Tours, tears, smiles and a Beetle: Randolph Alumni & Reunion Weekend recap

Posted by Lauren Mosley - 23 October, 2013

Each year, the Alumni Office and the Randolph Alumni Association host a celebratory weekend for the entire alumni community, highlighting the milestone years since graduation and faculty. Last weekend, young, recent, and grand alums came together for several on- and off-campus activities to remember, relive, and reconnect during Alumni & Reunion Weekend 2013.

This year's festivities were filled with laughter, storytelling, silly and sweet pictures, and even Suzy Naumann '79's Volkswagon Beetle.  View photos from the weekend in the media gallery.

Friday: Football, food, flashbacks & fun times downtown

vBefore the game against Butler High School, current students, families, and alumni gathered for a tailgate-style dinner during the Raider Rally in the Commons Lawn. It was an exciting and energetic time to welcome back the alumni community as the band, fans, food, and old friends wandered throughout.

Then, the Raiders took the field. Alumni enjoyed a first-class view of the game from the VIP tent where hot chocolate and other treats were served. During halftime, the band got the crowd dancing as they featured popular song selections from each milestone reunion year including "Smoke on the Water," "My Heart Will Go On,” and "Billie Jean."

The Friday night fun did not end there, thanks to the Randolph Alumni Association and the Class of 1983. Owning to the generous volunteer efforts of Virginia Townsend DiRienzo ’83 and John Bayer ’83, who worked with Alumni Office to coordinate their reunion efforts, and a summer-long contest that encouraged milestone reunion classes to register early, a $500 award was gifted to their class for having the highest percentage of early reunion registrations.

The class decided to share the wealth and invited all alumni and friends to join them downtown for the celebration. Alumni from the classes of '08 and '03 came to enjoy the party.

Saturday: Tours & trips down memory lane

Cls88_25thReunion3Early Saturday afternoon, the Class of 1988 gathered at Below the Radar for a casual event to celebrate their reunion and recognize their late classmate, Rupa Kakani.  Her sister, Radhika Kakani '86, visited to share a few words about her and the accomplishments of the Rupa Kakani Memorial Scholarship recipients. It was a bittersweet time filled with tears of joy and sorrow as they reflected on her life and legacy.

The Class of 1998 also had a small get-together at Monte Sano State Park for the families and children before the reception.

Randolph83_LAC7273-L[1]On campus late Saturday afternoon, Charles, husband of Suzy Naumann '79,  brought her original VW bug for a photo session, which brought back great memories for many of the visiting alumni. You can read more about this in the next issue of the Randolph magazine.

Immediately following were tours of the Drake and Garth campuses.  Virginia '83 reflected on what she remembered the Drake campus to be then, and what it is now: "I went on the school tour before the reunion tonight. So many things have changed at the Drake campus. Mr. Brown's office is where they keep all the school pets. The fireplace in the library is gone.  The high school buildings are now for 5th and 6th grade and the halls are much narrower because they added all these small rooms along the corridor. The pool got filled in and is now a music building. In general all the classrooms look different than we remember, but it was still very nostalgic to go back."

The Garth campus was new to almost everyone on the tour.  The alumni were in awe of the new space as they snapped photos and imagined themselves within the halls and classrooms.

jim palmerThe Thurber Arts Center was a lovely setting for the cocktail reception and a great way to end the weekend on campus. There was delicious food, beverages, and the opportunity for alumni to share stories of old and new. Head of School Byron Hulsey visited to thank those in attendance and give an update on the School. Classmates gathered around the slideshows, yearbooks, memorabilia, and photos, and many crowded around former faculty member, Jim Palmer, to reflect on their time together. There was also live SEC football playing on the big screens in the auditorium, which was a big hit for the sports fans.

Thank you to all who attended and especially the milestone reunion volunteers who helped make the entire weekend a success:

1978 Diane Harsha, Allison McCormick, & Carl Powe
1983 John Bayer & Virginia Townsend DiRienzo
1988 Carole Graham, Lara Isbell, Mary Russell Sanders
1993 Katie Prout Matias & Jay Plucker
1998 LeeAnn Escobar, Nitesh Sapra, & Rachel Dunagan Wiles
2003 Ashton Kyzer
2008 Sassy Saint & Swapna Kakani

Here's what some are saying about the weekend:

SONY DSC"All, this was a wonderful weekend and for those who could not make it we still thought of and talked about you!  We'll keep in touch and 35 is only a heartbeat away! Keep posting pictures and thanks to all who have!" - John Bayer '83

"Thank you for a wonderful weekend. I think it's safe to say that the Class of 1988 had a great time!" - Mary Russell Sanders '88

What's next?

The Advancement & Alumni Office hope to keep the alumni community involved beyond Alumni and Reunion Weekend. The School would like to encourage all alumni to remain involved in the life of the School through one or more of our many volunteer opportunities. Give us feedback, share your pictures and stories, stay in touch. Provide interim, internship, or job opportunities for current students and fellow alumni. Help launch or get involved with a regional events.  Revisit the campus for career panels and other events for students.

First things first:

  • Post-event survey - For those who attended the event, provide feedback by completing this brief 9 question online survey
  • Photos - View photos from the weekend in our Media Gallery (Friday night and Saturday night event pictures). Please email photos you would like to share to this address or
  • Viewbook Project – Several stories were shared over the weekend about how the Randolph educational journey has had a positive impact on your life. Please send us these stories of how Randolph’s culture of high expectations, the freedoms you had as a student, the deep and abiding relationships you formed, and overall culture of the School influenced who you are today.

Alumni Viewbook ProjectWe know that every Randolph Raider has a story. Even those who were not able to make it to reunion can reconnect and tell their stories.  How did the experiences, teachers, friends and freedom you had, the risks you took, at Randolph make you the person you are today?

We invite all alumni to join the conversation. You can share your story on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram by tagging it #randolph4life, email us at, or leave a comment below.

As they say, once a Raider, always a Raider.   We hope all alumni will return to campus often and celebrate Alumni & Reunion weekend next year and beyond.

Topics: After, community, friends, #rstories13, People

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