GPS Alumnae Weekend Welcomes Graduates Back to Campus

More than 200 former students visit their alma mater; faculty emeriti are inducted, alumnae honored
A long-standing tradition at GPS, Alumnae Weekend returned on April 13-14, with more than 200 members of the graduating classes from 3s and 8s celebrating with their classmates. Kicking off the event, selected alumnae spoke to the current GPS enrollment on Friday morning on the shared topic of sisterhood, the theme of GPS this school year.

Kristen Warren ’13 and Sydney Leech ’13 spoke to the senior class about “When Sisterhood Goes Awry: Roommate Conflict & The Amazing Race … Navigating Life Long Conflict.” Juniors heard about “When Being Nice Feels Annoying” from Meredith MacLean ’08. The sophomore class were informed about the healing properties of kindness in the world of medicine and that sometimes all you need is love plus “All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten GPS” with Dr. Bindu Bareddy Menachery ’93. The freshman class learned the “Do’s and Don'ts of Conflict: Being Kind Doesn't Mean Being Weak” from Ali Mena Loughman ’03.

Eighth-graders heard from Abigail Tester ’08 about “Tips from a Chemist: Experimenting with Kindness for Conflict Resolution.” The seventh-grade class learned about the ups and downs of relationships with Casey Caldwell ’08 who spoke about “From Friends to Frenemies and Back: How to Balance Personal Growth and Friendship.” And Emma McCallie ’13 helped the sixth-grade class understand “Why Should I Care? We're Just Not the Same: Building Empathy from the Four Walls of a Seventh-Grade Classroom.”

Later on Friday, the Class of 1968 celebrated its 50th reunion with a special hour-long reception at Founders House. Other reunion classes then joined the celebration with cocktails and appetizers at Founders House while also mingling with GPS faculty members. Afterward many walked over the Frierson Theatre to watch the Upper School students from GPS and McCallie present their spring musical Mary Poppins.

On Saturday morning, a special continental breakfast was served to the GPS graduating classes of ’63, ’58, ’53, and ’48, hosted by Dr. Autumn A. Graves, Head of School. Then it was on to the Evans Center for a Town Hall, moderated by Jenise Gordon, GPS Head of Upper School, where seven students from the Class of 2018—Mary Catherine Marsden, Meg Marshall, Avery Campbell, Libby Welborn, Raegan Lamb, Clare Hamn, and Andrea van der Merwe—shared their GPS experiences with and fielded questions from alumnae in attendance.

Following the Town Hall, three GPS faculty were inducted as Faculty Emeriti: Jane Henegar, retired English, New Testament, and global issues teacher; Isabel Bryan McCall ’69, art teacher; and Glen Vey, history teacher. Henegar was introduced by daughter Emily Henegar Estep ’88 and David Cook, former GPS history teacher; McCall was honored by daughters Claudia McCall Polancich ’99 and Betsey McCall ’95 and Meg Persinger Brock ’79, GPS Head of Fine Arts Department; and Glen Vey was introduced by colleague Laurel Moore Zahrobsky ’90, Fine Arts Faculty, and son Alexander Vey. McCall and Vey will retire this summer.

The weekend’s festivities culminated with an awards luncheon served in the school gym. Two Notable Alumnae received special recognition for their outstanding achievements. Frances Zwenig ’63 was presented with the Distinguished Alumna Award and Virginia “Gin” Johnson Johnston ’53 was presented with the Lupton Award of Excellence.

Before her retirement, Frances Zwenig served as president of the US-ASEAN Business Council Institute, the nonprofit sister organization to the US-ASEAN Business Council, which provides the business communities of Southeast Asia and the U.S. with information and educational programs to promote mutual economic ties and expand cooperation through trade and investment. She previously served as the counselor at the US-ASEAN Business Council, responsible for the ASEAN countries on the mainland, including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Zwenig's long association with the region began with being a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, and she frequently travels to Southeast Asia. She worked for many years with the U.S. Congress, and her Capitol Hill and executive branch experience include: Administrative Assistant to former Senator John Kerry (MA); Staff Director for the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs; Chief of Staff to former Ambassador Madeleine Albright, US Mission to the United Nations; Vice President and Counsel, US-Vietnam Trade Council; and Executive Director, The Burma-Myanmar Forum. Zwenig completed her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary, her master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a juris doctor from Duke University School of Law. She received the GPS Lupton Award of Excellence in 1993.

Gin Johnston has had three exciting careers: computer programmer, Youth Director at First Centenary UMC, and Principal and College Counselor at GPS. Her retirement years have brought many new friends of the heart as she tutored juvenile court probationers, mentored in after-school reading programs, befriended prison inmates, and taught the Hardin Sunday School Class at First Centenary United Methodist Church. She stays in touch with former juvenile offenders and volunteers for Contact and prison ministries and the Southside. She’s been married to Tad Johnston for 63 years, has two sons, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Notable Alumnae from each reunion class, nominated by their peers, and Rising Stars from the classes of 2008 and 2013 were also honored. The 2018 Notable Alumnae and Rising Stars are: (Their complete bios can be found here.)

