September 18, 2014
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Historic Homes
Hopelands, Rocky Hill School part 6
Don D'Amato

Our interview with Gerry Unger, who taught at Rocky Hill School form 1985-2008, gave us some insight into the philosophy of the school, which treated the entire person. In continuing with the theme that the school provides more than a classroom for students, Unger pointed out three playing fields that were beautifully designed and part of the grounds now. The playing fields provide for lacrosse and field hockey as well as the traditional sports that are seen in so many other schools.

HE also felt that there were so much of the new buildings going up but at the same time they always stayed true to the themes of Hopelands. While the period that Under remained at Rocky Hill he pointed out that the historic value of Hopelands was never compromised. Gerry humbly admitted that he has always had a good rapport with so many of his students. Two of them have had distinguished student awards and name Gerry as the teacher who made the most positive impact on them. He reiterated that Rocky Hill is not only teaching people what to learn but how to learn and they vary from boys and girls with very high IQ’s to those who are academically challenged. Special programs have been developed to serve all students. Many have gone on to very prestigious higher institutions of learning as well as the trades. Rocky Hill graduates have become creative and important members of their community.

In the years following the 1984 interview to the present, Rocky Hill has attracted students from all walks of life and also from a number of foreign countries, including Germany, India and Korea.

Rocky Hill School teaches from pre-K to 12th grade and all types of students. There are some students that come from very wealthy families as well as those that come from middle and lower income families. Many parents work two jobs to provide their children the benefits afforded by this excellent institution.

<*C>Udpate 2012

@T_Basic:In November 2011, Gerry Unger was gracious enough to give us a tour of Rocky Hill School and to point out the newer buildings and their uses. Gerry watched the school grow over the years and was keenly aware of how the school managed to keep the 19th century heritage intact while providing modern education for its students. As we walked form the Hopelands mansion towards Greene’s River, Terry, who had been at summer camp at Ricky Hill in 1972, exclaimed, “That’s the tree where my group met in the morning to take attendance. I can’t believe how much of my memories have come back. When I was little at this summer camp everything seemed so large. Now that I’m here as an adult the tree seemed closer to the road and the pond where we had swimming lessons seemed so much smaller. My aunt Lee was the swimming instructor here, and my brother Will, my sister Joanne and I all learned how to swim. Well, Joanne didn’t learn how then, but she was only 6.”

We toured along the waterfront, which has been so beautifully developed, up to the main buildings. Terry was wide-eyed as she was as a child. She was staring at the carriage house and she was so excited she told us, “This is where we would meet on rainy days. I also remember that we had a sleepover one night here and it was a lot of fun. I also remember my sister Joanne crying because she was scared as she had never been away from home before. She kept asking me so I would stay awake with her, and I finally told her to go to sleep. ‘We’ll go home tomorrow.’ My uncle Michael was in charge of the playing fields and always seemed to come up with new games for us to play.”

We learned from Gerry that the carriage house had been struck by lightning in 2004 and a section of it burned and has been rebuilt. Gerry was proud to say that the building now houses the art department and is producing some fine young artists.


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