Monday, April 9, 2018

School Spirit

Throughout the generations, Berwick Academy students have demonstrated their pride in BA by wearing blue and white colors and attending pep rallies. The flavor and form of these rallies has changed throughout the Academy's diverse history. 

In the 1940's and 1950's, Berwick Academy had a small group of enthusiastic cheerleaders that dazzled and delighted the crowds. These cheerleaders "provided the spark at games and rallies and did much to boost morale on the hilltop." In the 1950's, "B.A. Locomotive! All Set?" "You Bet!" was one of the many familiar cries that could be heard at crisp, fall football games or inside the stuffiness of the gym during winter basketball games. 

1942 Marching Band

1956 Yearbook

By the early 1960's, school spirit was not as evident at games. In the fall of 1963, William Roots, '64, wrote an article for The Academy Quilltitled, "Something Called Spirit." In this he writes, "One cannot help but notice a lack of enthusiasm when a group will sit in the bleachers and not cheer with all its might . . . a great revival of this element called spirit is underway. Much of the credit for the "Pep-up an' yell" drive can be attributed to Mr. Stires, our Biology Master, who has spread his love and dedication of band music . . . by initiating and directing the new Berwick Academy Hilltopper Band."

1965 Marching Band

In 1964, Richard Stocker, '65, wrote an article for The Academy Quillthat discussed the importance of school spirit. His ideas still ring true today.

by Richard Stoker '65
         What makes school spirit? For that matter is it made? No, it must be developed by you students yourselves. . . . 
         The administrators and faculty introduce the school to you.  It is your school, and you must enhance its functions by degree of spirit. Apathy creates a lack of drive and interest, which is obvious to any observer. You are the school! Caring for others, volunteering to help whenever needed, making the correct decision, keeping the campus clean, and staying fit and presentable are the essence of school spirit, your passport to greatness.  

2018 Pep Rally - School spirit is alive and well at BA!  

* Originally written for a 2013 issue of 1791 Letter.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Winter Carnival

1961 Winter Carnival
Since Rachel wrote the 1957 - 2004 article about Winter Carnival, we have discovered a 1927 Hilltop Breeze article referencing the first Winter Sports Carnival, complete with relay races and a baseball game played with skis and snowshoes!

1927 Hilltop Breeze


WINTER CARNIVAL - 1957 - 2004
Written by Rachel Saliba for the 1719 Letter

Winter Carnival was a BIG deal Berwick Academy.  For a few days every February, all of the students would participate in outdoor activities including ski events, snow sculpting, silly games, ice skating on The Muck (AKA the Bog), bonfires, hockey and broom ball games and a coronation ball.  Like all traditions, the Winter Carnival morphed over the years and eventually ended with the last Upper School ski trip in 2004. 

Winter Carnival was started in 1957 by the newly formed Outdoor Club whose purpose was to “enjoy life in nature’s wonderland.”  The first carnival included various ski events and a gala dance. The height of the Winter Carnival tradition occurred during the boarding years at Berwick Academy (1957-1977).  It was held over an entire weekend and included multiple events and activities for the students. Because only boys were allowed to board at the school, approximately 60 girls would visit campus each Winter Carnival weekend.  The boys had to give up their dorms for the girls and sleep on mattresses in the newly built gymnasium.

1960 Carnival Queen

1964 Snow Sculptures

1965 Bonfire

 1966 Sleeping Arrangements

After BA became a country day school in 1977, Winter Carnival included division-specific activities ranging from Winter Carnival Dances, outdoor activities and ski trips in the Middle and Upper Schools.  

1976 Ski trip

1983 Outdoor games

Winter Carnival was canceled between the late 1980s and 1993, but was re-introduced in 1993 as a name for ski trips, but few people referred to it as such.  While the trips were a lot of fun, the last Upper School Ski Trip was in 2004. The Middle School still enjoys the tradition of an annual ski trip to Gunstock in February.

With over 50 years of tradition, it might be fun to bring back some of the quirky games and competitions on campus that used to be a part of the Berwick Academy Winter Carnival tradition.  Don’t ski races to Powder House and broom ball on the Muck sound like great ways to get through the next few months of winter?


