ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: BC’s 2nd Annual Reunion Weekend is Sept. 29-30

By Noell Barnidge
Benedictine Military School will host its 2nd Annual Reunion Weekend on Sept. 29-30 and based on the success of the inaugural event it is anticipated that even more alumni will attend. Benedictine Military School Director of Alumni Engagement Dustin White ’14 said BC’s one-stop-shopping approach to class reunions is attractive to graduates for many reasons.

“I think a good way to preface it, because not everybody has been a part of it, obviously, because last year was the first year, is ‘What is Alumni Weekend?’” White said. “In the past, you had one or two class representatives who would have to organize their whole class, be in charge of the catering, be in charge of the bar, and organize everything. Everything fell on one or two guys from each class to kind of herd the cats. Last year, the idea was, ‘Hey, why don’t we offer more of a customer service side from the school?’ Alumni Weekend allows all the alums to be a part of the Reunion Weekend umbrella. And what that is, is they register for the event ( and every single class that ends in a five-year increment – this year being the 3’s and the 8’s – they will register for the event online and BC handles all of the catering, all of the bartending, two buffet lines with Hugh Barnes, BC Class of ’80, two open bars with Dave Roberts, BC Class of ’76, and that allows the class agents – which is what we call them now, it used to be the class presidents while they were here and then they get promoted to class agent once they’re an alum – it allows them to focus more on just getting the guys together to come to the event instead of having to worry about all the other logistics. They don’t have to worry about any of that. It all falls on us. We set up all the tables and chairs. We set up the whole thing.”

Another benefit of having classes celebrate their reunions at BC is the camaraderie that develops between graduates from different generations.

“One of the positive outcomes was that you have, for example, last year the Class of 2017, they were eating right next to the Class of 2002, and so while they didn’t know each other, they were able to interact because there are so many similarities that a lot of these alums have,” White said. “It’s not like you’re meeting a stranger, even though you are. You’re just talking to an alum and so you can share very similar experiences. There’s a lot of really cool conversations that can happen. This coming year, we’ll have the Class of ’73 celebrating their 50th reunion and they might run into the Class of 2013 throughout the school, walking around, and those conversations are pretty priceless. While we do have each group throughout the school having their own class reunion, it’s all throughout the school, starting as low as we can go, all the way up to the Class of, it would be 2018 this year, having their five-year reunion.”

White said BC’s inaugural Reunion Weekend exceeded expectations.

“We knew it was going to be a good event, but it ended up being a really, really good event,” he said. “That was the same night – we had those big TVs out there – as the Tennessee-Alabama football game. And everybody loves SEC football here, and being able to see some of the older alums interact with the younger alums, and just talk to each other and watch a crazy SEC football game and mess around at the bar just talking with one another, everybody had positive feedback. And the guys that were heavily involved in the past who usually organized their class reunions, their feedback was more of a ‘thank-you-for-taking-that-pressure-off-of-my-back-because-I-didn’t-have-to-worry-about-the-food-or-anything.’ Their job was just more, ‘Hey, let’s phone call everybody and just show up and pay your ticket and that’s it.’”

Registering through BC’s website makes the process simple.

“The fact that we did it through the website, you pay for it a month or two in advance and you don’t have to worry about it,” White said. “You just show up, have a good time, and then leave. You won’t even have to think about spending money. And there’s not very many places you can go now where you can get all-you-can eat and all-you-can-drink and have a great time for $50. It was really just all positive. There were 200-plus people in the school. It kind of felt like the school was just really, really alive. It was a different feeling, obviously, than when all the boys are here. But there were so many alums here who just filled up the school.

“The whole idea of bringing the reunions back to the school is that a lot of these guys might not have seen the school in several years if they’re not heavily involved,” White continued. “Some of them might not have seen the school in 10, 15, 20 years. One thing that we encourage with all these classes is not only can you have a reunion with your class but you’re coming back to a school that might look very, very different since you were here, in a good way. The parking lot was not done last year and this year, obviously, it’s completely done so that’s another reason to entice all these alums to come back and visit the school and see the whole new face that we’ve been talking about for so many years.”

For graduates who have not returned home to 6502 Seawright Drive in a few years, there are a lot of new changes to see, including an amazing parking lot and front entrance, the Brown STEM Wing, and Fr. Albert Bickerstaff Field, to name a few of the upgrades.

“When everybody shows up for this reunion, and after the cocktail hour and after you have dinner, feel free to walk to the baseball field – we’ll have the lights on – with a couple of your buddies,” White said. “Walk to the football field. Walk around STEM Wing. We really encourage it. This is your home. Feel free to walk to where your old teacher’s classroom was. Everybody can walk around. It’s very freelance. It’s a good opportunity for everybody to just relive those old memories.”

Reunion Weekend will begin with tailgating at Memorial Stadium before BC plays its homecoming football game against New Hampstead at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29.

“The way it’s formatted is that Friday night will be the home football game,” White said. “Everybody will tailgate in the (Memorial Stadium) parking lot and the classes will all be recognized by the announcer after the first quarter. Obviously, not at halftime because we do the homecoming ceremony. But after the first quarter, they will be recognized. It gives them a chance to go to the football game. Saturday, you can do whatever you want Saturday morning. Our event is not until 5 p.m. Some classes, well, a lot of them, they will get guys together and go play golf. But that Saturday night is when we all get together and have a good time for four or five hours. The cocktail hour will go from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. and we’ll probably start dinner about 6:30 p.m. The evening usually ends around 10 p.m.”