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A Turning Point: Twenty-five Years Later

Posted By Karen Hallowell, Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The story goes like this: John Hoffman ’73, was running a youth tennis program for PepsiCo in NYC in the early ‘80’s when he was asked to be one of the first participants in a pilot alumni-admission program. One year later, then Head of School David Bourns asked John to focus his energies on identifying talented students of color for admission to George School. This request was one of the first significant steps in David’s signature effort to increase George School’s commitment to socioeconomic and cultural diversity within the student body. It was a moment that would change the future of George School in ways that no one could have imagined or dared to hope.
 
John leapt to David’s challenge and within two or three years created a system of outreach that included all of the middle and junior high schools in the city. Very soon, John had more wonderful candidates than George School could support and the program expanded to include Westtown School and Brooklyn Friends School. John devoted night and day to "his kids” and soon went full time, incorporating as a not-for-profit in 1984. The new organization was named Oliver Scholars Program to honor the late Dr. Albert G. Oliver, one of the NYC public school administrators who had opened many doors for John early on. John continued to serve as the Executive Director of the AGO program until the mid-1990s. (For more information about the Oliver Scholars Program, visit www.theoliverprogram.org.)
 
Jump ahead to a gala event in mid November 2009 at the Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan. Hundreds of people turn out to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Oliver Program, which has served and supported about 1000 students in almost 50 partner boarding and day schools. Laudatory, humorous, and touching speeches were made, including one from our own Sheena Wright ’86. George School was proudly represented, fielding the largest and most identifiable contingent of guests. A substantial group of GS-Oliver alumni joined David and Ruth Bourns, Nancy Starmer, and six other administrators and teachers to help celebrate John’s vision, determination, and courage. It was a night to remember, a night to be joyful, and a night to be grateful.
 
And grateful we will be, always. Thank you, John.

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Beatrice Wong says...
Posted Friday, December 18, 2009
Thanks for sharing about the event celebrating 25th anniverary of the Oliver Program. The program certainly changed my life with the opportunity to attend George School all those years ago!! Hope all is well with you Karen!! Bea Wong '86
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