Reunion Weekend Returns to Campus

A celebratory occasion, alumnae returned to their alma mater for the first in-person Reunion Weekend in two years.
There’s no feeling like that of seeing loved ones after time apart. The hugs, laughter, tears, and stories say it all. 

Following a hiatus due to COVID-19 that forced one canceled Reunion Weekend followed by a virtual one, members of the GPS community were thrilled to return to a sense of normalcy—which meant an on-campus Reunion Weekend!

This year we celebrated reunion classes ’2 and ’7, though alumnae of all graduating classes were invited and encouraged to visit campus for the weekend’s festivities. Throughout the day, graduates and their families enjoyed campus tours with current students, shopping in campus store The Bow, as well as a special luncheon, and many chose to stay and hear a Chapel Talk from Trinity Greene ’22 to conclude the school day.

Reunion Weekend Luncheon
At noon, alumnae gathered in the gym for a special luncheon, prepared by Chef Brad and his incredible Sage Dining Services team. Lela Moore ’94, Chair of the Alumnae Council, served as emcee during the event, offering her own welcome before introducing Evie Jackson ’22, who performed a blessing. A special video was shown next, highlighting the joy of the GPS sisterhood.

Head of School Megan Cover Takes the Stage
Next, alumnae had the opportunity to hear from Head of School Megan Cover, who began by welcoming everyone to campus. She then honored the legacies in the room, including 24 members of the Class of 2022 in addition to others present, before sharing news of the morning’s Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees, who included Simone Busby ’12, Chadarryl Silguero-Clay ’12, Tory Kemp Howard ‘12, Lindsey Martin VonCannon ‘07, and Coach Susan Crownover. To read about the induction ceremony, click here

Cover also thanked longtime employees who are retiring this year: Susan Crownover, Sheryl Kreis, Susan McCarter, and Anita Vetter.

From there, she detailed her plans for the future of GPS and highlighted some special initiatives. These included: 
  • New Health & Wellness Center | Led by the Dean of Health and Wellness (a new position), our new Health and Wellness Center will serve as a place where students find balance and support. The dean will work along with our Upper and Middle School Counselors—as well as our new school nurse—with a focus on the wellbeing of each girl.

  • New Head of Upper School | GPS alumna Beth Creswell Wilson ’96 accepted the Head of Upper School position and will start in July. She will work closely with our newly formed Curricular Design Team, composed of 18 members of faculty and staff who will chart the direction of our academic program and ensure an impactful experience for each girl.

  • The Teaching and Learning Center | This year we expanded our Learning Center, doubling it in size, and next year we will rename the space to The Teaching and Learning Center. Led by our Dean of Teaching and Learning (new position), The Center will support all students while providing professional development opportunities and support for faculty members.

  • New Director of College Counseling | Andrew Reich will join the Chattanooga and GPS communities in July and is already meeting with students and parents. He will lead us as we reimagine the College Counseling experience for each girl.

  • Athletic Program Updates | We will institute a no-cut initiative for Middle School sports as well as an added year of cheer in sixth grade. Additionally, students in Middle and Upper Schools will have the opportunity to be a part of our first year of squash.

  • More Intentional Coordinate Program | This year we have increased coordinate opportunities for both Middle and Upper Schools, and are exploring more ways for our students to partner through service and leadership initiatives as well as academic and social opportunities.

  • Campus Improvements | In addition to work that’s already been done throughout the year, considerable work will be done this summer by our hard-working facilities team to improve the exterior of our campus, and the Upper School building will be getting a new roof. Additional refreshes will be made to some common areas such as updating the aesthetics in our buildings with fresh paint and new flooring.

  • Renovation of Mills Building Lobby | This space will undergo a complete transformation to reflect our commitment to common spaces that celebrate community and connection, including a new main entrance and welcome reception area for all visitors and students, a redesigned theater entrance, dedicated student art installation spaces, a historical showcase, Chapel Talk reception area, and more. We will also unveil the new location of The Bow, our school store, in the former athletic office area, to be more accessible to our community, particularly during athletic events.

  • Strategic Design and Master Planning | We will collaborate on a community-wide strategic design and accreditation process in the 2022-23 school year to ensure we provide a robust GPS experience that remains true to our Founders’ vision and our mission for future generations.

