Saturday, August 21, 2004

Alma Mater, We Love You 

Commonwealth School, Boston

Working the NMH Volunteers Weekend this weekend, and thinking about my own beloved schools. Though my educational background was sporadic at best -- I switched to a private high school for Junior and Senior years after almost flunking out of public school, and took little from Bard, my first-try college, other than a spouse-to-be, a bunch of neat writing courses, and a love of the rural life -- I consider Commonwealth School (that private school, shown above -- a tiny liberalarts thinktank in a Bostonian Comm Ave. brownstone) a long-ago savior. Despite low grades and a total failure to keep in touch with any of my 33 fellow class-of graduates, that place was the first to show me that aptitude was little without interest, and application impossible without commitment. Also, for a school whose population never rose above 120 from 9-12, we sure had some great parties.

Meanwhile, most grads of my collegiate alma mater seem to be flailing -- a recent visit to Brattleboro met me up with several old roommates and friends, most of whom have new stories to tell of failed marriages and part-time dead-end jobs. Dave just opened a cafe and performance space in town, without Anna; I met Brandt inside, up from Washington, and Dan, Mike, and Jeremy on the steps, all of whom are either between jobs or on their way somewhere else pretty soon, it seems. Meanwhile, Carl was in line behind me at Mocha Joes, and reports he's still doing solo construction work, his daughter living in Cali with his ex.

As for me...well, I'm still here, and still married happily. But some days -- like yesterday, pulled over for an out of date car registration, and spending our last cash on a tow; looking ahead at a week of full-on work with no time or money to reregister, or renew the surprisingly out-of-date license to boot -- take me closer to the edge than I've been since those last few disastrous days at Bard, hiding out in Darcie's dormroom after being dismissed, living off of stolen dining hall broccoli.

But Marlboro College itself is in the pink. The new president seems, by all accounts, to be well-liked, the grad school's ads come across strong on our local public radio station, and the undergrad school scored higher than ever in the just-released Princeton Review Annual College Guide:

In the 2005 issue of The Best 357 Colleges, Marlboro ranked first for "Professors Bring Material to Life" and second for "Best Overall Academic Experience," "Class Discussions Encouraged" and "Professors Make Themselves Accessible" and 13th for "Students Never Stop Studying."

It's not Harvard or Princeton, and thank god for that. Happy to hear that the tiny school-on-a-hill -- all 300 students and 30 professors -- seems to be doing quite well without me or my cash, though I gave a token sum last year, all we could afford. Maybe one of these days they'll be ready for a communications and media prof, and I can quit the prep school rat race for good.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:36 AM |

I made an unofficial Commonwealth School website! ain't that great!
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