Fifty years ago today, September 6, 1967, Gaston Day School opened its doors for the first time. The school was located in Belmont in what had formerly been the First Presbyterian Church on Glenway Street. My mother drove my sister Kitty (8th grader) and me (5th grader) to our new school on that first day. As we pulled in, Headmaster Bill Davis greeted us and then walked me into my new classroom. I did not know a soul. Two of my classmates--and future lifelong friends--Gene Matthews and Pam Kimbrell suspected wrongly that I was the Head of Schools' son because he brought me into class. Helen Huss was our 5th grade teacher.
Mrs. Huss was a great teacher. My classmates and I still know all our multiplication tables up through 15 x 15 because Mrs. Huss drilled them into us. You would be surprised how often knowing your multiplication table through 15 comes in handy. Every once in a while, someone will throw out a random computation like this, "The Gaston Day neckties cost $12 apiece if we get a dozen." Without batting an eye, I can comment effortlessly, "$144." They look at me as if I am a mathematical genius. Thank you, Helen Huss. Knowledge is power. 12 x 8 = 96. I can go on and on, up to 15 x 15.
There was an incredible sense of energy and optimism around the new school. We were starting something brand new!! Although our services and facilities seem primitive in hindsight, we did not care. A local caterer delivered sandwiches every day. We placed our orders on Friday for the next week. Our field for physical education was about 50 yds by 50 yds. Kickball worked there. But not softball, too small. For softball, we walked down to the end of the street where a larger field served the purpose. Plays took place on the stage of the old fellowship hall. As important as fine facilities are--and they are very important!--the attitude and spirit that you bring to any endeavor is most important of all.
Gaston Day School has come so far in 50 years!! Our proudest accomplishments are our graduates and other students we prepared for success in college and in life. We also look back with gratitude to all the parents, teachers, administrators, and staff who have given so much of their lives to make the school great!! Like Sir Isaac Newton, we have seen farther because "we have stood on the shoulders on giants." Our school's greatness expresses itself most fully whenever we teach our students by word and example to be kind, compassionate, curious, competent learners and citizens.
Happy 50th Anniversary, Gaston Day!! May the next 50 years lead us to greater accomplishments as a school whose mission is "to educate our students and prepare them for academic success and responsible productive lives." Founder's Day is an especially great day to be a Spartan!