Greeting from “YOUR” Committee on Work Team!

I wanted to take an opportunity to give you all a report about the Fall 2019 Reunion. We held the Fall 2019 Scottish Rite Reunion on October 12 & 13, 2019, at the Winter Park Masonic Center. The Fall Reunion was the fifth reunion held at the new location, and improvements continue! This class consisted of 17 candidates from 10 different lodges, 3 Districts.

We relocated the air-conditioned tent to the northeast corner of the parking lot, closest to the building, and provided a more efficient movement of the class. There is a plan to add additional modular buildings, which will serve many tasks, including a reunion classroom, which will only improve on our reunion experience and save us money.

Historically there have been several issues with reunions over the past several years; lack of practices, lack of memorization, missing participants. To address some of these issues, the Director of the COW, Personal Representative, and General Secretary meet months before this reunion to do some brainstorming as to what can be done to continue improving. We made several changes that we implemented, starting with this reunion.

Issue 1: Lack of Practices
Before this reunion, we agreed that degree practice participants would be awarded 75 Double Eagle Points for participating in practices. Increased practices will only help with the presentation and confidence of the degree team.

Issue 2: Lack of Memorization
Before this reunion, we agreed that participants performing parts from memory during a reunion would be awarded 100 Double Eagle Points for participating in practices. Increasing the number of memorized parts will only increase the emphasis of the degrees.

To promote these initiatives, we undertook several steps.

  1. The Degree Masters/Committee Chairs meeting was moved from one month before reunions to two months. Having this meeting earlier allowed the brothers to get into the “Reunion Frame of Mind” sooner. The earlier scheduling of this meeting will be on-going.
  2. We promoted these initiatives via the Valley eNews, Facebook page, emails, and announcements at meetings.

We cannot expect to resolve these issues in a single reunion, and we are pleased to report that due to these initiatives, there have been some positive results shown.
A. Practice Double Eagle Points initiative

  1. We held practices for 59% (10 of 18) of the degrees before the reunion
  2. We held 13-degree practices
  3. We awarded Double Eagle points to 39 brothers
  4. The total number of Double Eagle points earned: 4,800

B. Memorization Double Eagle Points initiative

  1. We awarded points to 19 brothers
  2. 25 parts from memory
  3. The total number of Double Eagle points earned: 2,500
    Note: These statistics will be tracked over time so that we determine a trend.

Issue 3: Missing Participants
This issue was evident before and during the reunion. The COW heard reports from several Degree Masters that they were having issues getting participants to attend practices. Also, this weekend, we had several degree participants and degree masters missing. As a result of this, we had several degrees that needed many “last-minute” fill-ins. This disruption had a direct impact on several degrees.

The Committee on Work will continue to work with the Degree Masters to emphasize the following:

  1. To increase participation
  2. To improve performance
    Look for changes and recommendations to be forthcoming. I will be sending an email to the Degree Masters and Committee Chairs as well as covering it in the next Degree Masters Meeting

I want to note that The Valley of Orlando had a skull that has been in its possession since the Valley started. We placed the skull in the staging area for the next degree. When the time came to set up for the degree, the stage crew could not find the skull. This skull is a piece of the Valley’s history, so any help in locating this item would be greatly appreciated.

As with any reunion, there were areas for improvement. We made quite a few notes, and we will strive to address all of these opportunities as soon as possible.

The COW received a lot of great feedback and suggestions during the reunion. This feedback is something that needs to be fostered and encouraged. A sincere thank you to all who made suggestions, please keep them coming!

Examples include:

  1. Have the degree teams consider structuring the presentation of the degree activities specifically toward the candidates to maximize their experience. The COW agrees and will be sharing these recommendations with the degree masters for their implementation for upcoming reunions.
  2. By switching the Class Photo and Meet the Personal Representative times, we gave the backstage crew more time to set up for the 30th degree. Making this switch was found to be a positive suggestion, and the COW will be making the changes permanent for the Spring and Fall reunions.

Let’s not forget the positives of the reunion! I want to ensure that these people get the recognition they deserve. So, here is the first “COW Shout out!”

  1. The elevated spotlight made its debut. Sound and lighting coordinated during the degrees via walkie talkies. This addition and coordination added to the reunion experience. So “Shout Out” to Stu Orgaz, 32° KCCH for making the elevated stand, and “Shout Out” to the sound and lighting crew for their work.
  2. The backstage crew had a stellar reunion. The crew was on schedule with all activities, even when on the spot changes were requested from the degree masters. So a “Shout Out” to Chris Durie, 32° and the team for all they do.
  3. During lunch, the Fellowship Hall was full! Seeing the crowd added to the overall experience for both the candidates and the Valley!.
  4. Upon arriving on the morning of the 28th degree, Brian Zeppa, 32° was asked to fill in as degree master. He worked hard to come up to speed and coordinate the needs of the degree. “Shout Out” to Brian Zeppa, 32°! While there were areas for improvement, it was a great job, and the degree finished on time.
  5. Special thanks to the incredible music provided by Jim Hamilton, 32° KCCH and Mike Seeley, 32°. Having live music performed during the reunion only adds to the overall experience and adds tremendous value. “Shout Out” to our musicians.
  6. “Shout Out” to Ill. Paul Smith, 33° and Kitchen Team who provided breakfast, lunch, and snacks both days and were well received by all who attended. The quality of food and the hard work provided was once again excellent. The return of the cookies was most appreciated.
  7. A personal “Shout Out” to the COW Team for the hard work. Chet Tokar, 32° who was asked to assist in the class pre-lectures and still performed COW duties. John Miles, 32° and Mike Hemphill, 32° KCCH who took great timings and notes of degrees. I would also like to thank Tracy Chastain, 32° who in his first reunion performed his duties, and was ready for anything requested.

In all, the reunion was an overall success, and we have 17 additional Masters of the Royal Secret. We accomplish the overall success of these reunions by the outstanding efforts of our brothers of the Valley of Orlando. Their desire, flexibility and overall willingness to ‘git’er done’ are what makes this all possible.

I know that with the help of the Brethren of the Valley of Orlando, we will continue to improve in what we do but, most importantly, foster BROTHERHOOD.

Please note that the Spring Reunion 2020 has been moved from the 2nd to the 3rd weekend in April due to the Easter Holiday.

In closing, thank you for all you have done, are doing, and will do for our fraternity.


Committee on Work
Jay Cebollero, 32° KCCH – Director
Chet Tokar, 32°
Tracy Chastain, 32°
Michael D. Hemphill, 32° KCCH
John Miles, 32°

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others is immortal.”