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Reunion Tailgate Offers Early-Career Alumni Time to Reconnect


Clockwise from top: Alumni from the classes of 2016-2018 and their guests pose with Head of School Doreen Kelly (at center) and a number of both current and past faculty; Brooke Sharp Santos ’16 and Sydnie Schwarz ’16 visit with guests and fellow Ravens Christian Walker ’14 and Rodney Lytle ’14; Kelly greets Ben Schwarz ’18 with a hug.

This year’s Homecoming marked a particularly special event for one group of alumni, and they celebrated in a new way that gave them even more opportunity to reconnect with their fellow Ravens.

The classes of 2016 and 2017 — who had not yet had a five-year class reunion, largely due to constraints created by the COVID-19 pandemic — were invited to join the Class of 2018 for a reunion tailgate at the Head of School Residence on Friday afternoon. About 20 alumni and their guests took advantage of the chance to catch up with not only their own classmates but those from the classes closest to them.

Also in attendance were several faculty members who were teaching in that era and Head of School Doreen Kelly, who was congratulated by many alumni on her extraordinary 21-year tenure at Ravenscroft.

Sydnie Schwarz ’16, who is a teacher and DEI Director at Revolution School in Philadelphia, said, “I enjoyed the opportunity to attend the reunion with my little brother, Ben ’18, because the class trio invite worked out that way. I got to talk to Doreen Kelly a bit about DEI and what things were like when she first became Head of School at Ravenscroft. She genuinely helped and listened to students and was always willing to apply a critical lens to the institution. She will be greatly missed!” 

Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement Ben Rein, who joined the festivities, said he was touched by the atmosphere such exchanges created.

“To see so many of our young alumni return to a place that still feels like home is heartwarming,” he said. “The reunion felt less like a visit to campus and more like family reuniting and reconnecting around a shared experience. For them to do so with Doreen in her last year as Head of School was very special and meaningful.”

As the tailgate wrapped up, some attendees headed over to the football game, watching from the stands or joining fellow alumni from other graduation classes in the Alumni Hall of Fame Suite in the Olander Center for Student Life at the A.E. Finley Activity Center. The exciting game — the first Homecoming with Jim Gibbons as head coach — saw the Ravens defeat Wake Christian 42-14. In addition, the school paid tribute to Kelly in her 21st and final year as Head of School, with Assistant Athletic Director Grace Edwards, acting on behalf of RAC, presenting Kelly with a custom Ravenscroft jersey emblazoned with her last name and the number 21.

For Alumni Engagement Officer Emma DeMent ’16, who both planned the events and participated in the tailgate as an alum, the night felt like a big success. 

“The tailgate was my first new event in my new role, and I am thrilled to have had such a great turn out!” she said. “It is so important to maintain the connection to our alumni, and this event gave us an opportunity to do that with our early-career alums. I’m looking forward to seeing this event continue to grow!”

“Class of 2019, you will be the next to hit this benchmark,” she added, “so get ready for 2024!”