Friday, July 7, 2017

Gut Check

Let me start here: I made a mistake. (I'd be making another one if I didn't admit that right away.)

As tiny as the mistake was, getting called out for it stung more than expected. Why did it sting so much? Because I made the mistake while doing something kind. Expecting a "thank you" for the kind gesture, I actually got several messages about the mistake. It was not a good trade. My indignant gut wanted to respond, "Sure, there's a mistake, but what about this other great thing??!?!" Even though I just revealed that petty gut reaction right here, I somehow managed not to blurt it out angrily in the moment.
"Good thing nobody else heard that!"
Controlling an ugly gut response can be a useful skill. It's one that the boys have a chance to learn here (and one I can definitely keep working on). Two of the school's recent themes for the year have been humility and resilience, which are essential for quelling and transforming impulsive gut reactions. Even if the school hadn't spotlighted these two traits, the daily experiences here offer the opportunity to cultivate them.
Hypothetical Humility and Resilience Cultivation Scenario: 
You just scored a 92 on your biology test, your highest grade yet. Coach Pruitt even emits an exultant whoop when he returns it to you. Then you notice that you forgot to answer a question according to the directions, and it was a really easy question on genotype vs. phenotype!! You could have earned an extra 3 points! Instead of getting down on yourself for making the careless mistake or arguing with the teacher, you acknowledge it (humility), take the appropriate confidence from your high score, and resolve to perform better next time (resilience).
Scenes like that happen here all the time. The MBA culture encourages that kind of response, a response that yields growth, a response that helps the boys become the "young men of wisdom and moral integrity" in the school's mission statement.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Lasting Impact of Dr. Paschall

I had been a math teacher and coach in the Chattanooga area for 20 years when I decided to take a job in the business world. I became unhappy with that decision and decided to get back into teaching and coaching, but I wanted to work at a good private school. Someone told me to get in touch with Dr. Douglas Paschall of Montgomery Bell Academy. I sat down and wrote him a letter, never thinking I would ever really hear from him. Several days later I was called to the phone at work, and the caller identified himself as Dr. Douglas Paschall of MBA. I almost dropped the phone. He proceeded to tell me that I probably didn't know him, but that he certainly knew me! He went on to tell me that after attending Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar his first professional job was at UT Chattanooga as an English instructor, and it was my senior year there playing basketball for the UTC Mocs. He said he saw all of my home games and that he wanted to talk to me about a job at MBA. I had two young boys, and I was thrilled at the prospect. Twenty two years later I retired from MBA and both my boys also graduated from the the school. Writing to Dr. Paschall was the best decision I ever made in my life, and I am so thankful for everything that has happened to my family because of it! Dr. Paschall was a wonderful man, and he changed my life forever!

submitted by Mr. Pat Woolsey

Dandelion Day

During my grandfather's tenure at MBA, they celebrated a day during the spring called Dandelion Day. On Dandelion Day, people would typically enjoy the outdoor weather, however, when my grandfather was a freshman, the Russell brothers decided to have their friend Ned Overton put dandelions in his belly button, lay next to the flag pole, and then took down the flag and hoisted up Ned's pants to the top so that they could billow in the wind. 

submitted by Ruff Maddux on behalf of his grandfather, Wentworth Caldwell '58

Miller's Fall a Thriller Not a Killer

In 8th grade, my grandfather, Wentworth Caldwell, had a class with Mr. Pennington. Mr. Pennington's class was the on the second floor of the Ball Building which had some windows that were pretty high up. At these windows, there was a ledge that one could potentially sit on. Richard Miller, a classmate of my grandfather, was a very fidgety boy who would often walk around the room and even sit on this ledge. One day, Richard walked out of the classroom and laid down below this window and had some of his friends yell to Mr. Pennington that he had jumped or fell off of the ledge. Needless to say, Mr. Pennington freaked out and rushed downstairs and outside only to discover that Richard was losing his mind laughing because he was laughing so hard.

submitted by Ruff Maddux on behalf of his grandfather, Wentworth Caldwell '58

AFC Championship > School

Some seniors cut class for the AFC championship parade. Days later their picture appeared on the front page of the Green Hills News. Charlie came home for lunch that day. I gave him a copy and he took it back with him to school. About that time my phone rang and it was Mr. Regen calling to tell me Charlie had cut class. He would get demerits and Saturday School. I told him I knew and that Charlie was on his way back to school with something to show him. Mr. Regen said, "I am looking out my window and Charlie is running through the parking lot waving something over his head." It was the Green Hills News with the said seniors proudly smiling on the front page; faces painted, Titans flag flying, jerseys and all!

