HM Alumni are puzzled by recent steps the school has taken that seem peculiar:
— Alumni were not included in the dedication of “Alumni Field,”
— Those abused by Mr. Clark and others were not consulted on the renaming of the former “Clark Field,” and
— An article the following week cited three alumni without the paper consulting them; the paper issued corrections.
Below is the letter to the editor of the HM Record in response from two of those involved, published this past Friday, Nov. 6th, 2015:
We are among the dozens of students who were sexually abused by our trusted teachers at Horace Mann, and one of us was abused by Headmaster R. Inslee Clark, after whom the former “Clark Field” was named.
We were pained and distressed to see our names in print in the October 16th Record, cited as “proponents” of a decision about the renaming of “Main Field,” despite the fact that we were not proponents of that decision and had not been consulted on it. Dr. Kelly has phoned us to apologize and to communicate the reporter’s apology, and The Record’s Editor has also published an apology. We accept these apologies.
Nonetheless, the rededication of the field represents a missed opportunity for our community. It seems strange that those who were abused by Mr. Clark and others were not consulted on the renaming of the former “Clark Field.” And it seems strange that alumni were not included in the dedication of “Alumni Field.”
There is a constructive way to move forward toward healing and eventually to an on-campus memorial. Since the abuse was revealed publicly in 2012, many in the HM community, including the Survivors’ Group, the Alumni Council, and The Record’s former Editor-in-Chief (in a May 2014 opinion piece), have called upon the school’s leadership to provide a public accounting and acknowledgment of what happened, based on the memories of current and former school personnel and based on the school’s own files. The Survivors’ Group has also asked repeatedly to meet with the Trustees for constructive dialogue, but the Trustees have declined to meet face-to-face with us, other than as part of a legal process.
Poly Prep faced a similar situation and managed to address it in a way that was able to bring the beginnings of healing to many of the Survivors of abuse there, the alumni, and the current students and faculty. Through a series of meetings between members of the Survivors and school Administrators and Trustees, including open dialogue about what transpired, and plans for a fitting ceremony which included speeches and dedication of a memorial, both sides worked together to take a much needed step towards healing and unity.
If we can achieve a similar process and outcome, then Horace Mann might be able to bring together the entire community, including members of the Survivors’ Group, to create a fitting memorial that would be healing to our community – both for past memories and for future generations.
We have spoken with Dr. Kelly, and are hopeful that we can organize something along those lines, and step forward, hopefully culminating in a memorial service and dedication in the near future, that can bring together Alumni, current students and faculty, and renew old friendships.
Joseph Cumming ’77 and Jon Seiger ’79
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