Once a Torrey, Always a Torrey

By Susan Nordenger, assistant head of school for community engagement

Whenever I am asked why I love La Jolla Country Day School, my first response always involves our students, past and present. We take great pride in our alumni and how they are showing up in the world. Whether in the workplace, civic engagement, volunteerism or their role in their communities, our alumni are making a difference locally, nationally and globally. 

What is special about a school like LJCDS is its robust alumni network. One of the school’s top priorities is fostering lifelong engagement with alumni. In fall 2022, we launched a series of regional events, helping us connect with our 4,000+ alumni network. We aim to engage our alumni with the school and each other in their current hometowns. These gatherings unite Torreys of all ages, creating wonderful networking and mentoring opportunities.

In September, we traveled to Seattle and held a lovely alumni social at the Seattle Tennis Club hosted by Sally Peters Davidson ’68 and her husband, Tim. Twenty-six Torreys, ranging in age from the classes of 1966 to 2017, gathered to share stories and favorite memories and to celebrate the ties that continue to bind them. As the sun began to set over the waters of Lake Washington, we all agreed this had to become a yearly event.

Our regional events also offer a chance to reconnect with former faculty and staff who have relocated. In Seattle, we were joined by David Johns, Dave Henshall and Alice Thornton Schilling. Our faculty and staff are brilliant at staying connected with their students. Alice was especially helpful in reaching out to our Seattle alums and encouraging their attendance.

October found us enjoying a wonderful evening in New York City with 46 former Torreys at the Yale Club, hosted by Harry Nam ’84. The event was a wonderful celebration of community. It was amazing to see classmates reconnect and new friendships and mentorships form. Having current LJCDS educator Jonathan Shulman and former faculty member and dean of students Peter Bogue attend was a bonus.

In late January, while some of my colleagues and I were attending a conference in New York City, we gathered 30 alumni from the classes of 1995 to 2017. This group represented various careers from finance to fashion, law school and graduate school, nonprofit work, comedy, theater, medicine and business. Will Reed, Erin O’Grady, Shannon Cleary and Caleb Goh, all beloved former LJCDS educators now living in or near New York City, also joined us. There was a wonderful exchange of memories, life updates, travel and everything in between. The sheer joy and volume in the room reminded us of the saying, “Once a Torrey, always a Torrey.”

We will travel to Los Angeles this spring, ready to meet alumni, affiliates, and former faculty and staff. Our plans for 2023–2024 include five regional events in addition to on-campus alumni events.   

The pervasiveness of Torrey pride across the United States is a testament to our alum’s love for the school and each other. Their generosity in sharing their time, talent, experiences and passions has been instrumental in advancing our mission and enhancing our programs. I am so proud to be part of this incredible community. 

Susan Nordenger
Susan Nordenger

Assistant Head of School for Community Engagement

Susan Nordenger never believed that teaching is a job but rather a calling. From the first day she stepped into her La Jolla Country Day School classroom, she knew she found the place she wanted to call home. After 10 years of teaching in the Middle School, Mrs. Nordenger worked with students to create an all-school community service program. This 19-year endeavor has been the most rewarding phase of her career.

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