Since the School’s inception, a Belmont Hill student has epitomized a well-rounded person; each individual obtains success in a wide variety of fields through a brand of perseverance unique to the Hill. The same can be said of the teachers. Although most public schools and many Independent School League rivals hire outsiders to lead teams, Belmont Hill relies on the ingenuity and experience of its faculty to coach on the playing fields. No teacher at Belmont represents the School in a broader range of endeavors while still retaining effectiveness than Mr. Fran Kirby, a role model and character builder of young men for the entirety of his time (1982-2016) at Belmont Hill. Whether his leadership be observed on the track or in Morse, Mr. Kirby has been able to touch and have an invaluable impact on the lives of anyone whom he has known.
In the classroom, Mr. Kirby has inspired literally decades of students to enjoy reading and learning. His knowledge of the subject matter, such as Fagles’ translation of The Odyssey, is unparalleled at Belmont Hill. Although many students imagine Mr. Kirby as solely an English teacher, he has assisted the Classics department a plethora of times. This aspect of his teaching ability is what makes Mr. Kirby truly stand out; while many professionals can dissect Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis and others Ovid’s Metamorphoses, not many individuals possess the mastery to cross-reference the two works.
The most varsity letters a Belmont Hill athlete could even hope to attain are eighteen; in reality, the vast majority of students end up in single digits in terms of letters. Even the mere thought of fifty letters is blasphemous. By the cultivation of this Varsity Track season, Mr. Kirby will have coached 102 consecutive seasons over his time at the School, leading cross-country, cross-country skiing, and track to over a thousand victories and myriad championships. Indeed, under his tutelage, his teams have emerged victors more often than not. Mr. Kirby has rebuilt the track team, especially, reverting the team back into a perennial powerhouse; by looking at the banners which list the championships, one could not be faulted for comparing his teams to the 1960s Boston Celtics. Besides the championships, Mr. Kirby exerts much of his time and energy into helping the teams, whether by travelling to distant coaching meetings, buying the team food during away games, or coming in on off days to aid the jumpers and hurdlers. Mr. Kirby exhibits a passion for the well-being of his athletes that transcends that of other coaches; that passion, that love of Belmont Hill sports, especially the ones that get less attention, is what has made his teams so great. Needless to say, without his dedication, the endurance sports would not be nearly as celebrated nor as successful.
The relationships which he has forged have cemented what has made Mr. Kirby such a beloved teacher at the School. As the leader of Young Conservatives, Mr. Kirby has kept the conservative tradition at Belmont Hill alive and powerful. With that being said, all people, regardless of political affiliation, admire and respect Mr. Kirby; he treats everyone fairly. Whether the image be of his psychic aptitude for predicting weather or his idiosyncrasies in class, everyone has a positive memory of Mr. Kirby. Ultimately, while all will miss his presence in daily life, I wish him the best in the future and hope that he comes back to visit.