Senior Tea at the ‘Pink House’

Senior Tea at the ‘Pink House’

By Sarah L. Hamby - Staff Writer

For decades, Woodstock Academy seniors have been invited to take tea at Roseland Cottage – an annual practice that started in the 1940s when Miss Constance Holt, the granddaughter of Henry C. Bowen and a graduate of the Class of 1898, wanted students from the area to learn more about the lovely “Pink House” so near to their educational institution and so dear to the hearts of northeast Connecticut residents.

Roseland Cottage, a summer residence for the Bowen family, was built by Henry C. Bowen in 1846, and has long served as a reminder of the Gothic Revival Style favored at the time, it’s bright pink color standing out as did its owner and the visitors to the cottage. More than one president stopped by to enjoy pink lemonade at the historic residence, just as Academy seniors do each year in deference to history and tradition.

On June 15, the Class of 2010, resplendent in their “Pink House” finery, enjoyed their Senior Class Tea at Roseland Cottage – an afternoon shared with class leaders, Academy Trustees, respected school administrators and even a few tears, as students and staff said goodbye to long-time educators as well as to Assistant Headmaster Al Cormier, who is retiring from Woodstock Academy.

Cormier addressed the Class of 2010, tearing up slightly as he gave his last speech at Roseland Cottage, sharing what he had learned over the years. “Trust and respect,” he said, “are the most important factors in both personal and professional relationships.”

Site Manager at Roseland, Lisa Centola, spoke of the historical connection between the cottage and the Academy, noting that in 1956, Woodstock Academy named its then new National Honor Society “The Constance Holt Chapter” in honor of the “First Lady of Roseland.” The trustees spoke proudly of their new alumni, Board of Trustee President Sandra Fredrickson, Class of 1979, honoring the Class of 2010 who earned more college credits than any previous class at the Academy.

Alumni Trustee Avis Spalding, Class of 1949, shared her stories of “The Pink House Remembered,” regaling her young audience with tales of her youth – the well-respected Woodstock matriarch received a beaded purse from Constance Holt herself when she was just a young girl and at her own senior tea, at which there were only 27 graduates, students were still allowed to use the wooden bowling alley in the Roseland barn. Avis’ grandson, Scott Spalding, will be the 51st member of her family to graduate from Woodstock Academy.

The history lessons continued, as respected local author and artist Paul Lynn, President of the Alumni Association and Alumni Trustee, Class of 1959, joked with Spalding when he acknowledged the size of his graduating class – just 38 – and displayed the classic microscope he and his fellow students had once used and viewed as top-of-the- line in his science classes at Woodstock Academy. Using the microscope, Lynn spoke of change and development, asking that the new alumni give back to society, but warning them that changes and accomplishments might be taken for granted by their children just as they may have taken technological improvements for granted.

It was time for tea, but before students were released to take their seats on the green, partake of a noon-time meal and share the infamous pink lemonade, the Dedication of the Yearbook took place – an emotional event that left many, students and staff included, with red-rimmed eyes. As the longest serving educator at the Academy, with 34 years of service to young men and women, Glenn Anderson received the first yearbook. William Emerson, who is leaving the school, and retiring assistant headmaster Al Cormier also received them from Assistant Yearbook Editor Susan Reilly.

Kim Caron, the Academy’s still new headmaster, thanked the senior class for truly being a group of people who cared about one another. “You have made the transition to Woodstock Academy truly worthwhile,” he said, “You are the reason I drive 45 minutes to work every day from Norwich.”

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