What Made Mepham Great

by Roger Mansell, Mepham '53

Even though I was not a wrestler (I chose x-country and track) I have had nothing but the utmost regard for Sprig [Gardner]. My best man was an admission officer at Brown and he still refers to Mepham as the school "run by the coaches." A coach's endorsement meant more than your grades as a recommendation.

What I see so often today with the failure of our schools is the failure of leadership. With Sprig and Mr. Calhoun, that was never the case. What was remarkable was that the wrestling program... its high standards of training and ultimate success... was contagious. Every activity became an equal search for excellence. Whether it was the choir, the newspaper, the yearbook or girls field hockey, the striving for excellence became the standard rather than the exception. The coaches and teacher began to assume we were capable of becoming the VERY best and within a few years, Mepham graduates began to assume we could get into the finest and best of the colleges. Every Ivy League school soon had at least one graduate. The class of '53 even sent two classmates to West Point.

The reality today is still the same. Great schools have great leaders. The military learned that lesson years ago. There are no bad units, simply incompetent unit leaders. If a unit, whether it be an Army or a Platoon fails in its mission, replace the leader, not the men. Mepham was the center of an average community but we had exceptional leaders and coaches. The spirits of men and women like Gardiner, Versocki, Sabetto, Laurel, Berwind, Alderfer, Nickerson, Pritchard, Ramell, Schneider, Carr and a myriad of others will forever roam the halls of Mepham and ...the lives of its graduates.

Exerpts from an e-mail message, December 6, 1997