submitted by Sarah Ann Ezzell

You Just Got Sacked

John Smithwick (class president) started a Mrs. Lowry English class with the following: Mrs Lowry, why don't you ask Rhoads what happened this weekend. I had gotten into a little bit of trouble and was fairly vague in response to Mrs Lowry when she asked me what had happened. Even with my vague response, she knew I had not been doing the right thing. I sat on the front row, in the middle. She walked up to me - stood right in front of me and said, "Rhoads, do you want to graduate with the rest of your class. You are on the five yard line. You just dropped back and you got sacked." She then went on to remind me that I was a representative of MBA and should act accordingly. I learned my lesson, but will always remember as will my classmates Mrs Lowry telling me I got sacked.

-submitted by Rhoads Hall '89

Flip for Your Vote

Good ole Michael Lacey backflipping me in front of the student body during election speeches.

submitted by Trevor Patton '15

Unload the Bus!

On the way back from a debate tournament in Georgia, our four person extemporaneous speaking team, chaperoned by Mr. Tate, stopped at a fast food restaurant late at night. After entering the restaurant, Mr. Tate paused, looked back out the door, and yelled “unload the bus!” After seeing our confused looks, he motioned for us to lean in and whispered “now that they think there’s a lot of us, they’ll throw on a new batch of fries. It’s the best way to guarantee they’re hot”. At the time, we thought he was crazy, but when our food arrived ten minutes later, we agreed that he knew what he was doing. Mr. Tate always gave helpful advice, and his coaching often extended beyond debate to include important topics like how to maximize our dining experiences.

submitted by Sam Hurd '14

Maceys

Coach Lanier during almost any class: referred to us by our last name + "s", we called him sire, he would make weird noises, he would disappear for 10-20 minutes at a time during tests, best teacher out there.

submitted by Jake Macey '13 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Gioia!

My senior year, some guys in Gioia's advisory found out it was his birthday. It was an assembly day, so we decided we'd try to sing him happy birthday in assembly. I was sitting close to the end of a row, so I started a "We're gonna sing happy birthday to Gioia. Pass it on." whisper down my row until most of the seniors had heard the plan. We found a good pause when Gioia was speaking and started singing. Other classes joined in (even though they didn't know to whom exactly they were singing). The song went well and Gioia appreciated it (I think), but the best part was how red his face got while 700 boys sang him happy birthday.

submitted by Will McFadden '13

Ms. Kit

Many of my fondest memories on The Hill came from the many hours my friends and I would spend in Mrs. Lechleiter's office during our free periods. We would talk and joke around, work on our homework (according to Mrs. Lechleiter, the answer to all our math problems is always 4), and of course eat candy and play with her multitude of toys and puzzles. I also really enjoyed the opportunities to greet prospective students and their parents as they came into the admissions office. We would be able to add valuable insight into life on The Hill from a student's perspective. Not only was it a great way to spend our free time, but I feel like that time has influenced me for life after MBA as well as left a lasting impact on The Hill.

submitted by Will Granbery '11

Backless Shoes? Back to Demerit Hall.

My brother, Lee White, wouldn't stop wearing backless shoes, so nearly every day John Fredericks would raise his hand in Mr. Tillman's math class just to announce Lee's shoes. Constant demerits.

submitted by Webb White '04

SSSPWTFS

We read A Separate Peace by John Knowles in 8th grade. I recall a few details: prep school, a tree branch, and a club that the main characters started called The Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session. I remember that last fact because my friends and I founded the Super Suicide Society for the People Who Throw Fruit on the Street aka SSSPWTFS not too long after reading the book. The SSSPWTFS had one purpose: during the lunch hour, we would take (biodegradable) food – primarily, fruit – down onto the MBA front lawn. When there was a break in the traffic, we would hurl pieces of fruit onto West End. We would then watch in anticipation as cars sped by. As soon as a piece of fruit got hit by a car and, usually, exploded, we would erupt in joy. Needless to say, it was amazing. Alas, though, the SSSPWTFS got too adventurous for its own good and was investigated and ultimately taken down by the Administration after we were caught off-limits conducting an initiation ritual by Kingfisher Creek in the rain. During the subsequent interrogation, the junior school headmistress thought more nefarious activities were taking place. Once we explained what was actually going on – “You know, fruit. On the street. We throw it there.” – that cleared everything up.  

submitted by Stuart Burkhalter '99

Watch Your Back

There are many (stories), but the two that come to mind are first getting demerits from Mrs. Bowen for putting my backpack in the hallway under the water fountain, attempting to circumvent the hallway-obstacle warning, since it was tucked away under the fountain. It took me shaking her hand, which was painful, and 3 demerits to recover.

