Tag Archives: SAS

No Connection

My St. Andrew’s friends know I am not into reunions at the school. It’s as though everyone has swelled. Yeah, something like that. I like to get together with my buddies, but I have no need to reunite with other classmates.

Let’s face it, adolescence is not a time when folks were confident. I struggled through my teens. I was an outcast in the school. The school didn’t even assist me to college. It was very much a cash my parents’ check, thankyouverymuch, hope you pick up something while you’re here kind of approach. And I did. I learned there. I learned some very good lessons. But I don’t have an affinity for the school.

Tonight it dawned on me that I no longer have a connection with the school. Tad, the headmaster, retired in June. If there is another faculty member who was around 40 years ago, I am unaware. I think Chesa is still with the alumni group, but I am not certain regarding that.

If I were to show up on campus, I wouldn’t expect to recognize anyone these days.

School Days

Mom and I have been going back and forth sharing some classic comedy songs. Dickie Goodman, Tom Lehrer, Tom Paxton, Ray Stevens. Love these tunes.

I also threw in the above in a post to her. Loudon Wainwright III is best known for Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road, although he was never uber-popular. This song, School Days, was his first.

I identify a lot with it. It’s written about his high school experience. It happens to be a shared experience as we both attended St. Andrew’s. Teenage angst is quite powerful . . . even removed by decades. 🙂

Happy Retirement

I didn't speak until VI Form
My first words:
"Hamlet is an asshole."

Mute because
that was expected
in polite circles

Joyce, Hedda Gabler, Heart of Darkness
But it was the Prince of Denmark
heralded by the muse
day after day

At the round oak
looking out onto the lawn
with the sun glistening
off the preppy flaxen hair
of my classmate

It was here that
my voice launched

just as Ophelia
maddened by the
lead's inaction
frustration spewed

Hamlet this
Hamlet that
"Hamlet is an asshole"

Forty years later
reflection my
highlighter

A teacher showed himself

Not accused
Not accosted
Merely, "Why do you think that, Bobby?"

No longer Beckett's lips
who longed for the Auditor's
response

No one had ever asked me that before
I was welcomed to the
table of ideas
Where I had a voice
and an ear that would listen

Thank you, Tad. You opened the door to my life of learning. I hope that I have similarly engaged my own students.

Congratulations on your retirement,
Robert Owens ’83

Noxontown Home Companion

I like stuff like this.

Sure, some of it required inside knowledge, but I think it’s great to have a show like this. I would like to be in such a thing. I would not have at SAS, I was too insecure. Today, however, I would relish it.

FWIW, the monologue was too long, read, and not well delivered. That guy needs Toastmasters!

Celebrating, Not Comparing

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It is easy to question one’s accomplishments when he compares himself to others. Isn’t that the ultimate issue with school reunions?

Rather than to do that, I seek to celebrate the accomplishments of my classmates. This is a rather interesting thing that popped up today. This boarding school is in Jordan. It is challenging its students. It is run by a classmate of mine from boarding school. I see some of SAS in what is depicted here.

9/11 Hero

Father Mychal Judge being taken from the wreckage

Do you recognize this photograph? This is one of the iconic images from the 9/11 tragedy. This is Father Mychal Judge being carried away. He was the first official casualty of that horrific day.

My recent return to Facebook has unearthed a connection. In this poignant photograph above, the fireman in the center (with helmet) is Zach Vause. He was a classmate of mine at St. Andrew’s. Wow! Some of us grow up to be school teachers. Some of us grow up to be heroes!

Schooling the Master

My parents valued education. They enrolled me in a Catholic school because my father noticed students from that school stood out compared to students from the public schools. When I expressed dissatisfaction with that school, they heeded my displeasure and sought a solution. That was a private boarding school. That education was stellar! One of the reasons for that was the faculty.

I have written previously about the enlightenment I experienced there. The teacher that challenged me that day was Mr. Roach. He was a young energetic English teacher. He loved his Hamlet and I called his hero an asshole. It was one of those maturation moments in my life. Mr. Roach taught me much during my time there.

He is now the headmaster of the school. He blogs occasionally. Today it is time for me to return the favor of teaching.

In today’s blog, Roach describes the “core mission” of the school. In doing so, he re-visits the start of the school. He documents what the school always touts; admission is blind to financial means. When I was a student, it was said over half of the student body received financial aid. Given the school is now $47,000 annually, the average financial package is $36,000. Wow! A big endowment allows for this blind admission.

Yet, Roach goes on to claim:

St. Andrew’s began as a school that enacted a notion and a principle vital to our democracy: for America to grow as a nation and member of the world community, all students must be given access to quality educational opportunities.

Huh? Financially-blind admission does not lead one to this grandiose claim. Felix DuPont founded the school to help America grow in the world community? Where did he say that all students must be given access to quality education opportunities? If he did, it needs to be cited.

The headmaster continues:

we see our mission clearly: we educate students to take responsibility and stewardship for the peace, reconciliation and sustainability of our planet.

