In his opening remarks to Gibbons Alumni at Friday’s pregame reception and BBQ during Homecoming Reunion Weekend, Principal Jason Curtis ended with his signature closing: Welcome Home!
To be sure, over this past weekend (October 5-7) Gibbons welcomed home more than 200 alumni and guests, some from as far away as San Francisco and Chicago, who came to share memories with classmates, see what is new on campus, and celebrate their Crusader pride at Gibbons version of a large family reunion. The alumni who attended spanned 50 years of graduates, from 1968 to 2018. Many classes also held milestone reunions, with a special celebration held on Saturday for Golden Crusaders - alumni who graduated 50 plus years ago. There were also special mini reunions for football players, cheerleaders, and members of Gibbons Drum Line – all of whom were invited to join their current counterparts on the field during halftime.
"Something extraordinary happens when alumni return home to celebrate our shared Crusader connection," said Associate Director of Alumni Advancement Susan Leigh ’87.
In describing the weekend, Associate Director of Alumni Advancement Susan Leigh ’87 said: "Something extraordinary happens when alumni return home to celebrate our shared Crusader connection. Alumni reconnecting and reminiscing with their classmates, and meeting alumni from classes dating to 1968, creates a unique sense of pride and community."
Indeed, stories and memories were shared in abundance by the alumni who filled the Learning Commons for the kick-off gathering before Friday’s varsity football game against Sanderson High School. Conversations, for instance, circled around the Western Blvd campus and friendships, particularly from the '78 grads celebrating their 40th anniversary; or around Gibbons Drum Line, especially from three of the original members.
“Forty years – that's a big one and I got to see everyone … ,” Suzie Poplin Waldrep ’78 (pictured right) said of attending Friday’s kickoff gathering. “The thing that struck me was how we just picked up right where we left off, we didn’t miss a beat … every person was a treasure to see.”
What struck Connor MacRae ’06, an original member of the Drum Line who last visited Gibbons five years ago, was how much the school has expanded and how much it stayed the same. “The feel of the place is the same -- comfortable, warm, and welcoming,” he said.
Alums also talked about their fondest memories, sharing their time as students with the many Gibbons Educators who joined the celebration. One of them was Theology Educator Pat Gallagher. “I was honored that the alumni - some of whom I haven’t seen since their graduation, still remembered me…,” she said. “The evening was another perfect Gibbons experience...warm, welcoming, and relaxing. It was great connecting with our alumni after so long.”
In between reminiscing about their high school years, alumni attended numerous events. Along with the pregame gathering, complete with a Crusader KidZone, many alums attended the Gibbons vs Sanderson football game and watched as Homecoming King, Ryan Rabil '19, and Homecoming Queen, Emily Duerr '19, were crowned during halftime. The crowning was even more memorable this year because it was the last to be performed by Registrar Annette Jay, (pictured above left) who is retiring from Gibbons in December, after 40 years of dedicated service.
The days leading up to Homecoming Reunion Weekend, known as Spirit Week, were also filled with activities, and concluded with the fall pep rally on Friday afternoon.
Alumni events, however, continued throughout the weekend with the Golden Crusaders celebration on Saturday night as well as other milestone reunion celebrations by classes ending in 3 or 8 at several different area locations. The weekend concluded on Sunday with morning Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, located on the site of the school's former Western Blvd. campus.
"It was great to see Cardinal Gibbons alumni from five decades come together to celebrate their common bond as Crusaders," said Leigh.