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The Long Maroon Line Steps Up
Posted 07/02/2020 05:59AM

Spring for a senior at Fordham Prep is a special time. The beauty of the Rose Hill campus in full bloom, excitement for college decisions and new challenges in the fall, and the anticipation of the graduation in the historic University Gymnasium combine to make this time of transition feel all the more satisfying.  

This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the Class of 2020’s time at Fordham Prep and robbed them of their well-earned swansong. In March, Fordham Prep closed its doors and moved to a distance learning model.  At the time, few seniors could have imagined they would have to complete the academic year from home.. Although the Prep made plans for a socially distant, in-person graduation to be held on July 31 (pending approval from the State of New York), the Prep’s 179th Commencement Exercises on May 27th were postponed.

Knowing that an in-person graduation at the end of May was unlikely, Bill Perry ‘64, and a number of his classmates, had an idea.  Their wish was to properly recognize the Class of 2020’s accomplishments while also introducing them to the network of over 13,000 living Fordham Prep alumni.  After further discussions with the Prep’s Engagement, Development, and Communications Office in April, the Long Maroon Line card writing project was born.

The project called upon alumni from the classes of 1960 to 2015 to write a card, note, or letter to all members of the Class of 2020. With the goal of having the letters in mailboxes by graduation day, May 27th, members of the Class of 1964 spent the month of May rallying Class Representatives who in turn mobilized their classmates for the card writing project. Through personal outreach and with the help of the Prep’s engagement staff over 11,000 alumni received an invitation to participate. Originally the intent was for each alumnus to write to just five seniors.  However, many alumni took it upon themselves to write to many, many more.

As letters began to arrive in mailboxes on May 27th, the impact of the project and of the Long Maroon Line was immediately felt by the members of the Class of 2020. One parent remarked,

We received three handwritten letters from alumni last week. Two from the Class of '69 and one from the class of '85.  Today, I opened my mailbox and there were three more... I always knew there was so much pride and fraternity among Fordham Prep alumni and current students, but this has blown me away.  To those men taking their time to congratulate my son, I can't tell how much that means to us."

As it so often does, the fraternity of Fordham Prep alumni answered the call to support their own. Thanks to the efforts of Bill Perry ‘64, his classmates, and all the alumni who wrote notes, the Class of 2020 received the sendoff they deserved.  In the midst of disappointment, the class learned a lesson about acting as “men for others”.  We can think of few better ways to be welcomed to the unique fraternity of Fordham Prep alumni than by those alumni themselves. 

Hail! Men of Fordham!  


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