The Wheeler community came together for a flurry of activities during Homecoming and Reunion Weekend Oct. 14-15. On Friday, visiting alumni spent time in Providence taking campus tours and heading back to class for a curriculum showcase and classroom visits as they learned more about the Wheeler academic experience today.
Members of the Class of 1972, who were celebrating their 50th reunion, also enjoyed a special performance by the 18 Wheelers student a cappella group during lunch!
The festivities expanded to Wheeler Farm Friday evening as we cheered on the Warriors soccer teams under the Friday Night Lights. We also gathered nearby for a beautiful ceremony in remembrance of Geoff O’Hara ’87, P’20, P’22, P’25, and his father, Bob O’Hara, former Head of the Middle School, as we dedicated the O’Hara Family Field.
Alumni and guests then made their way to the Van Norman Field House to celebrate the newest inductees into the Wheeler Athletics Hall of Fame: Jane Forman ’80, who became the first Rhode Island singles tennis player to win four consecutive State Championships and went on to have a standout professional tennis career; Konique Ballah ’98, who was known locally, regionally, and nationally as as an outstanding sprinters and captured five individual New England Championships during her time at Wheeler; and the 2010 and 2011 Wheeler Girls Soccer Teams, which accumulated a two-year record of 37 wins and only four losses and won back-to-back league championships.
“I want to thank The Wheeler School and the Athletic Department for this prestigious honor,” said Ms. Forman upon receiving her award. “One of the many great qualities that Wheeler has to offer is its deep historical roots and wonderful traditions. Being among the first of this new tradition makes me very proud… Wheeler has always been a special place for me. With supportive teachers and outstanding athletic leaders such as (Julie) Baldwin, (MaryAnn “Mama”) Farroba, and (Jean) Carlson, one couldn’t help but succeed.”
The event was hosted by Wheeler’s Alumni Board, with several current and past members in attendance, including John Clarke ’06 (Vice President), Dan Forman ’86, Brian Franklin ’92, Aaron Spacone ’06, Peter Pizzarello ’92 (Past President) and Brooke Kaufman ’62 (former board member).
After being introduced by Director of Athletics Sean Kelly ’02, P’35, Ms. Ballah, whose family flew in from California for the event, talked about how, through track, she learned about discipline, resilience, and leadership. She also marveled at the facilities available to student athletes at Wheeler today. “I would have never imagined that there would be a state of the art track right here at the farm… I am heartened by Wheeler’s commitment to the sport and the fact that many students after me have had the opportunity to learn their own lessons during their own athletic journeys.”
Finally on Friday, as the Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony wrapped up, the all-Alumni Homecoming Party got underway.
Homecoming and Reunion Weekend continued at the farm on Saturday, beginning with big crowds and lots of excitement for Wheeler’s Middle School Soccer Tournament, followed by one of our most beloved school traditions, Family Fall Fest! We then kicked off a new event, the 5K Fun Run and Walk. After crossing the finish line at O’Hara Family Field, participants headed over to Godley Field to watch the Varsity Field Hockey team take on North Kingstown.
“In the past, this weekend has traditionally featured both Fall Fest and Reunion, two perennial favorites in the Wheeler calendar,” says Head of Advancement Rachel Spaulding P’27. “This year, however, Wheeler saw an opportunity to expand the events into a full Homecoming Weekend, with something for everyone in our community. From the cheers at Friday Night Lights, to our first 5K Fun Run and Walk, to the Reunion Night fire pits blazing on Miller Quad on Saturday night, we had a blast celebrating Wheeler spirit all weekend!”
Photography Credit: Pam Murray