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Class of 1973 in the Parade of Classes

What a spectacular reunion weekend! Alumnae enjoyed a plethora of activities including archives tours, alumnae art exhibits, classroom experiences, trivia, the iconic parade of classes, and much more.

Among the stand-out moments during the weekend were a message from Head of School Jenny Rao, an alumnae panel discussion on health and wellness, archives tours, an alumnae panel discussion on philanthropy, and the touching tradition of the farewell gathering during which we remember classmates who have gone before us.


On Saturday morning, Jenny Rao offered a welcome and overview of the current operations of the school to alumnae in Kiggins. Jenny highlighted the way Emma Willard emerged from the ending of the pandemic this year in a position of even greater strength, touting the ways this challenging time made our academic offering more accessible, more innovative and more relevant than ever. She also reflected on the diversity in the assembled group of hundreds of Emma alumnae, noting that despite these differences this is a community of common purpose.

Jenny Rao at Reunion 2023

Jenny Rao opens the 2023 Reunion State of the School and Awards Recognition Ceremony


“I think what makes our community truly special and profoundly coherent is not just this time, place, and experience that we have collectively shared at Emma Willard School,” said Jenny to the assembled alumnae. “We are special because we also share a sacred value: we believe that a functional and sustainable world is possible only with educated girls and women leading, sharing, and working hard to overcome challenges and celebrate successes.”

She then shared of success in key fundraising initiatives under the Infinite Horizon campaign, including a new campaign total to date of $149.3 million raised toward a goal of $175 million in 2026. The impact of this philanthropy is already being felt and witnessed through developments like the Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts, the Center for Teaching & Learning, and key investments in faculty and staff around professional development and compensation. Lastly, Jenny highlighted the importance of annual giving through the Emma Fund, which is the main way the majority of donors choose to support the school.

“We are so humbled by every gift that has sustained Emma Willard in years past and in this new, bold effort - the fact that our funding comes primarily from our own alumnae is a testament to the bonds and belief in our community.”



Dr. Elizabeth Appel ’03, Dr. Kimberlyn Leary ’78, Amaku Ukpong ’03, and Dr. Kate Goddard Viret ’83 shared their expertise in fields from pelvic health to mental illness and public policy in an engaging discussion of wellness concerns among women. Led by Dean of Students Shelley Maher, questions ranged from evidence of stress in patients to the most pressing issues for women in particular. Each panelist gave a piece of advice to help the audience with their own wellness:

  • 30 minutes of walking each day to step away from the norm, along with breath control

  • Be resourceful and selfish in caring for yourself—take up space, advocate for your body

  • Open up your perspective to recognize that some of our physical problems can be spiritual or emotional in origin

  • “Put on your own mask before assisting others”—take care of yourself, but also give to others in community

  • Listen to your intuition, eat lots of vegetables, and drink lots of water!

Ms. Maher also gave insight into the current state of health and wellbeing among Emma Willard School students and steps that are taken to improve everything from mental health support to nutrition.

Dr. Elizabeth Appel ’03, Amaku Ukpong ’03, Dr. Kate Goddard Viret ’83, and Dean of Students Shelley Maher

Dr. Elizabeth Appel ’03, Amaku Ukpong ’03, Dr. Kate Goddard Viret ’83, and Dean of Students Shelley Maher were joined by Dr. Kimberlyn Leary ’78 via Zoom for the Health and Wellness panel discussion.



Throughout the weekend, alumnae enjoyed experiencing the archives with Assistant Director of Research and Archivist Stephanie Ross. Stephanie’s presentation touched on hopes for the archives in the coming years, as well as points of interest for the varied experiences of the alumnae: editions of The Clock, Gargoyle, Triangle, and a display of books by alumnae were all on display for attendees to enjoy. 

A popular location was a table in the main library where photography from the mid-twentieth century was laid out. These images are in need of the keen eyes and knowledge of alumnae visiting campus, and many gathered around the tables with pencil and post-it notes to identify those in the photographs. 

Groups also traveled into the basement of Dietel, where the Archives are housed, to peruse some of ephemera on hand. Waiting on one of the tables was a time capsule put together by the class of 1998, and several class members investigated the contents, including a scroll-style invitation to prom!

A group of alumnae identify photos from the archives

A group of alumnae identify photos from the archives



Susan Hunter ’68, Julie Massry Knox ’98, and Dr. Sarah J. McCarthey ’73 joined Director of Planned Giving Jack Sides for an engaging discussion around philanthropy, sharing their first memories of giving and their inspirations for their own philanthropy. The giving of time, talent, and treasures is one way the panelists live out their values, support what they are passionate about, and empower themselves as women. The group shared insight on when they choose to support innovation versus when they support the general operating of an organization they believe in. 

From the crowd, Peggy Doud Christie ’58 even gave a plug for the Sage Society, saying, “There are many of us who cannot give the money now because we have to live on it, but if you can put a percentage or amount in your will, that’s contributing to the $64 trillion [of wealth] that will be passed down in the next decade.”

Julie Massry Knox ’98, Susan Hunter ’68, and Dr. Sarah J. McCarthey ’73

Julie Massry Knox ’98, Susan Hunter ’68, and Dr. Sarah J. McCarthey ’73 led the discussion of philanthropy at Reunion 2023.



Rev. Cynthia Skripak ’78 led attendees into a moment of reflection and remembrance during the Farewell Gathering in Lyon-Remington. Although she was unable to attend in person, The Reverend Dr. Bonnie Scott ’63 shared in the planning of this touching moment of goodbye. Our talented Alumnae Choir, under the direction of Julia Howard Bush Instructor in Music Dr. Debra Spiro-Allen, led in singing the hymn “The Great Community” by Lucy Holstedt ’69 and shared a beautiful choral blessing. Alumnae shared in moments of silence, remembering each decade of classmates who live on in their memories.  

Rev Skripak ended, “Our school shaped us into who we are today—strong women, visionaries, developers, dreamers, and ordinary folks…so whatever your mixture of remembering and gratitude today, we hold it all gently and give thanks for the growth that comes from it even still.”

The Alumnae Choir 2023

Members of the alumnae choir, singing joyfully!

Thank you to everyone who made this time together so special—to all the alums of the classes of 3s and 8s for bringing your Emma Willard spirit back to campus!


Photos can be found on SmugMug, with more to be added as they become available.


Find more interesting stories about Emma Willard School on our Newsroom page.