In February 2016, Winter Carnival was re-introduced to Berwick Academy.  The following are excerpts from an article written by Lily Hedges, BA '2016, who served as the student chair for the Winter Carnival in her senior year. 

2016 Broomball

Lily Hedges, Bulldog, Lucy Pollard 2016 Opening Ceremony

"On a sunny - but 25 degree  - afternoon in the depth of February, the entire Berwick Academy community left classroom and office to celebrate the opening ceremonies of Winter Carnival. The event marked the revival of a storied Berwick tradition.

This year's organizers aimed to help the entire school take advantage of the snow, while bringing the community together in a day of pure fun and games. Organizers chose a "greek Olympics" theme .. .

Winter carnival began with opening ceremonies, held on an ice rink designed and constructed by the community members.  From there, Upper Schoolers scattered around campus for a competitive (yet lighthearted) campus-wide game of capture the flag, Students also participated in human dogsled race that made use of the last tufts of snow on the upper field, a fast-paced pushcart derby in the blue gym, and an intricate obstacle course on the turf field. To compete in these Olympic style events, Upper School students organized into grade-level teams to battle for class points. "

2017 Faculty Snowshoe Race

Monday, December 18, 2017

What's in a slogan?

From A Fitting School for Both Sexes
National Excellence and Seacoast Values

The Berwick Academy Office of Admission is a bustling place during the late autumn and winter months. Each week the admission staff along with parent and student volunteers welcome prospective families to our gorgeous campus.  

But how do these families hear about Berwick Academy? Has Berwick Academy used slogans to attract interested candidates to the hilltop? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines slogan as a word or phrase that is easy to remember and is used by a group or business to attract attention. Many of us instantly recognize the phrase ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hands’, as being M&Ms dominant slogan since the 1950’s. For this article I looked at student published newspapers and Berwick Academy admission materials in order to determine if any prominent slogans appeared throughout the Academy's history.

In the late 1880s and early 1890s newspaper advertisements emphasized that both boys and girls could attend the school, with phrases such as A School for Both Sexes.

From 1892 Berwick Scholar Newspaper

By the beginning of the 20th century, girls and boys thrived in Berwick Academy's classrooms. Starting in the late 1950’s, changing economics and other key factors led the school into a short boarding school era. During these years, our admission staff recruited boys from around the world. One way the admission department spread the word about Berwick's unique boarding program was by placing print advertisements in prominent U.S. newspapers. Peter Arakelian, BA Class of 1965, donated the following New York Times advertisement that his father had saved. This advertisement contains no slogan, just a collection of simple statements about the school. 

Donated by Peter Arakelian, BA Class of 1965

As the school evolved during the later part of the twentieth century, the admission materials adapted once again. Many of the admission brochures from the 1970s through the 1990s carry the phrase, a Coeducational Country Day School. Another key phrase that appeared during this phase of the Academy’s history is The Best Kept Secret in the Seacoast as the following picture depicts. 

Today Berwick Academy’s pre-kindergarten through twelve grade programs are stronger than ever. We are no longer The Best Kept Secret in the Seacoast Area.  Today Berwick Academy's vision statement reflects that we are a school of National Excellence and Seacoast Values. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Attic Find - Class of 1903 Photos

Photographs of Berwick Academy students from the early 1900s are rare. We have an occasional team picture and photographs of Fogg Memorial from this era but little more. Then this November an email exchange with Tom Pitner revealed he had a treasure sitting in a bag in his mother’s attic. Waiting to be re-discovered was a set of professional photographs for the Berwick Academy Class of 1903!

Members of the Berwick Academy Class of 1903
Top: Della Varrell, Joseph Brown, Fred Wentworth, Orville Goodwin
Bottom: M.S. Drury, Anna Vinton, Jennie Roberts, Elizabeth Harvey

Tom generously donated these photographs to Berwick Academy and identified one as his grandmother, Elizabeth Lillian Harvey. Each black and white photograph is artfully displayed in a decorative cardboard frame. While most of the eighteen pictures are not labeled, eight of them had a name and Berwick Academy 1903 written in script. After examining a 1903 Commencement program, I realized the set had the correct number of male and female students to represent the Class of 1903. What a treasure!

