2008: The 50th Anniversary

An Extraordinary Gathering

On Saturday, October 25, 2008, a capacity crowd of 750 filled the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts to celebrate 50 years since the Commonwealth School welcomed its first students and teachers.

The evening began with a rousing sing-along rendition of “The Spacious Firmament.” The Commonwealth chorus and orchestra under the direction of David Hodgkins then premiered a new work, “The Mermaid,” composed for the occasion by Evren Celimli ’89 and Ethan Forman ’84. The ensembles concluded with the “Gloria” from Schubert’s Mass in G.

Following dinner, Headmaster William Wharton greeted the gathering and recognized several long-time faculty in attendance; he asked members of the school’s first graduating classes to stand, and these pioneers also received warm applause. Wharton then introduced Charles Merrill, who was enveloped in a prolonged standing ovation. Merrill recalled, with a touch of astonishment even after all the years, the students who not only showed up on the new school’s first day, but returned for the second.

Ten current faculty and staff were honored for their service to the school for the last 25 years or more. A close friend or colleague of each paid tribute: Rebecca Folkman by Janetta Stringfellow, Bob Vollrath by Mara Dale, Jean Segaloff by Rusty Crump, ; Susan Bush by Laurence Geffin '69; Jacquelynne Curry by Drusilla Pratt-Otto ’77, Kate Bluestein by Eric Davis, Larry Geffin ’69 by Bill Wharton, Judith Siporin by Polly Chatfield, Rusty Crump by Jean Segaloff, and Eric Davis by Farhad Riahi.

Karen Firestone ’73, chair of the Board of Trustees, announced that the “Engaging Minds, Changing Lives” campaign had just passed the $8.25 million mark, which triggered the final $250,000 installment of installment of the challenge gift from Michael Pucker ’79 and Gigi Pritzker Pucker; the campaign now has $500,000 remaining to reach its $9 million goal.

The evening ended with birthday cake and ice cream, and more conversation among old friends reluctant to part. It was an extraordinary sight: fifty years of memories, friendships, dreams, and accomplishments brought together, shared, and strengthened.