It is my pleasure to be writing, on behalf of the Board of American Friends of Stowe, to provide a short report on our recent activities.
What was true for the Old Stoic Society generally during 2020 was certainly true for AFS: the normal cycle of physical gatherings and reunions has been, quite simply, impossible. But amidst the tumult and challenges of the last twelve months, I draw your attention to three very particular and important initiatives that demonstrate how strong our bonds remain – not just with our alma mater but amongst ourselves as a Stowe network in the US:
Undimmed by the impossibility of organising our annual cocktail party in Manhattan, we were honoured to welcome the Head to a virtual gathering of Old Stoics, Parents and other friends from the US, Canada and across the Americas in late November. Over 100 people joined us for a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so – listening to Anthony Wallersteiner’s ‘State of the Nation’ address from the Gothic Library, watching films that depict current life at Stowe, enjoying a fascinating interview with Marc Koska MBE (Bruce 79) whose developmental work on a syringe will almost certainly play an important part in our collective escape from Covid-19 (and can also be read about in this magazine) and taking part in a lively Q&A session with Anthony. Covid or no Covid, we must use the technology of virtual gatherings again – it was a huge success.
Acknowledging the hard work of Brian Hecht (the founding Chair of AFS) in collaboration with the School, we recruited our 30th Stowe Harvard Fellow, Shane O’Donoghue. Neither Shane nor we could ever have predicted the unique circumstances into which he would be plunged this year, with online teaching being the norm during this Lent Term, but I hear from the Head and senior staff that Shane has risen to the challenge and been one of the best Stowe Harvard Fellows yet – providing Maths teaching, sports coaching and Under Houseparent support too. We continue to be sincerely grateful for the donations that we receive every year that help to sustain the Fellowship. Long may it continue.
Of perhaps greatest significance is the financial support that we, in the American Friends of Stowe network, are delighted to provide to Stowe’s Change 100 mission – to provide access and the opportunity of a Stowe education to children from much less-advantaged backgrounds. Towards the end of last year, you will have received the mailing that outlined the aims and scale of ambition of that programme and we have been bowled over by the response that we have received, in the form of donations of every size. We will be meeting soon as a Board to approve the disbursal back to Stowe – in the knowledge that your generosity will be making a real and meaningful difference to the lives of deserving children hoping to come to Stowe this coming September. If you haven’t had a chance to join us in supporting this wonderful cause, please go to our Facebook page – and thank you sincerely to all those who have already done so.
Finally, I take this opportunity not only to thank my fellow members of the Board for all their continued commitment to AFS, but to welcome a very important new member of our team. Pamela Terry has joined as our new Administrator, taking over from Oliver Weston, to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude for his hard work. Pamela would be delighted to hear from you if you have any questions about our organisation or suggestions for future events and initiatives and can easily be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noah Walley (Grafton 80), Chair of American Friends of Stowe