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Sharing Teacher Memories

Coach Dave Rice

Jim Arneill '66
On May 18 at 4:00 pm in the Gates Innovation Lab, there will be a “Celebration of Life” for Coach Dave Rice. We will be able to honor his dedication to Graland and many accomplishments during his lifetime. Coach Rice taught at Graland from 1951 to 1976.
During that time, he had a very positive impact on students in a variety of settings giving them experiences that would help build their character, athletic skills, confidence, and love of sports. In the mid 1950’s and 1960’s, the other boys and I remember him and Mr. Chester Preisser as our physical education teachers, while the girls had Miss Joy Archer. All three of them worked together to organize memorable field days.

What is perhaps most significant about what Coach Rice contributed so notably to Graland was the effective way in which he put the founding Dewey principle of educating the whole child into practice. Besides the outstanding academic program Graland provided, he complemented it with a strong physical education program. That, along with music, art, foreign language, shop and crafts, and dramatics, all contributed to the amazing Graland experience we enjoyed. In addition there was a beneficial ripple effect of success and learning in athletics carrying over to the classroom, especially for those who needed a boost there. 
One of the earliest memories I have of Coach Rice is working with our class in the gyms, both the old one in the upper floor of the Georgia Nelson Building that has been replaced by the newer current one. He helped us “learn the ropes” as well as being comfortable with other apparatus including the rings, the horse, and even a trampoline.
During these early years, Coach Rice also established Rice’s Day Camp in the summers for extending athletic, cultural, and social opportunities for students beyond the school year. Through field trips to White Sands Beach, many of us learned basic swimming skills and there were other field trips that are lifelong memories.
When Coach Rice purchased a facility in Breckenridge, he transitioned to Rice’s Hidden Valley Camp for Boys and Girls during the summers. Several Graland students attended both as campers and as counselors. This setting provided many memorable experiences with some amazing stories.
A couple years ago, Coach Rice and his daughter Janie mailed me a treasure of old photos he had been storing since his early years at Graland. Most were group photos of football teams he coached. I enlisted the help of some of those in the photos, and we identified nearly everyone and turned them over to Mr. Hickey for the school archives.  
The accompanying photos helps to capture a nostalgic look at the old Graland football days including the encouraging presence Coach Rice had coaching our teams. He taught us important athletic skills in class, and this gave us the opportunity to use them on our sports teams.
As athletes, we loved to play for Coach Rice. Even though he  had limited exposure to lacrosse and had only taken some classes at the University of Denver about it, he decided to start lacrosse at Graland in our ninth grade year. Many including me, switched from baseball to lacrosse in the spring because he would be the coach, and Mr. Comfort helped as his assistant. Coach Rice deserves credit as being the first lacrosse coach at Graland and one of the first in Colorado.
In 1976, Coach Rice left Graland and relocated with his family - wife Donna, and children who were all Graland students, Lanny, Janie, Larry, and Steven - to St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, LA where he would teach and coach high school and where Mr. Comfort would be the headmaster. There, Coach Rice continued to have a meaningful impact on his students, including in track and field where his teams won state championships.
One of his former students and former faculty member at Graland, Gurnee Munn (Class of 1964) summarizes Coach Rice and his impact eloquently. “Dave was ‘the coach’ and he had the ability to bring out the best in any student.  Be it teaching in the P.E. classes or coaching, he was able to explain what was being asked of a student and to encourage that student to give her or his best possible performance. Dave could enhance and fine tune the leadership qualities and self-confidence of any young athlete.”

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.