Our students have so many ways of keeping in touch with each other after graduation – social media and texting are probably among the most common. In the 1880s and 90s, though, it was much more difficult to stay as connected. Alumni could keep in touch with letters or an occasional visit, but it just doesn’t compare to the speed with which we communicate today. School reunions became a popular event for former classmates, a time when they would get to see one another and catch everyone up with what they were doing.
The first Centenary Alumni Reunion was held in 1878, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Dr Whitney, first president of Centenary Collegiate Institute, took a yearly vacation to the town and wanted to share his love of the place with others. He was inspired to create a reunion ‘by the sea’. It was held in July 1878 at the Sheldon House in Ocean Grove, and was the first seaside reunion ever assembled by any education institution in America.
There were in excess of 2000 people in attendance at that first reunion – alumni from Centenary’s first four years, plus family, friends, and other students were invited. The evening was such a success, and was enjoyed by so many, that it was decided to hold seaside reunions every five years.
Centenary’s first Alumni Association was also conceived in 1878, and is still going strong today. Alumni reunions are held yearly now and the school schedules several fun events over the span of one weekend for alumni, students, and their family to enjoy on the Hackettstown campus. [Side note: We’d love for Centenary alum to come visit the Library – they wouldn’t recognize it now!]