Reprinted from the Harker Quarterly June 2010 issue
Two days after the school year ended the Saratoga campus hummed with activity as Harker alumni attended the fifth annual All Alumni Day. New graduates and alumni decades past graduation converged to see old friends, teachers and administrators, and to get up to speed on the latest developments at the school and in each others’ lives.
Modeled after a student’s day at Harker, the event consisted of different periods. During first period, alumni could attend “classes” of their choice taught by current Harker faculty. The classes included athletics, dance, debate, journalism, Junior Classical League, Junior States of America, orchestra, performing arts and robotics. “I mingled with people. [Chris] Daren was my advisor, so I came back to say ‘hi’ to him,” said Julia Havard ‘07. Some alumni elected to catch up and reminisce over old photos, newsletters, uniforms and various other memorabilia from the Harker Archives on display in the Nichols Hall atrium.
A common theme among alumni attendees was the many changes that the campus has seen over the past five years.
“I always hear about new things being done here so I just wanted to come check it out,” said Tyrone Easter ‘82. “First thing I noticed was, ‘Where’s the pool?’ I haven’t been here in four, five years. I guess right after I left [Harker] pulled it out, and I haven’t been back since,” he added, referring to the pool’s move from what is now Rosenthal Field to its current incarnation as the Singh Aquatic Center.
Jamie Trinh ‘05 was quick to point out the many changes since her graduation, noting, “There’s a bigger parking lot, there’s a football field, there’s a [new] swimming pool, there’s a swinging pendulum in the middle of the campus!”
Second period brought everyone together for an “all school meeting” and an awards ceremony in the Nichols Hall auditorium. First, Head of School Chris Nikoloff presented Maheen Kaleem ’03 with the Community Service Award for her numerous and ongoing endeavors in her fight against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.
Wajahat Ali ‘94 received the Distinguished Alumni Award for his accomplishments as an essayist, humorist, attorney at law, and for the success of his play, “The Domestic Crusaders,” a story of the post-9/11 Muslim- American experience. Upon accepting his award, Ali recounted his Gr. 5 year at Harker during which severe allergies kept him home for 38 days. He explained that the school intended to dismiss him because he had missed too much school, but ultimately, aided by the timely discovery of an effective allergy medicine, Harker allowed Ali the chance to take on a tutor for a month after school to catch up. Later, with the encouragement of his peers and teachers at Harker, Ali said he would discover his talent for writing.
The third and final award of the afternoon, the Phyllis Carley Award, went to late history teacher John Near. This award recognizes alumni or other Harker friends who have unselfishly devoted their time and energies and made significant contributions towards advancing the programs of The Harker School. Near’s wife, Pam Dickinson, director of the Office of Communication, and his daughter, Casey Near ’06, accepted on his behalf. Near actually had been presented with the award in person in early September 2009, only weeks before he passed away from cancer.
The third and last period of the day involved ten-minute tours around campus by Joe Rosenthal, executive director of advancement; Casey Near, 2006 Class Agent; Dan Molin, upper school athletic director; and Sue Prutton, director of upper school parent volunteer programs.
Even Amaresh Shukla ‘09, only a year removed from Harker and mostly familiar with its facelift, thought it was “great to see how everybody’s doing and how the school is doing. It’s great to come back from college and see familiar faces.”