A-Day, Reunion events stay spirited despite alternative formats

In a year like no other in school history, it’s no surprise that UCC’s A-Day and Reunion were different — but still popular.
The best traditions endure through time by the strength and resilience of the community that values them,” said Brendan Dellandrea ‘01, Vice-Principal, Advancement. “In spite of our inability to gather in-person, on campus, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to showcase the strength of the UCC community through A-Day, and to reunite our Old Boys with one another to catch up on each other's lives and celebrate their shared histories.”
For the first time in UCC’s 192-year history, Reunion — celebrating graduating years ending in ’0 and ’5 — took place virtually. The event started with a welcome from Principal Sam McKinney in Laidlaw Hall.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be the principal of UCC,” McKinney said. “I have now been here long enough to recognize many of the faces I see on this screen and it is lovely to say hello to you.”
About 250 alumni worldwide joined the event, which featured a video montage that included photos provided by alum to illustrate milestones in their lives, and welcome messages from a number of their former principals, faculty and staff members who had left their mark, including Dick Sadleir, Doug Blakey and Jamie Procunier and fellow alumni Rich Turner ‘80 and Rodger Wright ‘70. Grads from classes spanning 1950 to 2015 took part in the virtual reunion, which ended with breakout rooms dedicated to each year. 

“We were so grateful and happy to be able to honour those years,” says Samantha Kerbel, manager, alumni relations and Common Ties mentorship. “We felt it was important to acknowledge and honour what would have been a special weekend for this cohort of alumni.”

Kerbel notes that the annual in-person reunion dinner generally has about 325 Old Boys on campus, so the virtual event was well attended. In fact, Old Boys who live too far away to attend in person (e.g. Hong Kong, Colombia) were able to enjoy seeing their classmates again, which has staff considering whether the assembly, at least, could be broadcast in the future, to allow them to participate. Meanwhile, everyone involved hopes that UCC will be able to host its first double cohort reunion physically in 2021, inviting those celebrating in both 2020 and 2021 back to campus.

Say Hey to A-Days

One of the College’s signature occasions, A-Day morphed this year into A-Days, with events at the school to bring the boys together.

Although the usual athletic competitions weren’t possible under COVID-19 restrictions, UCC held an on-campus Terry Fox Run that substituted for the Prefects’ Cup Race. It featured staggered starts for safety and pitted houses against each other. One student per house from each year in the Upper School competed in the sub-two-mile run, which was won by Robbie Evans, a Year 11 student from Orr’s House. Orr’s also took home the Cross-Country Challenge Cup.

“I volunteered to run,” Evans says. “It was one of the ways I wanted to help out the house. As a runner, it was nice to have a focus with all the guys from the house cheering for me.”

Reid Gledhill, Year 12 student and UCC’s athletic steward, was part of the team of staff and students who devised ways to make A-Days enjoyable for students from SK to Year 12. 

“A-Day usually brings with it such an amazing feeling, being on the field with friends,” Gledhill says. “With the provincial restrictions around gatherings, we had to brainstorm ways to get everyone involved.”

The myriad activities included an A-Day assembly, spirit dress at the Prep, a mini-soccerfest among Prep cohorts and a lunchtime carnival at the Upper School featuring a water balloon toss and egg-and-spoon races. There was also an online A-Day trivia contest for both students and alumni, created with assistance from Jill Spellman, the UCC archivist. The prize for the winning house – Jackson’s – is the opportunity to help build the time capsule being buried this year to be opened during UCC’s 200th-anniversary celebrations in 2029.

Says Fiona Marshall, assistant head of student life at the Upper School, “Students are feeling a lot of loss about the things COVID has taken away from them, and these lighthearted games were a way to see them laugh, play and have fun together.”
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