The Branson Centennial
A global pandemic paused Branson’s Centennial celebrations, but the festivities will continue into the fall of next year as the school commemorates its first century of preparing young people for lives of consequence.
Thus far, it has featured six alumni — from Olympians to clergy to authors and educators — discussing a range of timely topics. You can watch and read more about their presentations on our Centennial webpage, and also see our upcoming events in the spring.
The online format has created a new opportunity to connect Branson’s wider community without being limited by geography or available theater seating. During such uncertain and isolating times, the series continues to provide vibrant connection and discussion, and bring the community back to the thing that unites us: Branson.
With the future of large gatherings still uncertain, our signature community event, the Centennial Celebration: One Hundred Years of Connections, has been rescheduled to September 25, 2021. This will be held concurrently with Alumni Weekends for classes ending in ‘0 and ‘5. Mark your calendars! Other fall events — including the Centennial Play, Alumni Art Exhibit, and book launch — have also been postponed to the fall of 2021, with new dates coming soon.
Branson has already had several special occasions in honor of the major milestone. In February, 2020, we celebrated the school turning 100 with a special Assembly for current Branson students, faculty, staff, and trustees. The program included remarks by Head of School Chris Mazzola, and current students, and reminiscences by alumnae Sally Grover Bingham ’59 and Robyn Sue Fisher ’97. School Librarian and Archivist Lori Deibel presented “The Branson School: The First 100 Years,” a timeline of our history through photos. We also introduced our social media showcase of Branson’s core values in action, “100 Acts of Branson” (follow @BransonSchool on Instagram), and a new “Centennial Crisp” ice cream flavor created especially for Branson by Smitten Ice Cream, a company owned by Branson grad Robyn Fisher ’97.
When the world took a turn toward the unexpected, and the shelter-in-place orders arrived, Branson demonstrated the same resilience and creative problem-solving that have enabled our community to thrive for the past 100 years. Our Centennial Speaker Series quickly transitioned to an online platform and expanded to meet nearly weekly during the month of May. Thus far, it has featured six alumni — from Olympians to clergy to authors and educators — discussing a range of timely topics. The online format created a new opportunity to connect Branson’s wider community without being limited by geography or available theater seating. During such uncertain and isolating times, the series provided vibrant connection and discussion, and brought the community back to the thing that unites us: Branson.
While the coronavirus pandemic brought unexpected changes to our centennial year, we also found other means of continuing the celebration, even at a distance. Alumni gatherings via Zoom seeded new connections between classmates across the miles. Current students and parents connected with KBS graduates to share stories and learn from these alumnae’s experiences. In June, Branson celebrated a graduation like none other, and alumni enhanced the celebration with a letter-writing campaign to the Class of 2020.
We are incredibly grateful to Trustees Ally Sievers and Sloan Klein, our Centennial Committee Chairs, for dedicating their time and energy to creating a wonderful centennial program, and the many parents, trustees, and faculty/staff volunteers who participated in the planning process, including Hayley Burner, Sylvia Cahill, Julie Carlucci, Stacie Grant, Abby Hoffman, Rebecca Houser, Kristin Keeffe, Amy Knaus, Claudia Lewis, Chris Mazzola, Eric Oldmixon, Jenni Owen-Blackmon, Benjamin Pastor, Evelyn Sayers, Quoc Tran, and Maura Vaughn.
Branson has faced many challenges in its 100 years of existence, and we are proud of the resilience our community has shown in the face of another challenging moment. We look forward to continuing the celebration of Branson — our resiliency and accomplishments, our people and community, our history and our goals for the future — in 2021.