The Kildonan Crest

An article written by Kildonan co-founder Diana Hanbury King in 1982.

“The crest, which you will see a lot of, has been carefully designed by several of us to be a symbol of the school.

The stripe is Scottish, and has appeared on our stationary since the founding of the school. It serves as a reminder that the name Kildonan is of Scottish origin. There is a Kildonan castle — one of the few places in Scotland where gold has been found. But the school is not called after that. I actually named it after my uncle’s farm in South Africa. And the farm’s connection with the castle? For a long time, and for all I know they may still exist, there was a fleet of “Castle” ships plying between England and Capetown. The original owner of the land named it for the ship on which he had come out: The Kildonan Castle. My uncle, unable to manage the academic work at Osborne, the naval academy, was sent to Rhodesia to seek his fortune. Of course he was dyslexic, and as you might guess, became a very successful farmer.

When I visited him in 1948, he was farming over 7,000 acres in tobacco and cattle. I had gone out for a visit, but during the long vacation, at Christmas in the southern hemisphere there, I started tutoring my two cousins, Yvonne and Ashley. I had never heard of dyslexia, and did not really know how to help them then. But they survived. Yvonne became one of the most skilled operating room nurses at Guy’s Hospital in London. Ashley studied photography and is now farming. As for me, when the holiday came to an end, I was supposed to begin working for a real estate firm. But the fates intervened. The assistant headmaster’s wife met my aunt in downtown Salisbury, and said, “We’re getting desperate. School begins next week and we have no one to take the First Form.” My aunt said, “Well, there is my niece…”. And that is how I became a teacher. Years late, when Mr. Goldman, founding trustee of the school, and I sat down, he said “What will you call it?” And I said, “It is a pioneering venture, like my uncle’s farm, and I hope it will be as successful. Let’s call it ‘Kildonan’.” So we did.

The dyslexic K we have used for a long time, first, in a ring, then as part of a stained glass window some students designed. I hope that the reversed image will remind people that switching things around is an advantage in many activities, including art, architecture, engineering, photography, and design.

The book needs no explanation.

We thought a lot about the geese. All the schools I know of that deal with dyslexic students seems to have trees as their symbols. I like trees — they grow. On the other hand, they stay put. Students in this school do not stay put. We want them to leave, to know where they are going, and not to look back. Both the old and the new campuses happen to be situated in flyways. Here we watch the geese heading south in the early autumn, almost as soon as school begins. Then, in the spring, we stop whatever we are doing and watch them head back north. Sometimes they fly very low, especially when it is misty. So I hope you like the geese.

We spent a lot of time thinking about the motto. Many faculty members had suggestions. We considered and rejected “Per ardua ad astra,” which has been translated as “To the stars through bolts and bars.” We thought of “Labor conquers all,” “Labor omnia vincit,” and seriously considered the old Barlow School motto, “Vincit qui se vincit,” “Who conquers self conquers all.” But we wanted it to be in English. For a dyslexic school to have a Latin motto did not make sense. The motto we finally chose is taken from the Book of Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord God, the holy one of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved: in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” We try to do a lot of things here at school, and to do them in a short period of time. Students who come here are expected to work extraordinarily hard. But what we want most of all for our students is that they should develop confidence and courage. We wish them to set forth confidently, flying high, and in charge of the lives and destinies.”

Diana Hanbury King

(September 2, 1927-June 15, 2018)