Last Monday afternoon we held our annual young alumni event, a highlight of the Thanksgiving week. More than 60 members of the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 descended upon campus for an hour and a half of reconnecting, catching up and reminiscing. They met with some of our beloved faculty, saw the new Dining Hall, and heard from Holly Donaldson Casella ‘04, our alumni director. Their faces lit up each time a new classmate turned the corner from the Carver Commons into the Dining Hall, and inevitably several students rushed to the door to hug and welcome a newcomer.
While I was watching them reconnect so joyfully I thought about what it means that so many students return to campus each year to see one another. Yes, Thanksgiving is the first longer break of the year, and yes, the Dining Hall is new so it is a draw, and yes, it is great to see old friends. Nevertheless those students could just have easily arranged to see one another somewhere in town or at one of their houses, and yet they chose to convene here. It had to be about more than the pizza we ordered for them!
There is something about stepping foot back on campus at Frogtown and Ponus that is centering. It is inextricably linked with the seminal experience students have during their years at NCCS. Childhood is inherently foundational and the lessons one learns as a child become intuitive to their future development and thinking. Students literally grow up here, and thus NCCS becomes much more than a school to them — it becomes almost another home. This why so many students returned this past week as they do every year to reconnect with home, to touch their childhood again, and possibly to recenter after a challenging and tiring first trimester at another school.
I want my own children – and all of our students – to have the same connection to NCCS as those who returned last week. It is so important to have a physical touchpoint to one’s childhood. I believe this aids in continued healthy development, and it sure is great for all of us adults to see our former students return “home” so enthusiastically and with so many stories of their success to share.
It is appropriate that we hold our reunion during Thanksgiving week not only because young alumni are home but also for the connection the holiday has with family gatherings and gratitude. I hope that you and your family enjoyed a rejuvenating and enjoyable holiday and that you were surrounded by people you love. I look forward to seeing you all – and your children of course! – tomorrow.