The other night, our Pic of the Day showed the Staples High School foyer. A large tile representation of the school seal greets everyone who walks through the front door. It’s pretty cool (and special).
It’s an intricate seal. Where does something like this come from? (The design, not the tiles.)
Scott Brodie — a 1970 graduate, now an ophthalmologist practicing in Manhattan — knows. He writes:
“As I remember it, the seal was created by Dieges & Clust, the jewelry firm that manufactured Staples class rings back in the 1960s. The rings featured a standing Minute Man on one side, reminiscent of the kneeling statue that had long been a Westport icon.
“This seal was on the other side.
“At one point, I think during the 1969-70 school year, Dieges & Clust provided principal Jim Calkins with a framed copy of the seal, and an explanation of the iconography.
“The grapevine (upper left) is taken from the Connecticut state seal and flag; the bridge over water (upper right) recalls the Saugatuck River. Together, these features localize the school in Westport.
“The chipped stone arrowhead (lower left) recalls the original Native American inhabitants of the region; the cannon and pile of cannonballs recall the town’s Revolutionary War heritage (as do the cannons at Compo Beach, which recall the the British landing preparatory to a march and raid that destroyed a Continental ammunition store in Danbury).
“The stylized letter ‘S’ in the center signifies the name of the school. The burning torch bears the flame of knowledge. The year 1885 was thought to represent the founding of the school.
“The motto ‘Respect for Life’ was conjured out of thin air by the jeweler’s designers. (At the time, with the Vietnam war raging, it conveyed a hint of anti-war sentiment.)
“The design was never discussed or debated at the time, but was quickly adopted by the school and has been in use ever since.”
I have no idea how Scott knows the Dieges & Clust back story. But I do know this: The 1885 date is wrong.
Staples High School was founded in 1884. The cornerstone for the original building on Riverside Avenue was laid in April that year; classes began that fall in nearby National Hall, until the school was ready.
The first graduating class was 1886. It consisted of 6 girls. (The boys were off working on farms or in factories.)
So “1885” means nothing. Who will tell Diegs & Clust?
More importantly: Whatever happened to school rings? I haven’t seen one since