“Camaraderie and Care:”  Cathie Runyon Reflects on Two Generations at Dublin School

Cathie Runyon is a grandparent to two generations of two: her children L.P. (Laurance) and Grier Runyon attended Dublin in the 80s, and her grandchildren Nick and Liza currently attend Dublin; Nick is graduating in the spring. Cathie and her husband moved to Peterborough in 1974, and L.P. started at Dublin in 1984 with Grier close behind.

“When L.P. was in middle school at Peterborough, it was not a great experience for him,” notes Runyon. “We started looking around and decided that we really didn’t want to send him to a boarding school far away, so Dublin seemed like a good alternative. We had been hearing more and more positive things about Dublin, so we started to look into it.”

L.P. started in 9th grade at Dublin with his good friend Matt Bass, another day student; “they both headed up the road together.” L.P. was very active on campus, and he enjoyed his time in the community. L.P. “thrived” at Dublin, in Runyon’s words.

Runyon laughs, remembering how quickly L.P. and Matt took to spending time on Dublin’s campus. 

L.P. playing in 2018 Mike Walters Alumni Game

“We went to a prospective families session in Peterborough to share our experiences and impressions of Dublin with interested families,” she says. “And when L.P. and Matt were talking about being day students, one of the boarding students just turns and says, ‘Wait. You guys are day students?’ Totally surprised.”

Over eight years of being Dublin parents, the Runyons saw many changes in leadership and evolutions of the school. There were four headmasters in their children’s time at Dublin—with Grier beginning the fall after L.P. graduated.

“The school actually seemed to grow during all of that transition,” she explains. “When we first saw Dublin, there was never a student on campus. They were never out and about, they were never playing on the quad or studying outside. When L.P. was there, we saw so much more activity and liveliness. Students were always out and about, always doing something. Grier had seen L.P. there for four years and decided she wanted to go too.”

Grier began her time at Dublin, but to her family’s surprise, she said in the early fall of her time there that “maybe she wanted to go to ConVal.”

“I said, ‘you know, you’ll be fine everywhere, and it is up to you, but before you make this decision, you have to talk to an advisor at Dublin, one at ConVal, and you have to spend one day at ConVal,’” says Runyon. “She did all three, and then she said to me, ‘I’m going to stay at Dublin.’”

In Runyon’s words, “She thrived too. She did really well academically, and she went on to UVA, where she studied English and French.”

“Both L.P. and Grier stayed very involved with Dublin after graduating,” she says. “L.P. taught art for a bit, and he is currently a lacrosse coach there. They both consider it a place filled with very fond memories.”

For her grandchildren, who she describes as having different personalities from each other, have both found what works for them. 

Nick running for Dublin

“The small classes have helped Nick flourish,” says Runyon. “He has found his niche, and he is going on to American University to study political science. He has made his time at Dublin a really enriching experience. I am very proud of him.”

“Liza has jumped right in and is pursuing different interests as a 9th grader, from academics to her dedication to lacrosse,” says Runyon. “Dublin has been a good choice for both of them. I wish my two smaller grandchildren would go, but they live in Virginia!”

“I don’t know if it is the size or what,” she says. “At some schools, a student can just fall through the cracks. But we had this introductory meeting with parents from Dublin back in the 80s. And we went around the room and said why our children were there, and we said that we wanted our children to have a secure place to go to school. We didn’t want them to fall through the cracks. And the parents next to us said, ‘Well, our son fell through the cracks. And that’s why we are here.’”

Liza battling against Stoneleigh Burnham School

“Dublin has this ability to really see and understand a child,” she elaborates. “To know what their needs are. Their potential. Teachers are very intuitive. It may not have all the bells and whistles of a bigger school with expensive amenities, but it makes up for that in the camaraderie  and the care.”
How did the Runyons know that Dublin was right for them and their children?

“It’s like buying a house. You go in, you walk around, and you say, ‘This is the one I want.’ You get that feeling.” Runyon says. “You have to be here to feel it. Come up and spend some time. I love going to see one of the lacrosse games that L.P. is coaching and that Liza is playing or that Nick is playing. It is freezing and raining in the early spring, and you see everyone there on the sidelines cheering. The other kids don’t have to be there, but there they are, cheering each other on.”

Rachael Jennings