Class Gift

 

The Doors In 1967 – Our Senior Year

Classmates:

Have been following this interesting discussion. Good points made. While I like what Laird and others have suggested as a class gift, I think it would be good to consider giving a gift that encapsulated the spirit of our time at Webb. Yeah, a gift like this would have to take into account our teachers. Our coaches. Our mentors at the school. And of course the events that happened to us (as a group living in a community together) of from September 1966 to June 1967 when we all scattered like seeds in all directions (like Ray might suggest).

Back in 1993 I actually wrote an unpublished manuscript (seen by no one yet) called The Shadow Line (like the famous Joseph Conrad short story) about my senior year at Webb. It starts out somewhat like Hunter Thompson’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. But now it is me in that car, coming back for early football practice at Webb rather than heading through the desert into Las Vegas. I’m in my Webb Classmate’s high-powered Mustang. We had been best friends since we both arrived at Webb in our sophomore year. He was the offensive lineman blocker in front of me on the football team.

So the old novel about my Webb senior year sits in its pile of manuscript papers in the basement. Now I’m writing a biography of Ray Alf with Alf Museum Director Don Lofgren. (As many of you already know) I’ve created the initial outline as many of you know. Don will be working from this outline and I will be working from this outline. Co-authors of the biography.

So I see things from this perspective. The symbolism of going there at that place and being with you all. It was such an honor and saving grace for me in life.

I see things from the symbolic perspective. What this place and time and people meant in my life. Thinking back on that senior year at Webb in 1966 and 1967. One thing it meant from the beginning that it was some type of symbol related to my father. For he had graduated from the original Webb School in Tennessee. There was an importance of me carrying on some type of tradition here. Arriving on the campus in 1964 on a school tour for me the obvious choice was Webb as my father and doctor Webb immediately began talking and sounding much like each other.

But what did graduating from Webb mean to me? Particular that senior year we graduated from Webb to define us.

What did this senior year mean to us? I think of one of my teachers who used to take me and a few others into Hollywood to catch many of the avant-garde movies of the time. Jim Morrison was live at the Whiskey A-Go-Go (two blocks down from where I lived in LA for two years. In the hills above Sunset Strip. And there were other teachers who became mentors at this time.

The key thing that happened to me this year in my life I feel should be the key part of a gift. Not a statute that others pass in the park. Or something else that has no meaning to me. I want to give another class the true symbol of this time in my life. What it meant to me.

Looking back I would suggest the key thing that happened in that year was expansion outward and going outside the school to things happening in Hollywood and LA at the time.

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Bringing Top Leaders In Various Fields to Webb

Webb 1967 Class Gift

Education/Exposure/Mentorship/A New Type of Reality TV Show/Series

Perhaps one of the first class gifts that doesn’t fit on a shelf somewhere.  But the gift has a type of story. It provides an annual continuing speaker series as a class gift. Webb senior year for me was a time when I was given these amazing outside experiences to digest and figure out for the first time. As a class gift, I would create some type of speaker series that would help introduce Webb seniors to the top talent in the fields they are interested in pursuing at the present time or helping them define what they are interested in pursuing in the future years of college and maybe graduate school.

By this method, given by the Webb Class of 1967, seniors in areas of interest at Webb are matched with potential mentors in these same areas. Many of the mentors might come from the entertainment industry of which Webb has a number of famous alumni. Many might donate their time free to this project with this in mind. But mentors should bring the best in the world as a Speaker at a WebbTalk given (and filmed) one or two times (or more) a year on the Webb campus.

The speakers the leaders from at the top companies in the nation or world. The top start-up entreprepreneurs. Eventually, these mentors should turn out to be more and more Webb alumni.

The Class Gift program offers a new type of interpersonal connection between the Webb seniors and the Speaker at the WebbTalks event. Be this Speaker a celebrity film star. Or, legendary musician. A leading politician. The heads of the greatest companies in Silicon Valley. A connection to Stanford.

The Class Gift will fund a weekend full of events with the Webb seniors and the WebbTalks speaker on the weekend after he/she gives the talk at Webb.. The Speaker will get to know the members of this group very well. A good connection with the Speaker as they spend a weekend with a select few Webb seniors.

Somewhat, create a type of private high-school TedTalks branded (if legally OK, all you classmate lawyers out there listen up) maybe the WebbTalks (gets away from the masculine and honors Vivian Webb much more) The lectures would introduce promising seniors at Webb to the speakers via post-lecture events. The students particularly interested in the speaker would spend a weekend with the speaker.

The class gift of the WebbTalks Speaker Series would be filmed and then syndicated or licensed around the nation. The class gift would attempt to bring the top talent in the arts (Hanley, DH Larry) sciences (Raybo)  humanities (McMillin), sports (Coach Perry, Merritt, DeFrancisco) and whatever else anyone might want to come up with. Perhaps politics? The top entrepreneurs in the nation brought to the campus to speak to the student body but then hang out with seniors after the formal talks. Top film executives from nearby Los Angeles. The greatest artists of the times. The leading upcoming novelists. Screenwriters. Directors.

* * *

I know this proposes an unusual class gift. Whether class members agree with this idea or not, I simply hope that classmates would spend a little time reflecting on that particular time when we were seniors in high school, in southern California, in 1966 and 1967. Reflect on this time and and what it meant to you.

So for me, the class gift would create a type of fund to bring key people to Webb to speak in a type of WebbTalks program that would be filmed. The program would be open to all Webb students without charge. The program would sponsor (or person could donate time) to be with a selected number of senior students over a weekend. The Webb senior would have an opportunity to establish a type of mentorship relationship with the person while they are in college.

This would involve a much earlier point in time for mentorship than other methods. Webb seniors who take advantage of this program will be asked if they want to join the Speakers program and come back to Webb to speak and mentor. The talks and weekend events would be filmed and syndicated. Money earned from this would go back into the 1967 Class Gift as a type of trust somewhat like sponsored/gifted professorships at colleges.

The program would create a circular feedback loop whereas it would continue to improve and bring speakers to Webb that represent primarily those chosen by seniors or in the areas seniors at the time are interested in. The Class Gift would encourage this cyclic learning and improvement of their class gift as a type of stock commodity that has increasing/decreasing value depending on a growth index created for the enterprise.

I think there are a few key elements to the program: 1) find key issues for seniors 2) bring in speakers who address these issues 3) cultivate mentorship between seniors and these speakers 4) refine the program 5) film the programs and make recordings of them 6) circulate the films and recordings via YouTube, TuneIn Radio, social media, podcasts, cable network, etc. 7) create presence on FaceBook, Twitter, WordPress. The various Speakers would spend a weekend (perhaps more) as guests living on the Webb campus getting to see the student lifestyle. Hopefully, many of the speakers coming to Webb will be Webb alumni donating their time to Webb.

Ultimately, the program attempts to establish a continuing connection between Webb seniors and key people in the world the Webb seniors are interested in knowing more about. An important result would be establishing mentorships between these speakers and Webb seniors that will continue on through higher education and into their careers. Those who were mentored and rise to important positions in various industries would be encouraged to participate in the program by becoming speakers and mentors themselves.

My two cents worth.

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John

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