Community Service - Kingswood Oxford

Archivist's Corner

December 10, 2021

Community Service

The holiday season is an especially charitable time. Caring beyond self is a school value that Oxford, Kingswood, and KO have held near and dear since the founding of the schools. The earliest examples of community service go back to the early days of Oxford School. 


The Oxford School Association was created in order to raise funds for charities. With World War I came an intense feeling of patriotism and Oxford students organized fundraisers for the Red
Cross and foreign relief organizations. School founder, Miss Martin, encouraged the girls to run OSA because the group was “a strong feature in shaping the public sentiment and morale of the entire school.” Some students folded material for surgical dressings and others sold Liberty bonds and War Saving Stamps. In 1918, The OSA sponsored a patriotic charity benefit at the Hartford Club. Tickets cost $1.00! The event raised $575.00.  


Paint and Putty, Oxford’s drama society, raised money for local charities through the production of an original play in 1927 and again in 1929. During World War II, students helped at blood drives and knitted for British war relief. HeadMistress Dorothy Graff (1948-1962) formed the Service Club, which offered services to area hospitals and helped to run the Oxford Fair for charity. Special charity events included the Thanksgiving dinner at the Union Settlement for the elderly, the Foster Parents Plan, and support for needy children abroad. During Headmaster Edward Stevenson’s tenure (1962-1972), Oxford’s ninth and tenth-grade students volunteered as tutors at the Barnard Brown School in Hartford’s North End. 


Today, students continue the tradition of helping those in need in so many ways, including collecting food for Loaves and Fishes and funds for natural disaster relief, tutoring at Fox Middle School, the middle school Giving Tree, hands-on help in Tobatí, Paraguay, during March break, and even helping local animal shelters. 


The Oxford Class of 1950 summed it up beautifully in their yearbook dedication-

“We the Class of 1950 dedicate this book to the interest in serving our community, 
which is constantly becoming a more important part of our school life.”


Please enjoy the following memory submitted by Sandra McDonough, Oxford Class of 1956.


Over the years, memories send us back to our formative years. A striking memory for me is Ellen K.Wuori, our Finnish Latin teacher. Oh, what a devil she was.


Latin was one of my classes from eighth grade through junior year. I clearly remember our classroom in sophomore year, the large room off the area on the second floor. We had lunch with a teacher at the table – to remind us of manners – and for Miss Wuori’s table, an exercise in spoken Latin. Certainly, there was little chit chat and not one of us could come up with the proper words for peanut butter soup. Yes, peanut butter soup. But Miss Wuori had the words in Latin, of course! We dreaded being assigned to her table in the old dining room.


Miss Wuori did have a sense of humor and o

ften she would give us a life lesson. The one which sticks in my mind was why we should always have a car with a standard transmission. If one had an automatic transmission, she would warn that our left legs would atrophy from lack of use. She had a funny old two-door coupe – and for sure it had a standard transmission. One had to be prepared for her classes. And I still wonder why I was sitting in the front row. Did she make me sit there as I could easily be a disruptive influence? One day I scrambled to get ahead of her in the reading. It was a story about Caesar and his camps in Europe. You all know that an unprepared student sticks out like a sore thumb and is clearly obvious to the teacher. Well, I was unprepared. She told me I should be at Hartford High School learning how to become a dime-store clerk-in English-so I wouldn’t miss her message. I was never unprepared again. When I got to college, I faced the need for a language. Latin was my choice and I sailed through.


Many years passed and Miss Wuori faded from memory. For reasons best known to another, I chose to go to law school at age 40. One evening in civil procedure, I came upon a lengthy passage in Latin in the case book. I struggled to get through translating as best I could. You can imagine how stunned I was when presented with an asterisk at the end of the paragraph. Nerts! How stupid I was to have overlooked it. Miss Wuori was sitting on my head helping with the translation, which, miraculously, went well. The professor, a dear, sweet man who always wore bow ties and every evening, thanked us for coming to his class. He saw my struggle, my shock, and gave me a warm smile. He knew I knew a good bit of Latin. And, by the way, a knowledge of Latin was helpful in law school.


But that’s not the end of Miss Wuori’s influence.


When getting ready to graduate from law school, I decided I’d need a diploma in Latin, having not chosen one of the heavenly seven for college. I called Miss Wuori and asked her to translate the law school’s diploma to Latin. She greeted me warmly, asked about my family and classmates. Hanging on my office wall is a diploma from the only year the University of Bridgeport School of Law issued diplomas in Latin.

A gracious teacher at the end.

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