Friday, September 16, 2005

1797 Dinner

To the Great Class of 1969:

Last night I attended the 32nd Annual 1797 Dinner in New York at The Pierre. The dinner coincided with the UN confab as well as with the most sweltering September weather anyone could remember in New York.

As you would expect, the celebratory event was staged with the customary aplomb, courtesy of Mimi Morsman. Jeff Louis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (and the third lineal descendant to serve in that capacity), gave an upbeat assessment on the state of the School and, most importantly, on the search for a new Headmaster, the first since our 25th Reunion. It will come as no surprise that the School has had no trouble in attracting qualified candidates. Sometime this fall the School will disclose the names of the remaining candidates (expected to be between four and six) who will be invited to campus for day long exposure. The Board hopes to announce the new Headmaster (or Headmistress) by year end.

The occasion was a bittersweet one, insofar as it represented the last of the 1797 Dinners of the Widmer era in New York, a tradition begun 32 years ago by Mr. Crow. The Headmaster feigned having only just prepared his remarks after Bob Dewey's introduction, but it was evident from where I was seated that his handwritten notes had been prepared well in advance. The Headmaster laced his remarks with anecdotes, recalling the importance of New York in the history of the School, including the presentation to Mr. Boyden at The Waldorf at a dinner on the occasion of his 50th year as Headmaster of not only a buggy, but also a horse. The Headmaster also analogized the intellectual and moral support which Deerfield is providing to King's Academy in Jordan to the financial help which Deerfield received from Exeter, Andover and Taft during the dark days of the 1920's when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts terminated state support for private schools. Meera Viswanathan (or "Miz Viz" as she is known by students) delivered a heartfelt, extemporaneous speech about the last eleven years and what a sense of heritage meant to her, which encompassed not only the past, but also shared hopes for the future. The evening concluded with a DVD devoted to the Headmaster featuring tributes from students, teachers, alumni and trustees.

I expect to report back in early October, following Volunteers Weekend. Weather permitting, I hope to post some photos of the Koch SM&T Building as well as the Deerfield - Hotchkiss football game. In the interim, please follow the lead of Tim Truby and Steve Bisbee and send portrait photos for posting by clicking on the Class Postings link.

Be well and stay in touch.

P.S. Trivia Question: Who can tell me how many Headmasters the Academy has had since its founding? Send your guess to me via the Class Postings link.