By Rohan Prabhu (V)

On November 13, 2020, both in-person and remote students tuned in to watch the annual John Hanly Lecture on Ethics and Morality. With the unfortunate passing of Mr. Hanly in August, it was only proper that this year’s lecture would honor its namesake and Pingry’s former headmaster. 

Mr. Levinson prefaced the lecture with a few remarks about Headmaster Hanly’s impact on the Pingry community; he mentioned that “[Mr. Hanly’s] leadership helped to shape Pingry . . . and [he] is remembered most for his commitment to ethical and moral education . . . as he expanded the scope of our Honor Code.”

Pingry also invited Mr. Al Romano, a former Drama Department chair, to speak to Mr. Hanly’s importance to the community. 

Mr. Romano’s speech was a strong testament to Mr. Hanly’s focus on morality and virtue, as he highlighted Mr. Hanly’s philosophy on running Pingry. Mr. Romano, noted “[Mr. Hanly] placed in the hallway a bench, where he could often be seen sitting, chatting with students.” This gesture reflects Mr. Hanly’s emphasis on connecting with Pingry students.

Drawing on an end-of-year speech made by Mr. Thomas Keating, Mr. Romano recalled Mr. Hanly’s public speaking skills. Mr. Keating explained that Mr. Hanly’s emphasis on a positive teacher-student relationship empowered teachers to continue their work, even as summer vacation approached; this quality made Mr. Hanly a masterful teacher. In addition, he led an annual tradition of reciting “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas to help alleviate the stress of college admissions and more. As a tribute to Mr. Hanly’s legacy, Mr. Romano recited this poem himself.

Following Mr. Romano’s remarks, a panel of students from the Middle School student government and the Upper School Honor Board were invited to the stage. These students read messages from former students of Mr. Hanly’s during his time as Head of School. Each of the messages reflected on Mr. Hanly’s morality; one note, read by Olivia Telemaque (V), shared a fond memory: “Mr. Hanly was an inspirational leader of Pingry. During my difficult first year at college, Mr. Hanly sent a letter from Pingry with a quote from an educator, regarding struggle and character. I wrote to Mr. Hanly explaining how his letter touched me deeply. He wrote back a kind and encouraging letter. I kept his letters in my desk drawer throughout college and medical school as inspiration and encouragement,” Jong Yung shared.

The 2020 Hanly Lecture on Ethics and Morality highlighted Mr. Hanly’s role in Pingry’s growth, as he helped sculpt the school into what it is today. The Pingry community is forever indebted to his work, and both Mr. Romano’s speech and the messages shared by alumni are a tribute to his long-standing impact on Pingry.