We play the long game at Westminster.”
“Our hearts swell with pride as they cross the stage to receive their diplomas. But then you return as alumni –– strong, clear sense of self, reflecting core values, living with Grit and Grace and passing those expectations on to your children, measuring success by the changes you make and your impact on others, on what you provide and do to make their world and our world better. Your return to campus is a gift: In your return you show us that we were right to play the long game.”
Later, during cocktails under the commencement tent, White and Associate Dean of Faculty Charlie Griffith led a toast honoring retiring faculty members Nancy Urner-Berry ’81, P’11, ’16, Scott Stevens P’07, ’09, ’12, Judi Tolomea and staff member Gary Ransom. Alumni then filtered into the dining hall for the Black and Gold dinner and later wrapped up the evening dancing under the stars.
Whether they were recent graduates or Seventh Formers, alumni expressed gratitude for the enduring friendships they formed during their time on the Hill and how much Westminster has meant to them throughout their lives. Looking back on his time on the Hill, former Head Prefect for the Class of 1964 Peter Greene and his classmate Howard Capito remarked how a Westminster education paved the way for a successful college career. “I just couldn’t have done it without Westminster,” said Capito.

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