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Alumni Weekend 2023: RE alums came from 28 states, four countries and eight decades

Ransom Everglades alumni flew in from Australia, Italy and Canada. They came from 28 states. They represented every decade dating back to 1954, a 69th-reunion class featuring a pair of pals, Hal Kendall ’54 and Blackie Stieglitz ’54. All told, 363 alumni and more than 500 guests attended RE’s Alumni Weekend 2023 from April 21-23. All enjoyed events across both campuses, including at the recently opened La Brisa, the new administrative building on a swath of land leading from the bay.
La Brisa offered a splendid outdoor setting for the opening reception for all alumni, and cozy indoor space for the second annual Black Alumni Reception. Wendell Graham ’74, RE’s Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement, summed up the atmosphere when he opened that reception: “Welcome,” he said to fellow alumni. “Welcome home.” 

The weekend offered alumni a film class with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Phil Lord ’93 in honor of the late art history teacher Jose Rodriguez, and the usual exhilarating range of family, fun and athletic events – including the annual soccer and water polo games and sailing regatta. There was also an end-of-weekend Major Works Concert put on by RE’s best musicians, a mangrove clean-up, an escape room led by STEM Department faculty member Bob DuBard, and – perhaps the best part – the into-the-wee-hours class parties. 

More than 20 women from 1963 to 1975 reconnected at a special breakfast on the Everglades Campus. Steve Sawitz ’75 of Joe’s Stone Crab hosted a festive luncheon for 65 alumni in the 50-year club or higher, and that same group gathered for dinner at the Pagoda. 

The Classes of 1963, 1970, 1973, 1983, 1986-88, 1993, 1998 and 2003 celebrated reunions, and their members showed up in droves. All alumni had the chance to hear from then-Interim Head of School Rachel Rodriguez, COO and Interim Head of the Upper School David Clark ’86 and Associate Head of School John A. King Jr. during a leadership roundtable. There, they learned about the college process; the curriculum; the admission process; and the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. 

A moving Service of Remembrance honored 29 departed alumni, faculty and staff and featured special tributes to late faculty Jerry Exum (by Ginny Onorati), Jose Rodriguez (Astrid Dalins), George Kasyan (Don Kappelman) and Bill Shandor ’80 (Adam Haft ’92 and Julie Greenwald Friedland ’91), and administrators Jim Cowgill (Diana Morales) and Frank Hogan (Joe Mauro). Bea Mendoza ’98 was remembered with a beautiful retrospective of her artwork in the Solomon Art Gallery assembled by Dalins and Sergio Mendoza ’96

Lord’s film discussion in the Posner Lecture Hall was itself a tribute to his late teacher and mentor Jose Rodriguez. “I’m trying to pay it backward,” he explained. “Jose was one of the many teachers here who took an interest in me and my sister and tried to light us up.” 
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.