In his first address to students, Head of School Matt Levinson P '21 shares his perspective on what it means to "hit the brakes."
Reunion Weekend has a different meaning to everyone who attends, whether alumni are celebrating five, 25, or 50 or more years since graduating from Pingry. It can also mean something special for those who help the alumni celebrate those Reunions.
Thirteen years ago, Headmaster Nat Conard P ’09, ’11 attended his first 50-Year Club Luncheon at Pingry. This year, he attended his final luncheon and Reunion as Headmaster, helping the Class of 1969 celebrate its 50th Reunion—one of several weekend highlights, along with the Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Annual Meeting of Alumni, a special classroom session for interested alumni, and the Reunion Class Party.
Speaking during the 50-Year Club Luncheon at Beinecke House, Mr. Conard noted that the house’s namesake, the late William S. Beinecke ’31, P ’61, ’64, a longtime Pingry benefactor and regular attendee of this luncheon, received the School’s Letter-in-Life Award in 1969, when this 50-year group graduated. “Perusing the Blue Book for the Class of 1969, I was struck by something significant,” he said. “I saw in the photos the same thing I see every day here at Pingry: bright, eager students; youthful exuberance; and of course, the camaraderie that kindles lifelong friendships. Looking around the tent today, I see those same faces . . . exhibiting those same qualities. The values that characterize Pingry have not changed. Students today work hard, play hard, make a difference, and value honor and character above all else. Clearly, they take their cues from all of you.”
Of special note, the Class of 1969’s Reunion Committee organized a time capsule of the 1960s, a display that included newspapers, books, music, and videos from the decade. Even though 50 years have passed, a group of alumni had no trouble stepping back into the classroom, when about a dozen graduates—including members of the C.B. Newton Society (Pingry’s recognition of planned giving)—joined English teacher Tom Keating in the classroom dedicated to late master teacher and Pingry historian Dr. Herbert F. Hahn for a special version of Mr. Keating’s Ethical Dilemmas course.
Mr. Conard’s remarks were not the weekend’s only manifestation of student-alumni connections. Seventh-grade students met their pen pals from the Class of 1969, continuing a Pingry tradition of talking about “then and now.” Students and alumni also attended the Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony, and Student Body President Andrew Cowen ’19 addressed alumni on Saturday morning at their annual meeting.
The Athletics Hall of Fame welcomed three inductees on Friday evening: John “Mags” Magadini, award-winning Assistant Coach/Head Coach Emeritus of the Boys’ Ice Hockey Team for 20 years (1996-2016); the 1983 Boys’ Soccer Team, which won more games than any previous team in Pingry soccer history; and the 1991-92 Boys’ Basketball Team, which shares the record for most wins in Pingry basketball history and became the only basketball team in school history to win a Parochial B playoff game.
“John’s greatest gift to each of us is that he takes the time to listen and gets to know us; he cares,” said Hall of Fame member, Varsity Ice Hockey Assistant Coach, and Form V/VI Dean of Student Life Jake Ross, in his remarks about Coach Magadini. “Although he can teach the Xs and Os and he can win games and championships, it is the way he acts, his belief in what a team is, and the way he leads that define his legacy. He teaches what it means to be committed, what it means to compete, what it means to be a teammate, what it means to care.”
Adding to the honors that Mr. Conard has received in recent months, the Pingry Alumni Association paid tribute to him during its Saturday meeting. Trustee and former PAA President Steve Lipper ’79, P ’09, ’12, ’14 focused on what he considers three accomplishments that represent Mr. Conard’s greatest legacies: Pingry’s academic and athletics facilities are comparable to, and, in some cases, better than colleges; an increase in financial aid and the diversity of the student body; and a review and revitalization of the academic programs.
Speaking to the alumni, Andrew Cowen ’19 referenced his ISP (Independent Senior Project), for which he’s writing a series of essays on Pingry by interviewing many people—students and alumni, as well as both current and former faculty and staff members. “We are a school,” he said, “but more than that, we are a community where like-minded people, driven and kind and supportive people, come together to create something amazing—a place where you can be yourself and have every opportunity to pursue anything you desire.”
The weekend’s third major honor, along with the Athletics Hall of Fame inductions and tribute to Mr. Conard, was the surprise presentation of the Nelson L. Carr ’24 Service Award. In recognition of faithful and dedicated service in support of Pingry, the award was given to former PAA President Chip Korn ’89, P ’21, ’21, ’23, celebrating his 30th Reunion. Mr. Korn served as PAA President from 2012-2016 and devoted his time and energy to finding new ways for alumni to connect to the School. Recognizing the need for alumni to network with Pingry peers, he launched professional networking groups. While a member of the Board of Trustees, he served as Vice Chair of the Audit Committee and as a member of the Building and Grounds Committee. Mr. Korn has also served countless times as a Reunion volunteer, Reunion Chair, Pingry Fund volunteer, and 1980s Decade Chair.
The grand finale of the weekend—the on-campus Reunion Class Party on Saturday night—gave all alumni a chance to gather, celebrate, reconnect, and dance the night away in one location.
Reunion Photo Gallery
Save the Date!
Next year’s Reunion, for classes ending in “0” and “5,” will take place May 15-16, 2020. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Holland Sunyak Francisco ’02 at email@example.com or 908-647-5555, ext. 1284.
Story Contact: Greg Waxberg ’96, Communications Writer