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110 Years Ago

Mountain Day pushes TBT to Friday. This week we note the 110th birthday of not one, but two campus buildings.

From The Mount Hermon Alumni Quarterly, vol. VI, no. 1, p. 2; September 1907.

New Buildings

In schools, as in other communities, one of the clearest signs of progress is increase in number of buildings. The returning old student looks to see the changes in this line, even before he greets his friends. And this summer he is not disappointed. At the south, in the rapidly growing cluster of houses about Dwight's Home, is to be seen a nearly completed residence known as Harris Cottage, from the name of the donor. This cottage will be occupied by Mr. Richard L. Watson. At the rear of the laundry [now Social Hall –ed.] is rising the new canning factory. Special interest centers here because the work is done wholly by Hermon labor, because the material is concrete blocks made on the place, and because the building means improvement in one of Hermon's specialties, the industrial system.



Today Harris Cottage is home to the Dowdys. Mr. Dowdy can tell you more about his house than your editor can. Direct all questions to him, but when you do, be sure to wish his home a Happy Birthday. As for the canning factory, it is now better known as Rikert House. After it was a canning factory, and before it became student housing just about 50 years ago, it served for many years as the headquarters of Plant and Property. It is therefore fitting that when the building began its new life as a dormitory, it was named for the longtime director of Plant and Property, Carroll Rikert, class of 1913. –ed.
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15 Years Ago

For the second time in three weeks, this column reports a presidential visit to the school. This one occurred almost exactly a century later than Roosevelt’s visit.

From The Bridge, [vol. XXXIV], no. 1, p. 3; October 11, 2002.

Mbeki Pays a Visit

It was a hot day when the leaders of the NMH community welcomed Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa to the school. On Friday, September 13, security was high, complete with helicopters circling overhead and uniformed security guards patrolling the grounds around Ford Cottage, where the President was scheduled to arrive later that afternoon. Medical personnel and an ambulance were on hand. The NMH orchestra tuned up, their notes mingling with those of the NMH Singers under the direction of Sherrill Blodget, interim director of the choral and vocal program. Rehearsing a South African freedom song, “Singabahambayo,” Blodget and her students swayed in time to the music. Blodget said the song signifies coming together, even under difficult times and conditions, with hope and faith.
“It feels pretty good to know the School is proud of us,” said Kyler Chavez ’05 of the NMH Singers, “to trust us enough to do something so fragile.”
Trustees and heads of departments were in attendance, including head of the music department, Ron Smith. “I’m thankful this is going to happen,” Smith said, “They’re really allowing the whole school to get involved and know what it means.”
Members of the NMH honor guard lined up along the path leading to Ford Cottage, a little before 1:00 in the afternoon. Excitement and anticipation seemed to run high, and at 1:15 people were still in good spirits.
Owen Barron ’06, a member of Randy Stevens’ Comparative Politics class, said, “I think just a chance to meet someone who’s done so much for other people is a really special thing.”
“It’s great because he’s the most important visitor we’ve ever had,” said peer mediator Michael Skillicorn ’04.
By 1:25, anticipation was still high, but the mood was growing more tense as Mr. Mbeki still did not make an appearance.
Khadija Ali ’03 student leader of South Crossley, described the vision of the president changing in the collective imagination of the group. “I think we’re very excited and anxious.” said Ali, “He’s almost taken a different form.”
Finally, at 1:27, a police cruiser approached, followed by black sedans, a van, and another police car. After a few moments, President Mbeki could be seen surrounded by both school and political officials, including the South African ambassador to the United States, Shiela Sisulu. Greetings, handshakes and kisses were exchanged.
Students Whitney Walters and Tumi Sisulu gave the President flowers. He then started jovially up the path, smiling and laughing. At a slow pace necessitated by the throng of students eager to shake hands with a world leader, he proceeded up the path while security officials kept a vigilant watch. After about five minutes of solid handshaking and warm greetings, the World Music Combo and NMH Singers performed as the President sang along.
Later, the President addressed the entire school in the Auditorium. His speech focused mainly on the value of education, the history of the ANC, Pixley Ka Isaka Seme’s (class of 1902) role in its founding, and thanking the school for its part in Seme’s education. The President spoke little about current world issues, just briefly touching on the subject near the end of his speech.
“We’ve got to end the situation of military coups and military dictatorships,” said Mbeki, “to punish poverty, punish hunger.”
Student reactions to the speech were mixed. “I was glad the speech was personalized to our school’s history, but I was hoping for more discussion of world issues,” said Auby Koehler ’03.
As for official reactions, head of school Richard Mueller was delighted with the speech and the student body’s reaction to it.
“For all of us, being able to host Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, and his wife, was thrilling,” said Mueller in a statement. “I was proud of the enthusiastic response of our students and community. President and Mrs. Mbeki certainly felt our warm welcome.”

Dean of student life Randy Stevens had a similar reaction. “I think he really wanted to express gratitude to the school,” said Stevens. “We’re still the same school Pixley graduated from.
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10 Years Ago

History is happening all the time. In the first column, we looked back more than a century; now we look back a mere ten years. The two events still have something in common: none of today’s students were on campus for either event. Well, a few were…

from The Bridge, vol. XXXVIII, no. 1; October 3, 2007; p. 1. 

Key Card System Up and Running

     On Sunday, September 16 the School activated its new electronic access system. The doors to every dorm are now locked at all times in an attempt to keep strangers out of the school's buildings. Students can open these new locks with a computer chip on the back of their student ID card. Girls have been granted full access to all girls' dorms and boys to all boys' dorms.

