Alumni eNewsletter: New memories, milestones, friendships, and anniversaries celebrated at successful 2008 Homecoming (Archives)

Photo: helmet and football on the field with Bison and Gallaudet signs in background
The newly renovated football field with the new scoreboard.
Photo: 5 women on Chapel Hall steps with class of 1948 sign
Homecoming 2008 Class of 1948
Photo: group photo on Chapel Hall steps
Homecoming 2008 Class of 1983
Photo: Bummy gives thumbs up posing with brother Stephen
Dr. Gerald "Bummy" Burstein and his brother, Stephen Burstein

The 2008 Homecoming weekend got off to a strong start, and the momentum continued with many different events happening on campus during the three-day weekend. The strong alumni spirit was evident everywhere in the smiles, gestures, and moods of over 2,500 alumni from near and far.

There were so many activities taking place that there was something, somewhere for everyone to do all weekend.

Here are a few of the highlights:

There were public events such as the Alumni Emeriti Induction Ceremony which was a beautiful occasion, with a growing group of inductees since the Emeriti Club was established--45--receiving their medallions. The oldest was from the Class of 1948. John P. Matthews, ’58, spoke on behalf of class president Richard Bohneyo, who was unable to make it, and Suzanne Mog Kelly, '58, did a spectacular job of singing "Come Home to Gallaudet" in full ASL when the program drew to a close.

The panel discussion held by four professors (MJ Bienvenu, '73 & G-'83; Ben Bahan, '78; Carolyn McCaskill, '77 & G-'79; and Dirksen Bauman) from the ASL and Deaf Studies Department, was exciting, discussing the future in ASL. Wanda Riddle, '07, served as moderator. Each panelist spoke on a topic he or she has a special focus on, with Dr. Bienvenu talking about the screening process for the newly established ASL 101 and 102 classes for freshman students, Dr. Bahan presenting on "language death," and Dr. Bauman talking about how sign language is waning in Denmark due to people moving to Sweden, and Carolyn talking about her research into Black ASL.

The College Bowl Challenge was particularly spirited because there were two members each from the classes of 1958 (Peggy O'Gormann Hlibok and Ron Nomeland) and 1983 (Charles Homes and Fred Weiner) competing against Gallaudet students in the annual Academic Bowl competition. Pia Marie Paulone, '07, served as moderator. The students won. During intermission, there was a special ceremony honoring Gerald "Bummy" Burstein, '50, for his 30 years of service on the GUAA Board. Dr. Burstein has missed only one meeting in his three decades of service. During the ceremony, he was granted the honor of being named board member emeritus for the GUAA. The ceremony wrapped up with a special reception in his honor and for the outgoing GUAA board.

The Pep Rally was true to form--noisy and spirited, particularly due to the many members of the Class of 1983 in attendance. That class is famous for winning five straight championships during Spirit Week during their college years, and it is particularly famous for its creativity in raising the noise levels in the gym by thinking outside of the box.

Then of course there was the popular annual pre-game bash, held at Peikoff Alumni House ("Ole Jim"), which drew large crowds and filled the upper level to capacity. Alumni enjoyed seeing the class banners dating back to the Class of 1922 that were hanging from the ceiling. Many marveled at how tastes and styles have changed over the years, with banners from the old days being pennant-sized and simple, and more recent banners showing bold colors and student-created language.

There were tours at the recently opened SLCC given by MJ Bienvenu, Benjamin Jarashow, '04, & G-'07, Brooke Budzinski, '04 & G-'08, and Matt Malzkhun, ''05 & G-'07, where visitors got to see the beautifully crafted building with its sweeping views of the campus.

After four weeks on the road, the Gallaudet football team was ready to play on its home turf, and Bison fans didn't let the team down as over 2,500 people came to see the game. But a Bison win was not to be, with Gallaudet losing 44-9 to Southern Virginia, a tough NAIA school. Gallaudet got into the red zone four times but was not able to score until the fourth quarter, when Jimmy Gardner threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Travis Oshman. Gallaudet also scored on a safety in the fourth quarter when the Southern Virginia punter couldn't handle the snap and the ball went out of the end zone. On defense, Gallaudet was led by Justin Wilson with eight tackles and one assist. Jared Vollmer had five tackles, five assists, and one interception, and Calvin Doudt had five tackles and four assists. Jarvis Beaver had four tackles, six assists, one interception, and two sacks. On offense, Derrick Williams made two outstanding catches for 47 yards, including one for 38 yards. With the loss, Gallaudet goes 1-5 for the season

During the game, there were many booths with various organizations selling food, pagers, and VP services, but there were a few in particular that stood out. The LCCF Committee had a booth selling painted pictures of President Davila as part of an effort to raise money for their organization, and a committee representing the Gallaudet Museum Fund raised awareness about the goal to open a permanent museum on the Gallaudet campus. The hope is that in the next few years, if enough money is raised, a museum will be founded that will showcase various collections and artifacts from deaf history.

