August 2021
Geoff Weiner, Peter Ebling and Tom Peters tell us why.
Geoff Weiner
Peter Ebling
Tom Peters
In 2012, the Class of 1962 celebrated its 50th Watkinson Reunion with a dinner in downtown Hartford attended by eleven members followed by a celebration at Watkinson the next night. Everyone present enjoyed the reunion — reconnecting, seeing each other with their spouses, and hearing "bunkies" recite stories past and present — that they have kept it up two-to-three times a year since then. Or at least until COVID put a temporary hold on gathering in-person.
The group in question includes John Barber, William Bradford, Milton Davis, Peter Ebling, Douglass Ferguson, Sam Kassow, Kimball Messier, Christoper McCurdy, Thomas Peter, Thomas Regina, Geoff Weiner (the group’s coordinator), and Steve Widger.
Geoff Weiner became the ringleader, perhaps, because he was elected President of the Senior Class. As such, he remembers, “I was responsible for selection of material and the production of the class yearbook. In addition, I was asked to serve as Circulation Editor for the Ramrod newspaper for two years and participated in Varsity Soccer and J.V. Basketball.” Perhaps it was on the soccer pitch or newspaper activity that his path first crossed with Peter Ebling who, “played sports every season, soccer in the fall, basketball in winter and tennis in spring. By the way, I started and played D3 soccer in college. I was also the sports editor of the Watkinson newspaper, Ramrod."
Peter says, “I had entirely lost contact with everyone until Geoff gratefully reconnected us. I love seeing old school cohorts and catching up on news of what their lives are like now; for me, it’s not so much about reminiscing about the so-called “good, old days" at Watkinson.” Tom Peters, who attended his first class reunion back in 1978, adds, “These guys are like brothers to me. I love seeing them and hearing what’s going on in their lives. I have wonderful memories of each of them.” 
These comments plus his own enjoyment are what keep motivating Geoff to plan class gatherings. “I love realizing how we all have changed and finding out how our careers have developed over time. Obviously, our appearances have changed a great deal; but I must note that during the first dinner in 2012, I recognized most of the class members. However, I found that there were a few that I had no clue who they were! How could this be, I asked myself and my wife, with only 17 in the class!” Geoff’s loyalty extends to Watkinson too, not just his classmates. “The truth be known, I wasn't much of a student and knew that I needed ongoing support with my education and public school was not the answer as I entered high school. I therefore went to my parents and asked if we could afford Watkinson School since we lived 20 minutes away from campus. Once enrolled, I found an intense program that forced me to focus and concentrate on my classes and have access to all my instructors for additional help if I required it. The skills that I was taught permitted me to be accepted to undergrad as well as graduate school. I do not think that I would have achieved the level of Global Vice President of Human Resources for an International company, if I did not have a strong foundation from Watkinson. I would also like to note that I was asked and honored to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for Watkinson prior to my son Ross' attendance. He chose Watkinson for many of the same reasons.”
Peter Ebling’s story is similar, “Watkinson pretty much turned me around. My experience in public school was — how shall I say it? — less than distinguished. I was tested and one conclusion was I probably wasn’t college material. Pronto, my parents pulled me out of the public system and enrolled me in a tiny school where I couldn’t hide. My biggest memory is of Mr. Henry, a new teacher at Watkinson and former Congressional page, who was taking a group of students on a trip to Washington. He said he’d include me, but only if I made the honor roll. For the first time in my life I actually decided/tried to study. Sadly when the 1st semester grades were posted, I did not have an 85 average and did not make the honor roll.” Point of note, then and now, Watkinson assesses students two ways: both their numeric academic standing AND their effort in achieving the former. “In addition to a numeric grade, students were rated for effort, and I received all "As" for effort. I made the effort honor roll! That was good enough for Mr. Henry, and I was allowed to go to Washington. Apparently it takes time to build academic momentum. Once I got on the effort honor roll, my grades followed suit, and I stayed on the academic honor roll for the rest of my time at Watkinson…and at college and graduate school.” After serving in the Peace Corps, Peter taught in private schools for 40 years until his retirement.
About the Watkinson of today as compared to what it was like in 1962, Tom Peters says, “ I’m proud of Watkinson today, just as I was when I was there as a student.” Peter Ebling concurs, “When we attended Watkinson, it was a tiny, all-boys school. From what I have read and learned of Watkinson today, it is a much, much better school than the one I attended; the vision, pedagogy and stature of today’s Watkinson far surpass the version of 1962.”