Head of School Blog: Celebrating the Past – Looking to the Future!
On September 27-29, we celebrated Alumni Homecoming Weekend. For our current students, this meant dress-up days, pep rallies, Homecoming King and Queen, and the ever-popular homecoming dances. New this year was a concerted effort to make the alumni aspect of this weekend more prominent. We wanted to celebrate our alums who have impacted our school since they were students and who continue to support and promote the school.
Our first event as part of this new, improved Alumni Homecoming Weekend took place Thursday, where we gathered at Classic on Noble to celebrate three very important individuals from our past. The first two honorees, Mr. Redge and Mrs. Jeanie Thagard, were long-time faculty members, mentors, and sources of inspiration for our students during their long tenures at the school. As I have sought out alumni and asked about their experiences while students, two names kept being raised as whom they most thanked for their future successes, Mr. and Mrs. "T". To celebrate all that they have done for the school, The Donoho Board of Directors decided to rename our annual Donoho Honor Scholarship to TheRedge and Jeanie Thagard Honor Scholarship. Misty McGehee, on behalf of her husband and alumnus Boyd, read a moving tribute to the Thagards as part of the celebration. The third honoree was the recipient of the 2018 Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Anand Iyer, Class of 2003. Dr. Iyer is truly an exceptional young man, who has been valedictorian of Donoho, UAB, and UAB Medical School, and has devoted his life to research and service to those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). His list of accomplishments is immense, as is his dedication to serving others. Former Headmaster George “Dee” Gorey spoke eloquently about Dr. Iyer as a student, and Dr. Iyer spoke about how much Donoho has impacted his life. It was a wonderful event recognizing some of the best of Donoho’s past.
The second new event was the Alumni Tailgate Party held before the Berry game Friday. It was my pleasure, along with Upper School Director, Russ Connell, to grill burgers, brats, and dogs for many of the alumni who returned for the game. As usual, it was exciting to see old faces, meet new alums, and share in everyone’s memory of his or her time at Donoho. That spirit carried over into Saturday, where our first-ever Alumni Family Fun Day was held at the school. Returning Alumni were treated with food by Moe’s Southwest Grill, tours of the school, a tie-dye station for shirts, special art projects in the Fine Arts building led by Ms. Landrum, and an opportunity to meet with retired and current faculty and other alums. This event was highlighted by the Class of 1988 who was returning to celebrate their 30th reunion. Again, it was a wonderful event with a good time had by all who participated.
It is important to remember that our alumni, though no longer students or in many cases living in thearea, are key to a bright future for Donoho. Through their financial support, mentorship of current students, and roles as advisors as needed, alumni make a bright future possible. Just as many alumni would not be who they are without Donoho, we could not be who we are without our alumni. I titled this blog “Celebrating the Past – Looking to the Future!” That is what the past weekend was, celebrating Mr. and Mrs." T", Dr. Iyer, the Class of 1988, all alumni, and looking at the possibilities that lie ahead that are made possible by our alums. We are all truly Falcons For Life!
David J. Noone