It’s not just the students who have withdrawal pains after graduating from Culver Academies. Parents soon realize friendships spanning years have suddenly come to an end, too. The myriad of experiences they have shared have suddenly come to a halt.
Scattered across the country – the world, in many cases – they stay in contact through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email. But the days of sharing laughs over meals or in the bleachers have evaporated.
Recently, though, some past parents have gathered at Culver to stay in touch with each other and the school as well. Sallie Jo Mitzell said the idea started when past members of the Culver Parents Association decided to meet over a weekend. They used the anniversary of the CPA’s formation to come back to campus. The CPA was the result of merging the fathers and mothers organizations.
“You get pretty close working together,” she said of everyone on the board and they didn’t want to let those friendships slip away. After that weekend, those attending believed it would be worthwhile to see if other past parents would be interested in gathering for a similar weekend.
Mitzell and John Bollman ’75, a member of the Culver Educational Foundation Board of Trustees, set up the CPA board reunion in April 2016. Then Mitzell and Penny Redington worked on setting up the past parent weekend held in September. It was planned for the same weekend as the Brebeuf home football game and included a tailgate dinner with faculty and staff on Friday and getting updated on campus events from students, faculty, and Head of Schools Jim Power Saturday morning. A special dinner was held that evening. Several people registered, including some grandparents, covering class years dating back to the 1980s.
The turnout and feedback was strong enough that Mitzell and Redington decided to send a survey to as many past parents as they could reach in November. They received 200 responses, which was surprisingly high, she said, and the data is being organized for a meeting later this month.
Plans now call for the past parents weekend to be conducted every other year, alternating with the CPA Auction. The exact timing of when the weekend would be held hasn’t been decided, though, Mitzell explained. On auction years, a special breakfast or lunch on Saturday may be held for the past parents who do come back for that, she added. And, past parents are always welcome to attend Culver Club events.
The group is also working on an organizational structure that would have two people heading a committee to work on the weekend. The plan is keep past parents engaged with Culver or get them re-engaged, she said. Past parents who would like to stay in touch and did not receive the email survey can contact Julie Crews Barger to make sure their information is up-to-date, Mitzell said.