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Clarence Rabideau Remarks – Jarvis Hunt

Founders Award Jarvis 2010 008
When I received the postcard from school about today’s Founders Award ceremony that honors Jarvis Hunt, it was like a short trip into the past. The three photographs on the front brought back a lot of memories. And one photo seemed very appropriate for today because it shows Jarvis with the Parade of Horribles. The other two show Jarvis/Jeremy carving the turkey at the Lower School Thanksgiving Feast and lastly a photo of Ken Ansin lighting the bunsen burner in a science class. I’ll speak a little more about some of these photos of Jarvis’s life at school a bit later. And by the way Kelly, thank you for asking me to speak today about one of my favorite colleagues.

Jarvis came to Applewild the second year after the school’s founding. He worked for 38 years here and wore many hats. This is not unusual for a private school teacher, but Jarvis always gave each role his special touch, which was always infused with knowledge and humor. As alum Chris Rhoads says in his recent alumni spotlight, Mr. Hunt made it o.k. to be smart and funny.

When I think of Jarvis I think of a Renaissance man, a person with a wide range of knowledge and skills. A person with a great educational background: Exeter Academy and Harvard University. In years past when the teachers met informally in the faculty room for morning coffee it seemed, as we talked, that there was always an informal transfer of knowledge from Jarvis about something. He seemed to know so much about so many things that just a conversation was a teaching moment. One can imagine what an actual class with him must have been like. He loved his subject matter, but he also loved many other things, such as: photography, music, cars, astronomy, travel, the Cape; his interests seemed endless.

His talents and his many roles here ran the gamut from teaching to administration. He was the Science Department Head for many years. He served as Assistant Headmaster for most of his time here and even as Acting Headmaster for a year in the interim between founding Headmaster Mr. Laverack’s departure and the hiring of the second Headmaster, Mr. Sutton, and the school never skipped a beat under his leadership. He was the school counselor and therefore the person teachers could go to for help regarding any counseling issues for students. He was the Head of the school’s academic summer program for many years. This program provided remedial help for students in a variety of areas. And he served on many committees because of his thoughtful advice and knowledge. Oh, and I don’t want to forget another important role: archery instructor.

This was all part of his professional role at school. But even though this was an important and valued side of Jarvis, when I think back on his time here, and I worked with and for him for 25 years, it’s the humorous side of Jarvis that I remember best. He managed to make the smallest event more exciting and fun for both the students and faculty. I’d like to share some of these with you.

Jarvis was a terrific photographer. He was “the” school photographer for many years and took all the team and group photos with his medium sized twin reflex camera. He also did personal photos for students for their yearbook pictures. His personal photographs had a wonderful quality that combined excellent technique as well as an artistic eye for subject matter. As I began to learn more about the subject and to hone my own skills Jarvis was the person I would go to for information about photography. He seemed to know everything about cameras and related technical information.

He never missed the opportunity to take a plane or helicopter up for aerial views of the school. He loved flying and this provided him the opportunity to give a different view of Applewild for school publications as well as having some fun in the process. But the photographic event that I remember best was the yearly all-school photo. The students on the given day would stream up from the Lower School, Middle School and Upper School along with the faculty and staff to the hill on the front lawn. Jarvis wasn’t content to just stand down the hill for the photo; he had to add his special fun touch to the event. He would have the school truck parked on the lower lawn with his camera mounted on the tripod in the truck bed. Then after everyone was set he would get up in the truck and focus and set the controls. The camera would be put on the timed setting and Jarvis would yell, “Get ready. We’ve got ten seconds,” then he would jump off the truck and run like mad to position himself in the photo as everyone counted down: ten, nine, eight, seven, and finally, “CLICK!” The photo was taken. We would go through the process a second time just to make sure of a good picture and then everyone returned to recess. The photo was then printed by Jarvis and given to teachers for Christmas, thanks to Dr. Marshall.

I know that tonight there is an Upper School Halloween dance. Years ago the Halloween dance at school was a very big event for students and faculty. The students of course would have great costumes but the faculty was in competition for great costumes too. We planned for weeks about our choices. And the event showcased our efforts. I came as Count Dracula, complete with a homemade coffin. Tom Clemens came as the Frankenstein monster complete with 12” pieces of foam glued to his shoes to raise his height to seven feet. But Jarvis was not to be outdone! He came roaring into the dance as a biker on a Vespa motor scooter with his biker girl, Lynne Makinen, on the back. Well, that stole the show. What fun. The tradition went on for years and in later years Monsieur Chamas came in his favorite costume that consisted of a blond wig and a low cut 50’s prom dress. He was bummed because he didn’t fool anyone. One year during the Disco craze Mr. Thomas and his wife, Pat, did a Saturday Night Fever dance routine. I think you can see why we always loved Halloween.

