Spanish, photo teacher becomes first archivist

Allan Sasaki proudly showed off a paint-splotched, darkened bronze plaque that reads “In Memory of O. Rey Rule ’03.”

That’s O. Rey Rule, class of 1903. The plaque, which used to adorn the stable-like art rooms that stood next to the North Entrance of the Upper School, also reads 1940, the year it was donated to Harvard School by O. Rey Rule ’40 and William S. Rule ’42.

Sasaki got the plaque from fellow visual arts teacher John Luebtow. 

It is the first piece in what will be a burgeoning archive for the school. Sasaki will be leaving the Foreign Language Department where he has taught Spanish for the last 26 years to become the school’s first official archivist. The Rule plaque is one of the first in a series of artifacts that Sasaki plans to find and preserve, along with a $5 postcard with a picture of the original Harvard Hall located on Western and 16th Street that Sasaki bought from last week. However, his focus is wider.

Sasaki plans to create a “living archive” and to that end he will continue to record and accurately label games, concerts and theater productions so that “recordings of events now will last for future generations long after I’m gone.”

The process of becoming the school’s first archivist began a year ago, when a friend who had heard about a similar position at another school suggested to Sasaki that he might be interested in that line of work. Sasaki asked President Thomas C. Hudnut about it last November and found out that the school was in the midst of creating such a job. But with Sasaki’s quarter century of time here, he thought it would be only natural if the position was filled from within.

Hudnut had told Sasaki about 15 years ago that he wanted him to work with alumni in some capacity, and he had brought up the topic again in the years since.

In January, Sasaki met again with Hudnut who said it was still too early to see if Sasaki could leave the Spanish department. Sasaki got the news from Foreign Language Department Chair Javier Zaragoza that sign-ups were lower in the electives and that Sasaki’s departure might be feasible.

Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts suggested that Sasaki teach one or two Spanish classes, but Sasaki already felt stretched too thin at times between the Foreign Language and the Visual Arts departments, where he teaches photography and The Art of the Book.

Sasaki received the final word on April 28 that he could stop teaching Spanish and join the Office of Advancement. Sasaki said he will miss being in the classroom with the students the most.

Sasaki plans to have some sort of museum space at both campuses where he will have rotating exhibits. There is already an archivist’s space planned for the new administration building at the Middle School.

But speaking of teaching Spanish after 26 years, “I won’t miss the regular –ar verbs,” Sasaki said.
Sasaki plans to interview tenured teachers to get each of their take on Harvard-Westlake’s history.