     The system was installed over the summer but was not activated immediately because the system "was brand new in every sense of the word," explained Paul Bartlett, Chief of Campus Safety at NMH.

     After comparing bids from several companies, the School chose a system by Ingersoll Rand. The system has both a “good price and good background.” Using an established company was important to the school because, as Bartlett asked, “Who knows where some of the other companies will be in 15 years when we are still using this system?” While other more expensive systems were considered, Bartlett explained that these would simply be more than the community needed, mentioning such high tech options as systems that can scan fingerprints. 

     Bartlett says he has been pushing for this type of increased security since he began working at NMH in October in 2000. His goal for the safety department is to focus less on property and more on people at NMH who are, as he sys “the school’s biggest asset.”
Although there have not been any serious incidents involving intruders, there have been minor incidents, such as when an intruder entered a room in C5 last year. Bartlett said, “We’ve just been lucky so far. It’s a good thing we’re moving foreword with this before we have a major incident.” Bartlett does recognize that no system, including this one, is foolproof, but he believes that this system increases the safety of dorms exponentially. 

     Many students are unenthusiastic about the new system, saying it is an unnecessary measure and they often find themselves locked out of their dorms. A junior in Shea said the new security system, “definitely makes the dorm more secure, but it’s a pain when I forget my card.” 

     Franklin Redner ’09 says that he already felt safe around the campus and that the new system “is just another hassle.” Another downside to the system is the increased cost for lost ID cards. With the price of the computer chip (15$) added on, a new ID card will now cost around $40.

     Becca Leslie, biology teacher and faculty member in Shea, weighed in on the new system saying, “Good or bad? Hard to say. A pain in the butt, but perhaps worth it to provide a feeling of security to all.”
   
     The security office is still working on improving the key card system. By next year they hope to have a computer chip integrated into the ID card so there will be no problems with the adhesive wearing down and the chip falling off. The school is also looking into the cost of installing phones on the outside of dorms, so parents and other visitors can call to be let in.

     Currently, the school is receiving quotes for installing a similar electronic access system on the exterior doors of the other main buildings on campus. The security department is interested in staying with the Ingersoll Rand system for simplicity’s sake. A system like this could possibly be installed by next summer. Additionally, the security department may start production of an “all-in-one” card for both dormitories and main campus buildings starting next year.  




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115 Years Ago

The articles in “This Week…” come from a variety of sources: view books and catalogues from years past, newspapers, literary magazines, even schedules hold information about our past which inform our present. In the crush of the start of a new academic year, this column is eight days late in getting started. I'll try to produce something new each week on "throwback Thursday." So this first column is more appropriately, "Last Week in NMH History."

  Our school has published a newspaper since 1888. It is perhaps the best source of information about our history, particularly of events from our first half century. Even though we were two separate schools in this era, one newspaper served both the Northfield Seminary and the Mount Hermon School for Boys for much of this time. In the coming weeks, more will be written on the subject of the various periodicals produced here over the years, but for now learn about a presidential visit.

from The Hermonite, vol. XVI, no. 1; September 20, 1902; pp. 1-2. 

THE PRESIDENT’S VISIT TO MOUNT HERMON

IT was an auspicious day for Hermon when for the first time in her history she was honored by a visit from the President of the United States, and Hermonites in general believe that Theodore Roosevelt has ample cause to remember the hearty welcome he received during the few minutes which he spent here.
At 5:45 o’clock in the afternoon of September 1, Labor Day, the train pulled into the little station which was hardly recognizable in its garb of color, and Mr. Roosevelt stepped from his car and was formally received by Messrs. W.R, Paul, and A.G. Moody [W.R. and Paul were founder D.L. Moody’s two sons, A.G. Moody, his nephew. –ed.] with Dr. Pentecost and the selectmen of Northfield, who escorted him to the carriage in which he was rapidly driven to the Chapel.
  The farmer folk had come from far and near, for to most of them this was the opportunity of a lifetime, and not to be missed under any circumstances, and the campus was literally thronged with vehicles of all descriptions, gaudily decked for the most part with flags and bunting which flapped gaily in the breeze, and in company with the decorations which were displayed on the various halls and cottages of the School gave one the impression of the Fourth of July rather than a cool day in September.
The cloud of dust raised by the advance crowd of sheriffs first warned the waiting crowd of the President’s approach, and a moment later the carriage dashed into view and rolled swiftly to the foot of one of the paths leading to the Chapel, where Mr. Roosevelt alighted and accompanied by his party passed through the student guard which was drawn up on either side of the path, and on into the building, where after being received by the faculty he took his seat on the platform amidst vociferous applause.
The first sight of “Teddy” was the signal for everyone in the house to rise to his feet and “yell” and after a moment or so of individual work along this line, the fellows gave the regular School “yell” with “Roosevelt” on the end, which seemed to tickle the Chief Executive immensely for his face wore a very substantial smile as he bowed his acknowledgements. His words were all too brief, but were directly to the point and well-expressed in an impressive manner. The applause was liberal and showed the appreciation with which his speech was regarded.

Editor’s note: The article continues and describes Roosevelt’s address in Northfield, and elsewhere in the newspaper, excerpts from his speeches were reprinted. To read more, drop by the archives office at the Schauffler/Rockey Library and read the accounts for yourself.