• Michelle Teh

Alum Germano Diniz escorts us back in time to a simpler Stevenson

A shot of Douglas Hall back in the early '60s.

Stevenson is known for its many faculty alumni—teachers and staff who have returned to this campus after their own high school careers as Pirates. Yet what was Stevenson like before our time? In this article, I interview one of our faculty alum to find out about his high school experience and to paint a picture of what Stevenson used to be like in its early days.

He’s a dorm parent. He’s a coach. And he’s the chair of the Mathematics Department.

That’s right—As a student at Stevenson, Germano Diniz ‘88 was involved in just about everything: as student body president, a member of band, a prefect, a Senior Forum leader, and as an athlete. Enrolling at Stevenson his sophomore year in 1985, his relationship with the school goes way back, and follows the trajectory of his friendship with Peter Lips ‘87. “I’ve known Pete since I was a sophomore in high school… so about 35 years now,” Diniz confirms. “He tried to teach me how to hacky sack in front of the library but I couldn’t do it.” Classic.

Through conversing with Diniz, I learned that some things about Stevenson haven’t changed. Dorm Olympics (formerly dubbed “Resident Olympics”) and Stevenson’s KSPB radio shows—which Diniz hosted for three years—remain long-standing traditions.

Yet a lot has changed.

For starters, during his senior year, Stevenson introduced girls on campus for the first time. Diniz notes the transition from an all-boys to a co-ed school as one of the most drastic in the history of Stevenson. With 25 new girls moving into the girls side of Wilson to join a school of 125 boys, the entire dynamic of the school shifted. “There was a huge adjustment when girls moved on campus. Things just changed.” Diniz comments. He summarizes that Stevenson transformed “from a crazy boys school” to a “more civilized” one, and opines that this was a "step in the right direction.” When he came back 12 years later Stevenson girls had been well-integrated onto campus.

Diniz also highlights Stevenson’s transition from a day-school to a residential boarding school.

With a larger boarding to day student ratio, Diniz feels as though the student population has been flipped. He states: “It felt more like a day-school when I went to school here, because two thirds of the school were day students,” unlike the current set-up of the school, which feels more like “a residential school where day students come.” He adds that the international presence has also changed, with less Students from Saudi Arabia, which were unique to his time.

Picture shows Benbow, one of the oldest dormitories on campus, being torn down; at right is Day Hall.

Campus has changed. On top of all of the dorms having been renovated, there used to be payphones all around campus, and Simoneau’s was a student-run store. That’s right. Simoneau’s used to be a building: a lounge for kids to watch television and go get snacks—Ice cream, milkshakes, candy, you name it—after study hall.

Diniz reminisces fondly on his time as a high school student, stating: “It felt like summer camp in the evenings. It was fun.” He explains that without a large residential population to cater school events to, boarders “had to do [their] own stuff to have fun.” Personally, Diniz enjoyed playing arcade video games, which is “no different than some of the stuff that the boys do now.” In their free time, him and his friends would “just do silly stuff, running around the forest, just being kids. A lot of that stuff just kinda changed.”

Diniz also remarks that the atmosphere of the student body has become a lot more academic focused. “Students come in a lot more serious in terms of their approach to study.”

Among personal memories, Diniz’s fondest ones of high school were “the first time I set foot on this campus” and “the time I graduated… walking across the stage, being student body president, getting my diploma first… [was] a pretty exciting thing for me.” From a sporting perspective, beating PG in football his senior year was “probably the most fun I had as an athlete at this school.”

Yet, as any teenager would, Diniz had his moments, the most prominent being getting in trouble for going to a party his first week of school as a freshman. “I violated the standards of conduct my first week of school at Stevenson.’” Diniz recounts with a chuckle. “But, that’s why they give people second chances. If they didn’t give me a chance on me I wouldn’t be here.”

This philosophy of making and learning from mistakes reflects itself in Diniz’s experience with the JC system. “I’ve been the student being JC’d, the student who got picked for the JC, the advisor, the faculty person chosen to be on the JC.” Having “seen all those seats,” Diniz recognises that what he did “was probably no different than what a whole bunch of other kids did at any point in time.” He emphasises the importance of having the room to mess up: “It’s all a part about being a teenager.”

Finally, Diniz returned to Stevenson because he “wanted to impart the same wisdom” that was shared with him by the adults at Stevenson. “I absolutely came here because I have major respect for John Senuta, Jeff Young, and a variety of other people who helped shape me.”

Did he always know he wanted to be a math teacher? Diniz said, “Absolutely not. Nope. I thought I was going to work in finance, thought I’d wear a suit to work everyday. Never thought I’d be a coach. Never thought I’d be a teacher. But this is kind of how it all happened.”


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