This Thursday, November 12, 2015, Gaston Day School celebrates the Tour de Sparta event in honor and support of our beloved Officer Jack Brown. Jack has been the campus safety officer for a number of years here, has kept us safe and secure, and also endeared himself to everyone. One of Jack's most visible roles is that he helps with carpool drop off in the morning. There he helps our youngest GDS students out of their cars and into the school to begin their days. The younger ones adore Officer Brown. In fact, many of the very youngest just assume that any male authority figure at Gaston Day School is named Jack Brown. When they see me, for example, they say, "Hey Officer Brown!"
Jack will be traveling to the Duke Medical Center for treatment of kidney cancer that has spread to his arm. For the last five years, Officer Brown has either been in remission or received treatments that have allowed him to continue his duties. The Tour de Sparta will involve all GDS students either riding their bikes or walking around the school for twenty or thirty minutes at break time in support of Officer Brown as he begins his newest treatment. Jack Brown will be riding his bike too, just as he does so often when he is patrolling the campus.
If you don't know Officer Brown, I want to introduce him to you. He retired after a long career with the North Carolina Highway Patrol and then came to Gaston Day. His long and distinguished career in law enforcement included the most serious and dangerous types of duty. So Jack Brown is fully capable of doing whatever it takes to keep us safe. But that is not what we see when we are interacting with Jack Brown. Instead, we come face to face with one of the kindest, happiest, most encouraging human beings in the world. Jack Brown may be one of the nicest people I know. So not only does Officer Brown keeps us safe, he makes us happy and treats us with consummate kindness.
Jack Brown is not the only remarkable staff person at Gaston Day who balances competence with caring. I think about people like Kathy Connor and Hal Carpenter who meant so much to this community. There are so many other folks currently at the school who are similarly special. I believe that their goodness rubs off on others in our community, making the rest of us better people. People like Jack boost our spirits.
So have your children bring their bikes on Thursday. Or if they prefer just to walk, that is outstanding. The GDS community will be circling the campus in support and appreciation of Officer Jack Brown. He is a man we all admire.