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Rare, Remarkable, and Refreshing: All-Kirkland Reunions

January 25, 2022

Most colleges encourage graduates to return to campus for class reunions. And most follow a traditional reunion formula—alumni from an individual class will gather every five years to celebrate and reminisce. For example, one might expect in 2022 for colleges to host reunions of graduates from the classes of 1967, 1972, 1977, and so on in five-year increments.

Not Kirkland. As a closed college with displaced alumnae, our situation is unique. We do have a place to gather, but our campus isn’t ours any longer. We do possess the spirit and the desire to sustain relationships, but many of us don’t care to travel back to Clinton for a host of valid reasons. It’s too far, too painful, too alienating, too disruptive to our current lives. Somehow, though, we have managed to re-invent our own reunions and, in the process, help re-invent Hamilton’s as well.

The Charter Class’s 10th Reunion in 1982 was the first occasion in which more than just a couple of Kirkland’s classes were represented. For that event (see Jennie’s post, Keep the Faith), alumnae from all graduating classes were invited. Then, in the winter of 2006, the innovative reunion wheels began to turn again. In May, a kick-off committee meeting was held in person in New York City. By the following month, this small yet determined alumnae committee began to hold monthly calls via Hamilton’s conference call service. No Zoom yet! One fledgling committee turned into several sub-committees, each tasked with planning events and programming independently and then reporting back to the entire group as plans progressed. Another All-Kirkland Reunion was born.

Our second whole college reunion took place May 31 to June 3, 2007. It was as unique as any college reunion can be. First, the reunion encompassed ALL classes from Kirkland, 1971 – 1981. That’s only possible for a small college with a short life, but it totally made sense to do it that way. One benefit, from my perspective, is that alumnae from different classes have been able to meet one another and spark friendships that otherwise wouldn’t have likely happened.

In addition, the reunion planners decided that the all-Kirkland reunion could be much, much more than simply a parade, fancy dinners, class photos, and beer tents. Although there’s nothing wrong with a traditional reunion at all, the 2007 AKR aimed to shine a light on some of the talented women and creative pursuits that embodied Kirkland.

The 2007 AKR featured Inspirations, an alumnae art show in the Emerson Gallery; Kirkland Voices, an alumnae poetry and fiction reading in the Red Pit; Kirkland Echoes, a presentation of short plays written by Kirkland alumnae; and the film Indomitable Spirits. Other events included talks by Doug Raybeck and Sam Babbitt, the unveiling of the Kirkland display case in McEwen,  a guided meditation, a dance with Steak Nite, and a map of Kirkland landmarks. Wowza. Reunions on the Hill have never been the same since. The tradition of all-alumni gatherings took root, paving the way for similar celebrations in 2015 and the upcoming reunion in 2022.

We’ll be sharing more photos and memories of past Kirkland reunions in the months before the 2022 Charter Class 50th Reunion and the fourth All-Kirkland Reunion.

Click this one to enlarge
One Comment leave one →
  1. newsgirljudy permalink
    January 26, 2022 8:36 pm

    Getting into the Kirkland spirit from reading this post, Jo.

    Wondering how many reunions others attended?

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