Mr. Dwight Perry had an affinity for the letter "M." He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1899. He graduated from
Minot High School (another MHS), in Minot, North Dakota. He later taught in Meriden, Connecticut , and then moved
ultimately to a teaching position at Manchester High School where he engaged in another "M" word: mathematics. Marvelous
for the students who had him!
Mr. Perry taught over 5,000 students at MHS. Approximately one third of his students were teenagers during the Great Depression. Some of his students graduated from MHS to fight soon afterward in World War II and the Korean War. Eventually Mr. Perry had the children of many former students when it was their time for hypotenuse triangles, quadratic equations, and sines, cosines and tangents.
As if spending ten months of the year with his students wasn't enough, Mr. Perry, along with Mr. Russell Wright, took fourteen lucky students on a cross-country trip in 1953. And as if that wasn't enough, he did it again the following year, and the year after that, and yet again, until he and Mr. Wright handed over the baton to Paul Phinney and Gil Hunt in 1959. Anyone who's been in the car with three kids for more than an hour can marvel that this good man volunteered to spend six of his summer vacations driving across the country with fourteen teenagers.
Although we were lucky to have him as our teacher, Mr. Perry was not obviously fated for Manchester to begin with. He attended Minot Normal School in Minot, North Dakota and then taught in a one-room schoolhouse in North Dakota. He earned a B.S. degree from the University of Minnesota at the age of 24. For the following four years he taught mathematics and coached athletics in Devils Lake, North Dakota. The Devils Lake basketball and football teams won several district championships and two state championships while he was their coach.
For a short time Mr. Perry served as a school principal in Scobey, Montana, but his real love was the classroom. He left Montana and enrolled at Columbia University, in New York, to complete his Master's degree. He taught in Meriden to earn money while working toward his degree. Maybe it was then that he began to think that Connecticut might be a good place to settle down. In 1930, after finishing his degree, he landed in Manchester. In 1932, he married Miss Leone Cooling, another teacher, whom he had met while teaching in North Dakota.
When Mr. Perry began his career at MHS, he was assigned the additional responsibilities of faculty athletic advisor. He replaced a very familiar figure of our time at MHS, Edson Bailey, then a teacher. At the time of his retirement his dalliance with the letter M came full circle. At a high school basketball game he was honored for his long service to high school sports. He received a lifetime pass to all MHS games and was presented with his own varsity M, the coveted letter award won by MHS athletes.
During his 1960 Manchester Herald retirement interview, Mr. Perry commented on his long career at MHS: "I would say that if anything is different between the students of today and when I first started out, it is that they've become more sophisticated." He then said he did not see "how anyone can say that the kids are getting worse; if anything they're better." Mr. Perry passed away on April 26, 1968 at the age of 69. He is fondly remembered by his students for giving so much of himself to them.
Webmaster's Addendum: In late 2015 we received an email from Dick Jenkins along containing a picture taken on one
of the excursions described above; we believe the picture was taken in the summer of 1959, but aren't certain.
Click on the icon below to bring up a larger view as well as the names associated with the people in it. There are a number of people who haven't been identified; so if any of our readers believes they know some of the unidentified people -- or if you can provide any other information on this excursion -- please forward it to Susan Barlow at Sbarlow627@aol.com.
Reproduced 2011 from www.mhs1955.com with permission of its webmaster Dick Jenkins.
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