Below is the wonderful speech Edward Murane delivered at the Alumni Reunion in 2018.
May 19, 2018
Ruth Gorham Award Speech
Jim, I am honored that you agreed to introduce me. Jim Arneil’s mom once said that Graland was “a rather unrealistic utopia; no marks, no criticism, every class, every course, fun.”. And that’s how we like to remember things.
Thanks to the Alumni Board, our fearless leader Taylor for his years of service, Kristin Weber for bringing us together, the Development staff, Josh Cobb, Juan Botello, Kristin Ryder, and Kevin Isaac. I want to recognize my mom Rosemarie (who is a former Graland Trustee and Development Director) and my Dad, Bill Murane for working 60 hours a week so that my brothers and I could have a progressive Graland education. To fellow honoree Greg Goldberg, this is our last rodeo; it seems like yesterday that it was just the kids’ Kindergarten Rodeo. Congrats! My gratitude to Master Teacher Philip Hickey for my nomination. I really don’t know what we’ll do without him (you know, the kids took every club he offered--Mythology, Roman Museum, Latin--anything--just to glean something from his brain and to laugh at his jokes). I had the privilege of watching him in The Dungeon, aka the archives and despite his yelling at me whenever I tried to label anything myself, I got to see what he preserved for us, including the incredible photographs on display in the lobby. If the past is something to relive and to experience, without his dogged efforts to maintain the archives, we would be all the poorer.
What if I told you that there was a place where, regardless of whether it was 2018 or 1927 children could take a donkey ride in a Sicilian cart, bring their pet to school (and everyone win a blue ribbon ), live the life of a Viking, take the Olympic oath, build a Roman Museum, delight in a marionette theater, hammer away in Charlie Wilkinson’s woodshop, become an archer, compete, make mistakes, give back, put on a circus, dance around the maypole, study the classics, visit Anasazi ruins, become an naturalist, throw raucous Christmas pageants,and most memorably, become a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table?
Surely no outsider would believe such a place existed, but we know better because Graland was, and is, all of these experiences.
I came to Graland totally unprepared from Washington D.C. public schools, but the late great John Comfort believed in me just enough from my admission essay--which was about football of course-- to let me in. Naturally, I distinguished myself on day one, 1973 by cursing like a sailor because I couldn’t open my gym locker. Coach Dave Rice marched me to the bathroom and made me wash out my mouth out with soap!
But things got better fast because we got to travel back in history through the time machine that was the mind of Nancy Priest. What I found in the archives brought back other memories including Senora Chayette’s Casa Bonita outing to order food in Spanish, Katie Dodge’s uncanny ability to find just the right library book, every time, Field Day, raising the flag, raising Phil’s blood pressure--before he could even take attendance, half day Fridays and heading to Shakey’s Pizza & Celebrity Sports Center on our own (which was a big deal then), being mesmerized by Ben Priest’s ghost stories under Navajo stars, surviving a ravenous grizzly bear ransacking our Yellowstone campsite, at midnight, for raw chicken and peaches (as we froze silently in our tents while Chuck Hughes ran the bear off with the school bus) and lastly, for my eighth grade science. project, my Dad and I hauling 100 gallons of live aquatic bugs fish from the Platte River to school and setting up a functioning trout stream aquarium (and Mr. Corwin having the nerve to give me a B+--still haven’t’ gotten over that!).
So, I’m here to honor the legacy of Ruth Gorham. In her book The First 50 Years, she wrote: “In Graland’s story there is magic…to imagine building a school far from the city, in the midst of a commonwealth of prairie dogs required the vision of the founding parents. To work constantly for its success, demanded courage, and persistence.” This great lady compiled our history, archives, and memorabilia for decades. How lucky, Mike Titleman said that we had as our historian--- one of the history makers. Mr. Hickey noted: “She was a master of grammar, vocabulary, and language and opened the eyes of generations to new cultures. Our school’s rich history might have been lost without her expertise. Always, everywhere, she ignited a spark in all of her students, continually nurturing a joy for learning.”
I stumbled upon Mrs. Gorham’s tribute to Chet Preiser which I must apply to her legacy: “Someone said that our immortality lies in the memories we leave with our friends.” Surely, then, Ruth Gorham is one of the immortals.
So here’s to her memory and to the handiwork of our Master Teachers. In their honor could everyone --please, for just a moment--recall your favorite teacher ---the one who inspired you to succeed, the one who imparted to you that joy of learning!
Knights Arise! Thank you!
Edward Murane, Class of 1978