Being a Part of The History of Avon Old Farms School
Many members of the Avon Old Farms School community were in attendance for the Investiture of Headmaster Jim Detora on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Afterward, many were wondering, ‘Who was that student who spoke?’ We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Bradley Morris ’20.
Bradley is a four-year senior hailing from Avon, Connecticut. His father, Brad, was a member of Avon’s class of 1984, who also grew up in the Farmington Valley and is a current member of Avon’s Board of Directors.
“I attended Avon public school through my freshman year of high school, and then my parents introduced me to the idea of applying to Avon Old Farms,” Bradley explained. “I think it might have been my parents idea all along to give me the same opportunity my father had: he attended public school through his freshman year, and then applied to Avon as a repeat freshman and enrolled as a four-year boy. That’s what I ended up doing, too.”
Bradley shared that when his parents mentioned applying to Avon Old Farms, he was interested. He had been on campus as a young child–perhaps for an alumni reunion with his father–but hadn’t been back or thought about it much since. All the same, he took the SSAT, submitted an application, and participated in a campus tour.
“On the tour, I thought this place was great,” he shared. “There was much more freedom and opportunity to be my own person. I loved that Avon makes everyone play a sport. I could tell that the teachers were excited to be here, and are here for their students. I knew I wanted to come to Avon Old Farms.”
So, after two years in his ideal school setting, it was hard to hear that the man at the front of it all, Headmaster LaRocque, would be retiring.
“After the announcement was made, I was upset. I went home and was angry,” he shared. “I loved Mr. LaRocque. My father knew him as a teacher. And then halfway through my time at Avon, he was going to retire. I was afraid of change, and I certainly didn’t want someone else coming in and ignoring all that Avon Old Farms stands for during my senior year.”
At the same time that Bradley was hoping the search committee would realize that they needed to hire someone internally for the headmaster role, his advisor Peter Evans also shared that he would be retiring at the end of his sophomore year. There seemed to be a lot of major changes on the horizon.
“But, what happened next was the best thing,” Bradley said. “Mr. Evans sat me down and said that we needed to pick my next advisor. I had known about Mr. Detora. I knew he was a Patriots fan, and was always engaged with his students, keeping them in line at morning meeting. I told Mr. Evans that Mr. Detora was someone I wanted to get to know. He agreed, sharing that he too thought Mr. Detora would be a good fit for me.”
As Bradley shared in his speech, a strong bond formed quickly.
“In the early mornings, while continuously working on physics and math, I began to forge a relationship with Mr. D. This showed me that he belongs with students, not tucked away in the development office. He encouraged me to come in to tackle everything so that I could excel. Even when I did not have work to do, I would come in and talk about football or how I would never wake up at the absurd hour of 4:30 a.m. to workout. Mr. D is so approachable and dedicated to helping each and every student. This really showed me that he was beyond qualified for a headmaster position...Upon the time when Mr. Laroque would announce the next headmaster, I had a strong feeling that it would be Mr. D. The morning of the announcement, the energy in the room was electrifying. The second that his name was called, the whole student body shot up with excitement. We were all thrilled; every single student knew there was no better person to become our headmaster.”
Fast forward to the fall of 2019, and Bradley was finally beginning his senior year at Avon, no longer nervous about the changes that might come. He made the varsity soccer team, and had a demanding schedule of honors and AP courses. His fears of morning meeting shifting to a start time of 6 a.m. did not come true, and Mr. D was just as engaged with the students as ever.
“We all meet as an advisory each morning, but one day Mr. Detora called me in during a free period for a one-on-one talk,” he shared. “He mentioned the investiture, and how he wanted a student who knew him well to give the student address. I didn’t realize at the time how big of a deal the investiture would be, so I told him I would have to talk it over with my parents. When I did, my folks said, ‘Of course you have to do this!’ and so I agreed.”
It wasn’t until a few weeks later when the school community started to buzz with excitement about the investiture that Bradley began to see how big the investiture would be.
“I started getting nervous thinking about everyone who would be in attendance, and how much I dislike doing presentations even in our small classes,” he shared. “But, I knew I couldn’t let Mr. D down, and so I pushed forward with writing my speech.”
Afterward, Bradley shared how glad he was to be a part of the historic event.
“Initially, I was thinking of saying no, but I couldn’t be happier that I did it,” he said. “Faculty and students alike were congratulating me on a job well done, and once I got a few laughs, things became much easier on stage. In the future, I know I will look back and recall what an honor it was to be asked to speak at such a big part of Avon’s history.”
Speaking of the future, Bradley has applied early decision to Providence College where he is thinking of majoring in business.
“I love the campus feel of Providence; it felt like Avon but on a bigger scale. The school is a perfect size, and I felt good there. It’s a New England campus, which I love, and I cannot wait to root for their Division 1 athletic teams.”
As Bradley said, here we are, just a few weeks into the year. As a community, we all feel so happy that Mr. Detora is leading us. We appreciate his continued enthusiasm and will to make this the best school for boys.