The 2019 Homecoming Weekend at Randolph-Macon Academy featured a mix of familiar gatherings and new events, much to the delight of those in attendance. The weekend kicked off with the Alumni Celebration Dinner at the Bowling Green Country Club, where the alumni gathered and enjoyed a performance by R-MA’s female a capella group, The Stingers, and a brief update of the Academy by President Brig Gen David C. Wesley, USAF, Retired. The 50th reunion class of 1969 also presented their reunion gift to the Academy, a check for $54,524; they would repeat the presentation at the luncheon the following day.
During the evening, the Byron C. Gale ’50 Dedicated Service Award, established to honor one of the hardest-working R-MA alumni, was awarded to Mr. Chip Humphrey, Class of 1966. Mr. Humphrey has served on the Annual Fund Council, as a class ambassador, and most recently as an R-MA Giving Day advocate. He was recognized during the award presentation as “always first to raise his hand, always willing to pitch in, and always faithful to R-MA.”
After the Class of 1969 enjoyed their 50th Reunion Breakfast on Saturday, October 19th, the alumni, staff, faculty, cadets, and other guests gathered for the Homecoming Memorial Parade. This year’s flag was presented to Mrs. Kathy Marquardt, the daughter of Mr. Joe Mast, class of 1949, who passed away earlier this year. She was joined by her sister, Mrs. Debbie Laycock.
Mr. Mast began attending R-MA in the eighth grade. During his senior year, he served as Battalion Commander and captain of the football team. After graduation, he attended Randolph-Macon College before joining the US Coast Guard. He subsequently graduated from George Washington University with a degree in mechanical engineering and went on to build his own commercial construction business. A longtime and often anonymous benefactor of R-MA, Mr. Mast provided the funding for the middle school and many other campus projects. His lifetime support, which totaled nearly $6 million, ensured the future vitality of our campus. Mr. Mast remains a hero to all at R-MA and, through his family, will always occupy a place of honor in our hearts.
At the Alumni Luncheon, additional awards were given out, with the Staff Recognition Award going to the late Mr. Bob Johnson. Alumni Association President Bo Snitchler ‘06 noted, “Bob served R-MA in many ways, including as a teacher and coach, before he took on the role of security officer – a position he held for the last 17 years.”
The Young Alumni Award went to Ms. Whitney Lee, Class of 2010. “After graduating from R-MA, Whitney went on to attend Harvard University where she earned a B.A. in government,” Bo explained to the crowd. “Next, she obtained a Master of Laws in International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam, and continued on to earn a Doctor of Law from Columbia Law School. She is now with the firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, working as an associate in their Global Risk and National Security practice.”
The final award was the Class Ambassador of the Year Award, which went to Mr. Doug Huthwaite, Class of 1969. He led the effort to coordinate his 50th reunion and create a Class of 1969 endowed scholarship so future students can receive financial assistance when they attend R-MA.
The Alumni Luncheon also includes the Alumni Association’s annual meeting, where the slate of officers and board members are proposed and voted upon. Joining the board this year are David Parrish ’02 and Shelly (Barr) Kats ’93. The officers approved for 2019-20 are:
- President: Robert “Bo” Snitchler, Class of 2006
- Vice President: Bryan Moore, Class of 1984
- Combined Secretary/Treasurer position: Andrew Pfister, Class of 2008
- Sergeant-At-Arms: Jay Moore, Class of 1974
- Immediate Past President: H. Scarlett (Praml) Kibler, Class of 1989
Additional Alumni Association Board of Directors members include Phil Covell, Class of 1959; Conroy Wilson, Class of 1968; and Alexandria (Xereas-Gonazles) Middleton, Class of 2005.
The alumni gathered enjoyed a drone demonstration and heard a tale of “The Power of Rise” from Citlaly Sosa ‘20.
“I come from a Mexican family,” Citlaly said, whose family now lives in Baltimore City, MD. “My parents immigrated from Mexico to the United States to have a better future. As a child, I was surrounded by crime and discrimination. My principal, at the time, told my parents and me that I would never succeed in life because ‘no hispanic from the city does.’ We have been through many struggles. At one point, I was homeless. My parents do not know how to speak English well. Most of the time my sister and I had to translate, from Burger King orders to important medical papers. We did not have enough money to buy a bag of Cheetos.”
Citlaly recounted how on a school trip to the U.S. Naval Academy, she was captivated by the passion and pride of the cadets. Inspired to join the military, she began doing research and discovered R-MA. “All this time I have been at Randolph-Macon, my hunger for becoming an officer grew more and more,” she said. “I am currently a commander for the drill team. In my seven years here, I would have NEVER imagined commanding a team. Much less, becoming a leader! I am the type of girl that is EXTREMELY SHY (the girl you see sitting in the back of the classroom. The one you would never imagine having a voice.) I was always pushed down and basically told that my ideas did not count. TSgt [Tina] Laing and the past commander, Rana Diallo [‘19], saw that I had potential. Without them telling me to spread my wings and fly, I would not be who I am today.”
After hearing Citlaly’s inspiring tale, many alumni attended the Betty and David Moore '53 Enterprise and Leadership Lab Dedication. From there, some went on to explore the Hadeed Innovation Wing, while others journeyed down the hill to Riddick Field to watch the Yellow Jackets' varsity soccer team take on St. John’s Front Royal. Those who arrived early to the soccer game saw a last-minute flyover provided by Mike Shankle ‘74 just as the national anthem ended.
In spite of it being the Yellow Jackets’ third game in three days, the excitement of being the featured sporting event at Homecoming energized the young athletes. The Jackets quickly leveled an early goal from St. John's to tie up the game 1-1 after only five minutes, with Alpha Diallo ‘20 scoring the goal. Then Tire Bayo-Adeyemo ‘20 went up for a corner, bringing the Jackets up to 2. JJ Banek-Gabelle ‘21 was moved out of goalkeeping and scored two goals in the second half as the score moved on to 4-2. Isaac Yi ‘21 scored a fifth goal to bring the score to 5-2. After a fight-back from St. John's to bring the score to 5-4, Joseph Afotey-Agbo ‘20 scored a sixth for the Jackets to give R-MA an exciting 6-4 win.