The second is being a senior not he football team called out to dress up like a cheerleader for the Pep Rally, only the uniform was literally a girls cheerleading outfit split down the back so I could slip it on like a smock. Not sure I had the form most cheerleaders had at the pep rally!


submitted by Bo Bartholomew '92

Disco Dan

Dan Herring was affectionately referred to as Disco Dan primarily because of a picture in an early '80s yearbook. As proctor of the study hall in the old Wallace Building (a distant memory now, where the dining hall now sits), there was a stage at one end where Mr. Herring sat at his desk lording over the study hall occupants. He ran a tight ship, and would simply hold his one finger up to keep order, the threat of demerits implicit. At the other end of the study hall room (which was an old basketball gym, I was told), were lockers. In the days of tape recorders, someone cleverly left the tape blank for 15 minutes, then from the tape recorder and one of the lockers came the music of the Bee Gees, Stayin' Alive, the ultimate disco song. Mr. Herring's finger instantly rose; we were all wide-eyed in disbelief and fear of guilt by association. After a minute or so, he rose, and walked off the stage toward the back to the lockers, but the perpetrator had intentionally cut off the timing of the recording of the song so that the tape recorder stopped and there was no way to identify the offending locker. Mr. Herring turned and simply said, "one of these days", while holding up his finger.  

submitted by Brooks Smith '89

Frozen Ferrets etc.

Boy, where to begin with the MBA stories? I guess I was your typical jock in high school, I spent my days giving atomic wedgies, purple nurples, and twisty sisties, and my nights crippling opponents and winning glory on the football field. Did you know a ferret can survive being frozen solid, so long as you thaw it out within an hour? Weird.

Anyway, I'll never forget the time senior year my buddies and me accidentally read from the "book of the dead" in Hamunaptra and that brought Prince Imhotep back to life. Hijinks ensued as he began to collect parts from the living to regain his full power.

Well, after getting some help from warrior magi (and no help at all from the Davidson Academy Bears!) we managed to subdue the monster and send him back to the Egyptian Underworld. I hate mummies.

So, even though all of that is pretty boring to kids nowadays with their Snapchat, it meant something to us. Also Senior prom was great; however it definitely was not as intense as 1998's Hell in a Cell where the Undertaker threw Mankind off of the top of a steel cage and he plummeted 16ft before crashing into an announcer's table.

Go Big Red!


submitted by Mick Foley '88

What Hunt Nichols Did

I am currently checking with legal counsel in regard to the statute of limitations on some "key elements" of my story. Unfortunately, if our beloved school retains the retroactive authority to issue demerits or revoke my diploma hanging in my office, I will be unable to share any of the details about what I witnessed Hunt Nichols do.

submitted by  J. Banks Link '88

Don't Get off the Boat!

In 1986 (my senior year), the class was studying "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad. Mrs. Lowry seemed well advanced in age and somewhat feeble to a group of 18 year old seniors. However, she could control a classroom with nothing more than a stern glance.

The book "Heart of Darkness" is about a man's journey up the Congo River to the inner station at the center of Africa. As with all literature studied at MBA, the story is full of symbolism: the river symbolizes life; the jungle symbolizes danger; the boat symbolizes safety from the jungle; etc.

In the middle of a lesson in mid-sentence and to everyone's surprise, Mrs. Lowry steps on top of her desk with amazing agility and raises both hands. She says in a commanding voice: "Boys! Whatever you do, don't get off the boat!" With assistance from one of my classmates, she steps off the desk and continues the lesson as if nothing happened.

I've stepped off the boat at least once or twice in the last 30 years as certainly nearly everyone has. But Mrs. Lowry's lesson is still crystal clear, like it happened just yesterday.

submitted by Jay Schmitt '86

Ode to Mrs. Bowen

I was afeared of her ages before she had me raking leaves on the hill to work off her demerits. The legend of June Bowen, militaristic 7thgrade English teacher, had preceded her.


But the truth behind Mrs. Bowen turned out to be more complex than the folklore. She was tough and fair and intimidating and hilarious. With her infamous in-class grammar contests, she fostered competition and a demand for perfection. I vividly recall diagramming sentences in my restless sleep (hopefully not while in her class).

Because of Mrs. Bowen, I can’t help but cringe when I hear the split infinitive at the beginning of each Star Trek episode, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” That is just poor grammar up with which I will not put!

