In the Spotlight • Class Reunions
Reunions provide opportunity to give back to Calvin

Class of '93 reunion planning team
Members of the Class of '93
reunion planning team:
Back: Betsy Wilgenburg DeVries, Tim Kuperus, Linda Palmbos Hoekwater
Front: Rick Treur, Rachel VanDuyn Vandenbroek
Not pictured: Brett Elzinga, Marlena Westerman Solomon

One of the best ways to learn about former college classmates, to measure the well-being of one’s alma mater, and to visit familiar (perhaps permanently imprinted) campus sites, is to return to campus for a class reunion. Each year, eight reunion celebrations are held at Calvin. The reunion classes that are honored are the 5th, 10th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 45th and 50th years — plus the Heritage Class, which includes alumni who graduated from Calvin more than 50 years ago. Reunion celebrations are sprinkled throughout the year, and they appear to be growing in popularity.

Nearly 250 alumni from the class of 1993 attended a ten-year reunion gathering in mid-July, and according to Karin Waggener Admiraal ’93, of Florence, Ky., it was a great celebration. A member of the 1993 reunion planning committee, Admiraal was not able to attend all the committee meetings, but through e-mail and telephone conversations, she was able to stay involved in the planning. Admiraal said, “Calvin was an incubator for my class — our faith and skills were developed there. It was neat to see how our class had spread out across the country during the past ten years, and to see how people had changed — yet stayed the same.”

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Calvin Reunions

Calvin hosts reunions for alums 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, 40, 45, and 50 years after leaving Calvin, as well as the annual Heritage Reunion for alums who left Calvin more than 50 years ago

Blast from the Past
For their 10-year reunion, the Class of 1993 prepared a slideshow of photos from their days at Calvin

Communicating our Reformed Heritage at Calvin
Quentin Schultze's speech to the Heritage Class Reunion, June 20, 2003 (RealAudio broadcast)

Reunion Class Gifts
Each reunion class sets goals for their class' participation in the annual Calvin Fund drive

Senior Class Gifts
Every year since 1993, Calvin's graduating seniors have made a gift to the college that will benefit future Calvin students

The Heritage Class reunion drew 375 to campus in late June for a celebration that included a meditation by Arthur DeKruyter ’47, luncheon, tour of the new east campus buildings and a presentation by Quentin Schultze, professor of communication arts and sciences — “Communicating our Reformed Heritage at Calvin.” Jack ’51 and Rosemary ’51 Franken DeVos, of Grand Rapids, were members of the planning committee for the Heritage class reunion. They said their reunion was a celebration of Calvin’s faithfulness to its mission. Grateful that their alma mater remains “true to its origins,” they said that returning to campus to participate in a chapel service and hear a faculty presentation reminded them anew of Calvin’s important mission. Jack DeVos also added, “Calvin has a hold on us. It shaped our lives.”

Yvonne Hoekstra Van Ee ’63 echoes those thoughts. A Calvin professor in the education department, she served on the planning committee for her 40th class reunion. Van Ee said that reuniting with classmates revealed how Calvin “ties us together and brings us back to a community that still nurtures and challenges us.” She said, “Calvin’s vision has been maintained with vibrancy, and it is in returning to campus that alumni are able to see the college in its fullness today.”

Gary Kok ’63, of Grand Rapids, chaired the planning committee for the 40th-year class reunion. “The older we get, the more we like to reminisce,” he said, and the reunion provided an enjoyable opportunity to reconnect with former classmates. Also, he had a great time planning the reunion celebration. Kok’s only disappointment was that some of the friends he expected to see at the reunion didn’t show up. He was hoping that all of his classmates would attend.

Behind the scenes, Donna Joyce, Calvin’s alumni programs coordinator, facilitates all eight class reunions. She said each reunion celebration is as unique as the class itself — yet the common experience for all classes is the joy of reuniting with classmates and reconnecting with Calvin. Joyce believes this is at the heart of reunions and the reason the college hosts reunion celebrations each year. The gatherings provide alumni the opportunity to revisit the heritage that blessed and graced their lives, and provides a familiar setting to renew friendships that helped to shape them.

VanEe said she discovered time hadn’t destroyed connections. Her reunion was an opportunity to “once again be awed by the breadth and depth of the people of God and to know they’re all over the world.”

Reunion years offer a special opportunity to express gratitude — in a tangible way — to one’s alma mater. Through financial contributions to Calvin, combined giving from a reunion class can make a significant impact. Reunion gifts, designated for the Calvin Fund, provide essential resources for the college by helping to offset tuition increases. This helps keep Calvin affordable for our young people. Also, reunion giving helps increase the rate of alumni participation.