Alumni Weekend saw Brooks School welcome graduates spanning 70 years reuniting, reflecting, and recognizing — all of the contributions that alums continue to offer our school community.
A special ceremony in the Frank D. Ashburn Chapel honored exactly that on May 13, with three graduates, as well as an athletics team, receiving 2017 Alumni Awards.
"One of the joys of being Head of School is that I get to recognize the hard work and achievements of our alumni through these awards," said John Packard kicking off the proceedings. He and faculty members individually introduced each of the 2017 Alumni Award winners:
- William MacVittie '02 (shown above), honored with an Alumni Shield Award
- Jonathan Gibbons '92, who won the Alumni Bowl
- Timothy Bickford '67, celebrated as the newest inductee into Brooks School's Athletic Hall of Fame
- William Nicholas Booth '67, bestowed with the title of Distinguished Brooksian (awarded later that evening)
The 1991-1992 Boys 1st cross country team — Daniel Dane '92, James Eddington '92, Kevin Smith '92, Karim Ghachem '92, Pich Nhem '93, F. Glen Nelson '94, Christian Manchester '94, Cyrus Beer '92, Anthony Iarrapino '94, John O'Hara '93, Shawn Anderson '93, Timothy Grogean '93, Brian Luti '94, and coach Greg O'Melia — was inducted as well.
Announcing the first honoree, Timothy Bickford, who played football, hockey and rowed crew at Brooks, Director of Athletics Bobbie Crump-Burbank declared, "Your contagious sense of enthusiasm inspired those around you to try harder, dig deeper, and aim higher ... We bestow this honor upon you, Tim, for your passionate spirit, as a teammate, whether on the field, ice, water, or from the sidelines, and for always giving 110 percent in practices and games."
Bickford was "honored and flattered" to learn of his award, he said. Keeping his connection to Brooks alive has been important to him since he graduated 50 years ago because, he said: "I am interested in how people turn out 15, 30, or even 50 years later. High school teachers plant seeds. Some take root right away, some have delayed growth, some remain dormant for fifty years, but we all get occasional flashbacks and dreams that reminisce. Hence that's why we come back."
Connection and community are the same focus celebrated with the Alumni Bowl, awarded this year to Jonathan Gibbons. "The Alumni Bowl is awarded to that member of the alumni community who has tirelessly and loyally supported the school through their thoughtful and exemplary service and dedication as a volunteer," said John Packard, presenting the glass bowl to Gibbons, a volunteer since 2001 who has served as the head of the giving committee and a class agent and joined the Board of Trustees in 2015. "Jon's work as a volunteer has been largely behind the scenes. You may not know that he has been a key planner in your class reunions, he has been a phone-a-thon volunteer on several occasions and his support of this school for more than 20 years in a row is demonstrative of his belief in our mission and our goals as a school."
Brooks, said Gibbons, "has always been a special place for me, which is why I volunteer my time to support the school. By staying connected with Brooks it not only helps strengthen my connection with friends from my time at Brooks but it also has allowed me to develop friendships with graduates and faculty from across decades."
His award, however, likely won't be in his possession for long. "If history is a guide," Gibbons joked, "one of my kids, most likely my daughter, will quickly claim it as something she wants and it will end up in her room."
Hopefully William MacVittie will keep his gift close at hand. Like the other awards, the recognition his Alumni Shield signifies is no small matter. Shields are given to alums who graduated less than 25 years ago and have made significant contributions in their field.
MacVittie is a U.S. Air Force Major. For the past 15 years, MacVittie has flown more than 120 combat missions in support of American and coalition troops during three deployments to conflicts in the Middle East. He has piloted numerous medical evacuations and humanitarian missions as well, delivering food, water and clothing to the people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
"Mac has led a life of exemplary service and set a high standard for others to follow," said John Packard during the ceremony. "We at Brooks are proud to call him one of our own. He provides a shining example to generations of Brooks students."
Yet when you ask MacVittie about what receiving the Alumni Shield means to him, he downplays his achievements. "It's very humbling, because I'm aware of the fact that what I'm doing is a small slice of the great work that my class is doing," said the Major. "So, I'm happy to accept his on behalf of my class."
Prior to receiving the title of Distinguished Brooksian later that same day, William Booth shared a similar feeling. "I'm so honored," he said. "My Class of 1967 is one of the great classes in the history of the school. People have gone on to interesting pursuits in life and it's a diverse and very strong class. If I'm going to be proud, I'm proud that I'm a member of this class."
Booth's contributions to Brooks School, nevertheless, stand out. For the past 12 years he has served on Brooks School's Board of Trustees, and was President of the Board from 2006 to 2016. His support led the way to creating Brooks' science center in 2008, building the Chace House dormitory, and success of our Campaign for Brooks with a $5 million gift.
"It has been a really fun challenge working for the school and making sure the next generation's leadership is in place," he said. "I'm proud that each project is adding to the school in it's own way. Our $60 million capital campaign, the science center, which is just an outstanding building, and the new arts center...when you look back, the picture is coming together. And it's a beautiful picture!"
For a full gallery of photos from the awards ceremony and other Alumni Weekend events, click here.