Nicholas Kip ’60, Instructor in Classics, Found His Passion at Andover’s ‘Nice-Looking Dump’

In September 1956, Nicholas Kip ’60 arrived at Andover as a self-described “squeaky-voiced young man urged along by his mother.” Now, Kip is an instructor in the Classics Department, where he has taught Latin and Greek for over 40 years. Despite his current dedication to the school, Kip said that he has not always felt such affection for Phillips Academy. Kip said that, during his Andover interview, he told the Dean of Admissions in 1956, “It’s a pretty nice-looking dump you have going here, but I don’t want anything to do with it.” But the dean accepted Kip anyway, and he soon enrolled at Andover. Kip said that he met several mentors at Andover, including renowned classics scholar Dr. Alston Hurd Chase, who influenced Kip’s career and ultimately his life. While at Andover, Kip was a wrestler and prize-winning Latin, Greek and French student. He realized his love for languages in an honors English course taught by the prominent translator Dudley Fitts, acclaimed for his translation of Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” from Greek. “In Latin, Greek and French especially, the relationship between language and literature is clearer and more true to what the author is trying to convey than in English,” said Kip. In Fitts’s class, Kip discovered a collection of Latin poems that he still considered to be his favorite piece of literature: the lyrical Odes of Horace. Kip reminisced about times at Andover when he voluntarily forwent social events and caught up on readings for his United States History class instead. He said that weekend entertainment at the all-male Phillips Academy consisted of “dinner parties or mixers, arranged so the Andover boys could socialize with girls,” and a weekend movie in George Washington Hall. Kip said that he believes current students have much less homework now than when he was a student. He recalled that on some nights, he was responsible for learning “over 200 vocabulary words for my French class.” Nonetheless, Kip enjoyed his language classes and, with the advice of his mentor and classics teacher, Dr. Chase, continued to earn his bachelor’s degree in Classics at Princeton University. Kip had been accepted at both Harvard and Princeton, but chose the latter over the former, much to the surprise of his family—his father, uncles and grandfather had all attended Harvard. But Kip told his father that Chase’s “best classics students left Harvard with no intention of ever looking at a piece of Latin or Greek again,” and his father was satisfied that Kip had made the right decision. After graduating from Princeton, Kip began his teaching career at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, where he met Edwin Quattlebaum, now Instructor in History, who was coincidentally teaching at St. Paul’s as well. Kip said that one time, after his classics students at St. Paul’s had repeatedly made the same mistake in class, he warned them, “If you mess up one more time, I’ll throw myself out the window.” He suspected that his students would make the mistake in class the next day and wanted to make sure they would “remember what they had done.” In turn, on the night before class, Kip practiced jumping out the second-story window of his classroom and into the bushes below. The next day the students predictably made the mistake, and Kip threw himself out of the window as he had practiced the night before—to the shock of his students, who realized Kip’s joke after he re-emerged from the bushes. After two years at St. Paul’s, Kip decided to return to Andover in 1968. Until he turned 52, Kip coached Boys Wrestling at Andover. During this time, he met his current wife, Agatha Kip, School Nutritionist. Agatha Kip said, “I was instructing wrestlers on how to eat and maintain their body weight effectively.” The couple married in 1998. Kip ultimately quit coaching wrestling due to repeated knee injuries he received from practicing with students. Kip currently teaches Latin, Greek and Etymology courses. He said, “Almost everyone learns differently, and there’s no magic bullet that can allow everyone to understand a concept, but when someone actually does, it is an intensely rewarding experience.”