Tribute honors late Barrington High School principal
Emotions ran high as Cheryl Gray unveiled the plaque revealing the likeness of her husband, John R. Gray, during a special ceremony on Saturday morning where the high school auditorium was named for the late BHS principal.
Mr. Gray led the school for 29 years before retiring in 2009. He passed away last August after a brief battle with cancer.
The dedication ceremony took place in the foyer just outside the auditorium where Mr. Gray’s name is predominantly displayed above the entrance.
Joseph Hurley, current principal at the high school, acted as master of ceremonies. He poignantly described Mr Gray’s demeanor as he started each school day standing in front of the auditorium greeting students: “Every morning John would be standing here with his arms crossed, always with a joke or a comment. It was an opportunity for staff to get a moment with him. John would always end the school day in the same position,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Mr. Hurley said the school community at large decided to dedicate the auditorium to Mr. Gray after much deliberation.
“Naming this for John holds a deeper meaning. He greeted thousands of freshmen and their families here and left them with words of encouragement and safety right before graduation. More than that, John loved the arts in all its capacities and and would attend every performance in this space, often with Cheryl,” Mr. Hurley said.
Barrington School Committee Vice Chairman Patrick “Buzz” Guida said he had known John for many years and worked with him very closely on the renovation project at the high school.
“... This auditorium was John’s baby. He was focused and diligent in its design because saw the importance of the arts. This is the best possible tribute to John,” Mr. Guida said.
Janet D. Allison of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) was a long-time colleague of the late principal and more than that, she said they were good friends.
“John influenced many students beyond Barrington High School with his contributions on the commission. I know he had two passions — his family and this high school and the school community as a whole,” Ms. Allison said.
In attendance at the dedication ceremony were family, friends, colleagues, retired teachers and administrators as well as former students.
Scott Morpeth, network operation manager for the school department, was more than just a coworker with John Gray.
“I was in his first graduating class and John was principal when my two oldest sons graduated. He was always there with a kind word and remembered his former students by name. The biggest honor I ever received was when he called me a colleague,” Mr. Morpeth said.
Another former Barrington high school graduate, Anthony Arico, said he too considered John Gray a colleaugue.
“In 1984, John called me and asked me to videotape graduation for local cable access. We have been doing it ever since. He did so much for me personally and for the community. He is surely missed by many,” Mr. Arico said.
— By Joan D. Warren