The Hampton Academy Alumni Association History

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A Short History

By Priscilla Hoyt Triggs-Weeks

June 16, 2007

Hampton Academy & High School -- New and Old

Hampton Academy Alumni, and Guests ........

This year marks the 100th anniversary of our Alumni Association.

Thinking of that, I thought you might like to hear something of our Alumni Association's history, and so I gathered these various tidbits from the Association's minutes, as they have been recorded throughout the years

The Alumni Association's pre-natal stirrings began in 1907, when the school's principal, A Mr. Mitchell, found it necessary to contribute to the Academy's financial needs from his own pocket.

After he did this a few times, he proposed an Alumni Association be created to help finance the school, and then he resigned. As to whether or not these two events are related, the record is silent.

Since no more money would be forthcoming from Mr. Mitchell's generous pockets, his proposal was accepted, and thus, in 1907, the "Hampton Academy Alumni Association" was formed.

Lucy Godfrey Marston, Class of 1885, became its first secretary. Her daughter, Adeline, also served as secretary and together they contributed a total of twenty years.

Incidentally, Lucy was the first woman in Hampton to vote after the 19th Amendment was ratified.

The first meeting was held at the Hampton Beach Casino with 117 Alumni attending.

After visiting the academy, the attendees motored to the Casino for a dinner of salmon, roast beef and chicken -- which cost seventy-five cents! Dues were set a twenty-five cents!

The camaraderie, the renewal of friendships, and the reliving of shared academy experiences established the association as a continuing fraternal group in these early years, and generous alumni donations made possible better teaching programs, especially in the chemistry and physics courses.

In 1931, the year I was born, the annual meeting was held in the Hotel Ashworth. The new superintendent, Roy W. Gillmore, was introduced and in his remarks he stated the urgent need for more room.

In 1932 Headmaster Bruce Russell and Superintendent Gillmore both spoke of the school's needs, saying, as they could not finance expansion of the school (this being at the depth of the depression), they would instead work towards developing the individual rather than towards mass production.

At the 1937 meeting, a UNH professor, talking about how world affairs were being felt locally, spoke of "a new old England", saying, "Let us play the game of life in the whole world for the whole world."

Later in that same meeting, the school's aging facilities and the press of an increasing student population was discussed, ending with the recommendation to build a new high school.

Clearly, Hampton Academy needed to grow, both physically and academically.

Thus, at its 1938 meeting, as Europe began to kindle, the Alumni Association voted unanimously for a new facility, the minutes literally reading, "The Alumni clamored for a new building".

The old building, they claimed, tremor in high winds. Stair treads were worn through. Desks were so etched with initials and carvings that one could not practice the Palmer method without blotching the paper with ink spots from pen point poke-throughs.

Finally, in 1938, the town agreed to build a new school, but wanted the Alumni Association to contribute to its cost on a 50-50 basis.

The Association, then having 500 living Alumni, reached deeply into its pockets and contributed $110!

The new school, completed in 1940, cost $114,000. So much for the 50-50 split.

In 1972, Arthur Moody published a 65th Anniversary booklet, which was dedicated to the Academy's first graduating class in 1887.

In the mid-70's, the Association had a pillar carved of New Hampshire granite and erected in the High Street Cemetery as a memorial to the Academy's Alumni, teachers and staff of both schools.

Also in the mid-70's, the Alumni Association awarded medals for scholarship, achievement and extra-curricular activities.

Later in the mid-70's, the Association began issuing scholarships to qualified students.

But the Alumni Association's minutes and other records convey more than the large issues of Academic growth.

They are also wonderfully rich in small details of life at the Academy

Here are a few such vignettes I picked out as I read the old minutes:

"In 1943, in remembrance of times past, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Leavitt rode to the annual Alumni gathering in their "Good ole horse and buggy". Or since we were then at war, perhaps it was gas rationing that prompted them to do so."

" How many of you men remember the tradition of shinnying up the Academy's steeple before graduation?

"How many of you remember sneaking out of classroom windows to go skinny-dipping in the Hampton River?

"How many of you recall when the school was plagued by mice running through the classrooms -- except the biology lb, which they were smart enough to stay away from,"

"And how many of you remember the bats rampant in the belfry?"

I was amused by how the minutes lavishly memorialized those who have died.

One such Memorial reads: "Our Heavenly Father, in his infinite wisdom and love, has called this member to a higher service."

Another reads: "The 'Grim Reaper' has appeared among us to gather up one of our loved ones."

And finally, Mrs. So and So has been called by the Supreme Ruler of the Universe into the great beyond."

I hope you flatter me as eloquently when I join the Great Chorus of Angels on High!

Ah, dear old Hampton Academy, we can never forget you.

Here within your sheltering walls, our characters, our aims and our ideals of true man- and woman-hood were molded.

Here we met our first defeat and withstood it.

Here we faced disaster and glory on equal terms and learned how to bear each.

Here we learned we owe our very selves to God, to our parents, to our dedicated instructors, and to you.

You sheltered us from Winter's icy blasts and early summer's oppressive heat.

You are part of us.

Your every turn and corner we love because each holds never to be forgotten memories.

It was with a strange ache and a tugging at our heart strings that we left your tender shelter to be cast upon the mercies of the world.

Yet always your beloved shadow hovers over us, guiding us back together to renew our relationship with dear friends.

And now I bid you farewell, a word that must be and hath been, a sound that makes us linger, yet - - - - farewell!

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