I'm certain that Millbrook has helped open many doors for me over the past half century, most indirectly rather than directly. I believe one of the most important ways Millbrook did this was preparing each of us for public speaking. A personal interview, a business report to a customer or project leader, a classroom or training presentation, a political campaign speech, an argument in a court of law - all are forms of public speaking. I think most of us would agree that we could not present either ourselves or our ideas as clearly or as well without those agonizing rehearsals in front of Mr. Grove or Mr. Williams, without the experience of addressing the entire school as the knees shook and the voice wavered, and without the self-confidence that grinding through those ordeals slowly built within each of us.
For me, Millbrook is more than just a school. Annual Giving is only one of the resources required, but it is the easiest way for most of us to support the original and continuing mission of Millbrook School. Since its founding, Millbrook has offered a life for young students filled with both challenges and opportunities. Millbrook can only provide the opportunity for today's young students to pursue these challenges if adequate resources are available. Today, I believe even more resources are required than in the past because Millbrook is using today's technology to seek challenges and opportunities far beyond those we could see in the past.
I believe that every master had, and still has, a meaningful influence on each and every student. For me, the most influential master was Mr. Pulling. Then, as I know is still the case today, the school was small enough that each student got to interact with every master in one way or another. If it wasn't in the classroom, it was on the playing fields or as part of the community service program. Mr. Pulling taught religion to all the third formers, and I was fortunate enough to be in his sixth form English class. I still have vivid memories of some of those classes, some of the discussions that took place, the subtle rigor with which each classroom session was led, and a few of the endless stream of essays that were required.
Of course, there was also Mr. Trevor - Biology was a required course, almost everyone was a member of the zoo squad at one time or another, and I'm sure every alumnus can come up with a whopping Frank Trevor tale or two. Mr. Howard was a fabulous chemistry and physics teacher who led so many projects - building the observatory and the telescope, the meteorological program and weather reporting, the ski tow on Mt. Marcy, the Moonwatch program, and so many others over the years. Mr. Abbott brought a wonderful sense of music appreciation to all, particularly those of us with no musical talent whatsoever. He even recruited many of us into the Glee Club, which always turned out to be a pretty darned good Glee Club after a fairly significant number of practices. The Clarks were fabulous language teachers, and taught so much more than just foreign nouns, verbs, and grammar. On the more practical side of things, there was Mrs. Gadd, our typing teacher. In those days, typing was essential for those of us whose handwriting was (and still is) undecipherable. Little did we know how valuable this skill would become later on when it came to be known as keyboarding.
My favorite memory was the first day I showed up at Millbrook as an applicant seeking admission. I liked the physical plant, liked everyone I met, liked the concept of the community service program. I bought into the idea (which was foreign to me at the time) that many of the classes could be interesting and fun, and couldn't wait to become a member of the Zoo Squad. I was also quite certain that I was old enough to "strike out on my own," and was fully prepared to leave all the comforts and amenities of life at home. Millbrook never failed to exceed any of my wildest expectations.
Looking back now I would pick The Barn. Physically, it pretty much remains in the center of things; however, it has also been the "center of things" in many other ways. It was the venue for all our school plays, Glee Club concerts, shows by various performing artists, and Saturday night movies. It was also home for The Milk Bar, the Strong Box, the Barber Shop, The Silo, the Post Office, the School Store, and the Fire Department. Prior to my time at Millbrook, it also housed the gymnasium, the study hall, perhaps a classroom or two, and probably several other activities and functions as well. In this day and age, who would think that a rather garden variety old barn could serve so many functions so very well. It should stand as a living challenge to those who would attempt to design a truly multi-functional facility today. In many ways, it has become an architectural wonder!