Rivers Reunion 2024: Alums Return to Reminisce, Meet Rivers of Today

Alums from the class of 1959 to 2019 returned to Rivers to celebrate and reminisce, popping in and out of events on Saturday, May 18, for the annual Rivers Reunion 2024. Despite unseasonably chilly weather, alums returned to campus to reconnect with each other and with Rivers. 

Classes commemorating their 50th reunion and above celebrated their milestone years early in the day with a luncheon in the Davis Atrium in the Campus Center. Alums enjoyed reconnecting and paging through their class yearbooks. Beloved former faculty member Jack Jarzavek also returned to campus for the luncheon, to the delight of guests. 

Many remarked on how much the campus had transformed since their time there. When the Class of 1974 graduated from Rivers, for instance, the Campus Center and several other buildings had not yet been constructed.

Current Red Key guides—that is, student admission volunteers—were on hand to give tours of campus following lunch, allowing alums to see the many campus updates, such as the MacDowell Athletic Center and The Revers Center for Science and Visual Arts.

In addition to joining tours, alums were invited to get a peek at current student life and activities, dropping by the final performance of the Middle School musical, Finding Nemo, Jr., the Conservatory Program voice recital, Rivers girls’ lacrosse against Tabor Academy on Baker Field, Rivers boys’ lacrosse against St. George’s on Davis Field, student art exhibitions in the Bell Gallery and Baldwin Family Art Commons. 

“I was grateful that alums got to see glimpses of the Rivers of today,” said Janet McKeeney, director of alumni engagement. 

Around 5:00 p.m., the attendees came back together in Kraft Dining Hall for an awards ceremony to honor outstanding graduates. Kicking off the ceremony was Head of School Ryan S. Dahlem, who reflected on the close of his first year at Rivers. 

Proceeding to the awards, the Alumni Excellence Award was presented to Sturdy Waterman ’74, who, said Dahlem, “has built Page Waterman Gallery & Framing into one of foremost businesses of its type in the area.” 

As Dahlem told the audience, “Sturdy has been active in the Rivers Alumni Association, serving on the Alumni Council and as a mentor. He has volunteered for his class as a member of the Reunion Committee, ensuring classmates stay connected to one another and to Rivers.”

The Young Alumni Achievement Award, given annually to a recent graduate who “models the spirit and values of The Rivers School,” was presented to professional hockey player Jillian Dempsey ’09. A standout member of the Rivers community as a student, Dempsey went on to become a powerful player in the world of women’s professional hockey spending many years playing in Boston. Jillian was drafted last year to the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL)’s Montreal team, which was in the playoffs this week, preventing her attendance at this year’s reunion. Her father, Jack Dempsey, accepted the award on her behalf with tears of joy and great pride.

The Rivers Cup, given annually by the Alumni Association to a member of the alumni body who has shown extraordinary dedication to The Rivers School, was presented to David Lyons ’99, P’30, in one of the better-kept secrets of the evening. As Dahlem said in his introduction, “This year’s recipient began his Rivers journey in 1995, was the winner of the Marbardy Prize, recognizing a member of student government at graduation, and has been an integral part of the fabric of this campus ever since.” Returning to Rivers professionally after graduating from Hamilton College, Lyons now serves as director of college counseling and is a current parent of a Rivers sixth grader. 

Before the dinner and the DJ got underway, alumni and guests heard from the Rivers Select Combo I Jazz Band, fresh off their trip to Cuba in March, where they played a Rumba tune and a Charles Mingus piece. 

Then it was merriment well into the evening. Classmates mingled and chatted, laughed, and remembered their time at Rivers as they enjoyed offerings from numerous food stations and had the opportunity to dance to their favorite songs, with a DJ playing lively tunes. 

As McKeeney said, “It’s clear that the time these alumni spent at Rivers has impacted the course of their lives.”

Alumni, we want to hear from you! Submit your class note to the Riparian here or email Janet McKeeney at alumni@rivers.org
333 Winter Street Weston, MA 02493
P: 781.235.9300 F: 781.239.3614