The oversized banner at the far end of the Quad said "Welcome home, WOSA," and the morning of October 28, 1995, was crisp and clear, one of those bright, chilly Mussoorie mornings full of expectant stillness. There was a promise of sun for the first annual Woodstock/WOSA homecoming.
We had expected 20, maybe 30 people for the new event at Woodstock, modeled directly on the national WOSA reunion that has become a tradition in North America. We have the addresses of about 330 old students living in India now, and 30 or 40 are being added every year, so we figured it was time.
So we had published a big, full-page add in The Brown and The Gold, and sent a follow-up invitation to every address we had here in India.
Ten years ago, 1,200 invitations had gone out for the first annual North American reunion, and 70 WOSA members responded to start that tradition. Based on that, we thought we might be able to convince 20 or so of the WOSA members living in India to come to Mussoorie. But we were secretly hoping to top 30.
Fifty-eight people showed up!
And as the 'extra' inserted in the Woodstock Tiger put it, "the tamasha began."
In addition to reviewing the progress of the last year, we heard Principal Ron Flaming give his assessment of the state of Woodstock School, its strengths and weaknesses, and the tasks which lie ahead.
We continued the process of defining the operational procedures of a WOSA-India, and adopted a draft set of bylaws for discussion with the Woodstock board.
A pleasant lunch in the Quad dining room gave us an hour to relax. Then we reassembled, sitting in a large circle in the now warm and sunny Quadrangle, to hear Tom Alter ('68) describe a proposal for pooling money raised last year by WOSA-India with donations from the class of 1942 for renovating Hanson Field. We also heard a report from Prem Bery, (`42) on a project to produce a WOSA directory.
The rest of the afternoon was given over to tours of the School guided by members of the Class of 2001, volleyball up on the playground, or just sitting and chatting.
An evening banquet in the Quad dining room decorated with old class flags featured entertainment from the current generation of Woodstock students - mainly highlights from the Talent Show.
There were songs, classical guitar, and classical Indian music and dance. Woodstock's African students staged a dance deemed so good by Brig. H.K. Yadev ('38) that he confessed to having been tempted to join in the gyrations.
There was a reluctance to depart. At midnight, about 20 members of the WOSA family were still lingering in the alumni office, singing, swapping old tales, and comparing newer, post- Woodstock experiences.
According to the report that ran in The Tiger, "To be back at Woodstock wrapped up in the greenery, watching monkeys run around, entering the same old buildings and seeing familiar faces was something very special for the older Tigers. Jin Ha Lim ('93) commented on how Woodstock felt significantly smaller than before, while others commented on Woodstock's present character being more international and accepting."
As Ginny Banga Uppal ('80) summed it up, "The best two years of my educational life were at Woodstock. I'm glad I came here."
We're going to do it again this fall. Try to come.
The first Woodstock yearbook was made in 1928. It had a heart-warming dedication: "To those great spirits who have gone before, who by their ceaseless love and devotion have built up the traditions of which Woodstock is so proud, we the class of '28, respectfully dedicate the first volume of the Annual."
The Woodstock High School Annual was originally more like a magazine than our yearbooks are today. They used a lot more writing and fewer pictures. The book was mainly for the senior class, who were Grade 10 students. The writings were of the senior senate, prophecies, a poem and a story about the class History full of cute incidents, and a description of the annual class picnic.
Surprisingly, only the seniors had a class picture. There were 10 students: six girls and four boys. The other pictures were of staff, the orchestra, two shots of the "new" high school building (without the present office and library and Parker Hall) and a photo of the new Hostel swimming pool , which was indoors, clean, attractive and cool.
It was disappointing to see that there were no senior wills.
For 1947, the toughest year in the Woodstock history, the yearbook was still remarkable. It was dedicated "To those who control the destiny of this world through the guidance of its youth." Although there was no theme, the spirit of unity in the community was evident throughout the book. The divider pages were simple, a word and a small cartoon, describing the section.
The 1980 yearbook, "the international year of the child," wan a UN award for the best yearbook. It was full of famous quotes, and dressings by elementary students.
The 1990 yearbook, "Tying up Loose Ends," also won a best yearbook award in the U.S.A. Both books used a lot of writing.
The 1981 yearbook, "Diversity," was dedicated to Mr. Wechter. He was young, smart and active as today, and even had a full head of hair.