Tees for Your Tradition
5 min. read
March 22, 2023

From July 1 to December 31, 2022, Redeemer ran the alumni campaign “Tees for Your Tradition.” To celebrate the lifelong friendships made during their university days, alumni had the opportunity to submit their traditions in exchange for a free alumni t-shirt commemorating the university’s 40th anniversary. Take a look at some of the unique traditions that they and their families participate in.

Family Gatherings

Group Members: Jerome and Natalie de Schiffert, Josh de Schiffert ’17, Kristen de Schiffert, Taylor de Schiffert ’20 and Rachel Hoekstra ’18

Josh and Taylor de Schiffert attended Redeemer for their undergraduate and bachelor of education degrees. Taylor de Schiffert met his wife, Rachel Hoekstra, at Redeemer. While not an alum herself, Josh de Schiffert’s wife, Kristen de Schiffert, lived with him in independent housing during their first year of marriage. Both boys also played on the Redeemer Royals men’s basketball team, and their parents, Jerome and Natalie de Schiffert, made sure to attend every home and away game. Their family traditions include planning getaways, spending time with other alumni and playing competitive games, all while remi­niscing about fond Redeemer memories.

Reuniting “The France Ladies”

Group Members: Cheryl Ritskes ’15, Cheryl Paul ’14, Justine Van Bolhuis ’14, Rachel De Jager ’15 (not pictured), Shailene Norg ’15 (not pictured), Erin Koning ’14 and Sara Brice-Elion ’14

“The France Ladies” bonded during their time abroad for Redeemer’s Semester in France program. Together, they travelled through France and other parts of Europe, attended classes and held soirees every Friday night Since then, they’ve continued to see one another once or twice a year to camp, go to the beach, visit each other’s homes and celebrate Christmas. In recent years, these get-togethers have also in­cluded their children. Throughout the rest of the year, the ladies keep in touch via a Facebook group, where they share life updates and the occasional funny or interesting article about the French language.

Foam Fest and Other Gatherings

Group Members: Jessica (DeVries) VanGeest ’06, Kari (Hoekstra) DeGraaf ’07, Maria (Vanderploeg) VanBenthem ’07, Amy (Speelman) Vanderwier ’08, Jen Hoogendam, Elissa (Wildeboer) VanBerkel, Melanie Kiers and Chelsie Vanderwier (not pictured)

Throughout the past few summers, this group has participated in Foam Fest, an event that combines a 5k race, obstacle course and a whole lot of mud and soap foam. Along with their spouses, they also spend a lot of time together going on camping and canoe trips, hosting Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties and attending regular game nights. Reminiscing about their time at Redeemer and celebrating significant milestones en­sures that they remain a constant presence in each other’s lives.

Annual Camping Trip

Group Members: Alexa White ’21, Claire Semelhago ’21, Kristina Renwick ’21, Carraugh Brouwer ’22 and Emily Bootsma ’22

This group of science students solidified their friend­ship through many hours of classes, homework and labs. Now that they’ve all graduated and moved to different parts of the province, they’ve carved out intentional time together through a yearly camping trip. Although the location changes each year to ac­commodate everyone, what remains the same is the rekindled joy and fellowship that comes through a weekend of swimming, playing games and making s’mores. Since Brouwer is pursuing her graduate studies at UBC, there’s a good chance that their trips will become interprovincial.

Regular Catch-Ups and a Wedding

Group Members: Patrick Ciaramella ’20, Christine Vrbensky ’20, Cheryl Pokocky ’20, Paisley Spring ’20, Frankie Cerino ’20, Alex Desantis ’20, Claudia Calvise ’20, Tesla Filice ’20 and Tracy Cooper ’20

The story of these friends, which began at Redeemer in 2018, now features a wedding. They were all pursuing their education degrees before graduating in 2020. Along the way, Ciaramella and Vrbensky start­ed dating and married in December 2022. Coming together for the wedding was a sweet reminder of how much the group enjoyed learning and growing together. They continue to keep in touch and share stories from their teaching experiences.

More Traditions

Alumni and their families show off their alumni tees while participating in a variety of traditions with friends met and relationships built while at Redeemer.

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