On September 8, the Steward community ushered in the new school year (and the School’s 50th anniversary) with Convocation. The morning began with a charming Steward tradition: the procession of junior kindergarten, kindergarten, and senior buddies along the Colonnade. Hand in hand, the buddies arrived at the Gym to music performed by the Concert Band, which is led by Middle/Upper School Instrumental Music Teacher John McAlister.
Associate Head of School Lisa Dwelle welcomed guests, and Audrey ’26, Madelyn ’29, and Charlotte ’34 Gunderson led the Pledge of Allegiance. In his greeting, Head of School Dan Frank asked the audience to take a moment to share with each other the things they’d like to “hide” and “seek” this year — literally or figuratively. “Let’s make sure Steward is not a hiding place,” said Mr. Frank. “Let’s make sure it’s a finding place.”
Alumni Achievement Award Winners
The annual Alumni Achievement Award is another cherished Convocation tradition. This year’s award was presented to the founders of Steward’s Alumni Association, which they established in 1986: Robert Dietz ’81, Denise (Featherston) Dietz ’81, Wyman Smith ’82, and Robinnette (Turner) Wrobel ’83. Former Steward Athletic Director Janet Rice presented the awards.
Robert Dietz was a three-sport all-conference athlete, a member of the student government association, and performed in theatre productions. Denise (Featherston) Dietz played softball and was active in theatre and all aspects of student life. Mr. and Mrs. Dietz, who met in the fourth grade, are the parents of a son and daughter and run several real estate investment companies.
Wyman Smith was active in the student government association, served on the yearbook staff, and shared his talent in theatre productions and with the choir. Mr. Smith, who lives in Hanover and is the father of three sons, is retired from a 39-year career with Dominion Energy.
Robinnette (Turner) Wrobel was a member of the field hockey and softball teams, served as a yearbook editor, and participated in theatre productions. Mrs. Wrobel, who lives in Richmond, has three children. Retired from a career as a preschool teacher, she enjoys helping other families with young children.
Beaming with admiration, Ms. Rice said, “These four people were influential … in the vision they had for an active alumni organization. What these four accomplished collectively laid the foundation for where we are today. Their … efforts have been transformative.”
Mr. Smith accepted the award on behalf of all four recipients. Reflecting on the changes that Steward has undergone in the decades since he graduated, he expressed joy that the School continues to embody a close-knit community. “There’s the family you’re born into and the ones you make along the way. Steward was that family for us,” he said. He ended his speech with an enthusiastic, “May each of you remain … Steward loud and proud!”
The Steward Choir then sang a beautiful rendition of “The World is Ours,” and the division directors (Adam Seldis, Upper School; Susan Atkinson, Middle School; Ingrid Moore, Lower School) shared inspiring thoughts on the importance of celebrating the past, present, and future, respectively. Following the recessional, families gathered on the Colonnade to socialize and catch up with their proud Spartans.
"When you have a place like Steward where you can look into the stands and see your teachers, classmates, friends, and family, that's the beauty of school sports. That's when you understand that you're playing for something bigger than yourself." - Coach Kara Bacile