Amy Johnson, ’95, and Richard Mancina, ’73, hold up a trophy that will be used in the 50th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Manson Tung)

School prepares for upcoming birthday

What happens when an event that you have been planning for three years moves from the planning to the execution stage?

Just ask Richard Mancina, ’73, head of the school’s 50th Anniversary committee, who is currently doing just that for the impending festivities.

The year-long celebration will kick off with a festival on Sunday, Sept. 14. The festival will replace the annual Fall Family Festival according to parent Lindsey Sackheim, chair of the opening festivities. Live music, finger foods and a sampling of a museum that showcases the school’s history will be featured.

Attracting alumni is a primary goal for Sackheim. She said her previous experience as president of the Parents’ Association (PA) will be an asset.

“The PA has been doing the Fall Family Festival for years, and the kick-off event is quite similar,” Sackheim said.

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 8.28.52 AM“Traditionally the Fall Family Festival was a very lower- and middle-school focussed event, but we want high-school students and alumni, especially local alumni, to come to the September event,” Sackheim said.

To attract them, plans are in the works for a beer and wine garden, suggested by teacher Daniel Neukom. The PA will also be picking up the entrance fee for alumni and their families.

A massive catered dessert confection will appear at the September event.

“We still are in the planning stages for that, but I can tell you that it will be a birthday cake worthy of 50 years,” Mancina said. “It will be a ‘significant cake experience,’ shall I say.”

That alumni are planning most of the event isn’t mere accident.

“The 25th anniversary was planned primarily by the parents because we alums weren’t quite old enough,” Mancina said. “Now, though, we are, and alumni have played a significant role in pulling together everything.”

Wendy Ross, director of institutional advancement, and Mancina are communicating with the office of congresswoman Doris Matsui, who is also a Country Day alumni parent, to make an appearance at the September event.

On Friday, Nov. 28, there will be an Olympics-themed event. Human shuffleboard and the traditional alumni soccer game will be held during the half-day affair.

On Saturday, May 23, a gala will cap off the year-long celebration. It will feature separate food stations (including a gourmet hot dog
stand reminiscent of the first Country Day food service), an “insta-prom” where alumni can relive their high-school memories or create new ones (several years of alumni didn’t have a prom), and the full museum.Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 8.28.26 AM

The museum will be constructed in a trailer, to pay homage to the trailers that originally housed the school.

Mancina said that his vision was a combination of former Olympics, world fairs and large birthday parties. He is creating a souvenir program based on the program guides at world fairs.

Donation tiles costing $500 will be sold at the beginning of this summer. The commemorative tiles will be attached outside of the Matthews Library on the concrete planter-bench and may feature messages of the donors’ choice. For $750, donors will receive a memorabilia book called “This We Remember” that chronicles the history of the school.

On the more affordable side of the donation spectrum, signed pictures of Neukom and a recording of English teacher Lauren LaMay reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” will also be available for purchase. The funds raised will be split: half for two separate endowment funds for teachers,

and half for the 50th Anniversary Fund for Latham capital expenditures (building improvements, new buildings etc.).

There will also be 50th anniversary gear, including T -shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, thermoses and stuffed owls. All items reflect the theme of “Bringing Back the Gold” and can be ordered from Wells.

Ryan Eytcheson, ’03, and parent Linda Eytcheson, former news reporter, have been filming a video as a tribute to the last 50 years of school history. Student, alumni and faculty interviews as well as live shots of student life will be featured. Eytcheson has been on campus observing and interviewing subjects for two weeks.

While there is still almost a year until the May events, Amy Johnson, ’95, chair of gala events, said that the deadlines are rapidly approaching.

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 8.29.18 AM“I just looked at my calendar the other day, and I said to myself ‘One year and two weeks to go,’” Johnson said.

For Sackheim, the event is even closer.

“We have summer, and then a couple weeks and then it’s here!” Sackheim said.

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