Garrison Forest kicked off the yearlong Centennial celebration for alumnae, parents, faculty, and friends in one unforgettable night on Friday, February 26 with the worldwide "Toast from Coast to Coast." A collective 700-plus adults celebrated in formal gatherings in Baltimore, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Palm Beach, Charleston, SC, Denver, Greenwich, CT, Chicago, and Washington, DC, and Paris. Additionally, alumnae and friends from across the country and globe recognized the day through Facebook posts on the Garrison Forest Alumnae Facebook page.
The yearlong Centennial Celebration officially began with the student community on January 19, 2010, dubbed "1910 Day" in honor of the year of the school's founding.
On February 26, Head of School Peter O'Neill shared his toast live at Garrison Forest in the Alumnae Hall and via DVD for those attending in other cities. Before lifting his glass on campus, he reflected on the significance of the evening: "It is fitting as we celebrate our past that we pause to honor those who had the courage and vision to create a college-preparatory school for girls at a time before women even had the right to vote...We need to imagine ourselves as founders of our next century. When members of the Class of 2025, our newly enrolled Three-Year-Old class, celebrate the Garrison Forest bicentennial in 2110—and I am convinced that some of them will—they can toast an equally vibrant school and community that we helped to create."
This worldwide event actually began on January 22, when Peter and Peggy O'Neill traveled to Beijing to celebrate with current GFS parents and to meet with Hanban Institute officials regarding Garrison Forest's recent designation as Maryland's first Confucius Classroom among independent schools.
Hostess for the Paris event, Victoria Lewis Hobson '60, sent an email report of the Paris gathering she and five other guests enjoyed. This excerpt captures the spirit of the Toast heard 'round the world:
"After weeks of icy and rainy weather in Paris, our little group of five (my husband George and me, Heather Smith '90, and Barbie Christy Kimberly '64 and her husband John Kimberly) were gifted with a lovely sunny afternoon and early evening at the Cercle…We watched the GFS toast DVD first, and had great fun raising our GFS glasses towards Peter O'Neill as he 'spoke' to us from the large screen…We then watched a DVD on the history of the School, which touched all of us. We had three different perspectives on the film and on life at GFS. The fact that we were a small group made for some satisfyingly serious discussion on various issues involving aspects of our work, different life experiences, and important world affairs. I like to think that Miss Livingston, Miss Offutt, and Miss Marshall, and succeeding school Heads and teachers, would have been proud to look down on our little group among the commemorations going on all over the United States and in several other corners of the world. We did indeed feel ourselves to be part of a big international event."
Messages have been pouring in from all over the country about the events. The GFS community in Philadelphia can look forward to celebrating on March 10, as the winter storm pummeling the Northeast kept revelers from a gathering on February 26. To register, click here. Alumnae and parents in Mexico City also will celebrate later this spring.