The family connection

As we come closer to Reunion Weekend, we all start to ask ourselves the same questions. Who else will be there? What will be different about the campus? What will be different about my classmates? What will be exactly the same as I remember it?

We might not think to ask, “Who puts all of this together anyway?” but we definitely should.

Laura George '84 and her brother, Bill George '94, are two volunteers that make reunions at Peddie happen. And with each of their classes celebrating a milestone reunion,  it’s a big year for both of them. “Every five years,” Laura said, “I seem to feel the call.”

Despite the ten year gap between their respective years at Peddie, there’s a lot about the experience that Laura and Bill share. Following the trail blazed by their older sister Julie '81, the Cream Ridge, N.J. natives knew going in that Peddie was the place for them. 

“I knew I was going to Peddie when I was five,” Bill said. One of his earliest Peddie memories involves storming the field at Laura’s field hockey games during halftime and kicking a soccer ball into the goal. He was six years old. In turn, when Laura returned home after college, she supported her brother from the sidelines at his Peddie soccer games. The Georges are both dedicated athletes - Laura’s a 1999 Sports Hall of Fame inductee for field hockey, basketball and lacrosse and Bill captained both the soccer and baseball teams during his time at Peddie. In fact, some of their most enduring and powerful Peddie memories were formed on the athletic field, not just because of the high-energy play, but because of the community it fostered. 

“I felt like I lived there,” Laura said. Though she and her siblings were day students throughout their time at Peddie, they found that between classes, athletics and studying in the library with boarding students, as well as inviting boarding friends to their family farm, they had the best of both worlds.

The most enduring impact of Bill’s Peddie experience? “The dedication and empathy of teachers and coaches,” said Bill. “You’re the beneficiary of it when you’re a student there. It instilled values in me that our parents reinforced and that I carried with me as a coach and to the people that I work with and with my own family. That’s what I take with me. Every day.”

Now, grown up and moved away from their home in New Jersey - Laura’s an environmental consultant in Philadelphia, Bill’s a lawyer in Maryland - that sense of community is what the Georges are recapturing as they prepare for reunion. 

Being a reunion volunteer has been a great way for Laura to reconnect, both with regular attendees and with those who haven’t been seen since graduation. "I didn’t really maintain close relationships with anyone from Peddie after graduation,” she said, “but through helping with the reunions, I have reconnected with people.”

Bill added, “It’s certainly rewarding to start seeing, as we reach out, people pinging back on email or on social media. Our classmates are doing so many cool things: everything from education to politics to science to medicine to raising families. You name it. Catching up and reconnecting is a very cool thing that I’m enjoying.”

As May 31 approaches, the Georges are excited to reunite with their classmates. Laura is looking forward to talking with her teachers again and seeing how campus has changed in the five years since she was last at Peddie. Bill is looking forward to showing his children, four and three years old, respectively - where he went to school. “It’s like you never left, in a way,” Laura said. “People are just really happy to be on campus and reconnect.”

Why should you come back for reunion? “Everyone’s got busy schedules,” Bill admitted, “with work and life and family and other circumstances. But Peddie was such a foundational place for so many of us and it’s rewarding, if you can, to come back to see your friends and your teachers and their families and the campus, just to maintain those relationships. Don’t forget where you came from. Peddie is a great community and something you want to stay a part of as you continue your journey.”