It is unlikely I will be in a position to send my children to this school. Even if I could, I would balk at this mission. If I am paying nearly $50,000, I want the mission of the school to be to develop my child to reach his full potential. This liberal goobly goop right out of Al Gore’s playbook is not what I seek for my children. I suspect that if the school purported this philosophy in 1980, I would not have attended; my parents would have raised concerns. Their expectation was that I would be challenged academically, thinking that developing my mind would produce a child who would be successful in our society, not to be a caretaker of our planet. Correct me if I am wrong, Mom.

We must explain the perils of elitism, exclusivity, privilege and materialism and make a case for a school focused on service, creativity, humanity, peace stewardship and social justice. We must make it clear to those who visit, matriculate and give that St. Andrew’s sails on a distinct countercultural vision.

The thing that stands out to me in the above is the lack of Christian education. Once upon a time, that was at the forefront of the mission of the school. It is something that struck a cord with my parents. It is usually the thing that I reflect upon when I think of the school. Yet, in the proclamation of today’s mission, it isn’t even included as a must. Instead, a renunciation of the school as a vehicle for the 1% is at hand. I defend elitism. One should not apologize for being competent . . . nor for developing those who are.

Our admissions process seeks to find students who will be willing to work for community excellence: . . . by honoring our most sacred community values of human rights, empathy and compassion, honor and integrity and resistance to the alcohol/drug culture.

Eek! Again, the lack of Christian faith is stark here. Not to diminish any of these fine adjectives, why isn’t the school seeking faithful students?

We need to continue to develop responses to the following movements in our 21st century world:

The emergence of a global interconnected world and the certainty that our graduates will either live or work abroad or need global understanding and sensitivity in their professional lives.

The school is preparing students because they may need global understanding and sensitivity? Really? For $47,000, this is what is being sought!

The effect of a recession that may make private school tuition outside the reach of virtually all American families.

If the school offers financially-blind admissions and also an endowment that averages $36,000 of financial aid per student, how does the economy factor in to admissions? After all, the mission of the school states that “all students must be given access to quality educational opportunities.” Where’s the empathy in the acknowledgment that money may be a factor in this quality education?

The environmental crisis that threatens the sustainability of our world.

Why is the environment so prominent in the mission of a high school? Is this what parents and children seek in the market place? Or rather, is it the politics of the caretakers of the school that are seeping through?

The school has moved away from its Christian heritage. It is morphing itself into the faddish liberal ideas of today while drifting from the central role of a school; develop the student as an individual within the community so he is able to seek his own path as a Christian.

I didn’t have these thoughts when I was 14 and made the decision to attend this school. Of course, I don’t think these issues were present then for me to have considered. 😉

St. Andrew’s School

St. Andrew's School

When I looked at St. Andrew’s School, everything was different. It was a splendid day and the sun glistened off the pond. The school was no more handicapped accessible than Lawrenceville, but the staff bent over backwards to make my father comfortable. The school was smaller, but had girls, and to this 14-year-old, that was something. The decision was left to me and I selected the lesser known school.

After all that it would be perfect to say how much I enjoyed it. Much like my childhood, it was much more appreciated after I left. It’s not that I didn’t like it when I was there, but I was a teenager struggling with my identity. Living at a school where my classmates flew in on their private Learjets, I think it’s safe to say I struggled with my identity. But who didn’t?

Seeing as soccer was the wrong sport at Wildwood Catholic, I opted to run cross country here. That was the wrong sport here and I was once again on the “loser” team. I played basketball and squash during the winters. I did not play a sport in the spring. My love of baseball was on hiatus for a few years.

I met three lifelong friends here. Bentley was a roommate for part of one year. He, Steve, and Andrew all spent summers in Cape May with me over the years. Steve and I lived together in Boston for a year and a half after college.

So Much for Agreement

My folks sent me away to a fancy prep school.  I think I struggled acclimating to an environment where the guy who lived next door to me flew back to school in the family’s LearJet, others whose parents were big wigs in business and government, and everyone seemed to come from a privileged background.

I learned a lot at that school, despite my adolescent insecurities.  I am pretty certain that one of the things I learned was that pronouns are to agree with their antecedents.  If not there, then I learned it in the “lesser” schools I attended prior to going to St. Andrew’s.  I know I currently teach the skill in a public school fourth grade.

That is why I am surprised to have read the following just now:

PLEASE LIST THE NAME OF YOUR GUEST/SPOUSE WHO WILL BE ATTENDING REUNION SO WE CAN PROVIDE THEM WITH NAMETAGS.

THEM refers to the antecedent GUEST/SPOUSEGUEST/SPOUSE is singular, THEM is plural.  Forget the all caps and forget that English does not have a gender-neutral possessive pronoun to use for words such as guest and spouseHis is the traditional possessive pronoun to use in this case.  I know, some folks state that does not work either.  Fine.  What we do have is a plural possessive pronoun whose antecedent is a singular noun.  That is incorrect.  At minimum, the sentence needs to be re-worded so not to end in a situation where a plural possessive pronoun can be contemplated to be proper for a singular noun.

So much for that subsidized $38,000 tuition.