Early morning rain showers and the cancellation of the Homecoming football game could not dampen the spirit of the Randolph-Macon Academy Yellow Jackets. The R-MA faculty, staff, and students pulled together to put on a fun Homecoming weekend October 12-13 that celebrated the R-MA alumni and the bond among us all.
It was a challenging start to Homecoming week when R-MA administrators made the difficult decision to cancel the Homecoming football game. The team had started out the season with lower-than-average numbers (a trend that is impacting schools across the country) but this was further complicated when weather delays pushed the game against Fishburne Military School to Monday, October 1st, followed up by a game against Hargrave Military Academy just four days later on Friday, October 5th. By the end of the weekend, senior staff had come to the realization that we didn’t have enough healthy players to safely field a team for Homecoming. In the interest of protecting the athletes’ health and well-being, the Academy’s administration agreed to cancel the game.
The announcement was pushed out via email and social media, and the Homecoming schedule online was updated. The alumni and parents responded quickly, most expressing appreciation that the school was putting the priority on the athletes’ health and safety.
The students had scheduled a powderpuff game for Friday, October 12th, as a pep rally for the varsity football game. With the cancellation of the varsity game, the powderpuff game was moved to Saturday to fill the hole in the schedule and provide some on-campus fun for the entire R-MA family. The game was well-received by the alumni and provided a relaxed, family-picnic type of atmosphere.
Starting Off Right on Friday Night
The Friday Night Alumni Celebration Dinner kicked off the weekend, with 72 alumni and guests in attendance, including Alumni Association Board of Directors President Bo Snitchler '06, Secretary-Treasurer Andrew Pfister '08, Sergeant-at-Arms Jay Moore '74, and members Bryan Moore '84. Classes represented ranged from 1949 to 2008. The dinner was capped off with the Alumni Association’s penny social-style auction, and the presentation of the Byron C. Gale '50 Dedicated Service Award. The award, normally given at the Saturday Alumni Luncheon, was given to John Cornwell '55, as he wasn't able to attend on Saturday.
Saturday: The Big Day
The Class of 1968 celebrated their 50th Reunion with a breakfast hosted by R-MA President Brig Gen David C. Wesley, USAF, Retired, and with some last-minute fundraising, were able to present a $25,000 check to the Academy later that day to establish an endowed scholarship fund in honor of their class.
The Memorial Ceremony and Homecoming Parade were combined into the Homecoming Memorial Parade. Consolidating the two ceremonies into one made it easier for alumni, guests, and visitors to move from one location to another in a safe and timely manner. Although the early morning rain threatened to move the event indoors, by 9:00 a.m. the rain had moved out of the area and the remaining clouds provided a dramatic backdrop for the ceremony. The memorial flag was presented to Mrs. Kathleen Strother in honor of her late husband, Mr. Charles E. Strother ‘58, who had served on the R-MA Board of Trustees for 30 years. Their sons, Mr. Charles Edward Strother III ‘84 and Mr. Phillip Strother, were at their mother’s side during the presentation.
During the Alumni Luncheon, the Alumni Association presented several awards. Mr. Henry Light ‘58 was recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award; Mr. Bill Curl ‘66 received the Staff Recognition Award; Mr. Gabe Williams ‘16 was the recipient of the Young Alumni Award; and Mr. John Simar ‘68 was honored as the Class Ambassador of the Year. The Alumni Association confirmed the slate of 2018-19 officers of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and added a new member to that Board, Mr. Conroy Wilson ‘68.
The students also performed a song from the upcoming performance of the Lion King and a drone demonstration. Taylor Wreath ‘20 spoke to the alumni about her experiences at R-MA, as well as her hopes for the future.
Alumni strolled around campus after the luncheon, visiting the newly opened Hadeed Innovation Wing where they could play with drones and a flight simulator, checking their old dorm rooms to see if they were still as small as they remembered, and reconnecting with old teachers and friends.
At 2:00, the R-MA family gathered at Riddick Field for the announcement of the Homecoming Court, with Gabriel Rivera ‘19 and Khalila Karefa-Kargbo ‘19 announced as King and Queen.
From there it was onto the light-hearted powderpuff flag football game, where all of the girls played with spirit and grit and First Squadron (the “home” team) gained a lopsided 54-6 win over Second Squadron. The show, however, was clearly stolen by the spirit squad of “Manleaders”–the boys dressed in the girls’ cheerleading outfits. Those directly in front of the stands garnered the most attention, but the “visiting” team on the far side was not to be outdone–a drumline and Sting joined them to try to lift First Squadron’s spirits. During halftime, the Manleaders gathered together to dance to a song, their antics continuing to amuse the crowd.
At the end of the day, the alumni were able to attend various celebrations, ranging from the hospitality suite hosted by the Alumni Association to the Class of ‘68 dinner at Bowling Green Country Club and the Class of ‘58 dinner at Element.