Linked by MHC: Alumnae Join the Class of 2007 at the Laurel Parade

Posted: May 26, 2007

Class Agent Natalie Cheng '07 was waiting outside Mary Woolley Hall as her classmates arrived to line up for the laurel parade. "Have you pledged yet for the senior gift to Mount Holyoke?" she asked. "It's not too late."

Meanwhile, Simone Beque '07 was staking out a spot at the front of the laurel chain. Beque and a group of five friends had arrived early so that they could march near the class officers. Allison Neher '07, one of those officers, soon showed up with the class banner that had been presented to the seniors a day earlier by the Alumnae Association. "Forever more, this is the banner that our class will carry," she commented.

Proving that point were the 16 members of the class of 1937 who lined up behind their class banner in vintage cars. Classmates Rilma O. Buckman '37, Winifred Durand Smith '37, and Helen Horne Flaherty '37 chose to experience the parade in a Mustang convertible. Nearby, in another car, Juliet Shaw Bliss '37 recollected that because the class's graduation coincided with the College's centennial, they'd had to share the spotlight at Commencement. She added, "President Mary Woolley addressed us over the radio at graduation because she was in Switzerland with world leaders working for peace in Europe." Bliss was especially pleased to be part of the class of 2007's laurel parade because "my mother Evelyn Morgan Shaw graduated in 1907."

As they waited for the parade to start, members of the class of 1947 discussed how being at Mount Holyoke during wartime created a tight bond. "Our social life was here on campus," explained Nancy Dole Mellish '47.

"And when we heard a man's voice, we all turned around," added Ann Wadhams Cobrain '47. The other reunion classes gathered at their designated spots around Woolley Circle. Along with carrying their class banners, they hoisted signs describing their MHC experience. "We never dug those green gym suits. We're our own fashion," read one sign for the class of 1957. Illustrating their point were three alumnae dressed in the old pale green suits.

The class of 1967 also addressed fashion. "We wore skirts to dinner every night" read the sign held by Pamela Crouch '67. "It's true," she said. "It was part of Mount Holyoke culture and part of being a lady."

Nearby, 144 members of the twenty-fifth reunion class wrapped themselves in red boas. "The drinking age changed three times while we were at MHC" noted one of their signs. Another proclaimed, "Go coed? Just say no!" "This was a really special class," remarked Pamela Repko Schneider '82.

Back on the other side of Mary Woolley Hall, friends Lindsey Whitmore '07 and Kim Kaczorowski '07 finally found each other and lined up together as the last few feet of the laurel chain were being draped. At the very end of the chain, seniors attached banners reading "No More War" to the garlands.

Following a drum roll, the laurel parade stepped off at 9:30 a.m., led by Marshall Christine Algozo '97. Algozo, who is vice president of the class of 1997, admitted that she never expected to find herself leading such a venerable Mount Holyoke tradition. "But the class president couldn't make it. So here I am," she explained.

Accompanied by the Springfield Kiltie Band, the parade moved through cheering crowds of family members and friends. College President Joanne V. Creighton and Alumnae Association President Mary Graham Davis '65, along with the 2008 class officers, stood at the reviewing stand on the steps of Skinner Hall. The loudest cheers went up when the class of 2007 processed through the lines of alumnae and up to Mary Lyon's gravesite. As is tradition, the laurel garlands were woven around the gravesite then draped on the wrought iron fence. Then, the seniors sang "Bread and Roses," a poem-turned-song that was taken up by strikers demanding reasonable hours and pay at a textile mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912.

Amid even louder cheers, the seniors filed over to Gettell Amphitheater to be further welcomed into the ranks of alumnae at the Alumnae Association's 135th Annual Meeting. On the campus roads where only minutes earlier there had been a vibrant parade, all was still. The class of 2007 was en route to the future.

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