Kate McLaughlin, Staff Writer
October 20, 2023
Shortly before fall preseason, the Buildings and Grounds department mounted new banners outside the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms in the Morrison Athletic Center (MAC). Local artist Marc Beaupre created the work, replacing historic class pictures with images of athletes and graphics of school values.
The values on the banners—determination, excellence, service, humility, inclusivity, and legacy—promote diversity in Nobles Athletics and the larger school community. Historically, Nobles has lacked representation for students of different backgrounds and identities as an all-male predominantly white institution. This history was reflected in the class pictures displayed outside the locker rooms for years. Director of Athletics Alex Gallagher (N ’90), who was heavily involved in the commission and installation of the banners, said, “[The class pictures] are the history of the school, but they send a tough message about this place being home.” Over the years, instead of representing Nobles Athletics, the images became an unwelcome reminder of the school’s traditionalist history, especially to community members who identify differently than the graduates depicted.
With the new changes, the new banners better reflect Nobles’ current community. To preserve the legacy of the graduated classes, Nobles installed a television that provides access to all class pictures in the MAC. Regarding the digital archive, Gallagher said, “Little things like this, both here and in other areas in school, send a strong message that this is home to everybody who’s here. And we’re making the effort to make sure that the images [our community] sees on the wall represents them, their backgrounds, and what they care about.” In this way, Nobles’ history remains accessible, while the banners more accurately representing the student body are prominently displayed.
(Photo Credit: Avery Winder)
Since admissions started welcoming a more diverse range of candidates in the 1990s, the administration has made similar strides towards ensuring a more equitable environment; pictures around campus were assessed to ensure accurate representation of the student body, an effort led by Head of Middle School John Gifford (N’ 86) and Archivist and Librarian Heidi Charles. Regarding the project, Gallagher said, “[Replacing pictures with banners] has been athletics driven, but also with Mr. Gifford and Ms. Charles who are overseeing this school-wide and trying to make sure that we’re doing things that are consistent, respect the history of the school, and respect the present day of the institution.” In addition to replacing the class pictures and other images at the MAC, continued evaluation of photos on campus should drive future renovations.
Chief Equity Officer Edgar De Leon (N’ 04) also played a role in reviewing the class pictures. In keeping with the guiding principles of his department, De Leon took the initiative against them. He also encouraged faculty members to reflect on diversity in the school community, gaining support for the banner project. Head of School Cathy Hall and Chief Financial and Operations Officer Steve Ginsberg offered tremendous support to De Leon. “They were very supportive of this and wanted to do it right, and we’re super appreciative of that,” Gallagher said of the two. Their assistance in replacing the class pictures further underscores the school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
So far, the community has been receptive to the banners, although faculty who worked on the project welcome more reactions. “We’re open to feedback in any way and to have conversations with folks about why we did it,” Gallagher said. The banners will remain outside the locker rooms for the next few years. However, every four or five years, the pictures will rotate to represent the new makeup of the evolving student body. Gallagher said, “We want our current students, when they walk those hallways, to see faces and people that represent them and their own backgrounds, and we think that we’ve been able to do that now, while also honoring the history of the school.”