This article originally appeared in the winter 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Last year, to honor the memory of beloved former faculty member Jason Berry, the upper school’s graduating class dedicated their senior gift to creating an orchard in his memory. Fast for- ward to this past fall and, on Nov. 19, Berry was honored again – with a bear statue donated in his name at the opening of the Orchard Garden in front of Dobbins Hall.
“This statue has been generously gifted to the school in memory of Jason Berry by the Class of 2014. The class also gifted the Orchard Garden in honor of the South Bay’s agricultural roots,” recalled Chris Nikoloff, head of school.
An initial tree-planting ceremony heralding the orchard took place in April, with many students participating, including Berry’s former advisees, soccer players he coached, English students he taught and members of the senior class.
Berry was an English teacher and athletics coach at Harker; his nickname, “Bear,” was coined by his close family and friends and quickly adopted by his students. He died suddenly on Aug. 24, 2013 of a pulmonary embolism resulting from a blood clot in his leg. A memorial was held Aug. 29, and family and friends filled nearby WestGate Church to say goodbye. Heartfelt memories of his childhood and early years as a teacher were shared; the loss to his family and the community was mourned.