When discussing Stevenson with alumni, it’s common to hear stories of how the School has shaped their lives—as both thinkers and doers. It’s less common, however, to hear stories about how one Pirate affected the trajectory of the School. But the lasting impact of one such alumnus, Dr. Michael L. Jackson ’68, is indelible. Dr. Jackson, who grew up in Los Angeles and San Jose, CA, was the first Black student to attend Stevenson. He was the only Black student when he enrolled in the fall of 1964. Dr. Jackson explains, “In the fall of 1963, Stevenson’s founding headmaster Robert U. Ricklefs proposed to the board of trustees that the School be integrated. He wanted ‘his’ boys to learn how to live, study, work, play, and cooperate with students from other races, cultures, religions, and social classes.”
Though the School’s namesake, the 19th century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, spent only a few months on the Monterey Peninsula in 1879, his experience here proved to be of lasting significance. Arriving weakened by illness and penniless, he relied on the kindness of strangers to regain his health. One of these people—Jules Simoneau—ran a saloon in downtown Monterey. Educated at the Sorbonne, Simoneau was a trained chef and gracious host, known for providing a warm, welcoming space for artists to gather, exchange ideas, and play chess. For those that could not afford to pay, he would allow them to paint on the cafe’s walls in exchange for food. When Stevenson was too weak to leave his room, Simoneau brought him special meals and the spiritual nourishment of his friendship.
Students learn about grantmaking and allocate $25,000 to five local non-profits