Kervin hangs it up after 31 years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Features Editor

When it’s time to hang it up, you’ll know it.

Delaney Kervin knows it.

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"I had some second thoughts about coming to Pike Liberal Arts; I’ve had some second thoughts about staying, but I’ve not had a single second thought about leaving," the headmaster of 31 years said. "When it’s time to go, you know it, and it’s time for me to go."

Kervin’s retirement announcement brought a wave of sadness over the PLAS community.

He has been there "since day-one" and it was just a natural assumption that he would be there forever. But, all things must come to an end. It’s just especially sad when good things end.

"What can I say," Kervin said. "I can’t believe it’s been 31 years, but it’s been a tremendous 31 years.

In coming here, I was willing to work for less, but I got a whole lot more in things that are more valuable than money.

I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends and seen a lot of young people go on to be successful and contributing citizens. Those are the real rewards of my 31 years."

Thirty-two years ago, Kervin and his wife, Quintilla, were teaching in Florida, but they wanted to live in Troy. He got a job in the public school system but his wife did not.

"At the time, we didn’t even know anything about a private school being built in Troy," he said."But, when we found out, we applied and we both got jobs. We accepted thinking we would try it a year or two, but we ended up staying all these years."

Kervin "hired on" as a teacher in Sept. 1970, the school’s first year.

The next year, headmaster Pete Farrar left, "and left me with it," Kervin said.

"I was the long time interim headmaster. In fact, I’ve always worked without a contract."

Had it not been for the continuous support of his wife and, later, the begging by his children for him to stay, Kervin might have looked at other opportunities.

"But after I had been here 10 or 15 years, it was too late to go," he said, laughing. "The students and faculty became a part of my family and I was where I belonged.

And, too, it was a unique opportunity to be able to be with my wife and children every day. Not many men get that chance."

Over the years, there have been highs and lows for Kervin, both as the headmaster and as assistant football coach for 29 years.

"Football. … football," Kervin said, remembering great wins and gut-wrenching defeats. "I suppose our first win was one of the high points. We didn’t have a football team our first year. The second year Mike Amos was our head coach and our first win ever was against Lyman Ward. Our first winning season was in ’73 and that was a high point and our 10-win seasons."

The lowest point and most devastating loss came at the hands of Sumter Academy in the second round of the AISA State Playoffs in 1988.

"We could have won, should have won, we just put the ball on the ground too many times and lost 13 to 12," Kervin said. "That was a tough loss."

As for highs and lows as headmaster, Kervin cited declining enrollment and questions about the kind of job the school was doing.

"When we opened the school in 1970, we had an enrollment of about 258," Kervin said. "We grew to 425, but then when Troy Elementary School opened, we dropped back to 298 and I wondered if we were doing the job or not. That was a low point for me."

Kervin laughing said even when enrollment dropped there was no serious talk of replacing him.

"They wouldn’t have been that nice to me," he said, laughing.

Other low points were when students were involved in serious accidents and several lost their lives. There have been no points lower than those times, Kervin said.

As far as high points, there have been many – the successes of students, the successes of graduates, successes on the field of play

and the joy of having the opportunity to be an influence in the lives of young people and they "in mine."

But, the highest point of the high points was this past weekend when the Pike Liberal Arts community came together to pay tribute to to their "interim" headmaster of 31 years.

"It was an honor and I’ll never forget all the kindnesses shown to me and my family," Kervin said. "Pike Liberal Arts has been good to me and I hope I’ve done a little good for it. But, now it’s time for me to go and the school will continue to be a vital part of our community as it continues to provide a choice in education. We all need choices in our lives."

Now, Kervin will soon begin to exercise some of his choices in life – golf and fishing and maybe a part time job – during inclement weather.