Building the Future, Remembering Our Past

On October 14, more than 1,500 members of the Collegiate community—including students, alumni, parents, past parents, faculty, former faculty, staff, and former staff—gathered inside, outside, and all around the Collegiate campus to celebrate the School’s home of 125 years before its historic move to 301 Freedom Place South (set to take place in January). As part of the festivities, West 77th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue was closed to traffic to create a block-party atmosphere, with food trucks replacing cars, a DJ hosting kids’ dance parties, and photo booths with specially themed backgrounds (the Red Doors, the famous clock).

Inside the building, alums, representing 62 years of varsity basketball teams, played a final game in the third floor gym to a large and supportive crowd. Though the game was won by the team of alumni who graduated in even years, the highlight was the confident basket tossed by Bill Dean ’55, producing an eruption of cheers from the stands.

Also inside the Red Doors, current and former faculty members—Ry Clarke, David Fisher, Bunnie Genkins, Massimo Maglione among them—took up spots in “their” classrooms to chat with community members who dropped by. The Alumni Gym was transformed into a gallery of photos of Collegiate’s buildings—past, present, and future—taken by faculty, alumni, and current students. Downstairs in the Bronfman Theatre, archival videos from 1934 to 2017 were screened, and attendees had the opportunity to hear three recorded stories from alumni and faculty produced by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. Out in the courtyard, Dutchmen of all ages tested their skills at handball.

Over at the West End Collegiate Church, Alumni Association president Jerry Bright ’93 introduced a program, given twice to accommodate all who wished to attend, in which Christopher Yee ’19 and Benjamin Edelson ’19 performed at the piano; the UnDutchables, Collegiate’s a cappella group, sang; Zac Nicolson’s short film, “A Collegiate Boy,” was shown; and Headmaster Lee Levison and Board President Gar Bason ’72 spoke. The program concluded with the singing by all of the Alma Mater and Farewell Song, a fitting and stirring end to what was a special and sure-to-be-remembered day at Collegiate.