Subject: Note for Woodstock, Class of 1959
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 22:53
From: li @ att.net
Dear fellow classmates:
We've had another successful WOSA/NA reunion in Abbotsford, BC. We returned to Canada after an absence of 10 years, and this one was well attended by our Canadian alums who find it expensive to come to the US. Robert Bonham, Alice Sokolove Clague, Maren Edlefsen Craig, Bibbett Foster, Lindsay Fiske Hofman, Gil Osgood, Dick Smith and I were there for the entire weekend, David Chance and Alan Vichert dropped in for a few hours each. We all have more white hair and look somewhat older than our photos in the Whispering Pines!
Alice has just retired from the UN, Maren is in counseling down in San Diego. Gil is also retired and was written up in his hometown newspaper as someone who had walked all the streets of Eugene, where he lives. David is still stationed at the Los Angeles airport customs service, although he did manage a 4 months tour at the Canadian border, much closer to his home in Bellingham, WA. And the news about Alan -- well, he and his family are busy cutting down trees to establish a vineyard on an island near Vancouver, BC. At the reunion, Joyce Downie Chapman's sister told me that she had undergone quadruple bypass surgery Memorial Day, but is recovering and has started physical therapy.
I wasnt able to spend that much time with our classmates and the long suffering spouses who were there. Usually these reunions find me behind the sales table (I've enjoyed bringing back items from the Mussourie bazaar as fundraisers) but this year, I was able to get away to attend some sessions and meetings. Anne Lind, on the music staff in the late 60s and 70s made a presentation on Influence of Music Development at Woodstock. This included a trio by former staff members Dick Bollinger (45), Art Thiessen (40) and Bob Kaufmann, and a duet by Robert Bonham with his teacher Bob Kaufmann. Anne also showed a clip of a filmstrip with photos and the words of Shadows shown on the bottom. To my surprise, there I was, part of the May Court in 1949, my first year at Woodstock. This was a very nostalgic presentation as many tears flowed when the march used for graduations was played.
We had a well-received Sunday service, an ecumenical service first developed in South India churches. There were readings from Hindu, Sikh and Muslim books as well as the Bible. This service was similar to the one presented at the Rhode Island reunion. The collection, $4,000 is going to the upgrade of the Landour Community Hospital that we all knew, but which has greatly deteriorated. These monies, with additional funds from Woodstock School, will go towards establishing and equipping ICU and ECU units, and white washing of both the inside and outside of the hospital.
The khanna, one of the most authentic ones we've had as there is a large Punjabi population in the Abbotsford area, was followed by a slide presentation by Bob Fleming Jr, who has spent his adult career teaching at Woodstock then in Nepal, and leading many treks in the Himalayas. He had beautiful photos especially of fauna and flora and people who live in the area.
The largest number of alums, staff and friends attended the annual meeting ever, over 230. The focus was a presentation of the school today and plans for the future. Several years ago, Shiv Nanda 58 who was on the Board of Directors of Woodstock School, helped principal David Jeffery establish a financial strategic plan that has become the basis of the Sesquicentennial Campaign that is now underway. This campaign is being conducted with professional methodology. My colleagues on the WOSA/NA Council funded a Feasibility Study (interviews with about 75 alums, parents, former staff) that indicated that we as a group could raise $7-11 million dollars. While this may sound as an incredibly large number, we already have $4 million in pledges and donations. Our professional consultant is David Canfield, spouse of Ruth Harper Axelrod 70 and he has embraced this campaign above and beyond what we pay him. Remember, your contributions to the WOSA/NA Annual funds are part of contributions to this campaign.
The Live Auction was not as lively as in some years past. But Gil is on the lookout for a yak, since he purchased a set of yak teacups, from Tibet. We will have to come up with a different idea for raising funds at future reunions. At the sales table, aside from the items from the bazaar, books sold well. There were 2 from the Alters, Rerun at Rialto by Tom Alter and Water for Pabolee, the newest book by Bob Alter. We were able to bring over from India, 24 copies of the Woodstock Photo book, which all went. The newest book from Woodstock is not well understood Parallel Perceptions is a high quality publication of artwork by alums and former staff. There are photos of their work, as well as what each artist wrote about their work and life a true treasure to have. And there is a new video out by Norm van Rooy, on Mussourie -- we sold 94 copies and probably could have sold more!
Since December, I have become the database administrator for KWI, helped with the conversion from the old database to Raisers Edge, our new one. This product is very powerful, but doesn't quite perform the way we were first led to believe. The good news is that Woodstock will be able to enter changes directly, but we wont be able to make it accessible for all alums. I am now able to work on the system from my home here in California, although for a few months, I was on a regular shuttle to Mukilteo!
As part of the implementation of this new database, I went to India at the end of March. One week at Kodaikanal International School bore out my worst fears -- internet connections are horrible despite the proximity to Bangalore they will not be able to access the server in Mukilteo. Connections are much better at Woodstock, thank goodness.
I spent a week at Woodstock, had a room on the Quad. Coming from Kodai where the campus is right by the bazaar, Woodstock was blessedly quiet and I had a grand view towards the Doon valley. What changes since my last visit there 18 months earlier! The Quad looks much spiffier, they've replaced the tiles on the Quad itself, there are flowers hanging from the balconies. The new dining room/kitchen is really impressive. At the rear of the dining room, they've installed several large etched glass panels, with former school symbols (different W for example) and the school creed is prominently displayed (many of the younger generation never got exposed to this). Around the walls are old historic photos. The wall between the dining room and the staff one now has an open archway, and this wall is painted in a bright orange, which makes the entire room more cheery. In fact, there are many more windows to the outside, so all is brightness. The kitchen is all stainless steel.
The new music cells are much appreciated by the students and staff. They are in the process of changing some of the pianos and there is a regular program of replacing instruments (talk about getting a bassoon or a cello to India!). While I was there, I saw the tearing down of walls in the former music cells, or I saw men pushing down inner walls with bare hands -- amazing how the walls have stood up these many years, just filled with rubble. Men were working late at night on the remodel of this building that will now be occupied by the business office, and other offices that deal with the outside world, including an onsite bank.
It was most amazing to see the security guards wearing uniforms, with a Woodstock School patch on the left sleeve, kitchen staff all in white. I didn't get down to the dorms but had dinner in the principals home which I remember visiting way back in the early 50s. And surprise of surprises, there were California poppies growing outside the principals office, near the Lyre tree.
Woodstock is indeed a changed school from a few years ago. The
Administration has heeded the voices of alums who participated in the
Feasibility study. They are putting in place means to ensure top quality
education (last year was 9th highest in India), with endowments to help
scholarships and keep good staff. Presently, over 50% of students receive
financial aid, but this is coming out of the annual operating budget, and
they want to change the source of funding for scholarships. With a grant
from Winterline Foundation, staff can now attend seminars and courses for
career development. Besides the remodeling around the Quad (the dispensary
is FINALLY being moved down to ground level), first Midlands (formerly
College), then Hostel and other dorms are undergoing badly needed
renovation: in fact each building will be subdivided into smaller living
units, 3 for Midlands. The former Ashton Court soon breaks ground to
become the Hanifl Center for Outdoor Education. This is an exciting
time to visit the school. May I suggest that you plan on being there
the weekend of Oct 30, 2004, to join in the Sesquicentennial
Be sure to send me information about yourself and your family to share with all in our Quadrangle.
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Webber Philip McEldowney