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As many graduating seniors prepared to become alumni themselves, they were given over 4,000 examples of how they can always stay connected to their alma mater.

Penn hosted thousands of alumni last weekend during its annual Alumni Weekend celebration, which ran from May 14-17.

Organizers Paul Williams, president of Penn Alumni, and Robert G. Alig, assistant vice president of alumni relations, said in an open letter on the Alumni Weekend Web site that they hoped to "engage your head and your heart in much the same way you were engaged as a student, last year or years ago."

The long list of events -- united under the theme "Make the Connection" -- included a picnic on Hill Square, as well as the traditional parade of classes from Hill Square to College Green.

There were also events that were tailored to more specific tastes, including a golf outing and a wine-tasting, in addition to educational talks, tours and the 26th annual Alumni Walk/Run.

In addition to the scheduled activities, each of Penn's schools hosted receptions, several new buildings held open houses, and fraternities and sororities threw open their doors for alumni.

While many of the events were aimed at smaller groups, alumni from all classes came together for Saturday's picnic and parade.

In what was the highlight of the weekend for many, the participants marched from Hill Square to College Green, led by the Penn Band.

The alumni from the 1930s and 1940s led the way in golf carts, followed by representatives of other classes, including the Classes of 1954 and 1979, celebrating their 50th and 25th reunions, respectively.

The classes carried banners and placards with slogans on them. The Class of 1959, for example, carried the slogan "In the classroom, on the field, '59 will never yield."

As the parade passed the reviewing stand in front of Van Pelt Library, the different classes and schools were introduced, along with the amounts they have collectively donated to Penn.

After the alumni took their seats on the Green, outgoing President Judith Rodin gave an address that continued the theme of connectedness.

"Your connection to Penn is one that never dies," she said, referencing her status as a Penn alumna.

The Glee Club then led a rendition of The Red and the Blue before the crowd dispersed.

While many alumni were excited about the variety of events, most agreed that what really drew them back to Penn was the chance to see old friends.

"The biggest joy is seeing your old classmates," said Earl Joyner, who graduated from the College in 1979 and from the School of Medicine in 1983.

This weekend "makes me happy to have been a part of Penn," he added.

Alumni Weekend "shows you that it is a broader community experience," agreed Harold Haskins, who graduated from the College in 1975.

Joseph R. Burns, a Wharton graduate from the Class of 1954, was particularly pleased to be at Penn for his 50th reunion.

"A lot of these people I haven't seen in 50 years," he said.

There seemed to be nothing but praise for Penn, and especially for Rodin and the changes she brought about.

Marlene Levinsohn Shufro, who graduated from the College of Women in 1959, gave a particularly positive evaluation of Rodin's tenure.

"She has really turned the school upside down. She has been a magnificent leader," she said.

"Things have grown exponentially since I've been here," agreed Arthur Carter, a 1974 College graduate.

"It looks like the alumni money has been put to good use," he added with a laugh.

Alumni returning to Penn for the first time were especially pleased with the recent renovations on campus and with the weekend itself.

"I'm really impressed with the big turnout with all the classes. There really is a sense of loyalty," said Frank Guarnaccia, who graduated from the School of Social Work in 1972.

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