In honor of President Thomas Hudnut’s final year at Harvard-Westlake, the school hosted a special event April 13 for 375 parents, alumni, faculty and friends of the school.
All of the proceeds from the event went to support the Thomas C. Hudnut Scholar Endowment Fund for financial aid created earlier this year.
A cocktail hour on the lower lawn of the middle school campus kicked off the event and was followed by dinner in a tent on the lawn, complete with three crystal chandeliers and heating units.
Finally, the evening culminated in an operatic performance and a “fireside chat” between Hudnut and longtime friend and performing arts teacher Ted Walch in the Bing Auditorium.
The cocktail reception featured specialized hor d’oeuvres, like unagi, Japanese sea eel, to yellowtail tuna sashimi with yuzu dressing.
“They’ve got all of Tom’s favorites,” said archivist Allan Sasaki, who often dines with Hudnut at Asanebo, a Japanese restaurant they both enjoy.
Alan Chapman and Karen Benjamin (Jake ’12 and Molly ’14) adapted several famous operatic songs, replacing the lyrics with ones centered on Hudnut’s personality and legacy at the school.
Hudnut, a fan of opera and occasional performer, then took the stage with Walch and talked for almost 20 minutes about his life, their friendship, and his thoughts on the school that he joined more than 20 years ago.
When the pair sat down in two large, brown leather chairs, an image of Hudnut’s vacation home in upstate New York was projected onto the screen on stage.
Hudnut and Walch have known each other since 1970 and have taught at a number of schools together, beginning at St. Albens School in Washington D.C.
They spoke about working together, their shared memories of certain students, and how Walch’s drug addiction affected their relationship.
“I think second chances are very important,” Walch said. “Knowing how tough you need to be with a second chance is no easy thing to do, but this guy knows how to give a second chance, and I, for one, am forever grateful.”
“Sometimes your ability to give a second chance is contingent upon the performance of the person involved,” Hudnut said. “If I wanted to be able to continue to employ the best drama teacher, the best director, the best guy in his field anywhere, I had to believe in him.”