But Mrs. Bowen didn’t just cultivate lifelong grammarians. She mass-produced proper grammarians. Yes, Mrs. Bowen’s discipline ushered me to demerit hall on many a Saturday. There, I learned a myriad of didactic vocabulary words but mostly just raked a boatload of leaves.

Many years later, I broke free from the bondage of school, teachers, parents, bosses, or any authority whatsoever. Yes, I purchased my own house.

As I strolled to the mailbox on that first autonomous day, my next-door neighbor introduced herself. “Welcome to the neighborhood. I’m June.”

Holy moly, it was Mrs. Bowen! If I yawned without covering my mouth or left my shirttail hanging out, would I once again be relegated to raking leaves on Saturday? I felt that familiar shiver of afearedness!

On the contrary, Mrs. Bowen (no way I was calling her “June”) turned out to be a dear friend and extraordinary neighbor. She probably hadn’t changed much since I was in 7th grade, but 20 years had changed my perception of her. She was brilliant and witty and sarcastic and wonderful.

She called on me for small favors every once in a while, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw her name on the caller ID that day. I agreed to come over to help her with a diagram. Only after I got off the phone did the terror hit me. A diagram? Are you kidding me? This lady wrote the book on diagramming sentences. That’s not an idiomatic expression - I mean she literally wrote grammar books. I hadn’t had fitful dreams about diagramming in 20 years, so how in the world could I not look the fool? This time, she really, really afeared me!

I searched in vain for my old “Rulebook” to jar my grammatical memory before fretfully knocking on her door. As I crept into her living room, I saw ceiling fan parts strewn about the floor. Next to the clutter, you may have guessed, were the ceiling fan instructions in the form of a diagram.

I have never been so relieved and overjoyed to put together a ceiling fan in all my life. I filled her in on the diagram miscommunication, and we both belly-laughed until tears ran down our faces.

These days, I envision Mrs. Bowen, red pen in hand, sending even the finest souls to rake leaves on an even bigger hill in Heaven. I also fancy thinking she would be pleased with the way she influenced my life. Although I graduated Mrs. Bowen’s course with flying mediocrity, I think I have applied more of what I learned in that class than any other.

I married another hopeless grammarian and enjoy a career as an outdoor writer and editor. I have my own red pen, although it’s in the form of a computer editing tool. I daily use a superfluity of didactic vocabulary words. And there are plenty of leaves to rake in the outdoors. But I must confess, she still afears me a little.

submitted by Gil Lackey '84

The Little Things Matter

In the 7th grade, on my second theme for Mrs. Bowen, I had no points taken off on the body of the theme. On the outline, however, I had numbers where I should have had letters and letters where I should have had numbers a total of 13 times, and she counted off 5 points every time. To top it off, I used what she deemed the wrong sized paper clip on the theme, and that cost me an additional point, so I made a 34. I never made either the outline mistake or the paper clip mistake again. I also never forgot that 34.

submitted by Lyn Robbins '83

The Shot Heard ‘Round the Ball Building

In 1947, when the city gave MBA a pair of Civil War cannons, it ought to have known what would happen next. To sophomores Jack Todd and Lew Wood, at least, the installation of the relics on the front lawn was an invitation to mayhem. Wood recalls that soon after the cannons were installed, Todd (now deceased) started paying regular visits to Clark Hardware, on Broadway around the corner from his family’s car-repair shop, Vogeley and Todd. There he bought black powder, in small quantities each time so as not to raise suspicion. On Saturday night, January 10, 1948, the boys and their dates rolled onto campus in Todd's Dodge coupe. After packing a cannon with about five pounds of powder, plus sticks, leaves and newspaper, they realized they had nary a match or Zippo among them. They pulled the car onto the grass, as close to the cannon as they could get. Todd sat at the wheel as Wood dashed toward the fuse with the car's glowing cigarette lighter, then jumped back in the car as Todd floored it. They had made it only to the edge of the parking lot when the explosion went off, shaking the car violently. Through the rising smoke, they saw lights turning on all across Cherokee Park. “West Nashville Area Rocked by Mystery Blast,” blared the front page of the Tennessean on Sunday morning. Hundreds of calls from concerned residents had flooded into police switchboards, and in a time of mounting fear about the Soviet menace, many said the blast sounded as though it were “directly overhead.”

submitted by E. Thomas Wood '82

High Standards

On my first theme Mrs. Bowen wrote at the top of the paper, "10 (out of 100), this is a gift."

submitted by David Ingram '81

The Legend of Lowry

I graduated in 1980. I had the good fortune to have Mary Hellen Lowry for senior english. She also taught my father John Hollins Sr. senior english in 1951.