There were also private events for many class reunions. The spirit was strong among the classes including Class of 1983 (25th anniversary) to the Class of 1958 (50th anniversary). Both classes celebrated all weekend by taking private tours on and off campus, throwing banquets, and displaying memorabilia on their clothes and in their banquet rooms. The Class of 1958 had an additional special occasion to celebrate: the class raised over $7,500 to be donated to the Gallaudet Museum Fund!

It was not only these classes that celebrated in style. Other alumni celebrated the milestones of their 55th and 60th anniversary. The Class of 1953 had a special reason to celebrate its 55th class anniversary this year: Their class slab was discovered inside the campus near the intersection of West Virginia Avenue and Florida Avenue a few weeks prior to Homecoming, and the slab and tree were planted in a new location near House One. President Davila happens to be a member of that class, so as a treat he had his classmates over for dinner at House One on Saturday night. The Class of 1948 was a group of five strong and independent women who showed up to celebrate their 60th class anniversary. Three out of the five women marched proudly on the football field, leading the pack during the class parade before the football game. One of the many highlights of the weekend for these women was mingling with the students and answering their questions on how things were on campus 60 years ago. It was a special treat for them to be able to do this.

Two members in particular--Marilyn Beal and Eddie Lee Bachus of the class of 1968--had a sentimental walk down memory lane. They each contacted classmate Michael Moore to inquire about finding a roommate for a hotel room and were paired together. It turned out they had also been roommates during their prep year at Gallaudet!

The Class of 1963 had a small turnout, but everyone had a great time. The members celebrated their anniversary by having dinner at the Capitol City Brewery Restaurant, and they shared fond memories of their college days. The class members agreed that they are indebted to Gallaudet University for how they have turned out and where they are in their lives. They were thrilled to see how the Gallaudet athletic facilities have grown both quantitatively and qualitatively with full-time coaching positions.

The classes of 1968 and 1973 celebrated their anniversaries with banquets at the James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC). The Class of 1973 in particular is proud to announce that they have a bench displaying their class year resting near the SLCC. They are also working with the Office of Development to place a brick bearing their class year on the walk leading up to the SLCC. The class raised the $500 donation for the brick in less than an hour!

The other anniversary classes--1978, 1988, 1993, and 1998--held their own celebrations either on or off campus, and were very prominent in their class jerseys and T-shirts.

Not only were there class reunions, there were also special events such as the Alumni of Color Reunion, which drew a large number of alumni from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The event featured a PowerPoint presentation highlighting how times have changed for alumni of color, and President Davila gave a presentation on his experience as a Hispanic student at Gallaudet in the 1950s. The event was sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of Alumni Relations, and the Center for Academic Programs and Student Services. It would not have been possible without the hard work of the organizers--Lindsay Dunn, '85, and Thuan Nguyen, '00.

Kappa Sigma celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala that drew over 100 people to Maggiano's Little Italy Restaurant, and several parties throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, the Department of Athletics held a special breakfast at Peikoff Alumni House to honor 10 Hall of Fame inductees. There was not a dry eye in the room as each of the athletes were introduced by tho who knew them best during their years at Gallaudet while working with them in their sport of choice. (For more information on this event, please check out the article in this month’s e-newsletter.)

Recognition goes to those who worked so very hard to plan their class reunions and fire up their classmates' spirits:

Polly Pettingill, '48
Ray Kolander, '53
Lyla Northcutt, '58
Race Drake & Rocco DeVito, '63
Michael Moore, '68
Martina "MJ" Bienvenu, '73
Thelma Schroeder, '78
Carl Pramuk, '83
Tina Joyner, '88
Barbara Nehrir, '93
Margie English, '98

The Office of Alumni Relations (Sam Sonnenstrahl, '79 & G-'84, Abigail Strauss Drake, '97 & G-'99, Peggy "PeV" Hlibok, '84, and Sonia Brown) wants to take the opportunity to acknowledge and deeply thank the many alumni who volunteered their time over the weekend to help make Homecoming a big success. There will be a volunteer appreciation party in the next few weeks. We would not have been able to get through the weekend if it were not for the volunteers.

Not only did we have alumni volunteers help out, but we also had student interpreters from the M.A. in interpretation program volunteer their time working with members of certain classes to ensure they were included in the activities. They did a great job and, again, made sure Homecoming was a success.

Posted: 3 Nov 2008

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