by 2019 Distinguished Service Award recipient Bob Henry
At Commencement 2019, three members of the Lakeside community were recipients of the Willard J. Wright ’32 Distinguished Service Award: retiring Outdoor Program Coordinator Chip Mehring, retiring history teacher Bob Henry, and former Lakeside alumnus Paul G. Allen, who passed away in October 2018. The Lakeside Board of Trustees gives this award to those who have rendered extraordinary service to the school and whose work was transforming for Lakeside. Read the citations for all three recipients here.
Bob Henry delivered the following remarks in response to receiving the award.
Thank you for this high honor. The other day, arriving in my mailbox was the spring edition of Lakeside magazine and I noticed that the theme of the issue derives from the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” That call-out conjures for me an image of hands and hearts and minds embraced in the nurturing of its young. Let me say today that I and my family are grateful for my having had the opportunity to share this village and to teach at Lakeside School.
Thirty or so years ago, I arrived under the headship of Dan Ayrault and Middle School Director Harry Finks, who envisioned a new kind of village here at Lakeside inspired by their consciousness of American history and what Lakeside could and should be doing in response to that history. Most fundamentally, they and leaders, faculty and staff, ever since, have believed that a privileged education should not belong only to the privileged. And our collective vision to this day has been transformed into a mission that has guided and served, I believe, as a model for 21st century education.
Has Lakeside arrived? Well – we have learned that sustaining a village, while utterly rewarding, is also at times, heartbreaking. Not everyone has felt the same degree of belonging nor privilege. But here’s the thing: In my 31 years, I have experienced a school that is attuned, that listens, and that strives to make itself a place where every member’s unique gifts are liberated. Where everyone can say, as one student confided: “I have come to believe in Lakeside because Lakeside came to believe in me.”
So, as I look back over these years, I am proud to have been on that journey. But here’s one more thing, what I have found even more meaningful than the journey has been: daily village life. In the classroom, dancing through history studies. Along the highways and byways of halls and paths, high fiving students and colleagues, in rousing assemblies and most powerfully, most rewardingly, in the company of friends. For these benefits and more I am so deeply grateful.
Now to the seniors. Many of you know that if this was the end of a typical day, at the end of a typical week, in my class, I would enjoin us all to get up and get in the groove with the magic that is Motown.
At this moment we don’t have a Harkness Table to dance around and out the door, and there really isn’t enough room for you to really get down like I know you can, but I do have some “Motown.” So, here’s to you, seniors, a tune about the kind of devotion I have seen you guys extend to each other over the last four years. And the kind of devotion that will bind you in the years to come.
[Henry, seniors, and faculty and staff stood to dance to “Ain't No Mountain High Enough.]