We spent well over a month studying Hamlet as Ms. Lowry thought it was the greatest literary masterpiece ever written. She required every student to create a Hamlet notebook that included all material we studied in the class. She told us that one day we might need it. She was very prophetic!

During my sophomore year at Auburn in the fall of 1982 we studied Hamlet for all of one week. To prepare for the exam, I only studied Ms. Lowry's Hamlet notebook. The final exam was a breeze. After handing out the results of the exam my professor called me up after class for a meeting. She explained to me that no one had ever made a 100 on the exam before and she wanted to know what I did to prepare for the test. I explained to her that Ms. Lowry was the best teacher that I ever had and that she required us to create a Hamlet notebook that we used as our study guide. I handed the teacher a copy of my Hamlet notebook and she responded that I was very fortunate to have been taught by Ms. Lowery. I called my father and told him the story. He said I had to call Ms. Lowry.

After class I called Ms. Lowry and told her my story. She was thrilled beyond words. She said "Mighty fine Hollins! Mighty fine! This is your finest hour and I am proud of you as I know your father is too!"

This was the last conversation I had with Ms. Lowry. She died a few years later. Without a doubt she was the finest teacher I had in high school, college, or law school. My father who passed in 2016 felt exactly the same way about Ms. Lowry.

Ms. Lowry was a blessing to everyone she touched. We are all better people because of her influence.    


submitted by John Hollins Jr. '80

Off to a Good Start

It was my first day of school in 7th grade. I was assigned to Mrs. Bowen's classroom. She handed out a piece of paper requiring your name and other personal information. I was the first to finish and got out of my chair and placed it on her desk. I went and sat down - she looked at my answers , looked at me , and said " I am giving you 2 demerits". I asked her why? - she replied " that is 2 more demerits"! 4 demerits within 5 minutes at MBA. She then said, "I gave to 2 demerits for getting out of your chair without permission , the other 2 demerits was talking without raising your hand first!" I do not think I said another word or moved for the rest of that day - Roll Red! She was one of my favorite teachers while attending MBA.

submitted by Jimmy Griscom '80

The 1977 MBA Marching Band

December 1977. Tommy Owen Stadium. Nashville, Tennessee. MBA’s last football game against Antioch is contested. It had been a rather mediocre season (we were 5-4 entering this game), having recently been pummeled by Father Ryan two weeks prior. However, optimism surged after a squeaky win the previous week over rival BGA.
It was a cold clear night, and Antioch fans had turned out strong fan support, their bleachers full. Yet, as the game kicked off, what appeared to be many fans was really a large Marching Band (the band members had not yet shed their winter coats).
Meanwhile, across the field, my teammates and I were on the field doing our pre-game stretches and calisthenics. No, we were not warming up for the actual football game; rather, we were the lowly cheerleading team on the sidelines. Undoubtedly today OSHA would not approve of the athletic maneuvers we executed with our female partners. At this time though, it was essential to be as primed as possible in every way - just ask Jody J (’79), who was also on the field.
Halftime came quickly, and our team already had a large lead. Antioch’s marching band took the field, full of rhythm, flashiness, style, and of course, thunderous music! Standing on the side of the field with our cheerleading partners, David Smith (‘78) and I looked at each other, and in our “questionable condition”, asked rhetorically why MBA didn’t have a half-time marching band. It didn’t take long for us to change that fact- as the Antioch band was marching off the field, Smith and I had begun our own “MBA March”, high-stepping in pitiful rhythm with a lone snare drum and a dented bugle in hand! We marched the length of the field beating the drum and blowing the bugle to no specific song at all. Our loyal crowd showed their appreciation of our effort with a standing ovation. (Ok; maybe they were already standing.)
Most importantly, MBA emerged as victors, 39-17. What a night!
Then Monday morning came…
Mr. Carter summoned us to his office. Those of you who knew Mr. Carter will recall his rather ominous presence, his headmastering “style” somewhere between Bobby Knight’s and John Wooden’s. On this day, he was all Knight! In short order, he reminded David and me that MBA has never had a marching band and never will, and that we embarrassed ourselves and the school.
We slumped from his office in silence and returned to classes for the rest of the week. Surprisingly, we were not banned from the stadium. In fact, we were invited back on Saturday morning, to rake leaves and pick up trash to extinguish the 10 demerits we each received.
Nevertheless, we each remain in good standing as ½ of the greatest MBA half-time Marching Band of all time.

submitted by Bill Calton ‘78