Charles H. Richards, class of 1854, was asked 52 years after his graduation, if he would share his memories of …
For over a century, Winter Carnival has been an annual feature of many New England schools and colleges. KUA’s first carnival followed a few years after Dartmouth College introduced the weekend to its community. In 1910, Dartmouth’s Outing Club organized a field day with skiing as the main focus. The following year they included social activities, invited women to attend and called it Winter Carnival. KUA’s first Winter Carnival was also begun by its Outing Club, but with one big advantage over Dartmouth. KUA was a coed school and all students had the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the activities.
In the 1920s, in addition to skiing, Winter Carnival events included sleigh rides, a tug-of-war, snowshoeing, tobogganing and other events. Although sledding from The Hilltop has always been discouraged, it looks as though the group of boys pictured above had at least one thrilling ride down the hill before the town authorities contacted Headmaster Tracy to protest – as once reported in an issue of The Kimball Union.
The young women pictured at right prepared for their snowshoeing expedition near the same place as the tobogganers. I imagine there was little danger from cars on a snowy Hilltop in the 1920s!
Because KUA was an all-boys’ school from 1935-1974, boys were allowed to invite their girl friends from home as guests for the annual Winter Carnival. They would vacate one of the dorms and the visitors would take over their rooms for the weekend. In 1941, The Kimball Union reported that, “The arrival of the lady guests at Meriden created the usual ardent comparison indulged in by all those who witnessed the event. The windows of downstairs D.R. were fairly crammed with spectators, as the arrivals made their way to the upper stories and their rooms.” The formal dance was held in the Silver gym followed by refreshments in the old D.R. dining hall. Snow sculpture competitions were held between dorms. The winning sculpture in 1941 is pictured above. The newspaper stated, “This ski boot, about 10 feet high and 12 feet long, built by the members of Chellis Hall, was so well done … it easily captured the statuary cup …. It is built of snow packed around a framework of wood and chicken wire.” Notice the line of faculty chaperones in the upper right hand corner and behind them on the fireplace mantle, the school mascot.
Archival ski footage, ca. 1940, including some Winter Carnival scenes.
By the early 1960s, KUA’s faculty and students had finished building the Ira P. Townsend ’38 Ski Hill located on French’s Ledges and competitions were being held there. At Winter Carnival, the boys and their dates would hike to the hill to watch alpine and jumping events. In 1962 the Concordia reported that the “Junior Nordic Championships of the U.S.E.A.S.A. were held on the new ski hill …. A week later the team won the Prep School Championships at Middlebury by a margin of 16 points, the largest in the thirteen years of competition.”
A few weeks ago, I sent out a From the Archives… article featuring KUA graduates who had become college presidents …
This year, we have commemorated Kimball Union’s return to coeducation in the fall of 1974, and have honored various women who, for over 200 years, have influenced the growth and success of the Academy. From the four young women of the class of 1816 who dared to be the first to be educated in a school originally established for “poor and pious young men” studying for the ministry; to Hannah Kimball, Daniel’s widow, whose dream of an Academy for young women was realized when, through her efforts, “A regularly organized Female Department went into operation in the autumn of 1840;” to former teacher Myra Everest (1879-1881), who upon hearing of the Academy’s difficulties filling the school, devised the One Hundred Dollar Plan “…whereby a student paid $100 for board, room, fuel, lights, and full tuition rights, but was required to work ‘cheerfully’ for one hour a day;” to the dedicated women faculty, staff and now trustees, who have all had such a strong influence on and shown such care for their students. And to the young women themselves whose numbers grew from four in 1816 with many hundreds more enrolled through 1934; to the 11 women in 1974, who entered what had been a boys’ school for the previous 39 years, into the thousand plus successful graduates since 1975: young women who have had a powerful influence on the success of Kimball Union in the classroom, the arts, athletics, volunteer activities, student government or just as good citizens. We celebrate them all!
Before we wish the 199th graduating class farewell, we should take a moment to look back 100 years when another class celebrated, with satisfaction, their graduation. A summary of the school year 1914-1915 appeared in The Bulletin of Kimball Union Academy in August 1915 and is reprinted below. I think, in many ways, it could be written of all the school years as each generation celebrates its accomplishments and what, at their time, seemed a great deal of good work.
The Bulletin of Kimball Union Academy
THE YEAR 1914–1915 IN RETROSPECT
As each year in the life of a school or of an individual brings its particular problems, so when completed, it should bring a distinct sense of satisfaction due to its particular successes. In looking back over the year 1914-1915 in the life of the Academy, certain things stand out prominently as matters worthy of favorable comment. In the first place, the opening of the gymnasium, with the beginning of the year, and its constant use has given to the athletic life of the school an invigorated tone. A better spirit than formerly has been shown at practice and in the games themselves. A greater percentage of the members of the school have taken part in organized athletics, and the teams have reflected this interest in a greater number of victories than for some years past. Another encouraging sign has been the increased scholarship standards, as shown by more students on the honor rolls and a much larger number of pupils from the Senior Class deciding for college and other institutions of higher education. The young men and women of the Academy are coming to see, to a degree at least, that the spirit to be shown in the class-room and on the athletic field must be the same. The body of alumni have responded in a marked degree to the various appeals that have been made to them during the year. Two enthusiastic meetings of alumni have been held and prompt and generous responses have been made to appeals for funds for current expenses and for a small athletic endowment. Loyalty and co-operation have characterized the relations between alumni, students and teachers and from such co-operation and loyalty has resulted an efficient and vital school spirit. Altogether the year 1914-1915 has been a good year in the annals of the Academy.