The Power of the Past and the Present

Photo by Alyssa Shin

Michael Welles ’72 plays the French horn regularly for the Symphony Orchestra.

Alumni Weekend means different things to different Choate students. To some, it means that they get to see Kyle at the omelet bar again, or that they get pastries for free. To others, it could be a networking opportunity or a chance to reunite with their friends or siblings who graduated from Choate. This week, I reflected on the weekend-long affair and realized that Alumni Weekend has the potential to be more than merely these things.

Choate could organize more events to increase alumni and student interactions, and students in turn could invest more time and effort in fostering relationships with alumni. Over the weekend I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Michael Welles ’72, who returns frequently to play the French horn with the Symphony Orchestra. While I had played with him many times and toured Europe with him, I did not know that he played at the inauguration of the Paul Mellon Arts Center and the merging of the Choate School and Rosemary Hall

I learned through one short conversation that the PMAC was constructed in hopes of bringing the two campuses together through school functions and sharing of art. I frequent the PMAC for orchestra rehearsals, and while I have always admired the I.M. Pei-designed architecture of the building, I had been unaware of the historical significance of the building.

Through my conversation with Mr. Welles , I saw Choate the way it was when he attended. If it had not been for Mr. Ventre and the concert that Mr. Welles  and I performed in, I would never have met or talked to him, let alone learn this fact about the building that I visit at least four times a week. The school currently hosts alumni to talk about their professional careers. However, if the we organized more events to connect students and alumni based on interest, in a similar way that Mr. Ventre invites former musicians back for concerts, student-alumni relationships would be strengthened and both parties could learn more about Choate.

In addition, when students realize the value of the alumni’s experiences, they will be able to enrich their own Choate experiences. The Choate experience is shaped by the people that comprise it. Choate is the way that it is currently because of the daily decisions of the faculty, staff, and students that work at and attend Choate. This has held true for the past 127 years.

So I urge you to introduce yourself to someone at the next Alumni Weekend. Learn about their Choate, and tell them about your Choate. No matter how small or large the gap between their time at Choate and your time at Choate is, you will be able to find similarities. Through these connections, you will be able to truly realize what Choate really has been and is at its core, and appreciate our school for everything it has been and still is.

Last weekend, the PMAC was a building that orchestra rehearses in, a building that shines in the New England sunlight on a spring day, a building that has too few bathrooms, a building that is inconveniently far for a Hall resident. Now, add to the résumé: the PMAC is a building that paved the way for the co-educational Choate that houses the rich history of generations of talented artists.

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