At my first official meeting as the new President of the St. John’s Alumni Board, members of the very talented and dedicated staff gave me a small bag containing practical items to prepare me for the role – SJS pens and a notebook – and, perhaps appropriately for a school that provides a “genuine challenge for academic accomplishment,” a book, which I construed as a reading assignment. In contrast to the rigorous study habits of many SJS alums and students, I have not yet been able to get past the title “Start With Why” (in fairness, only one day has passed prior to writing this letter, and so there is still hope for me to complete it). This simple, straightforward direction—“start with why”—has value when prioritizing how we direct our time, our resources, our energy, and our care. The twenty-eight dedicated Alumni Board members maintain a clear purpose for their service on the Board, which is “to enhance relationships among St. John's Alumni and between the Alumni and the School, to perpetuate the school's ideals and goals, and to sustain its strong foundations.”
The Alumni Board’s mission statement was crafted to be timeless and to transcend the periodic shifts that may determine how the alumni community supports and engages with one another and with the school, and the challenges of the last few years have demonstrated the resiliency and strength of the Storied Cloisters, as well as of Maverick alums, students, faculty, and staff. The 2022-2023 school year has settled into a more normal cadence with less of a sense of contingency: a stream of students in red, navy, white, and beige uniforms flows through the halls, “Hail, St. John’s!” has been sung by a full student body chorus at assembly, and standing room only crowds are anticipated at Skip Lee Field and the VST. Last year’s SJS alumni calendar ended with a strong, lively turnout at Reunion Weekend, and the record for class reunions held in one weekend (30!) was certainly smashed and will likely stand forever. This year’s calendar will continue that momentum and build on it as other events deferred or canceled are back in 2022-2023: regional alumni gatherings in Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, and Dallas and football watch parties in the Tradition Room, to name only a few. This reset has returned our agency to decide where we will be present and to appreciate our presence in the moment – or, to borrow a Lower School slogan for this year – both to “Be Where Our Feet Are” and to choose where our feet are.
As a proud and faithful alum, I have chosen to be present at St. John’s and to serve the alumni community because I deeply appreciate my transformative academic, social, and intellectual experience at SJS and desire to play a small role in helping to sustain the school in its work to “develop the whole person for a lifetime of personal fulfillment and contribution to society.” But, I also do it simply because it is fun to connect with so many talented, motivated, and engaging Mavericks, to reminisce with classmates, to hear from the administration, faculty, and staff who continue to inspire with their vision and commitment to the SJS goals and ideals, and to meet the younger Mavs and see their limitless potential.
One of the Precepts and Principles of the St. John’s Family is “Loyalty and Spirited Devotion are fundamental to a successful school. Pride, enthusiasm, fair play, and hard work are recognized as essential ingredients of loyalty.” This particular principle captures the interplay between the diligent work and vibrant social engagement at the core of the St. John’s Alumni Board and alumni community, and we are excited to look ahead to the key events and initiatives for the SJS alumni community during the remainder of the calendar year:
- St. John’s Network Social The first annual social will be held on Tuesday, October 11 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on The Great Lawn. Hosted by members of the Class of 2023, the social provides the opportunity for alums to learn more about current student activities and life on campus and to meet with students and other alums and discuss career paths and share professional expertise. Please join us to make the first year of this event a success.
- Student Internship Program In 2022, more than 90 rising seniors were placed in summer internships and mentorships hosted by St. John's alumni and their colleagues. The internship program is a great way for alumni to engage with the school and its current students, and the students love the opportunity to learn from and to interact with alums in a professional setting. The program always needs more alums from a wide variety of fields to participate. If you are interested in supporting the program, please contact Shannon Fulton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Phonathon This event will be held in Flores Hall on Tuesday, November 15 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Phonathon continues to be a social (and competitive) evening with the alumni classes vying for prizes awarded for soliciting classmates and raising money for the St. John’s Fund. Alumni in Classes of 1993-2018, please email Tess Gee (email@example.com) to receive more information about participating.
- Regional alumni events Capitol Hill and greater DMV Mavs, the SJS alumni association is coming to you for special events planned for Thursday, September 22nd. Contact Shannon Fulton (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Alums in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and beyond should stay tuned for future events in your area this year.
The new school year has begun with optimism that old traditions have returned and that new traditions will be formed, and the Alumni Board encourages all Mavericks, from the most spiritedly devoted to those with a slight inclination to reconnect, to spend more time with the St. John’s family on Claremont Lane, to support the school and its enduring mission, and to be present for the camaraderie and fellowship.
Michael Pipkin ’01
22-23 Alumni Board President