Classes, Tours, Festivities and More Fill Alumni Weekend

Alumni were invited to campus for the first time since the pandemic. Photos by Reid Alexander.

GDS hosted an alumni reunion weekend on April 22 and 23 to welcome graduates of all ages back to campus. The weekend’s festivities were organized by the school’s alumni engagement office and alumni board. 

On Friday and Saturday, alumni attended events including a Washington Nationals baseball game, Black and LGBTQ affinity gatherings, tours of the new lower/middle school building and mock high school classes. The events culminated with an on-campus reunion party on Saturday evening.

In addition to those events, which were open to all graduates, alumni from the classes of ’87 and ’97 held their own off-campus gatherings at nearby restaurants on Friday evening.

Members of the GDS faculty toured alumni around the new lower/middle school on Saturday morning. Terence Carter ’97, who toured the campus, spoke with the Bit about the contemporary look of the new building. “It’s amazing how advanced it is. GDS has always been cutting edge,” he said, “but it’s interesting to see it now, flashing forward.”

After tours, alumni had the opportunity to attend mock classes taught by faculty members Bobby Asher, Sue Ikenberry and Kevin Barr. The classes ran for 45 minutes, with teachers presenting from slideshows and engaging in discussions with alumni, many of whom had Asher, Ikenberry or Barr as teachers when they attended GDS. 

CJ Greenhill Caldera ’10 said that attending Asher’s mock neuroscience class during the reunion amounted to “the stuff that dreams are made of. Bobby’s AP psych class made a huge difference in my life during a very critical period of my growing up. I’m very grateful.”

A group of alumni attended a mock high school class with neuroscience teacher Bobby Asher on April 23.

Barr, who conducted a class called “America’s Obsession with Whiteness: Moby-Dick and Race,” said he expected the discussion to focus on a “critical analysis of whiteness” in the context of the novel Moby-Dick but instead the class evolved into a broader conversation about whiteness today. 

Barr added that it was “lovely to put together a group of now-adults who were willing to return to the GDS ethos and challenge one another.”

After reminiscing with her former students over old yearbooks, Ikenberry gave a lecture about the presidential election of 1948. 

“I was awfully nervous about doing it,” she said in an interview after the class. “More interaction usually depends on people having done a little reading.” 

The alumni reunion party was held at 8 p.m. on Saturday evening in the lower/middle school black box, where attendees enjoyed catered food, drinks and art created by fellow GDS alumni.

Tanya Phattiyakul ’97, a professional artist, was among those who had been asked by the party’s organizers to contribute work. Her piece was a multimedia abstract painting from a collection entitled Invisible. She said she appreciated the art showcase but it “wasn’t as publicized as it could have been. I didn’t find out about it until two weeks prior to the event itself.” 

Phattiyakul added that she had “really nice, deep, meaningful conversations” at the party, particularly ones about other alumni’s families. “The music was amazing and there were really good vibes,” she said.

“I just moved here, which is why I haven’t come to these events before,” Claire Lockhart ’12 said. “Social media is fun to catch up with people but actually seeing them in person was really meaningful.”

“I always enjoy alumni weekend in one way or another,” Ikenberry said. “I just wish I could get to all of the many things going on.”

“It’s really encouraging for me to see the people that my classmates have turned into,” Jessica Lazar Bates ’97 said.

CORRECTION (May 3): An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of an alumnus who toured the lower/middle school building. He is named Terence Carter, not Terrence Carter.

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