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What Happens When Three Brothers Attend the Same School

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

Ollie Rothmann '11

What Happens When Three Brothers Attend the Same School

What makes a place special? Timeless? What contributes to the strong sense of community? The answer is pretty simple: Tradition.

For the Shamburger family, that tradition is the private high school for boys, Avon Old Farms School. When Dylan Shamburger left his home in Atlanta as a freshman to live in one of New England's premiere boarding schools, it was a huge change for him and his family. However, time would tell that his decision was a wise one: by his senior year at Avon, Dylan was named Warden of the School, head dormitory monitor, and captain of the varsity ice hockey team.

It was clear to the faculty at Avon as well as Dylan's family that Avon's strong core values and tight-knit Brotherhood were a solid fit for Shamburger. After Dylan graduated, his two younger brothers expressed interest in attending the same place that was so special to their big brother. So, during the fall of 2015, Gentry, a freshman, and Raines, a postgraduate, found themselves moving into their dormitories as their older brother had just years before them. Raines graduated and went on to Duke University; Gentry, now a rising senior, is Warden of the School and captain of the varsity ice hockey team. Sound familiar?

As his faculty advisor, I spoke to Gentry quite a bit this summer about Avon and what he hopes to achieve during his senior year. We talked about how he is the latest of the Shamburger boys making an impact on the Avon community. Reflecting upon what originally attracted him to Avon, Gentry said, “To me, and my two brothers, it was the traditions that are woven into the very fabric that is Avon Old Farms School. The traditions at Avon make the school; traditions are what bond our Brotherhood.”

This sense of tradition and Brotherhood are palpable for anyone who visits campus—during admission tours from first-time visitors, guests are always commenting on how they feel the spirit of our school in the welcoming faces, the warm greetings, and the friendly, at-ease atmosphere. That, I like to respond, is one of our most prized traditions. Whether it be our culture of greeting strangers on campus as our own or the tradition of the Avon Army at athletic contests, all Avonians share a sense of pride in our school’s customs.

When I asked Gentry what his favorite tradition at Avon is, he explained that Founder’s Day is the best. “In the heart of the fourth academic quarter, a free day is granted to us, but rather than using it to sleep or work, you experience freshmen and postgraduates playing spikeball on the green, or hoards of students swimming in Beaver Pond together. With nothing required or suggested, we, out of our own volition, enjoy coming together and strengthening the Brotherhood at Avon.” 

One of the longest standing traditions at Avon Old Farms, the CT boarding school, is the position of the Warden. Each spring, the students and the student council appoint a rising senior as the Warden of the School. The Warden serves not only as the student council president, he is the face of the student body, and therefore, is involved in virtually every area of student life at Avon. He helps govern the school and sets the tone for the school year. Dylan '12 was the Warden of the school the year after I was, and after getting to know Gentry, there was no doubt in my mind that he would be following in his brother’s footsteps. 

Gentry recounted the Wardens that he looked up to during his first three years at Avon.

“When I think of my previous Wardens, Kevin Sieber' 17, Kevin Huveldt '18, and Max Miller '19, I understand how fortunate I was to have these role models in my life. Moreover, I could refer to my brother's time as Warden, or my advisor's, Mr. Rothmann '11. Each one did a phenomenal job as Warden and brought a different approach than the others. But, while they each had a unique impact on Avon as Warden, I will seek most to emulate the passion that all of these men brought to their job leader of the school.”

There is no doubt that Gentry has had wonderful role models in both of his brothers at Avon and now it is his turn to leave his own version of the Shamburger legacy on Avon during his senior year. 

Key Takeaway

“Tradition is not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the flame.” - Gustav Mahler, German Romantic Composer

Mahler’s view on tradition is exactly what the Shamburger brothers have done at Avon. Despite all being leaders in many different aspects of student life, they have each offered unique gifts to the Avon Old Farms community throughout their time as students. Tradition, especially this day and age, must be built upon instead of simply repeated year to year. It must be a living, breathing, and evolving construction upon a strong foundation laid by those coming before you.

Gentry understands this. I know, because at the end of our conversation, he said, “I hope I can bring the passion and love for AOF that those before me have had, as I would like to leave a lasting positive impact on Avon Old Farms and our community for years to come.” 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OLIVER ROTHMANN

Avon Old Farms Class of 2011