Reunion 2024: Alumni of All Ages Celebrating Together

Over a celebratory June weekend, Vermont Academy alumni, their guests, and faculty joined together to reminisce on fond memories of their time as students at VA.
Graduating classes in attendance spanned decades, ranging from 1946 to 2019. The shared joy and appreciation for VA was a common thread among all attendees.

Festivities began Friday with the Old Guard Dinner in the Warren Chivers Ski and Outdoor Education Center. The Old Guard is composed of all alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago, and this year the Class of 1974 was officially inducted into this distinguished group. One of the highlights was having former Head of School Mike Choukas, Jr. '46 there. Many shared stories thanking Mr. Choukas for the role he played during their formative years as students and beyond.

Also on Friday, the Class of 1984 gathered for a special dinner in downtown Bellows Falls. The restaurant buzzed with excitement as classmates reconnected.

On Saturday, guests were invited to “greet the morning” with breakfast in the Shepardson Student Center & Dining Hall before activities began on the lawn outside the Horowitz Performing Arts Hall. 

The schedule was broken up into “blocks”, mimicking VA’s academic block schedule. The day’s first block, A block, began at 9 a.m. with outdoor activities such as cornhole, blanket-making for Project Linus, and Vermont keepsake-making. 

B block followed with a hard hat tour led by Director of Advancement Tonia Fleming P ’18 as she highlighted the impact that donors can have on the student experience. The Vermont Academy community is grateful for the generosity of donors who have made possible the renovations to improve academic, residential, athletic, and arts facilities.

Back on the lawn outside Horowitz, alumni and friends enjoyed some friendly competition in a soccer game led by Assistant Head of School Brian Gilloran and refereed by Joe Dodi ’84

In the Horowitz Performing Arts Hall lobby, Joe Echanis ’79 led a “Robotics 101” session during C block. 2023-24 was a successful year for the VA Robotics team, making it an important highlight to showcase from the past year.

Once alumni had gathered for the farm-to-table lunch, the Vermont Academy Alumni Association (VAAA) meeting and Alumni Awards Ceremony began. Many were decorated in Vermont Academy gear, indicating they might have paid a customary visit to the school store. 

The speaking program kicked off with a welcome from VAAA President George Atkins ’15, followed by the awards ceremony. The VA Alumni Association recognized Ethan Tapper ’07 as the inaugural recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, and Edward “Denny” Emerson ’59 and Johnny Rosen ’63 as 2024 Florence R. Sabin Class of 1889 Distinguished Alumni Award honorees.

Head of School Dr. Jennifer L. Zaccara gave a closing speech before prompting the alumni to gather for a group photo, making for a special moment for the smiling faces of alumni of all ages to join together.

The group then migrated to South Walk for the traditional memorial service to honor and remember members of the community who are no longer with us. 

In the late afternoon, attendees could choose to tour the Saxtons River Historical Museum, head to the Bellows Falls Festival, or enjoy a low-key afternoon on campus.

The evening featured a bonfire at the Nick Grout ’03 Memorial Fire Pit to close out the weekend. Boisterous laughs and shared memories of yesteryear echoed over Alumni Field as the alumni reminisced around the fire, just as they might have as students. 

Attendees of Reunion 2024 shared resounding remarks on how special it was connecting with old friends, making new connections, and revisiting the place that started it all.

Special thanks to the members of the Reunion Outreach Committee who helped rally their classmates and friends to join the fun!

Be sure to view photos of the 2024 Reunion festivities here.
Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.