TA News

Students Mark Bicentennial with Founders’ Day and Night Celebrations

On Friday, Feb. 8, Thetford Academy turned 200 years old! Students celebrated the school’s birthday in style, with an all-day Founders’ Day and Founders’ Night extravaganza. Other posts describe the school’s Bicentennial Gala on Feb. 9 and Vermont Historic Marker dedication on Feb. 8.

Chico Eastridge ’05, Studio Producer & Education Outreach Coordinator at CATV in White River Junction, VT, produced an outstanding Founders’ Day film for Thetford Academy. Click here for the YouTube video.

Despite a weather-related late start, Founders’ Day—200 years to the day of the school’s founding on Feb. 8, 1819—was successful in every way.

To begin, seniors Abigail Berard and Alden Nichols narrated a story of the school’s history, concentrating on the 1819 founding and the Great Fire of 1942. Following that was a traditional candle lighting ceremony, with the Head of School and Student Council representatives Seth Boyce ’19, Morgan Gaffney ’20, Kodiak Shepard ’21, Gretta Koppers ’22, Abigail Egner ’23, and Addison Cadwell ’24 lighting candles representing “Faith” (blue candle), “Hope” (indigo), “Dedication” (orange), “Knowledge” (yellow), “Cooperation” (red), “Courage” (green), and “Responsibility” (purple).

Our six classes then competed in games and activities on the theme of Thetford Academy History:

Lower Division

  • 7th grade – Notable Alumni at Thetford Academy
  • 8th grade – Thetford Academy during the Civil War

Middle Division

  • Freshman – All Things Cross Country at Thetford Academy
  • Sophomores – Thetford Academy’s Land and Buildings

Upper Division

  • Juniors – Great Fire of 1942
  • Seniors – Thetford Academy at 300 years

While some students started planning for our 76th annual Founders’ Day as early as last summer, most began their preparations during the week of Feb. 4, with students working in committees to prepare skits, decorate cakes, carve snow sculptures, make costumes and centerpieces, design murals and banners, and build and race floats, all of which incorporated the themes of TA history

Classes accumulated points in division competitions along the way, as our courageous judges (Art Sharkey, Doug Gernhard, Steve Niederhauser, Carmen Wilmot ’93, Martha Rich, and Police Chief Michael Evans) made difficult decisions about how to allot points for each category. Classes also earned points by competing in various events around campus, including tug of war, relays, a doughnut eating contest, and more.

In the end, the 8th, 9th, and 11th grades edged out the 7th, 10th, and 12th grades in friendly (or fiercely competitive, depending on one’s perspective) competitions.

Founders’ Day concluded with a 1 p.m. banquet for students, staff, and guests, with lunch prepared and set up by social studies teacher Casey Huling and parent and staff volunteers.

In a process that began early in the fall, a Founders’ Day Committee chaired by Karen Martin and including Karyn Neubauer, Chris Schmidt, Len Whitaker, Rose Dedam, Melissa Perry, Lynne Harrison, Scott Ellis, Sadie Mayfield, Karen Heinzmann, and Siobhan Lopez, organized the day.

Founders’ Night — for all TA students — took place during the evening of Friday, Feb. 8, with dancing, music, laser tag, a photo booth, karaoke, board games, ping pong, and plenty of food, including popcorn, pizza, and fondue. It began with a bonfire, after which the event moved indoors to the Vaughan Alumni Gymnasium, Anderson Hall, and Martha Jane Rich theater.

Each year, Founders’ Night is the one event that nearly all TA students make every effort to attend, and 2019 was no exception. There was something for everyone in this fantastic festivity.

Founders’ Night was organized by TA’s Student Life Committee, led by Mark Pichette and Siobhan Lopez, and including Becky Sarazin, Sadie Mayfield, Jennifer Gernhard, Casey Huling, Kate Owen, Blendon Salls, and Len Whitaker.




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