After attending the all school reunion on Friday, October 2nd, Ken Garson, 8th Grade Master and 5-8 English & Language Arts teacher at Meadowbrook from 1969 to 1973 shared with us the following:
“I was reluctant to step in front of the camera the other night, but being back at Meadowbrook brought back some memories that I had long forgotten. (I also am loath to sound like one of those old geezers who spout a tiresome “Back in my day …”)
While talking to some of my old students, I thought of some Hal Parachini anecdotes.
An important back story is that Hal had a large slob of a dog, a Great Dane named Sam.
In the winter of 71-72 there was a snow storm. Back then there was a phone tree for the faculty and staff, as well as the KYW number system. (I think the school’s was 363?) That morning I awoke, looked out at the white, icy landscape, and turned on the radio to hear that many schools closing. I expected to get a phone call from someone and then to pass it along that Hal had cancelled school. KYW failed to list the school closing number for Meadowbrook. I received no calls, and so girded myself for winter.
I got into my school bus (#4), picked up the kids on my route, with some difficulty, since though it wasn’t exactly a blizzard, it was treacherous. Everyone arrived late—except those who decided to either turn back or just not even attempt it. The school day was ragtag, a shambles, of course, with few teachers, few students and more than a few disgruntled—some might say angry—parents. Hal Parachini was shamefaced and apologetic for his ‘missed call’. (Hal was a basketball player at Dartmouth and a local referee of some esteem; he was often called to work games at the Palestra.)
At the next chapel meeting of the entire school he admitted the mistake to the entire school body. One lower classman raised his hand and asked Hal how he made the decision to close school. Hal said that he let his dog Sam out into the snow. If Sam balked, he called school off. This particular day, Sam had taken off into the white, so school was on.
Another student raised his hand and asked: “Mr. Parachini, can you get a smaller dog?”
Hal Parachini story number two.
The school always book fairs that benefitted the library and, on occasion, opportunities to acquire things that spur some interests in kids. Exhibitors brought stamps, coins, science-related stuff, baseball cards et al. One of the exhibitors reported that some coins were stolen. Since this was for Meadowbrook students only, it was an embarrassment for Hal and the school. He held a special chapel meeting early the next day, a Thursday, usually the day when the teams played soccer or football or other practices.
Hal said that all games and practices that day were cancelled until the perpetrator confessed or was turned in by fellow students. We would stay in the classrooms until the guilty person was unearthed. Throughout the day everyone was grousing about missing their game or activity, groaning over the unfairness of punishing everyone for one person’s moral turpitude, and wishing to pummel the thief.
At 2:30 Hal announced that the game day would progress in its customary manner: all games to be played, activities to resume, etc. I met Hal in the locker room on the way to field.
“So did you find out who took the coins?” I asked.
“No. No one came forward,” Parachini replied.
“So why did you relent on your threat?” I thought it would be natural to follow through so as to appear resolute.
Hal shrugged his shoulders. “Something like this happened at Chestnut Hill Academy. Sometimes that tactic works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
I learned Hal did eventually find out who took the coins and everyone got to play their games.
Two lessons I learned from Hal Parachini: always admit when you’re wrong and sometimes it’s best to punt.
I wrote to Hal’s son recently to say that I was grateful his father gave me an opportunity to teach there, as unexperienced as I was. I did not come either from private school stock or from an Ivy League school. I can say that I learned as much about myself from the students as they from me during those four years I was there.”
Oh What a Night! Meadowbrook alumni from 1948 through 2005 gathered in Shuttleworth Gymnasium last Friday night to reminisce with old friends. Torrential downpours could not stop the crew from gathering at dear old Meadowbrook. Many alumni shared stories of their time at Meadowbrook that sound very similar to our current days and we are proud that we maintain many of the traditions that make our school so unique.
“One of my favorite Meadowbrook past times was going ice skating every Friday in the winter time! I also looked forward to Field Day every single year. It was a great time with friends and family. My last greatest memory was the 3rd grade sleepover”
Domonique Wilson ’01
Wouldn’t it give you a great feeling to know that you saved a life?
How about two or three?
You have an opportunity to do just that on Tuesday, October 27 at Meadowbrook’s Annual Red Cross Blood Drive. Please join with other Meadowbrook families and friends and sign up to donate anytime between 1:30 and 6:30 PM. As always, between 3:00 and 5:30, any Meadowbrook student can enjoy Extended Day free of charge while their parent is donating blood.
Prime time slots fill up quickly, so sign up now by going on-line to Red Cross and enter sponsor code, Meadowbrook, or you can call Terri Johnson at 215-740-7605 or Carol Kirby at 215-884-3238 Ext. 119.
In keeping with the new theme of the school year, Attitude of Gratitude, I want to start by saying that I am grateful for the opportunity to teach and mentor the students at the Meadowbrook School. Here’s a glimpse into what we are currently working on and the philosophy of the Physical Education and Athletic Department.
In our first week of Physical Education, we’ve spent the better part of the first week learning to throw and catch. Our older grades we used a football and our younger grades a tennis or dodge ball. So much of learning new sports is overcoming the fear of getting hit with the ball, not knowing the rules, or simply not feeling ‘good enough.’ We will challenge every child to always “Do Your Best and Forget the Rest”, a line we borrowed from a children’s show Paw Patrol.
We’re on a roll in our first week and every student at Meadowbrook has proven that they are capable of learning and playing. One of the challenges that I have set out for every student is to improve his/her fitness. Daily, we practice doing correct push-ups, burpees, and stars and will continue to add new calisthenics to keep things fun and interesting.
As a philosophy, we believe in teaching, showing and most importantly learning by doing. We want kids to learn to “jump in” with a great attitude and try their best. While asking questions is okay, we believe in teaching the importance of sharpening our listening skills as a group so that every drill doesn’t need 1:1 instruction. The research has proven that learning happens the best through repetition and competition. And ultimately, it’s more fun to play games, and fun is Rule #1.
As Athletic Director, We challenged each and every player and every about getting better every day. Creating the mindset of improving oneself to help the team improve. Each player committed to at least 30 minutes per day of self-improvement. For 4th-6th Grade Students There is still time to enroll in our after-school sports programs on Monday and Wednesday. This is a great way to master teamwork and represent the Meadowbrook School. If not yet enrolled, and interested, please fill out the permission slip online.
Parents, thank you for the opportunity to partner with you and your family to challenge your Meadowbrook student to become the best person and athlete that they can be. I look forward to meeting you over the next several weeks.