Alumni, present and future

One of the joys of being a part of a school with a long history is seeing the continuity of school spirit. Here at San Dieguito, that means students studying in classrooms where their parents and grandparents might have learned. It’s a school where generations of students have proudly called themselves Mustangs and are happy to celebrate their ties to a place that made a real difference in their lives.

1936-37 San Dieguito Jr High Cullen School 1936I got to see this in vivid technicolor today when we held our annual Founders’ Reception, welcoming graduates from as far back as 1940 back to campus to celebrate our Mustang legacy. It was a bustling affair, beginning with time to connect in our central learning commons and ending with a celebration beneath the bell tower in the front of the school. Current students helped show alumni around campus, listening to stories and laughing across the generations, their common denominator our very special school.

One of the students returned from a tour and came up to me, eyes wide. She nodded at two women who were laughing together near the bell tower and said: “Their stories were just so cool!” I smiled back and said: “In sixty years, that will be you.”

photo 4That notion of current students as future alumni is something that helps tie our youth together with our shared past. The students who led the tours and welcomed alumni got to meet living evidence that while we encourage each student to be him or herself, we also have the blessing of being part of something greater than any one of us. We are Mustangs, all of us.

As the afternoon went on, we heard stories from throughout the history of our school. With a slideshow of images running behind her, a graduate from 1940 spun yarns that reminded us all that gentle delinquency, softened by memory and time, isn’t unique to “kids today.”

A graduate from the 1960s captured the spirit of the room when she acknowledged that we were all here because we loved our school, cherished our memories of it, and wanted to come back, even, as we were, “cleverly disguised as adults.”

photo 5That love for San Dieguito shows itself in hundreds of ways: the graduate who played professional sports returning to talk with students, the graduate who fronts a rock and roll band returning to jam with our student musicians, and the large number of alumni who return to teach at their alma mater.

One of my favorite observations from today’s events was the current students who were working at tables and computers in the back of the learning commons as the Founders’ Reception was going on in the front. They worked through my remarks and the general opening of the program, but when alumni started talking, I saw those current students put down their books, turn in their chairs, and listen. I like to imagine that in 2080 or so, future students will close whatever they’re reading and turn toward the front to listen to them, those eighty year old Mustangs from the class of 2016.

photo 2Next year is our school’s eightieth anniversary, a big event, and I look forward to celebrating eight decades of Mustang history with the kids, both those currently enrolled future alumni, and the others, like me, cleverly disguised as adults.

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