Claudia Swafford Haltom ’73, an attorney for the Shelby County Health Department, the Shelby County Schools, and the Juvenile Court, as well as founder and CEO of A Step Ahead Foundation;

Anne Hanahan Ford Kimzey ’78, a folklorist with the Alabama State Council on the Arts (Montgomery), and manager of the Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program and the Literary Arts Program;

Tish Shomaker Gailmard ’83, the Director of Wildlife at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center and Tennessee Conservation Educator of the Year;

Jennifer Vickery ’88, long-time writer and editor at IBM, where her business leadership and lifetime commitment to volunteer work led to her being honored as one of the first Fellows for IBM’s Corporate Service Corps;

Margaret Cleary Dean ’93, a professional staff member of the House Armed Services Committee, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and leader of the U.S. Navy’s premier Undersea Warfare Systems C4I system, who completed three tours of duty;  
Marcie Ulin ’98, a Harvard grad, prolific writer and executive producer for television, where she has a development deal with 20th Century Fox and is generating new shows for broadcast, cable, and streaming services;

Mary Katherine Roark Harbin ’03, who runs her family’s highway contracting business, Maymead, Inc., Statesville, North Carolina, office and most recently oversaw the formation of a new work zone safety company;

Anna Mittelstadt ’08, an entrepreneur, designer, and owner of the North Chattanooga-based Anna Victoria Design, which has supplied boutiques across the Southeast with fashions in classic, preppy styles since 2013; and
Rachel Davis ’13, an engineering student who developed a car for a boy unable to walk due to cerebral palsy, enabling the three-year-old to control the car simply by moving his head, and will soon attend Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

At the close of the program, three former students were inducted into the GPS Athletic Hall of Fame:

Michal Howick ’03 | Cheerleading
Howick was a member of Coed Varsity Blue Crew all four years of Upper School at GPS, cheering for McCallie Varsity Football and GPS and McCallie Varsity Basketball. She was a four-time All-American Cheerleader and the first recipient of the Headmaster’s Award for Elite Athletic Performance, presented at Commencement to a senior who has reached the highest level of athletic achievement in her chosen sport and used her abilities to elevate her team, teammates, and school. She was also on an All-Star competitive team, cheering in national competitions from eighth through 12th grades. Howick cheered at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, earning one of the coveted starter spots on the varsity squad. In 2008, she received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from UTK. A year later, she returned to GPS as head coach of the Baby Blue Crew (Middle School squad) and All-Girls Varsity Blue Crew and assistant coach to her GPS coach, Terri Tucker. Upon Tucker’s retirement in 2013, Howick was named Director of Cheerleading and Head Coach of the two varsity squads, Coed Varsity and All-Girls Varsity, and continues to grow the program established by Tucker, having added 10 cheerleaders from GPS and McCallie to the list of more than 40 who have gone on to cheer at the university level. She also works as the Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at GPS and has a passion for girls’ education and coaching.

Claire Bartlett ’08 | Tennis
Bartlett comes from a family of teaching professionals, including parents Sue and Billy Bartlett and late grandfather Tommy Bartlett. In high school, she played tennis for GPS and led the Bruisers to three TSSAA state team titles, capturing three TSSAA state individual titles. While playing for the University of Florida from 2009 to 2012, her team won both SEC and NCAA championships in 2010 and 2011. She also played tennis for the University of Virginia from 2008 to 2009. Bartlett received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida. In 2013, she obtained her master's degree in sport psychology and motor behavior from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Bartlett has taught tennis at Knoxville Racquet Club and the Racquet Club of Memphis. While teaching tennis at GPS, she created the 20&UP Tennis League, a young adult social tennis league for players of all ability levels. She also established a sport psychology consulting business, Empower Sport and Performance Enhancement. She currently works for USTA Southern as the Tennis Service Representative for Tennessee, where she meets with facilities, directors, parks and recreation departments, and schools to grow tennis throughout the state of Tennessee. She has a passion for community and bringing people together through tennis and shared values.

Kamri Chester Busby ’08 | Softball
While as a student at GPS, Busby was a multi-sports athlete, competing in several varsity sports ranging from basketball, softball, and volleyball. In softball, Busby contributed to two softball state championship wins her junior and senior years. She was named to the 2006, 2007, and 2008 all-state and all-region teams. She was a three-time all-city selection and a 2005 honorable mention all-state selectee. Her career ended with a .397 batting average, tallying 25 home runs, 33 doubles, 131 RBIs, 40 stolen bases, seven triples and 121 runs scored. In addition to softball, she was a small forward in basketball and a setter in volleyball, playing on the volleyball state championship team in 2007. After graduating from GPS, Busby went on to play college softball for the Memphis Tigers at the University of Memphis. In 2010, she was named Scholar Athlete by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. In 2011, she participated in the first Tiger’s regional victory over UTC. Busby holds the second-highest career in stolen base percentage at the University of Memphis. Currently, she resides in Chattanooga with her husband, Andre, and vivacious daughter, Londyn. She is a registered nurse at Erlanger East in the ICU.