The school held a series of celebrations for its 25th anniversary in 1990. Maura Ryan, ’02, enjoys a hamburger during the 25th Anniversary celebration grill on May 25. Ryan now teaches first grade at Saint Andrew's Episcopal School in Saratoga.

School prepares for 50th anniversary celebration

The 50th Anniversary events are fast approaching, and new details on the activities from Richard Mancina, ‘73, and Amy Johnson, ‘95, give a more concrete picture of the festivities ahead.

On May 22, the Friday night “Together We Are Golden” event will be geared toward alumni, current students, parents and staff. It will feature an art gallery, an SCDS-themed movie and a trailer museum.

Stan Lake, father of Elizabeth Lake, ‘92, works on the grill at the event.
Stan Lake, father of Elizabeth Lake, ‘92, works on the grill at the 25th anniversary celebration.

The following day, the “Solid Gold Gala” will be an “insta-prom” for adults.

Mancina, the first student body president in 1972, said he has spent four hours a week working on the 50th anniversary events since Anita Marmaduke, former Board of Trustees president, asked him to be chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee four years ago.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing old friends from the ’70s and seeing folks from all eras of Country Day meet,” Mancina said.

Mancina asked Johnson, a Lifer and alumni director from ’00-’04 and Medallion advisor for several more years, to help him plan the celebration.

“It’s been a priceless experience to be back on campus and to work with (director of institutional advancement) Wendy Ross, (Mancina) and other members of the SCDS family,” Johnson said.

Francie Tidey, former head of high school; Barbara Ore, former lower-school head; and Dan White, former headmaster, enjoy themselves at the celebratory coffee and flag raising on Sept. 14, 1989.

Francie Tidey, former head of high school; Barbara Ore, former lower-school head; and Dan White, former headmaster, enjoy themselves at the celebratory coffee and flag raising on Sept. 14, 1989.

Johnson expects more than 500 people to attend on Friday and more than 200 on Saturday night. According to Mancina, it is hard to be certain. The committee received about 600 RSVPs for the birthday party in September, but over 600 attended.

“Teachers from all decades are coming back,” Mancina said. “This is probably the only event where you’ll see all of them together again.”

Former teachers – such as Jim McEntee, Helen Bishop, Roy Bishop, Dave Hechler, Corrine Cleary (and her husband Kim Wood) and Paul Ford – will attend both events.

According to Mancina, the alumni who have responded to their invitations are enthusiastic about the event.

White makes a speech at the flag raising.

Former headmaster Dan White makes a speech at the flag raising during the 25th anniversary celebration. (All photos used by permission of Julie Nelson)

“People who have been out of touch for a while kind of light up when they hear about it,” Mancina said.

Traveling furthest for the events are Quincey Tidey Grieve, ’86, (daughter of former headmaster Clayton J. Tidey and Francie Tidey, former head of high school) from Washington, D.C., and teacher Greg Nobles from Atlanta.

The committee has sent several announcements and programs and created, which shows pictures of the campus and former faculty and alumni, gives information about who has agreed to come and instructs how to register and buy souvenirs. Formal invitations were sent in mid-April.

Mancina estimates that $16,000 has been raised from the commemorative tile sales since the beginning of the school year.

A group of alumni decided that half of these funds will support the Capital Fund, which finances campus improvements, and the other half will go to the Faculty Salary Endowment Fund.

The committee is beginning to meet with student and parent volunteers. According to Johnson, the committee would like to involve class representatives. Volunteers can sign up with Ross to lead campus tours, run booths and man the historical scavenger hunt.

“Together We Are Golden”

On Friday, May 22, the celebration will begin, along with the Rulindo Play-a-thon, Megaband and Spirit Day. Some alumni might join the Megaband, which Johnson is most looking forward to.

“I can’t wait to see who brings their instruments,” Johnson said.

The Friday event, 4-8 p.m., will be free, but food and drinks from food trucks will be sold. Hagen’s Original Orange Freeze, Drewski’s and Mama Kim’s will arrive between 4 and 5 p.m. and serve for the entire event.

Artifacts from the school’s history will be on display in a trailer museum because most of the original buildings on campus were portables. Many artifacts were donated by families. Mancina donated some editions of The Tasteful Turkey, the first publication and underground newspaper. Mancina was co-publisher of the Turkey and said that it was “the precursor to the Octagon.”

A time capsule filled in 1989 at the 25th anniversary will be opened on Friday and on display for both days. Amy Nelson Wells, alumni director and development coordinator, is preparing the capsule for display. All alumni who sealed the capsule will attend the opening.

“If you’re into Country Day history, this is a must-see,” Mancina said.

Several booths will be designated for current and former members of co-curriculars to mingle. For example, there will be a booth for the current and former Octagon staffers and booths for sports teams.

“A lot of alumni want to talk to students to find out how things have changed and stayed the same,” Mancina said. “Most (alumni) don’t know that they (students) have laptops and iPads.”

A scavenger hunt based on SCDS history will lead guests on a tour around the school. The hunt will end with prizes, but Mancina said that the biggest prize of all will be the bragging rights. According to Mancina, the scavenger hunt is meant to show the alumni the changed campus and how many more clubs and sports teams have been added.

Former art teacher Maya (“Kay”) Schweizer’s artwork will be displayed in the art room. Schweizer will present some new works and several pieces donated by SCDS friends.

A film made by Ryan Eytcheson, ’03, and his mother Linda, will be shown on a loop. Eytcheson’s film describes the school’s beginning, the founders’ vision and SCDS living up to its original expectations. Ross asked Eytcheson if he would create the film in 2014.

“I jump at any opportunity to visit Sacramento and bug my former teachers.” Eytcheson said.

Mancina said that he thinks students will most enjoy the scavenger hunt and visiting with alumni.

“Students might be interested to hear  what (alumni) have to say about old teachers like Mr. (history teacher Daniel) Neukom,” Mancina said. “They might like to think about how they will celebrate in 25 years.”

Johnson said that she hopes that students take away SCDS’s rich history.

Solid Gold Gala

On Saturday, 6-11 p.m., there will be a gala for adults for $50, which includes food, cocktails, music from when the alumni attended and dancing. Present and former faculty  are guests of the school.

The gala will start with a cocktail hour, and the SCDS trailer history museum will be open again. Then professional comedian Grant Lyon, ‘02, will perform.

“The people at Country Day are always so warm and friendly,” Lyon said.

“The people and relationships are what makes (the school) special in my opinion, so the remainder of the event will allow for reminiscing and catching up with old and new friends,” Johnson said.

At the gala, there will be two food stations catered by Jackson Catering. One,“Frank Pignata Hot Dogs,” will serve gourmet hot dogs as a throwback to the first food program, which served hot dogs once a week, and will be dedicated to Pignata, a former math teacher and assistant headmaster. The other station is called “Bake Sale.”

The “insta-prom,” which was requested by many alumni who didn’t have high-school proms, will include photo booths and a traditional prom photo set-up. Guests are encouraged to come in “creative or classic” prom attire or wear the provided costumes for their pictures. Johnson expects this to be a “lively and highly entertaining” part of the gala.

Previously published in the print edition on April 28, 2015.

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