Following her update on the future of GPS, Cover welcomed Mary Catherine Clelland ’22 to the stage to share her perspective on a day in the life of a GPS student. Then, Chief Advancement Officer Ali Gant took the stage to introduce the GPS Singers to perform a song before presenting the Alumnae Awards.

Alumnae Reunion Award Winners Honored
Each year, GPS recognizes one alumna from each reunion class, who is chosen through a selection process that includes nominations by her classmates. Recipients are considered to be the most outstanding in their classes, with previous award winners including leaders in their communities, directors of organizations or businesses, elected officials, high-ranking military officers, and those who have made a significant difference in the lives of others. This year, two GPS graduates received special honors.

2022 Margaret Rawlings Lupton Award of Excellence | Hazel Hutcheson Bell ’77
President and Board Chair of Sumter Farm and Stock Company, Inc., and Community Volunteer
As a volunteer, Hazel Hutcheson Bell has exhibited exceptional citizenship and service, actively furthering diversity and equality in underserved communities in the Chattanooga community since returning to the area in 1992. She has given an enormous amount of her time, opened her home, and quietly changed the lives of many children and families.

Bell has chaired or served on numerous boards in Chattanooga, including the Fairyland School PTO, the Hunter Museum Volunteer Association, the Cub Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Mustang Leadership Partners, the Montessori Elementary of Highland Park’s Advisory Board, the Altar and Linen Guilds at the Church of the Good Shepherd, and Chambliss Center for Women. She also provided mentorship of one particular child, Frida, when she served as her Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Bell introduced Frida to ballet through Ballet Tennessee, helped her enroll as a sixth-grader at the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, and initiated her involvement in the Mustang Leadership Program run by GPS alumna Sue Anne Wells ’71. Bell even helped Frida attain a scholarship to East Tennessee State University, where she continued to dance. 

Today, as President and Board Chair of Sumter Farm and Stock Company, she now spends much of her time in Alabama with her husband, Mitchell, and her three sons and five grandchildren.

2022 Distinguished Alumnae Award | Gloria Murray Smith ’72
Community Volunteer
Gloria Murray Smith’s service in the home, church, and community, as well as her commitment to GPS, makes her most deserving of this honor. She is a member of the GPS Cornerstone Society, a group of important stakeholders in the future of GPS who choose to remember our beloved school in their estate plans.  

While rearing her daughters, Allison Smith Gadd and Kathryn Smith Trimble ’02, Smith served GPS and the Chattanooga community as a volunteer, board member, or as president for many organizations, including the Chattanooga Panhellenic Association, the Chattanooga Symphony Guild, the Signal Mountain Playhouse, the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club, the Chattanooga Nature Center, Erlanger Hospital, the Hunter Museum, the Signal Mountain Library, the Garden Club of Signal Mountain, the Junior League of Chattanooga and the Junior League Garden Club, The Chattanooga Ball, Bright School, and the GPS Alumnae Association and Board of Trustees. While her love of community and generous spirit have had an impact on many, nothing brings Gloria more pride and joy than her family: mother Eileen Murray, husband Randy, daughter Allison and son-in-law Josh Gadd, their children, Kate and Hunter, and daughter Katherine, son-in-law Arch Trimble IV, and their children, Arch V and Baker. 

Following the awards ceremony, Moore returned to the stage to announce surprise door prizes—the gorgeous centerpieces, which went to those at each table with a blue sticker under their plate—before alumnae and members of the Class of 2022 together sang “Auld Lang Syne” and the “Alma Mater” to conclude the event.

Evening Festivities
That evening, members of the Class of 1972 were invited to Founder’s House for a 50th anniversary reunion reception—not without a special toast!—and intentional time to gather, once again, as a class and catch up. Later, all alumnae were invited to join the party, with more than 100 graduates gathering for community and connection. The next day, reunion classes enjoyed their own class parties at various venues around town—a wonderful way for them all to connect on a more intimate level with their friends!

Here’s to the girls and the women they become!

To enjoy pictures from the entire weekend’s events, please visit our SmugMug page to download photos for free or order prints for a small fee.