At a time when so many Riverdale families, students, alumni, faculty, and staff are mourning the loss of innocent lives and deeply concerned about events unfolding in Israel and Gaza, it was meaningful for more than 1,000 members of the Riverdale community to gather on campus for Homecoming and Reunion 2023.
Despite the dreary weather, for the group participating in activities, reuniting with friends over lunch, and cheering for our athletic teams, the day provided moments for laughter and joy.
Saturday began on the River Campus with guided tours of Riverdale Park by our 5th-grade students as part of City of Forest Day, an annual day of activities across the city to raise awareness about the importance of the New York City urban forest. Students and parents also demonstrated their care of the park with a clean-up.
Over on the Hill campus, the festivities included face painting, games, and an enchanting magic show with Magical Dave Nieder ’95. Riverdale’s Parents Association hosted a Latine and Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, which included crafts, activities, and an interactive music and dance experience with The Salsa Project.
Under the Homecoming tent, Head of School Kari Ostrem extended a warm welcome to the community. “This is my first Homecoming and Reunion at Riverdale,” she said. “I’m pleased to see so many families joining our alumni in celebrating our Riverdale community today. I am looking forward to meeting many more of you this afternoon and in the upcoming months!”
Kari also presented the Ernest McAneny Alumni Spirit Award to Niesha Butler ’98, a record-breaking, barrier-busting athlete turned tech entrepreneur. According to Director of Athletics John Pizzi, Niesha, a Bronx Hall of Famer, is “the greatest basketball player to ever play at Riverdale.” Niesha’s number 11 basketball jersey was retired in recognition of her outstanding contributions and accomplishments, including helping Riverdale win the NYSAIS and Federation Championships and being named to New York City’s All City Team four years in a row.
Later, the youngest guests were treated to a surprise Meet and Greet with Felix the Falcon. Meanwhile, Computer Science Chair Andrew Abate led a Robotics Demonstration showcasing the work of Middle and Upper School students.
Throughout the day, alumni, students, and families gathered on our fields, aquatic center, gym, and courts to support our varsity soccer, volleyball, football, water polo, and field hockey teams as they competed against friendly rivals from Horace Mann, Fieldston, and Hackley. Six games resulted in 3 wins and 3 losses.
Alumni in classes ending in 3s and 8s celebrated a milestone reunion this year! They kicked off the weekend with a cocktail reception on Friday night at Peak in Hudson Yards, where they reminisced with their friends, reconnected with their former teachers, and welcomed Kari to the community.