Spotlight: Alumni Association Award: Form of 1970
The Form of 1970 leads the way in providing meaningful ways to give back
Feeling they had a lot to offer, members of the Form of 1970 used their 40th SPS Anniversary in 2010 to brainstorm ways to give back to the School beyond financial contributions. “People wanted to make it more meaningful,” says Steve Crandall ’70, form director from 2005 to 2010. “There wasn’t an opportunity to share our expertise in service to the School.” Those conversations gave birth to what is now known as SPS Sparks, a social entrepreneurship network for sparking ideas, communication, and activities. In true Form of 1970 fashion, Sparks service events offer the entire SPS community – alumni, students, faculty, staff, and parents – occasions to serve in unison, while sharing their stories and ideas. That mission of collaboration and shared ideals is why Crandall, who is largely credited with launching Sparks, insisted that the Alumni Association Award be bestowed upon the entire Form of 1970.
While acknowledging the importance of the more traditional invitations to gather alumni interested in supporting the School, Sparks was founded with the tag line “not just another cocktail party.” The first official event was hosted in Richmond, R.I., on May 18, 2013, where more than 30 SPS community members, representing five decades, gathered at Knowles Mill Park to clean up the Pawcatuck River and surrounding area. Since the inaugural Rhode Island event, Sparks has hosted other days of service, including SPS Sparks on the Sound, where alumni, family, and friends spent a day cleaning up damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, and SPS Sparks, Washington, D.C., and Newport, R.I., where alumni and students gathered at Thanksgiving to serve food to the needy. In 2015, volunteers got together at NH Audubon and the Pope Memorial SPCA in Concord over Anniversary Weekend. The group sponsored service with NH Audubon at the Silk Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Concord at Anniversary 2016. On May 31, 2017, Sparks initiated 15 different service projects at NH Audubon and on the SPS grounds during the inaugural SPS Sparks Sixth Form Day of Service. Fifty alumni and faculty and 150 Sixth Formers worked together in service to the School and the greater community.
“This ties back to the School’s Christian tradition, and our form’s personal history – the Love sculpture, the crucible of change; there was a whole lot of stuff going on back then,” says form director George Host ’70. “The answer to that was love. Bringing together love and kindness, expressed by the work we are doing to improve lives through these service projects, is a tangible and productive expression of that tradition.” For Sidney “Tres” Davidson ’70, form director from 2010 to 2015, initiating and participating in service-based events is a way for members of the Form of 1970 to bottle reserve energy from their era and share it with the School community. “We want to welcome everybody under a bigger tent,” he says, “living within the St. Paul’s tradition. Things have become so impersonal, so to get together to spark a service project creates a much better fabric for the community.”
Again, Crandall is a strong example of the unity and selflessness of his formmates. When it was suggested that the Alumni Association Award be presented to him, he insisted that the honor be given collectively to the Form of 1970. Crandall envisions Sparks events becoming an integral part of Anniversary Weekend and beyond, with service missions providing opportunities for alumni from many generations to connect with one another, while giving back. “I feel like the award is the ultimate acknowledgment that what we have done is what we were meant to do,” Crandall says. “We have a special form with special hearts that, nearly 50 years later, is shining through brightly.”