Jarvis had a twin brother. He often showed up at school for various events, usually with the Lower School. The only difference in their appearance was Jeremy’s long sideburns. Otherwise they were identical. Jeremy was a bit more flamboyant than Jarvis. He loved to make an entrance; well, moreof an entrance.  On one occasion he made a spectacular entrance to the Thanksgiving Feast by parachuting from a plane onto the Lower School yard. The only thing wrong with the entrance was when he got hung up in a tree. Gerry and Gene, the maintenance men, had to extricate him from the branches. The excited lower schoolers ran around shouting and yelling, “Mr. Hunt is caught up in the tree! Mr. Hunt is caught up in the tree!” Of course, the whole thing was staged; he never had jumped from a plane but it added that special “Hunt effect” to the feast!

Carving the turkey was also not a regular effort involving a common carving knife. Jeremy always used a scalpel to make sure the job was done with precision. I can’t imagine what the portion size was.

Finally, in the photo of the Horribles on the invitation for today’s ceremony, what one doesn’t see is Jeremy with the prop that scared many of the young students. He took the arm off the science room skeleton and had it sticking out of his sleeve. What seemed a funny idea to an adult wasn’t so funny to the kids! But of course Jeremy showed them it was a fake and they settled down and he led Parade of Horribles.

Some other events infused with the Hunt humor: convincing the long time cook, Adrianne, who complained about our kitchen facility, that the school was getting a new kitchen in the form of an old diner that was to be airlifted to the bathtub area behind the school. To add a touch of realism and truth to the tale, Jarvis had staked out an area with red tape where the diner was to be dropped. The kitchen staff waited and waited for the big event but of course nothing happened. Another time Jarvis and Gerry and Gene had the science room skeleton posed and seated at a desk with a plate, silverware and napkin outside the dining room so that when people entered the skeleton greeted them ready for lunch. I’m not sure if this was a commentary on Ron St.Georges’s cooking or not. Dieters rejoice!

On another occasion Jarvis and a fellow faculty member played a prank on Coach Storrs. Mr. Storrs took great pride in the shape of the fields and care of the sports equipment. He was the track coach in the spring and he had just raked and filled the high jump pit. He stood looking at his work, feeling pleased with the results. After he left, Jarvis and friend went to the pit and layed out string rows and put seed packet labels at the end of each row so it looked as if someone in Flat Rock had used the pit to plant a garden. When Mr. Storrs returned later, well you can imagine his outrage upon seeing what had happened to his hard work!

Another coach Storrs situation led to the creation of the Golden Toe Award which was given each year to the deserving faculty who made the biggest goof of the year. It came about because Mr. Storrs – a stickler for neatness with equipment – saw what looked like a rubber playground ball left on the field. Mr. Storrs decided he’d teach a lesson to whoever left it on the field. So he gave it a mighty kick, only to find out that it was, in fact, a bowling ball! He broke his toe, thus beginning the basis for the award. Many a faculty member, including myself, received the award at Prize Day. I don’t think Jarvis ever received the award! Of course he was the Golden Toe committee!

I could go on and on but one more Jarvis-sponsored event at school bears mentioning. Jarvis in league with former music department head Ellie Taylor began the Goodtime Serio-Comic Music Review which occurred for many years. Yes there was a bit of seriousness to the show that involved faculty and students, but mostly it involved comical skits. For the first show Jarvis brought over to the old Music Center where Mr. Bowen now has his shop his harpsichord (he actually made it from a kit he had bought) for Mrs. Taylor to play. Ellie and Jarvis played a duet for harpsichord and recorder. Everyone thought this was to be a serious piece because Ellie played a lovely introduction, but when Jarvis was supposed to come in on his recorder it wouldn’t play! He blew and blew, his face reddened, with no results. Finally he blew with all his might into the instrument and out come dirt and feathers in a great blast. The crowd loved it. And student Carl Lanza came up to Jarvis after and said, “Mr. Hunt, that was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen!” Other acts included: selections sung by the Applewild singers from P.D.Q Bach, like, “Throw the Yule Log on Uncle John”, “Ground Round”, and a rendition of The Blues Brothers. The students really enjoyed seeing the talents of the faculty and another side of them that was less serious.

So you can see that this very dignified teacher and administrator had a second side that made working with him a pleasure. On a personal note, Jarvis was a colleague who was a friend and mentor to me as well as many others. He added a great deal to the atmosphere at school, both serious and humorous. He touched many lives while he worked here. And the day that he came into my office in 1996 and told me he would be retiring I knew that the school would never be quite the same. It seemed that Jarvis would always be here. He was an institution. In fact he was often referred to as the “Mr. Chips” of Applewild. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this term it comes from a novel,Goodbye Mr. Chips, written in the 1930’s about a much-loved Latin Master, Mr. Chipping, at an English boarding school. His care and his devotion to the school and its students became legend. I think the nickname suited Jarvis very well.

So in closing, congratulations Jarvis from me and the Applewild community on being the 2010 recipient of the Applewild Founders Award. Those who know you miss you and wish you were still part of our community.

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