Farewell to Stratford’s ‘Gentle Giant’

Stratford’s beloved Prentice Robinson retires after 45 years at The Academy

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Prentice Robinson has been a beloved employee at Stratford Academy for 45 years. It is hard to imagine Stratford without Prentice, but he announced his retirement shortly before school started.

It was  a decision he made to spend more time with his family and for health reasons.

“It would be a massive understatement to say that Prentice Robinson has been an institution around Stratford Academy for four and a half decades,’’ said Head of School Dr. Bob Veto. “Somehow we need a bigger word than ‘institution.’ Generations of our alumni remember Prentice as a kind, wise, caring presence who loved the school and loved all the children here. It is hard to imagine Stratford without Prentice.”

Everyone at Stratford can agree that Prentice was more than just a custodian. He was kind-hearted, wise, and a friend to the entire Stratford community. He loved all of the faculty and students, and the faculty and students loved him. Everyone will definitely miss his presence at school.

Coach Grady Smith, the school’s athletic director emeritus, once called him the “mayor of Stratford.’’

Longtime math teacher Mr. Griff Ethridge said Prentice holds a special place in his heart.

“Prentice and I have had quite a few years together,” Mr. Ethridge said. “He has always been an inspiration, always happy, always a ‘good morning’ when I saw him, always a positive attitude. He is going to be missed by all of us — faculty, staff, and student body. I can’t think of Stratford Academy without thinking of Prentice.”

Before Stratford’s homecoming game on Oct. 19, a retirement ceremony will be hosted in honor of Prentice. He also will serve as an honorary football team captain that evening.

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He is going to be missed by all of us — faculty, staff, and student body. I can’t think of Stratford Academy without thinking of Prentice.”

— -- Mr. Griff Ethridge

Many Stratford students remember a story about Prentice from their middle or lower school years that has stuck with them, whether it is searching the trash cans for students’ belongings or simply giving someone a smile.

Sophomore Dylan Ellis had a heartfelt story about what Prentice did for him and who Prentice really is as a person. One day during lunch, Dylan set his retainer on his tray and began eating.

After lunch was over, Dylan realized he had misplaced his retainer and went to look for it in the lunch room. After searching for a few minutes, he realized he may have thrown it away along with the rest of his lunch.

He asked Prentice if he had seen his retainer anywhere and Prentice said no. Dylan then explained to him that it was possible he could have thrown it away, but that he had to leave soon for his soccer game.

Dylan just accepted the fact that it was gone forever and left. Later that day, Dylan’s mom got a call that Prentice stayed after school looking through the trash, trying to find her son’s retainer and he did just that. Dylan was so happy to know that someone in our school cared that much about him and was so grateful.

Some students remember Prentice from their early years at Stratford. Freshman Olivia Mann recalls Prentice’s generosity seven years later.

“In second grade,  I accidentally dropped my glasses in the trash can after lunch, and Prentice dug through all of the trash and found them for me,’’ Olivia said.

Another student, sophomore Madeline Davis, remembers joking with Prentice at school.

“One time, my brother and I were eating chicken biscuits in the lunchroom and my brother came up to me to ask for two dollars so he could get a drink. I told him I wasn’t giving him my money because he forgot his. My brother begged for two dollars but I did not give it to him. After that day, whenever Mr. Prentice saw me, he would say ‘Two dollars, two dollars?’ and hold out his hand as a joke.’’