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Hill Community Gathers to Honor Ms. Dana Perry-Hunter

On Sunday, May 19, the Hill community gathered outside Meigs House, home of the Admission Office, to celebrate the legacy of beloved Hill faculty member and associate director of admission, Dana Perry-Hunter, who passed away in August 2023. The special event recognized the ways the Hill community and Dana’s family and friends chose to honor her legacy. Several Hill community members and Dana’s father, John Hunter, spoke about Dana’s impact and what they’ve done to follow in her footsteps.

Head of School Kathleen Devaney welcomed guests and shared details of the special recognitions in Dana’s honor, including the Meigs House porch and commemorative bench, The Dana A. Perry-Hunter Scholarship, The Dana A. Perry Hunter Prize, and painting by artist Gabe Leonard gifted to the School in her honor.  

“We are gathered around the porch of the Meigs House, in a building Dana loved so much and in which Dana spent countless hours in her 22 years at Hill welcoming new families to this family boarding school,” said Devaney.  “This porch also features a beautiful bench dedicated in Dana’s memory by her family and friends who are here with us today.”

Devaney also thanked all of the donors for their generosity, and shared the sentiments of the plaque inscription to be featured under Leonard’s “Frederick Douglass”, a gift to the School in Dana’s honor made by Hill’s Black Alumni Association:

In remembrance of her courage in the face of adversity, the kindness and compassion she extended to everyone she encountered, and her unwavering dedication to “Whatsoever Things are True.”

Guests then heard from Tom Eccleston ’87 P’19 ’21, assistant head of school for enrollment management, who worked closely with Dana in the admission office for many years. Eccleston touched on Dana’s ability to feel welcome and at home, even on her worst days. She found it important to be around her colleagues and the students, which embodied her tireless devotion to the School. He spoke about the creation of The Dana A. Perry-Hunter Scholarship and how touched she would be to have such an honor. The scholarship will be given to a deserving prospective student who will attempt to leave The Hill a better place than they found it.

Members of the Class of 2024, Danielle DeZart, Dana’s advisee, and David Slavtcheff, Student Alumni Ambassador, introduced The Dana A. Perry-Hunter Prize, which will be given to a sixth form student at Commencement each year who emulates Dana’s “love of people, and her determination to make a positive impact by championing each individual’s true potential and lifting up every life she touched.” DeZart shared a story about Ms. Hunter’s thoughtful gesture of taking her to get her nails done and buying her favorite drink for her before the sixth form dance the previous year. In this same way, the student prize recipient will have an “authentic care for the community.” Slavtcheff announced that the Sixth Form Gift Committee raised an impressive $6,599 from over 75 percent of the sixth form class, a testament to her commitment to the class as their sixth form adviser. “Like Ms. Perry-Hunter, the recipient of this prize will embody optimism, friendship, and omit a beacon of light no matter the circumstances,” Slavtcheff said.

In a surprise announcement, adviser to The Dial, Dr. Matthew Rinkevich, revealed that the 2024 Dial was dedicated in Dana’s name and presented a copy of the yearbook to Dana’s family. The edition of the Dial features a reflection by Brandon Jacobs, Hill class of 20027 and former faculty member, about a conversation he had with Dana, apologizing for not thanking her sooner. Dana told Jacobs that giving others the care and compassion that she gave him was enough thanks. She didn’t want to be rewarded for kind gestures, but only for those who received them to pay it forward. Rinkevich concluded by telling attendees to “live our ‘thank yous’ in ways both big and small.”

To end the celebration, Dana’s father, John Hunter, spoke about what all the beautiful remarks meant to him. He told stories about how community members have told him that Dana changed the trajectory of their lives with her passion, joy, and love for The Hill. He spoke directly to the students present about the educational privilege that Dana always students to recognize, “There is a responsibility that comes with the privilege of attending an outstanding school like The Hill. The responsibility is that you need to do something with it. Use the privilege for good.”

These tributes in Dana’s honor were made possible by the philanthropy of many people in our Hill community, especially alumni, employees, parents, the Hunter family, the Wu family, The Hill School’s Black Alumni Association, and the Class of 2024.