San Antonio Academy Honors Dedicated Leader
By Jonathan Spindel
Photography by Rose Benton and Mary Candee
THE SCENE: The San Antonio Academy community gathered to celebrate John Webster’s 32 years of dedicated service as head of school by gathering at The Tobin Center for a giant retirement party in his honor. Over 1,200 guests consisting of alumni, current and former parents, faculty & staff, current and former grandparents, current and past board members, and friends all heeded the call to pay tribute to “El Guapo.”
Upon arrival, guests were treated to refreshments and beverages while a medley of John Webster’s favorite songs filled the background. An entire wing of The Tobin’s foyer was transformed into “Mr. Webster’s office,” which included all the unusual décor and trinkets he’s collected from students over 32 years. Attendees got their picture taken at his “desk,” and over 30 various “Websterisms” (John’s famous sayings from his chapel talks) were individually printed on napkins, and on Academy blue souvenir cups.
THE VIBE: Paying tribute to John’s legacy as SAA’s head of school since 1985, the program opened with a Beatles-inspired band, The Blue Note Ringos, as a slideshow displayed images and video clips highlighting moments of John’s storied career. Robert Rivard, former SAA parent and editor of the Rivard Report, was masterful as Master of Ceremonies. He introduced SAA’s Battalion Commander from the Class of 1995, Pedro Martinez, who began the program just like The Academy begins each school morning with the Call to Attention & the Pledge of Allegiance. The roster of guest speakers included: former SAA parent and chairman of the board, John Zachry; former SAA parent and board member, Laurie White; long-time admissions director, Mary Wilde; SAA alumni Chris Galvan (Class of 1990) and John Amini (Class of 2005), and current SAA board chair and parent, Steve Chiscano. As a finale, John “Chico” Newman, Jr. (Class of 1961), who as board chair in 1985 was responsible for hiring John 32 years ago, gave a heartfelt introduction to the man of the hour, John Webster.
THE CAUSE: As one of his favorite songs “Wild Thing” played, Webster took the stage, and paused before he addressed the sea of faces, clearly overwhelmed and moved by the turnout. And in typical John Webster style, he thanked his wife Marilyn, adult children Julia Webster Shulman and Adam Webster, and The Academy family first, before reflecting on his over three decades of dedicated service to the thousands of boys and young men who he has led along the way. The incredible evening was filled with love, laughter and many memorable moments that Webster says, “Will stay with me for the rest of my life.”