BATH — Joe Gauld isn’t your average soon-to-be 90-year-old, and it was way back on New Year’s Eve in 1962 that led him to where he is today.

“I experienced a crisis of conscience when I realized I was part of an educational system that was failing students everywhere,” said Gauld, the founder of Hyde School in Bath. “That realization tagged me in a giant game of ‘it’ to go out and do something about it.”

Gauld will be honored this weekend by the school he founded during a celebration for his 90th birthday and the school’s 52 years of operation. The We Are Hyde Celebration Weekend and Joey’s Jubilee begins Friday with a welcome reception and ends with a brunch on Sunday.

Erin Brown, the school’s executive director of development, said they are expecting about 400 people from all over the world for the celebration this weekend, which starts with a concert and BBQ on Friday night. There will be a 5K run, Kennebec River cruise, alumni lacrosse game and a trip to Popham Beach during the day Saturday before the formal gala dinner that night.

The school is also dedicating the dining hall and kitchen to longtime employees John Brawn and Bob Masse. And James Irving, Al McLain, James Grasty, Lisa Geller, Robert Irving and Shannon Curry are being inducted into the school’s Alumni Hall of Honor.

“We’re very excited,” Brown said.

Gauld founded the school in 1966, and he said at the time he felt overwhelmed, but “honoring the commitment I made that night (in 1962) to find a better way to prepare kids for life has given me a life of fulfillment that makes every day important and meaningful to me.”

Gauld still works a full day “at full blast” most days and teaches public speaking, said his son Malcolm, the school’s executive chairman. He said there’s a running joke on campus that he’ll retire before his father.

“That’s probably a safe bet,” Malcolm Gauld said.

The school celebrated its 50th anniversary two years ago with a big celebration, and Malcolm Gauld said they decided they wanted to celebrate his father’s birthday (the official date is July 25) and get more people to come back and see what Hyde has become over the years.

“It’s a couple of years process (to start planning), so right after the 50th, we sat down and started thinking about how the next celebration was going to look,” Brown said. The next big event will probably be the school’s 60th anniversary in 2026.

Malcolm Gauld said his dad has always had a goal to change American education to something character based and not with as much emphasis placed on achievement. That goal, he said, is why his father keeps coming to work each morning around 8 a.m. as he approaches his 90th birthday.

“He’s like a shark because when a shark stops moving, it dies, so he’s always moving,” Malcolm Gauld said.

The school likes events that bring alumni back together because part of the experience at Hyde is centered on character and relationship building, and alumni and parents build relationships that remain a part of their lives forever.

And faculty members and staff like to see what former students have become.

“They say as a teacher, you never get to see where your influence will end,” Malcolm Gauld said.

He said the relationships are so strong that you can go 10 years between seeing your classmates, but as soon as everybody is together again, it’s like they were never apart.

“You go right back to giving each other grief and teasing each other about the same stuff from 10 years before because on campus, you’re together all the time,” Malcolm Gauld said. “I think that’s one thing that draws people back.”

For more information on Hyde School, visit www.hyde.edu.

 

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