Mia Rollins, Staff Writer
Homecoming weekend welcomed alumni from past decades. Saint Martin’s University invited distinguished alumni to share recognitions, stories, memorabilia, and laughs.
The annual Distinguished Alumni Awards event took place on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Charneski Recreation Center.
Alumni entered in the building with soft jazz playing in the background, displays of historic photos, and Saint Martin’s keepsakes. Some of these included class of 1968 yearbooks, baseball mitts, flags, cleats, and a Saint Martin’s gym bag. And of course, surrounding the vintage Saint Martin’s swag, was new and updated memorabilia.
While the gathering had officially started at 11 a.m., alumni spent time mingling with fellow alumni, friends, and even past professors. As the small crowd settled, Abbott Neal blessed the brunch.
While the number of attendees wasn’t overwhelming, the atmosphere was lively, and it felt like a family event. This could be because the fact that alumni brought other family members such as kids, siblings, and grandkids to attend the afternoon’s function.
As guests enjoyed their meals, they were entertained by a picture slideshow filled with reminiscent photos of the Saint Martin’s campus, classmates, monks, and in some cases, their own yearbook photo.
After President Heynderickx spoke, and officially introduced the event, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Career Development, Ann Adams, was brought on stage to begin announcing the distinguished alumni to share a few words about their experience at Saint Martin’s.
The first recipient was Tom Barte, who cheerfully told the crowd that he prepared some notes, but decided not to completely follow them. Barte thanked his wife and other family, but most notably, he also thanked the university. Barte spoke meaningfully, “Saint Martin’s means so much.” He later explained that his original planned not to stay on campus for very long, but the small community is what kept him here.
Following Barte, was Thurston County Judge, Christine Schaller. Schaller followed in her father’s footsteps, and started her college career at Saint Martin’s in 1989. Schaller mentioned that her father was awarded the same recognition in 1996. Schaller shared, “My dad would always say that Saint Martin’s changed his life.”
Through her father’s involvement with the school, she grew up wanting to be a Saint, and live on campus. She had also expressed that it was through scholarships that she had the opportunity to live on campus.
Another highlight that brought lots of laughter to the crowd, was when Father George Seidel was recognized, and invited on stage. Instead of giving the traditional thanks, Father George chose to read aloud a few class evaluations from his philosophy students. In the evaluations, students were asked to explain how the course could be improved, and Father George read these answers, “drop it,” and “get a new philosophy teacher and have Father George be the comedian he’s always meant to be.”
As there was light laughter throughout the occasion, there was an overwhelming amount of appreciation that was given to the school, and how Saint Martin’s had positively affected these individual’s lives. The event could be viewed as something positive for students to attend and hear testimonials straight from alumni for motivation and inspiration. The overall theme of the event was surrounded by community and the fact that even though Saint Martin’s is small, its faculty and fellow peers are here to support each other.