Featured Alumnus Rob Gryboski ’88
“The single most important word in our School motto is not ‘Aspirando’; nor is it ‘Perseverando’. The most important word in our motto, the word which gives the phrase its true meaning, is the little Latin conjunction “et”. It’s the ‘AND’ that’s the crucial word. You have to do both things. Because he who aspires without persevering is merely a dreamer, and he who perseveres without aspiring is just a fool.”
— Rob Gryboski ’88, addressing the Avon Old Farms student body at the presentation of the Class Gift
As far as we can tell, Rob Gryboski has always been about the ‘and’ in life, as illustrated by something he said during his senior year at Avon Old Farms School in 1988. He always wanted to attend his father’s alma mater Avon Old Farms School, and he wanted to make the most of his experience here. He wanted to learn here and live here, despite calling Farmington home. He wanted to be a part of the fabric of the school and find a way to be a part of its leadership—he was a top student, and also served on the Student Council all four years and eventually became the Warden. As an alumnus, he wanted to stay connected and do everything he could to give back to a place that gave so much to him.
While many alumni may lose touch and reconnect with their school over time, Rob has been a steady supporter of Avon throughout the years. While he matriculated to Yale, he remained connected with his Avon brothers. With the family home just down the road, he hosted class dinners for his peers. When he started working in the investment world, he returned to school for reunions. When he started a family, he made sure to bring his children to campus to watch athletic contests.
In 2004, Rob was also one of the founding members of Avon’s National Council, a group of alumni and friends of the school whose primary goal is enhancing communications and the exchange and implementation of ideas between the Avon Old Farms School community and a select group of Avon’s most dedicated alumni, parents, and friends. The group acts as informed ambassadors for the school in their local communities, brings the alumni network closer together, and drives participation in AOF events, both on campus and around the nation. Over the years, in addition to acting as key supporters of the school, the Council has also spearheaded initiatives including the development of the Distinguished Alumnus Award and the building of the Veteran’s Tribute on Avon’s campus.
This spring, Rob was elected as the newest Chairman of this elite group of Avon volunteers.
“As the son of an alumnus, I knew I always wanted to attend Avon, and my love for and devotion to the school has never waivered,” Rob shared. “In fact, I remember in January of 1984, as I prepared for my admissions interview at Avon, I asked my father to also schedule an interview at Choate earlier in the week. Stunned, my father replied, ‘I didn’t know you were interested in looking at Choate.’ I told him I wasn’t, I just needed to practice so when it was time to talk to Avon, I was fully prepared.”
When asked why his commitment to Avon has remained steadfast, he recalled numerous memorable learning experiences, including an encounter with English teacher John Haile. “I had the good fortune to study under Mr. Haile twice in my Avon career: once as a freshman and again as a junior. Late in my freshman year, he returned one of my papers with the comment ‘Let’s Talk.’ So I stayed after class, and he told me that while the paper wasn’t bad, it simply did not represent my best work. Then, he gave me some advice that has stuck with me: if I ever do anything without giving my best effort, the only person I’m cheating is myself.”
Rob also explained that of his countless fond memories—many not suitable for print—what truly makes Avon a special place for him are the lasting friendships he made and the undeniable Avon Brotherhood. “We were learning, competing, and growing together during a highly formative time in our lives, and that led to strong connections to each other and the place that we were calling home. I know that happens to many generations of Avonians, but I am extremely proud that the faculty at Avon still talk about the strength of the Class of 1988. Having the opportunity to lead that class as Warden, along with my good friend and Vice Warden Peter Reed, is a memory I will cherish forever.
Rob is excited to have the opportunity to lend his leadership to the School again, as he assumes his role of Chairman of the National Council. “I know the National Council can be a tremendous asset for Avon during these critical years leading up to our school’s Centennial Celebration. In addition to serving as informed ambassadors for the School, with some heightened focus we can drive increased levels of engagement from our alumni. Avon Old Farms has had a profound effect on my life, and I know it has for many others as well. Let’s all work together to keep Avon an incredibly special place.”
We look forward to Rob’s continued support and leadership. To learn more about the most updates from the National Council, click here.