A new seventh-grade tradition at Graland School is a study of Alzheimer’s in science class. In the fall, all seventh graders created a memory box to honor a special person in their lives. With a little bit of help from their parents, they collected materials that told a visual story about the people they were honoring. Both Nanette Newman, the organizer of the project, and Cathy Naughton, one of our art teachers, supervised each advisory group as each seventh grader created these boxes.
In the winter, the seventh graders choose one novel to read as part of an intergenerational unit that supported the Alzheimer’s project. They read, annotated, analyzed, and answered study questions. This year the students read The Cay, Pop, What Flowers Remember, and Hour of the Bees. While the students were reading their novels, they also wrote a biography of the person they would honor at an evening event held at the school. In addition, in science class, the students researched Alzheimer’s disease and wrote a paper. Before the students began, they spent some time in the library with Ashleigh Finn, our Middle School librarian, who offered tips on researching, taking notes, citing quotes and sources, avoiding plagiarism, etc. The project will culminate this Wednesday with an evening devoted to showing the memory boxes to parents and friends.
School history is featuring a biography written by Elliot Rutherford ‘19 on Pam Bent, a former Graland PE teacher and coach who also worked at St. Anne’s Episcopal School and St. Mary’s Academy. If Graland had an honorary Master Teachers’ Wall, Pam would be one of my choices. She was a woman whose honesty, talent, integrity, and athletic prowess all of us applauded. We miss her.
Enjoy Elliot’s thoughtful and touching tribute to a Graland legend:
“Pam Bent was born in 1944 in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was the older sibling in her family. Her sister is named Dede, and Pam was always the more athletic of the two. She went to a school called Greenwich Country Day School, which was really focused on athletics. They even had women's sports teams, which was not very common back then. The headmaster at the time attended every athletic game, which was unusual in the 1960’s.
“Pam’s family always valued sports; when she was little, her mom wanted her daughter to take ballet, but her father said that the kids were playing sports and that was the end of that. When Pam moved to Colorado, she took the sport of women's lacrosse with her. No one had a team when she moved, so she started her own. It started out as a little group, but grew, until it went to Nationals in California. Soon there was one high school with a women’s lacrosse team; then many high schools had lacrosse teams.
“Pam founded the Colorado School Girls Lacrosse Association. She was hired to coach at St. Mary's, and they were one of the best high school teams in Colorado. Soon after she was hired, my mom, JJ Rutherford, was hired to teach history at St. Mary's and ended up being the assistant coach alongside her. Pam taught at many schools, including Graland (where she taught for over 15 years), Colorado Academy, and then ultimately returning to St. Mary’s. In 1994, Pam received the Sportswomen of Colorado Annual Award.
“There are many stories about when Pam was a teacher at Graland. Once Pam was simultaneously the Athletic Director and the Fine Arts chair. She was constantly teased for never being at her desk because she always had things to do. Some of her colleagues decided to play a practical joke on her. They moved her desk out to Preisser Field to see if she would notice. They thought that it would be funny to see her reaction, but when she came around the corner, she went straight to her desk and started working out on the field, so she got the last laugh. She also had a lot of great Halloween costumes for the Graland parade, including the Fruit of the Loom gang.
“Although she loved coaching, Pam had so many things she wanted to do and her job was interfering with it. When she retired, she was missed dearly at St. Mary's and Graland. She moved to Silverthorne, Colorado where she could go camping in the summer and fishing in the spring. She also loved Tubac, Arizona, where she spent her winters. She always wanted to go to Disney World and never had kids of her own, so when my family went she came with us.
“Pam always loved dogs. She always had one around her like a person. One dog, in particular, was Olive. Olive was a labrador who was a little fat because Pam was always giving her treats and pampering her. One time Pam had just bought a new bag of dog food home and left it in the place where she stored all the treats and toys. Somehow, Olive got into the new bag of dog food and ate sixteen cups where she was only supposed to have one cup a day. Pam rushed Olive to the vet to get her stomach pumped. Somehow, everything worked out and Olive lived.
“Pam lived life to the fullest, but her life did not go on forever. On December 11, 2016, at age 72, she died from Primary Progressive Aphasia, a neurological disease similar to Alzheimer’s. Pam was a friend to many people. To most who knew her, she was a legend. She brought women’s lacrosse to Colorado and watched it grow. She was a master flyfisher and a teacher. To me, she was family. She attended many Grandparents' Days at Graland with my sister and me, and we always went to Casa Bonita afterward, in spite of its horrible food. She took my sister and me to Disneyland and went on all the rides with us, even Splash Mountain. Her death affected countless people, but she left behind a lasting legacy to all who knew her.”
A legend, indeed! Thank you, Elliot.