Hundreds of Spartans Return to The Hill for Reunion Weekend 2024

The annual three-day event, hosted by the Spartan Alumni Association, is fully devoted to celebrating St. Stephen’s alumni.

“It feels like family because these people were my family. It was good to see people–it’s like meeting your relatives again,” said Dr. Miguel Ramirez ’99, a former boarding student who traveled from Illinois to reconnect with the place and people who helped shape who he is today.

14 different meaningful events were planned. In addition, 11 classes and class groups held organized evening gatherings such as dinners and cocktails parties off campus in various parts of Austin. Many alums, like Jackson Young ’19, attended Reunion Weekend for the very first time.

“It’s always super fun to see people I went to high school with,” said Young. “Everyone changes so much since we graduated and I left feeling like I had learned a lot more about people who I didn’t really know in high school.”

Ramirez, who is now an orthopedic surgeon was also a Reunion first-timer. The former boarding student, who attended Harvard Medical School first arrived on The Hill as an 11th grader. Ramirez recalls the culture shock he felt when he moved from El Salvador into the campus dorms at the age of 16. The tough transition was quickly turned into a positive experience, thanks to the supportive Spartan community that he said immediately wrapped their arms around him. A few months ago as he was considering returning for his first Reunion Weekend, he started group texting with fellow classmates and felt called to return to campus this year for his 25-year reunion.
A lot has changed in his life since graduation from the Upper School, but Ramirez says many values he learned on The Hill have shaped who he is today.
“The biggest thing St. Stephen’s gave me was an appreciation for diversity of people. I think there was a lot of diversity of thought, there was a lot of diversity of experience, and I felt like people here could be who they wanted to be and nobody was ever judging that–and it kept me open-minded.”

Friday’s festivities kicked off with Upper School Chapel, an Admission event, a reception celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Japanese Exchange Program and the Pioneer Dinner under the twinkling outdoor lights of the Bowen Fine Arts Studio, which celebrated the classes of 1951 to 1974. The evening wrapped up with the annual Modern Voices concert in the Helm Fine Arts Center, which showcased the Middle and Upper Schools choirs, knockout solo performances by students–plus special alumni guest artist Maya Sampleton ’16 who performed two songs on stage, including her recently released single “‘Til Then.”

On Saturday, alumni enjoyed an early morning hike to the Gulch, while others took a stroll on the beautiful trails closer to the heart of campus. Later in the day, alumni filled the seats at the Spartan Alumni Awards & Leadership Brunch to cheer on alumni volunteers and the 2024 honorees, who humbly accepted three distinct awards. The Founders Award for Distinguished Leadership Award was presented to Louis Henna, Jr. ’64, who was experiencing his 60-year reunion.

“The values that we hold strongly: truthfulness, honesty, integrity, kindness, humility are too often taking the back seat to expediency, to lying and to winning at any cost,” Henna told his fellow alumni. “I think it's incumbent upon us to support those educational institutions that can instill in our young people the values that we believe in.”
He also thanked the St. Stephen’s founders and the school’s first board of trustees who established the campus community 73 years ago.
“They founded our school with a holistic mission of educating our young people in mind, body and spirit–wholesome bodies, lucid minds and kind, caring spirits,” said Henna.
Patricia Henna Rowe ’89, the daughter of Louis Henna, is the recipient of the Spartan Alumni Leadership Award. She remarked about her family’s deep connections to the school, which include three generations of Spartans. Patricia held up her dad’s Spartan sweater and letter jacket and explained that not only did her parents meet at St. Stephen’s, but she and her husband Mark Rowe ’88 also met on The Hill, and their three children: Andrew ’16, Elizabeth ’19 and Matthew ’23 are also Spartans.

The Spartan Impact Award was presented to former longtime faculty member Jim Crosby ’70. In lieu of making acceptance remarks, Crosby performed a song he wrote called “Other Folks Shoes.” Many years ago, he deemed it the unofficial song of St. Stephen’s and said it was dedicated to the empathy and compassion of St. Stephen’s former Director of Equity and Inclusion “Yvonne ‘Hill the Thrill’ Adams,” who passed away last year.

“Know thyself she told me, and to thine own self be true,” sang Crobsy while strumming his acoustic guitar. “But I didn’t have to know her long to learn a simple lesson, she’d become the self she was wearing other folks shoes.”

The luncheon was followed by a Japanese Exchange Program Panel, which featured three former St. Stephen’s Japanese exchange students: Nick Palter ’76, David Wolitz ’93 and Audrey Blood ’09. Watch the full, recorded panel discussion here.

This year for the first time, parents whose children graduated five years ago were invited to a special Class of 2019 reception. Despite some rain, alumni filled the Temple Courtyard for the Decades Happy Hour and then strolled over to Bowen for “A Taste of Austin.” Alumni and their families grabbed pizza, P. Terry’s Burger Stand, tacos and ice cream sundaes from local food trucks, and enjoyed a lovely evening together.

Director of Alumni Relations Michelle Olmstead offers a big thank you to all Spartans who returned to campus for Reunion Weekend.
“We are grateful that you are part of his remarkable community,” said Olmstead. “We hope that you will join us next year for Reunion Weekend 2025!”
Save the date and mark your calendars now! We look forward to seeing our incredible alumni on The Hill April 4-6, 2025.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213