The Keene Teachers College graduating class of 1961 will be celebrating its 50 year reunion this June, which marks a milestone of induction into the Golden Circle Society.
The Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, Patty Farmer, said memberships in the Golden Circle Society are open to those who have graduated 50 years or more from Keene State College.
Farmer said KSC considers all graduates from Keene Normal School and Keene Teachers College to be alumni of KSC.
Farmer said there are 1300 active Golden Circle alumni. Of the 1300 members, Farmer said 30 to 50 members attend each of the eight luncheons. “They are a prideful group of people,” Farmer said.
“They have a lot in common and they enjoy each other’s company and staying in touch with KSC,” she said.
Farmer said, “I think students think alumni go away, but so many of them really do love the school and they love giving back.”
Each graduating class that marks its 50 year reunion makes a donation to the college in the form of a gift or contribution. The class of 1961 is presenting a gift in the form of a scholarship in which they raised over $34,000, Farmer said.
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“Hundreds of thousands of dollars support students by alumni right now,” Farmer said.
Of KSC’s 26,000 alumni, more than 12,000 live in N.H. and then “it expands out towards New England,” Farmer said.
For the location of the Golden Circle luncheons, Farmer said, “We choose geographical locations that are within a drivable distance.”
This year, seven of the eight luncheons are in N.H. and one is in Kittery, M.E. Half of the Golden Circle luncheons take place over the summer “because of the ease of access and good travel weather,” said Farmer. “They look forward to these luncheons like a special occasion because they get to see people they hadn’t seen all winter.”
Guest speakers, such as KSC President Helen Giles-Gee, speak at the luncheons at the request of the group, Farmer said. Golden Circle members like to hear about what is going on and how things are going, Farmer said.
Another stop on the luncheon schedule includes visits to Havenwood-Heritage Heights Retirement Community. “Because they are less mobile, we don’t make them go out,” Farmer said.
Golden Circle Coordinator and KSC Alumna from 1952, Norma Walker, said the goal of the Golden Circle is “to reconnect alumni with the college because so many of them do not get back because they feel out of place after being gone for so long.”
At a reunion in 1986, Marion Wood, a 1926 alumna, decided that the classes that were not celebrating an anniversary needed to be brought together, Walker said. Wood organized special alumni gatherings, calling them the Golden Circle.
“After she passed, I picked it up,” Walker said. In 1997, Walker took over for Wood and currently wears the pin with the title “coordinator.”
Walker said, “the hugs that I get from everybody and the responses,” are her favorite part of the luncheons.
The Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, Kay MacLean, said, “It is gratifying to give them an opportunity to connect with one another.”
“They have cultivated a relationship with each other for 50 years,” MacLean said. “They are walking history of the campus and the people that were here at that time.”
MacLean said in addition to hosting luncheons, alumni members do personal visits, recognizing anyone that celebrates their 100 birthday.
“We give them centennial certificates,” MacLean said.
According to the Alumni Center’s website, the 2011 Golden Circle Luncheon group will meet: June 16 in Concord at Makris Restaurant; July 14 in Keene at the KSC Alumni Center; Aug. 4 in Meredith at Hart’s Turkey Farm; Aug. 23 in Kittery, ME at Warren’s Lobster House; Sept. 8 in Claremont at The Common Man; Oct. 20 in Concord at Havenwood-Heritage Heights; Oct. 25 in Mason at Parker’s Maple Barn; and Nov. 9 in Rindge at J.P. Stephens.
Jordan Cuddemi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org