In honor of our Pioneer Spartans — graduates from the classes of 1951 to 1980 ― and with a nod to our beloved founders, St. Stephen’s Advancement team has embarked on a “Crackers and Milk” tour to reconnect with our intrepid early alumni and longtime friends of the school. Their first stop? Austin, of course!
In late February, Austin-area Pioneer Spartans gathered at the Inn at Jennifer’s Gardens to reminisce with their classmates and former faculty and to share stories from the school’s early days. As a special treat, a few alumni were asked to share reflections on old Austin and how the city has changed, as well as their St. Stephen’s experiences.
The event was hosted by Fred Meyers ‘71, owner of the inn with wife Jennifer, and organized by Melody Harman, director of planned giving. “Since joining the staff at St. Stephen’s, I have been drawn to stories about those pioneering years and beloved traditions like serving crackers and milk every night before lights out.” Harman said.
Special speakers included Hank Ewert ’70 and Jane Dryden Lewis ’69, who remembered when Austin was one of the cheapest places to live: a gallon of gas cost .35 cents and you could buy a nice house for $15,000. “Back then, it cost less than $1,000 to be a boarder at the school,” Lewis said.
“I’ve never been able to tell another person about St. Stephen’s and have them ‘get’ it,” she added. “The people I shared my experiences with are like family to me; the school has always been my home.”
Christine Aubrey, associate head of school for Advancement, kicked off the festivities with a warm welcome to alumni. “We strive to carry on the strong values and traditions established by our founders and pioneering students, such as sit-down lunch and gathering the boarding community for a snack before bed,” she said.
One of the more poignant memories shared by the Austin Pioneers was of the “love in” in the spring of 1969, when a group of kids went from classroom to classroom, sharing messages of love and acceptance while hugging other students. “This feeling of love just swept across campus” explained Kathryn Miller Anderson ’71.
Perhaps the most hilarious story was shared by Janette Cook ’58, who reminisced about practical jokes students played on each other. “I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and came face to face with a wild baby hog,” she said. “Obviously, it was all very primitive back then.”
Following the successful Austin event, Director of Planned Giving Melody Harman began plans to bring Crackers and Milk to Washington, D.C. On June 19, followed by Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi and San Antonio next school year.