Elizabeth Harvey and her peers would have attended class in the Fogg Memorial Building, which was designed by Boston architect George A. Clough. The 1903 catalog states: “The building is constructed of local granite and beautiful architecture. It is equipped with electric lights and bells, is well lighted, and furnished with every modern sanitary appliance. The building contains, besides the basement, which is used for gymnastics, on the first floor the main study room, and the Principal’s office. On the floor above are the laboratory and a beautiful hall, capable of seating five hundred persons, for school exercises and social occasions.” Funding for the building came from the estate and family of William Hayes Fogg (1817–1884), a Berwick native and highly successful merchant in the shipping trade with China.

Fogg Memorial, built in 1894

Additional information from the 1902 – 1903 Catalog

The Course of Study
The course of study includes the subjects usually taught in the best high schools and academies, and affords preparation for the best colleges and scientific schools. Although the subjects are not grouped into ‘courses’, the student can pursue the classical, Latin-Scientific, or general course by selecting the proper studies, or can combine these courses in such manner as may seem most desirable.
Declamations and gymnastics are required of all students.

There are three terms in the school year. The tuition is eight dollars per term, and is payable on the third Monday of each term. A fee of thirty-five cents per term is charged for incidental expenses. 
In the courses in physics and chemistry a fee of two dollars, and in elementary science, of one dollar, payable in advance, is charged. In chemistry, in addition to this fee, there is required a deposit of one dollar to cover breakage of apparatus. The cost of apparatus broken by the student will be deducted, and the balance returned.
Text-books may be bought at the school at cost.
The Academy does not conduct a boarding hall or dormitories. Board and rooms can be obtained in the village from three to five dollars a week.
Students living in the vicinity and desiring to come in daily on the trains can obtain students’ tickets on the Boston and Maine Railroad at about one-third the usual rates.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

America's Future

The above excerpt was published in an October issue of a student written BA newspaper.  Can you guess what year the newspaper was published?

Throughout Berwick Academy's history there have been a variety of student newspapers. One of the Academy's most professional looking newspapers existed during the 1930's and was called The Academy Quill.  This newspaper had a large student editorial staff, in addition to a business department that handled the staff typists, advertising and circulation.  Each issue cost ten cents per copy.

During the 1960's there were a variety of student papers, such as The Foolscap, and The BA Quill to name a few.  Most of these papers consisted of student typed articles that were compiled by a small editorial team before being mimeographed.  To my delight, I found the results of a student mock election in the Review '69, which was described as "a semi-literary magazine; semi-newspaper."  The paper reported that Mr. Del Prete's U.S. History class held a mock election in November of 1968.  It is interesting to note that the students voted for Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates separately. I have included the top three results from this mock election.

Presidential Results

Vice-Presidential Results

After the 1972 Presidential election between George McGovern and Richard Nixon, student Monica Keating had teachers and students voice their political opinions by filling out a questionnaire.  What I find intriguing is that some of Monica's questions could be asked today.  For example, "What do you think about the parties spending?"  Here is a snippet of the responses recorded in the March 1973 issue of the Berwick Academy, Free Press newspaper. "I think both parties spend the right amount of money." "Spent a lot more than needed - especially the Republicans."  "The Democrats were publicly financed indicating strong popular support - the Republicans have a good deal of money for obvious reasons." "I think its a shame that the parties spend millions of dollars on a cause which doesn't feed the starving people, help the sick, save our environment, or help people in another way..."

Today, Berwick Academy's students still hold a range of political opinions.  In 2012, under the guidance of Jonathan Witherbee, the eighth grade students learned about the election process.  Each class was then divided into red and blue political action teams to work on getting their candidate, Mitt Romney or Barrack Obama, elected president during the Middle School mock election.  They developed campaign strategies that included posters, commercials and voter registration cards.  They also prepared debate speeches on the major issues and the 'all-star' debaters presented to a special Middle School Assembly. After this assembly, 126 of the 143 registered voters went to the polls to cast their votes.  Obama won, 70 to 56 votes. 

In case you are still wondering about when the America's Future article was written.  It was published in the October 28, 1936 issue of The Academy Quill.  I leave you with the closing sentences from that 1936 article.

 This article was originally published in November 2012 as part of the 1791 letter.

School Spirit

Throughout the generations, Berwick Academy students have demonstrated their pride in BA by wearing blue and white colors and attending p...