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Campus Awakenings: Springtime on the 'Old Farm

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Stories, know-how, and guidance from the experts in educating boys.

Ollie Rothmann

Campus Awakenings: Springtime on the 'Old Farm

There seems to be a consensus on campus that the spring season at Avon Old Farms is the favorite among students and faculty alike. Avonians know that our winters can be enduring, but once the days get longer, the temperatures rise and the birds start chirping—some of the best times of the year await. So, with that being said, here are some spring traditions at Avon Old Farms that everyone is looking forward to:

1. Stickball

While baseball fans around the nation anxiously await MLB opening day, the boys at the CT private high school, Avon Old Farms, eagerly round up their team rosters for stickball season. Every weeknight after dinner, John Gardner, our Associate Headmaster—and Commissioner of the Avon Old Farms Stickball League—officiates a stickball game on Jamerson Green. The game is played with a tennis ball and a stickball bat, which is essentially a thicker, heavier broomstick. The rules are simple: if the batter hits Elephant Dormitory, it is a home run, otherwise, the ball is live. Teams will be centered around themes, with jerseys to match. This year we even have an all-faculty team. When I was a student, our Headmaster, Mr. LaRocque, even played on a team! The end of the season tournament culminates with a champion that is crowned during the week before graduation. You do not have to be a varsity athlete to be a champion at Avon Old Farms, you simply have to embrace the tradition and have some fun!
 

2. Senior Community Service Day

At Avon Old Farms, we have a strong tradition of giving back to the community. Avon Outreach, our community service club, is instrumental in organizing Special Olympics Basketball and Soccer on Thursdays, our Relay For Life walkathon to support cancer research, and our annual Toys For Tots winter fundraisers. However, each spring, the senior class participates in a full day of community service along with their teachers. Some boys will be tasked with picking up litter on Old Farms Road, which runs adjacent to campus. Some will go off campus to help our local farms clean up their land after the winter. I remember, during my senior year, my group helped our grounds crew paint their new storage shed. No matter what the seniors are doing on this day, they will go to sleep knowing that they made a difference.

3. Senior Informal Photo

As I look at the panoramic photo of my classmates and me on my office wall, I realize the senior informal photo shoot is one of my favorite traditions. There are two panoramic photos that seniors must be present for during their last year at Avon. The formal photo is taken in the fall, when the boys all wear their school attire in an orderly mass. On the other hand, the informal photo presents the opportunity for our boys to be creative and original. I remember planning what my buddies and I were going to do for our informal photo starting my sophomore year. In the class of 2011 photo (my class) we have the retired, gas-powered zamboni, with my dorm-mates and me huddled on top of it. On the left side of the photo you will see my good friend, Clay, leaning on his dorm room door that he decided to take off the hinges and bring it with him to the photo. Each class has its own collection of sports jerseys, props, flags and posters that the boys choose to include in the photo. Then, upon graduating, every boy in the senior class is gifted this photo to cherish for the rest of their lives.

4. Afternoons at Beaver Pond

After a long week full of classes and activities, there is no better place to spend some time than at Beaver Pond. When the sun is shining, our boys love nothing more than to grab their bathing suits, fishing rods, and spike-ball sets before heading down the short trail to Beaver Pond. On any given afternoon you may stumble upon boys jumping off of the dock, fishing in waist-high water, or hanging out with their friends from our sister-schools while listening to music. When alums think of spring at Avon Old Farms, their memories of Beaver Pond sit at the forefront of their minds.

5. Founder’s Day

Our Founder, Theodate Pope Riddle, had a vision to create an indestructible boarding school for boys ...and that is exactly what she did. One day every spring, our Headmaster calls a ‘Founder’s Day’ at Morning Meeting, which is followed by a flood of cheers. Why? Because Founder’s Day means no classes! The boys quickly pull off their ties, and head outside to appreciate the oasis that Mrs. Riddle created. Boys go to Beaver Pond to fish, swim and grill, while others participate in a stickball tournament set up by Commissioner Gardner. Founder’s Day is a tradition that Avonians welcome with much anticipation every spring.

Key Takeaway

Avon Old Farms School is a community built upon tradition: the nineteen faculty members who hold Avon Old Farms diplomas often share their own springtime memories with their students and advisees. Reunion Weekend is also a great time in the middle of May when alumni come back to campus to reminisce upon their memories. When they ask us: ‘Do the students still play stickball?’ ‘Is there still Founder’s Day?’ ‘Can you still go swimming in Beaver Pond?’ The answer to them is, ‘Absolutely.’


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OLIVER ROTHMANN

Avon Old Farms Class of 2011

Director of Financial Aid

rothmanno@avonoldfarms.com