July 18-20, 2014

Topsfield, Massachusetts, home of Steve and Patricia Jamison

Amanda has written up her official notes—let me submit an unofficial note, in narrative form, about the mini-reunion last month. As most of you probably know, a small group of people each year comes together around the annual board meeting, to make decisions about the alumni association and to see each other. It used to always be at Jean Stultz’s farm and at the Presbyterian New Wilmington Mission Conference, but this year Steve Jamison (’68) and his wife Patricia hosted the meeting at their home north of Boston. The Schutz alumni may never meet in a nicer place!

We lounged and talked on their deck; we cooled off in their pool; we met in their living room on comfortable couches; we processed along sagging buffet tables under an open-air tent in the back yard, where Steve and Patricia served wonderful meals they had prepared and catered. It was a lovely weekend.

The following week I attended the reunion of my other mission boarding school in Ethiopia, and was struck by the same thing at both—the “big kids” who ignored me and the “little kids” I ignored are now peers, and we’ve all grown up to be interesting people. We share so many variations of the international school experiences—we soaked in some kind of extended family feeling in the boarding situations (even if we were day students, I think). Many of us experienced homesickness. We all felt like strangers in our own cultures when it was time to go “home” and finish growing up. It’s affirming and encouraging to learn how others managed the stresses, how we capitalized on the opportunities, and what we make of our early experiences as the years have gone by.

Though they were not there for the group photo, Glenn Jamison and his wife came by, as did several of Steve and Patricia’s children and grandchildren. It was fun to see the next generation expressing interest in others who shared their parents’ unusual childhoods.  Around one of the supper tables, Paul Clark’s wife Molly, also missing in the picture, noticed how many of us became teachers (Mary Beth and Debby Neely, Sandy Jamison, Amanda Johnson and I) and we started counting siblings, spouses and offspring who also teach. Runs in my mind the group counted up to thirty-one teachers represented around that one table. What a contribution Schutz made to future generations just in one small collection of us!
photo (3)

Back Row: Steve Jamison, Don Rademacher, Ed Nicholas, Paul Clark, Jean Stultz, Sandra Jamison
Front Row: Deborah Martin Spohr, Charlotte Weaver-Gelzer, Mary Beth Neely, Caroline Kurtz, Deborah Neely, Amanda Johnson, Patricia Jamison

The alumni group was small this year (it might be vain of us to trot out the old cliche about quality vs quantity!) so Paul invited us all to be part of the board discussion. Two board members also joined us electronically — we’ll get better at using technology to involve people in important decisions and I urge more of you to join the discussion that way next time. The bulk of the meeting was focused on how to keep us connected, how to connect with today’s Schutz students, and how to make the web page a place that can facilitate our connectedness more and more and become interesting to visit from time to time. Further feedback welcome! Write to Paul with your ideas.  Be our beta-tester for new things that we plan to add!

The full alumni membership meeting started late—unfortunately we had trouble getting this second meeting on the web so we hope we didn’t miss anyone who tried to join electronically. Paul was doing his best to herd us back into the house from lunch, but he had to give up when we started singing and he saw the super-rich chocolate birthday cake the Jamisons had ordered for him, and the six foot long trough of ice cream to top it with!

So . . . we missed you. Please come to the grand reunion next year, the weekend of July 10 at the 4-H center in the northwestern Washington DC area. Put it on your calendar now! At a certain age, the focus of thoughtful people’s attention shifts from seeking accomplishment to seeking meaning in life, and many of us are at that age. Connections with former friends, and the chance to make new friends who shared life-shaping events in our youths, can help us see how the years we have lived take a pleasing and meaningful shape for us all now to share.