by Xinyi Zhou
Before I can walk across the SAC to Mr. Bunday, he's already been accosted by a member of the cafeteria staff. This was the first of many interruptions as I tried to conduct my interview, but that is all part of the story. My first question was simple:
Q: What do you miss most?
Not only the people in the program itself, but because of where it's located, you get to meet and associate with people that if they don't think like you do, at least appreciate the way you think. So there's a lot of stimulation, and you are learning a lot of things subtly that will serve you well later. That's not always valued as much as it should be or could be ... Pity the poor Magnet student with their backpack on leaned over not seeing right or left. They only see Harvard in front of them, but the opportunity is here and they're blowing it.
Q: What do you like best about retirement?
Mr. Bunday: The early morning coffee with my wife. Every day we go through our conversation in two cups. And that's the way we start the day ... We're both very active, but that space of time in the morning is just delightful. You can go outside, appreciate the flowers, take a walk in the woods...
Q: What is the Magnet Foundation up to?
Mr. Bunday: We're making contacts and alliances with school board and council members. We have supported a few initiatives of Magnet teachers and, although we haven't done this yet, we are going to suggest to the Magnet teachers that when they do their summer math programs, that perhaps there are capable students who can't really afford the price tag, so we may be able to take up the slack on the fees for some of the students who are capable but not able to participate.
Q: There are a lot of things you do that students often don't expect, such as formerly sponsoring the breakdancing club and serving in the military. What brought you to these activities and are there any other fascinating things that you do?
Mr. Bunday: Well I was drafted into the Navy. And then I signed up for two more years because my life was stressful at the time. It was in the Navy that I came in contact with electronics and the Russian Sputnik program and a lot of Physics training, and that was when I decided I would be a Physics teacher.
Mr. Bunday continues to tell me about his night jobs running a printing press, his summers making hay, and coming to Montgomery County. I blink, and another student has bounced over, eager to tell Mr. Bunday about how a group of Magnet students tried to hike to his house. The story is cut short by another staff member coming up behind him to say hi. They chat, and I have to comment:
Q: You seem to know a lot of people.
Mr. Bunday: I love Blair. And a lot of my Blair life was outside the Magnet Program. So I found it very rewarding to meet support staff, to meet other teachers, and to make myself visible in the library. There were years when the place was really messy, so I decided I would set an example. I had both lunches open, so one of my lunches I would walk around and pick up trash. You get to know people that way. That's my second most missed thing. In very large measure work is a social event if you're really enjoying your job. When people stop talking to each other, it gets really dull.
Q: What message would you give current Magnet students?
Mr. Bunday: Become as responsible as you can for you own education.
At that point, I'm out of questions but Mr. Bunday continues to tell me stories. He is moving a gazebo from the Old Trolley Museum to his property, and he talks a little more about his house:
Mr. Bunday: With a little help from my friends, like Mark Curran and Ned Johnson, other folks and some contractors, I put an 1847 barn together and framed it in to make my home while I was in the Magnet program. I was 55 years old, and everyone said "You're nuts, to start something like this at 55." As an adolescent, there are going to be places along the line where you have a rite of passage: you get your driver's license, you graduate from high school ... every big marker is a rite of passage. Going through this building process was really a rite of passage for me, and it was really one of the biggest, greatest things in my life. I really love my house now, and a lot of my effort now goes into sustaining it. My wife is a master gardener, so I dig, and she plants. I move rocks, and she says where. We spend a lot of time together doing that.
Q: What's next for you, Mr. Bunday?
Mr. Bunday: Next, I don't know. It will be something ... There are always too many choices, and making the one that will get me the best rewards is, I wouldn't say it's difficult, but you just never know where the next choice going to leave you. Some things, it's just fate; something falls in your path and you take it and you like it. It's an adventure, it's still an adventure.
I tell Mr. Bunday he has a lot of good sayings. He smiles and leaves me with one more:
Mr. Bunday: "Don't ever forget, life is an adventure, when it knocks you in the head, just keep getting up and keep looking at it as an adventure."