On a sun-splashed Friday afternoon, the Hammond community embarked upon a rare sentimental journey that found us reminiscing, reflecting, and paying heartfelt tribute to Head of School Chris Angel. For nearly two decades, Chris has been adding his own special brand of magic to life at Hammond. Serving as head of upper school from 2002-2009, and head of school since 2009, his tenure has been marked from the start by an indomitable spirit, a fiercely competitive nature, a love of all things red, and an unfailing commitment to the individual student.
Chris Angel Day began with a board of trustees event in the Upper School courtyard for a celebration that included remarks by past and present board chairs, former Head of Upper School René Bickley, and Head of Middle School Andy North. The Select Ensemble performed its signature song, Total Praise, and Jim Lalumondier, lower school art teacher, gifted a painting of the Innovation Center as viewed from the windows of Barks Hall.
Perhaps the greatest surprise of the day was when Governor Henry McMaster presented Chris with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor bestowed upon a South Carolinian. In addition to this significant honor, the Innovation Center now bears tribute to his vision and design influence on this unique learning space.
Sound bites from the day included:
“To say he has led with a sense of humility, care for his colleagues and students, and pride in anything and everything Hammond red would be an understatement. He will be leaving a legacy that transcends future generations of Hammond Skyhawks who enter these gates.” – Read Folline
“Chris, you’ve taught us how to respect each other, you have taught us about teamwork, how to find our better selves, and you’ve taught us in anything we do, how to finish strong, and for that we thank you.” – Mike Penland
“The phrase ‘get out of your comfort zone’ quickly became synonymous with Chris Angel. Mention it to anybody who knows him and there will be instant recognition and probably a story or two to tell. Chris gets it that struggle makes you stronger and strength breeds success.” – René Bickley
“Chris has been a teacher, an advisor, a mentor, and most importantly, a friend. Throughout all of that, no matter what his roles have been, his unwavering dedication to school is steadfast. One of the greatest compliments you can give someone in our business is to say they are a school person. Chris is the embodiment of a true school person.” – Andy North
“It’s the little things that make Hammond uniquely Chris. Red touches throughout campus to maximize school spirit, the wind-powered lighting to stimulate curiosity, the technology-enabled guard gate to keep our children safe, and the rocking chairs to make this place feel like home. As amazing as this physical campus has become under Chris’ leadership, it’s not what we see, but what we feel, that is Chris’ true legacy.” – Jason Tompkins
The day ended with a school wide pep rally at Edens Stadium and recognition from students in all three divisions. It was a red-letter day in celebration of a remarkable 19-year tenure.