On May 26, Shore presented “A Night of Celebration,” a virtual event to reflect on a momentous year, honor retiring Shore employees, applaud those celebrating milestone years of service in 2020 and 2021, and look forward toward Shore’s future. Hosted live from Shore’s Trustey Family Theatre by Latin and English teacher Doug Lucey and theater arts teacher Sarah Carlin, A Night of Celebration was attended by nearly 200 members of the Shore community past and present, including employees and former employees, current families, alumni and alumni families, friends, and grandfriends. Keynote remarks were given by Clair Ward, Head of School; Rayna Lesser Hannaway, President of the Board of Trustees; and Amy Marks, incoming President of the Board of Trustees.
“This night was a long overdue opportunity to show our appreciation for the employees that make the magic happen,” said Ward. “This includes the ones we can see, and the ones who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make a positive impact on our children. While the event served to recognize the anniversaries and transitions of Shore’s current employees, it is not lost on me that Shore’s strength this year was due in part to the groundwork laid by all of the employees, families, trustees, volunteers, and students who came before us. So it is fitting that—although we wish we could have come together in person—the virtual format of A Night of Celebration was able to draw a broad audience made up of community members from Shore’s past as well as its present.”
Ward added that while the circumstances of the pandemic and the virtual event format may have kept remarks and tributes brief, community members can look forward to the fall issue of the Shore Bulletin magazine for full recognition of employees celebrating milestones.
The evening began before it had even begun, with a live chat feature that allowed attendees to share their thoughts in real time as they waited for the show to start. One viewer chimed in from Brisbane, Australia, to say hello, while another local participant wrote, “For all the teachers, aides, staff members, and everyone who taught our little ones during a very challenging COVID-filled year, THANK YOU.”
Doug Lucey and Sarah Carlin kicked off the festivities with comedy, entering the stage covered in bubble wrap and protected by face shields and other COVID-19-inspired gear. After receiving a cell phone ‘alert’ from the CDC about its recent mask-free guidance for vaccinated adults, Lucey and Carlin joyously removed their protective wear to face the audience in elegant formal attire. “This is truly a night of celebration at Shore,” said Carlin. “We’re so happy you’re tuning in tonight, whether from your living room or your laptop,” said Lucey. Throughout the event, Carlin and Lucey returned to the stage to introduce videos recognizing employees celebrating milestone years of service, and they also performed skits honoring retirees.
In pre-recorded videos presented over the course of the evening, the keynote speakers reflected on Shore’s strength in the face of the pandemic and expressed gratitude to all those who made an in-person school year possible. Clair Ward noted, “We have walked the proverbial hot coal challenge and come out of it stronger than we have ever been. … We are on the verge of extraordinary growth in the breadth and depth of who we are. We are on the verge of innovation that is bound to capture the attention of not only the independent school industry, but also nonprofits in general. I know, these are bold statements. But because of the commitment of our community both past and present, our future success is within reach.”
Rayna Lesser Hannaway, the President of the Board of Trustees, spoke of Shore’s adaptability. “This experience, and the sacrifices made by all of you who have helped Shore navigate this difficult situation, have taught us valuable lessons that will live within Shore’s culture long after the pandemic is over. There are so many positive things happening because we were forced into this very uncertain situation. We have embraced flexibility and innovation, and we have kept a long-term strategic focus instead of being paralyzed by fear and uncertainty.”
Amy Marks, the President-Elect of the Board of Trustees, expressed gratitude for the Shore community. “When I stop to think about this past year,” she said, “I struggle to put into words how much this community has meant to our family… the hundreds of ways all of our teachers learned to connect with, teach, sing with, perform with, run with, create and innovate with, and care for the young people in our lives while wearing masks and trying to maintain social distance – which I imagine may be as uniquely challenging in Pre-K as it is in middle school….For our family, Shore was a very bright light in a challenging year.”
Later in the evening, Clair Ward paid tribute to the four Shore employees retiring at the end of this year: English teacher Ellen Wright, with 21 years of service; nurse Sue Cronin, with 25; Kindergarten teacher Deb Parkhurst, with 32; and third grade teacher Sam Hamlin, with 39.
At the conclusion of A Night of Celebration, guests again used the live chat feature to share their thoughts. “I was overwhelmed by this amazing production,” wrote one attendee. “A big shoutout to all the faculty and staff for making it through such a challenging year and coming out on the other side. Summer will be sweet and well-deserved,” wrote another. One guest summed it up this way: “We could not be more grateful for our school and all of you. You outdid yourselves this year!”