Gilman School celebrates 100 years of educating boys Anniversary: The former Country School for Boys commemorates 100 years of transforming its pupils into men of character.

September 06, 1997|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Saying "Happy birthday, Gilman," and smiling for a far-off camera, the 970 students of the Gilman School posed yesterday for an anniversary photo that, their headmaster said, "will be on the walls of Gilman for another 100 years."

The boys assembled on stone bleachers and spilled onto the grass of the football field on the Roland Park campus, as a photographer stood half a field away shouting, "One more picture."

The photo preceded a convocation that marked the opening of this school year and of the private boys' school's 100th year.

The centennial year will be marked by a lavish homecoming weekend next month, the final two programs of an education symposium, the publication of a collection of memoirs called "Gilman Voices, 1897-1997" and a $15 million capital campaign.

From its beginnings as the Country School for Boys, at the Homewood mansion at Johns Hopkins University, Gilman has prospered into one of the city's most elite and well-endowed schools, with graduates dotting literary circles and corporate boards locally and beyond.

"We are a band of brothers, brought together at Gilman from every corner of Baltimore," headmaster Archibald R. Montgomery IV told the students. "We are the benefactors of a proud heritage."

A Baltimore mother, Anne Galbraith Carey, founded Gilman when she could not find a suitable school for her son, Frank, and refused to send him away from home to boarding school.

With the help of Hopkins' first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, and Baltimore Judge William A. Fisher, the school opened with 32 youngsters, ages 11 to 13, in September 1897.

Carey's work produced a flurry of "country day" schools throughout the country. All adhered to her formula of vigorous studies in the morning, a hot meal followed by study hall and then sports in the country air.

In 1910, the Country School for Boys moved to its current location at 5407 Roland Ave. and became known as Gilman Country School for Boys. In 1951, it became simply Gilman School. It now enrolls boys in pre-first through 12th grades.

Originally an all-white school, Gilman admitted its first black students in the mid-1960s and hired its first black faculty member before that. Since then, the school has pushed to diversify its student body. In the 1996-1997 school year, minority students made up about 24 percent of the enrollment, and about 10 percent were black.

Yesterday, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke was the guest of honor at the 30-minute convocation, which included hymns, prayers and brief speeches. Modeling the navy blue centennial hat presented to him, Schmoke said, "A graduate of City College appreciates any gift he can get from Gilman."

In his formal remarks, the mayor spoke of Gilman's many contributions to the city, including the school's interest in diversifying the student body, in reaching out to boys from poor families and in encouraging young men to "a life of challenge and service."

Although the school is far bigger, richer and more influential than in its shaky first years, Gilman's mission is still the same, said headmaster Montgomery. "We believe now as we have always believed that our principal task is to change boys of promise into men of character."

Pub Date: 9/06/97

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