Subject: [class59] A WS 59 class letter
Dear fellow classmates:
It's that time of the year once again [for a 59 class letter] -- we had another successful reunion. Manchester College was not at first an appealing site -- after all, middle of July in Indiana? But the weather cooperated beautifully; helped in no small measure I'm sure by the torrential rains and flooding in that area (one saw tree tops surrounded by water approaching the airport for touch down in near-by Fort Wayne). And the campus is lovely, modern, all rooms air-conditioned.
Alice and Llyn S C made it, driving from Indianapolis where their daughter lives, so did Bonnie M visiting her folks, despite having just moved and started serving a new Crch in NY state, Philip M drove in from VA, also visited family and of course Weldon F who was on the local organizing committee, with LuEtta: they had the classmates over to their home near Goshen which I was not able to make, having made plane reservations months ahead of time.
An intentional attempt is being made to shift the emphasis at these reunions from nostalgic remembrances to focused learning about the current Woodstock. The theme this year was around experiential learning. For those of us not in the education field, this means roughly learning not only by books, but participating actively in the learning process -- what they are doing at Woodstock these days. There was a recital by Lon and Kathryn Sherer -- remember them? -- beautiful violin accompanied on piano, on a romantic theme -- the Sherers, now retired from Goshen College, have performed together for 50 years!
Attending this year was a Woodstock graduate of 1926 and many more former staff members than usual. The presence of David Jeffery, current principal was probably the draw --he was on a tour visiting 12 colleges with his son George who graduates next year. David's presentation was most eloquent, tracing Woodstock's substantial progress built upon the original planning efforts carried out under Bob Alter and Ron Flaming during their respective tenures as Principals. The mission envisioned and the lofty objectives set were approved and supported by Woodstock's Board of Directors and are now being transformed into realities through the financial support and dedicated labor and commitment of the Woodstock alumni and friends. He reviewed the progress of several recently completed and ongoing projects and programs. He pointed out that Woodstock is adhering to high standards of safety and esthetics for its buildings. The academic quality is being confirmed through external testing and successful college admissions. He claimed that the Woodstock board members hold the administration accountable for meeting well-defined high standards; "they are very able and very tough but they don't do my job". He asked for continual support from the alumni because "Woodstock is your school". When David completed his 20-minute talk, there was a standing ovation lasting at least five minutes. We were all most impressed and pleased with the current state of the School.
A new feature of the reunion was a bazaar that allowed the alumni to display and offer the products of their many talents. It attracted a large audience demonstrating a great deal of interests. On a humorous note, Glenn Conrad ('68 and staff) offered authentic boiling hot Indian chai, complete with all the characteristic gestures, actions and voice of a genuine chai-walla!
We on the WOSA/NA Council have been struggling for years on how we could help the young folks arriving at college. We think we have finally found an answer, an egroup restricted to alumni and moderated by Jane Downie Wallbrown '52 so messages are monitored before posting. If you would like to invite young college students for a meal or Thanksgiving, or help with career counseling or be in a position to provide job opportunities, please join this group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wsalumni. This means everywhere in the world for the young graduates are attending colleges all over the world these days.
Did you know that Woodstock was judged by peers to be the second best residential school in India, scoring just below Doon School, and this because of lower ranking in facilities? With all the construction projects now underway, who knows, we may achieve the top spot next year! If you want to take a look at the Woodstock of today, check out this site on the web: www.woodstock150.ac.in; it is also linked to the regular Woodstock site. It may be a bit slow loading if you don't have cable or DSL, but you'll be presently surprised, I'm sure.
How many of you did not receive a copy of the Quadrangle? This year's edition was printed in India and mailed from there -- resulting in a whole series of almost comical errors, including the only post office in Delhi which handles bulk mail -- and proceeded to stamp the back of the envelopes. But if you missed it, you might try writing to alumni @ woodstock.ac.in and see whether they still have copies. There are also a few copies at the KWI office (mail @ kwi.org). Or you can look at a copy on-line, at: www.kwi.org under WOSA. On the cover is a beautiful color photo Dawn in the Garhwal by Ajay Mark, '71. He and his wife have been on staff for many years now and their eldest daughter is a sophomore in Duluth, MN.
Publications from Woodstock these days are so different from your memories. Last year's and this year's yearbooks have no relation of the old Whispering Pines (a CD included!). In fact the quality of printing has so improved in India that they were able to produce a very high quality art book Parallel Perceptions, with reproductions of artwork by former students and staff. Another recent interesting publication is Lives Entwined with stories by alums telling about the effect that Woodstock had on them. You can purchase these books from the KWI office (mail @ kwi.org) or from the Development Office at Woodstock (development @ woodstock.ac.in). And you should soon be receiving a flyer with the order form for Living on the Edge, stories told by alumni and former staff, mostly from the writing workshops held at the WOSA/NA reunions. The index was compiled by Martha O (with help from Gil) -- Martha is a professional indexer.
Have you seen the new school brochure -- high quality photos, in color? The map of the school property is embossed on the cover -- one can see the zigzag paths, the footprints of the building, Eyebrow, Sisters Bazaar, Tehri Road, New Road embossed, if you look carefully. This is an 8.5 x 11 brochure, no small item.
I am heavily involved with the KWI organization, acting as a volunteer database administrator, supporting both Woodstock and Kodai Schools. With the time difference with India --about 12 hours -- I've had almost instantaneous chats with the alumni office at both schools. Retirement for me is just an excuse to get involved in other activities! and it's been fun being in contact with folks from around the world: if you are looking to get in touch with someone, I'm your contact. I know that we are beginning to retire, as a group.
I've signed up to join the KWI tour which this year will be visiting Sri Lanka and southern India. I'll probably go up to Woodstock and see what other progress they've made since my last visit. And I have to admit that I want to visit the bazaar and bring back goods that we sell at the WOSA reunions. It's now summer here in the San Francisco Bay area and my garden is growing great --lots of cucumbers zucchini, eggplants and tomatoes which are still green. It's so rewarding to watch seedlings grow. I've just planted lots of flower seeds -- we'll see how many germinate.
Many of you responded when I first wrote to you back in 1997 suggesting a reunion at Woodstock for the 39th --five of us made it then. Next year will be the 45th anniversary of graduation -- it's time to think again of meeting at the school. There will be celebrations during the last week in October 2004. Alumni have been invited to present workshops or lead trips. Let me know if you are tempted. Woodstock has become such a vibrant place, with heavy support of its alumni. The large property it stands on is the best-preserved forest on the hillside and the views are as spectacular. While the paths are much steeper than in our youths and Hansen field is smaller due to continuing landslides, the comforting thought is that taxis can take you down from the school gates to Ridgewood, if you don't feel up to it. In fact, the paved roads are quite good, courtesy of the Indian Army. Most of the houses formerly owned by the Missions now house staff.
Here are other dates to put on your calendar:
Many of you have been silent in the intervening years, and I don't know whether you like receiving these letters from me or are irritated. While postal services return mail if the address is incorrect, they don't always do this and not always correctly, so a short note would be appreciated . . . or you can contact me at [my email adddress of liCcalif @ att.net] and let me know what you've done in the intervening years. Maybe it's time to update the booklet assembled and shared at our reunion in Rhode Island. Do write and tell us what you are up to! I know that we are beginning to retire, as a group.
Best to you, Li
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Webber Philip McEldowney