By Julian De Ocampo ’13
In the more than 80 years of Brophy’s existence, young men from a number of different eras have walked its halls.
A number of alumni through the ages now occupy positions as Brophy teachers and have seen the school and its students change over time.
English teachers Mr. Tom Danforth ’78, Mr. Scott Middlemist ’87 and teacher Mr. Steve Smith ’96 represent three different decades of Brophy alumni who have seen Brophy mature through the years.
Mr. Danforth said there was a different level of respect towards school administration amongst some of the students in the 70s.
“One of the guys in my class was in a popular 80’s band called The Meat Puppets. When I was a senior, he got kicked out of school,” Mr. Danforth said. “He and his brother got in their little Volkswagen, drove down the hallway of the first floor of Brophy hall and flipped off the dean and principal before driving onto the front lawn.”
Mr. Danforth noted a positive change in students’ attitudes in this generation and said he wouldn’t predict such an incident to occur now.
“I think even nowadays, when people leave Brophy, they recognize that Mr. Bopp and Mr. Ryan are trying to do the best for them,” Mr. Danforth said.
Mr. Middlemist echoed these sentiments, noting an improvement in behavior.
“I think respect levels are higher in comparison if anything,” Mr. Middlemist said.
Mr. Smith said that as a teacher, he rarely sees a lack of respect amongst students and teachers.
“I rarely have any behavior problems, I rarely give JUGs and I don’t really hear about anything too bad,” Mr. Smith said.
However, despite this increase of respect, Mr. Danforth said that the biggest thing he misses is the strong bonds that students formed with their teachers.
“When I attended Brophy, there were only about 700 students, and I knew everybody at Brophy. I really miss the camaraderie between the students and the teachers,” Mr. Danforth said. “We could hang out and play poker with a teacher.”
Since Mr. Danforth’s attendance in the mid-70s, Brophy has expanded its size dramatically and is now attended by more than 1,200 students from roughly 150 feeder schools.
All three teachers also agreed that academically, students have continued to show an increase in motivation and dedication.
“When I graduated in ’78, there were rumors that Brophy was closing, so they took a lot of people that weren’t the most stellar academically,” Mr. Danforth said. “People have always been focused on getting into good colleges at Brophy, but I think it’s so much more serious now.”
Mr. Middlemist agreed about the intelligence of the current student body, but said that Brophy has always been a place for motivation and determination.
“I don’t think they’ve changed at all. Our kids are still hyper-competitive in all facets, whether it be academic or athletics,” he said.
Mr. Smith attributed the change in intelligence and respect to an increase in diversification.
“The overall student body more diverse and more intelligent,” Mr. Smith said. “The quality of the student body improves every year. Each year, the diversity of the school increases, which makes it much better.”
Mr. Smith said that part of this diversity stems from the introduction of a more extensive arts program at Brophy.
“Since we’ve expanded the arts program, we have a different caliber of artistic students with outlets than in the past,” Mr. Smith said. “Now we say things like, ‘Oh my gosh, that Michael Mandeville (’11) is so good,’ but back then, artists didn’t get recognized as much.”
Mr. Smith pointed out that it’s inevitable to have a few misbehaving students in any generation, but the important thing is to remember the class and it’s talents as a whole.
“We might remember a few guys who are disrespectful,” Mr. Smith said. “But those are just a few people out of over a thousand good guys.”