Celebrating an "Epic" Winsor Journey
On Saturday, May 21, Rachel Friis Stettler and the many fans of her visionary leadership enjoyed an "unforgettable" Winsor night.
Click here for a gallery of photos from the epic celebration.
Titled "An Epic Celebration of Rachel's Winsor Journey," the evening gave parents, trustees, Corporation members, and faculty and staff past and present an opportunity to express their profound gratitude to Ms. Stettler, who will retire at the end of June after 12 remarkable years as head of school.
The program took guests on a lively journey, loosely based on the beloved works of J.R.R. Tolkien—a Ms. Stettler favorite—with nods to moments of epic fun in works ranging from Oz to Star Wars to Harry Potter.
Tolkienesque narrator Brian Didier, History Department head and director of global studies, invited the audience to settle in and enjoy the tale. He moved the story along through seven "chapters," from her "Arrival" to "History's Lessons" to "New Adventures."
Through the many twists of the evening, including a few hilarious ad-libs of his own, he reminded everyone of the vision, courage, warmth, and humor with which Ms. Stettler has guided the Winsor community.
To open the show, WISE, the Winsor Inspirational Singing Ensemble, rose from the audience and brought the Winsor lamp to the stage as they sang "This Little Light of Mine," with lyrical asides to Middle Earth. Inspiring music moved the story along all evening, from a violin-piano duet by Tiffany Rice and Valerie Becker to the faculty-staff rock band, with Felicia Brady-Lopez belting out "Something to Talk About."
Along the way, an intrepid parent ensemble presented a hilarious skit depicting "One Last Parent Coffee," complete with a Lord of the Rings-like video prologue. (Watch the video here.)
A faculty ensemble later stormed the stage for a riotous "Emergency Faculty Meeting," called by associate head of school Kate Caspar. History teacher Libby Parsley concluded their "meeting" with her own touching "Ode to Rachel."
Via video, Winsor girls also had a special role, sentimentally sharing what they'll miss most about Ms. Stettler. (Click here to view it.)
Throughout the show, Denise Labieniec, Winsor's director of studies, repeatedly interrupted Mr. Didier's storytelling, strolling into the wrong story as Dorothy, Darth Vader/Inigo Montoya, and Hermione Granger. As a special surprise, former associate head Jennifer Ciccarelli got in on the fun with a cameo as a traveler from afar— Ohio, where she heads the Columbus School for Girls.
In a heartfelt ending, Ms. Labieniec finally arrived in the right epic, Ms. Stettler's story, as a Hobbit bearing a Winsor ring. She brought the ring to Ms. Stettler in the audience, explaining simply, "Rachel was a gift to us; this ring is our gift to her."
With a party awaiting, trustee chair Allison Kaneb Pellegrino '89, '21, '22, shared one last surprise: unveiling the naming of Rachel Friis Stettler Hall. The named space will be one of many ways in which "your legacy will live on," Allison said.
In the end, as Mr. Didier reminded the audience, paraphrasing Frodo Baggins, "our part in the story will go on."