September 27, 2009
Fuller Hall, Vermont Academy.
I came up here to Vermont under the auspices of going to my 10 year high school reunion – which I did. I also had dinner with my father and went to see an old high school friend for lunch. Given that I have done these things in a 24 hour period of time, it has really tested the limits of my endurance and I have a very vivid mental note to self written about how exhausting it is to do this much on the weekend after having worked all week! I need another weekend to recover from my weekend!
The reunion… wasn’t much re-uniting. It’s a small school, so I wasn’t expecting more than 10 people to be there, but I also wasn’t expecting the reality that there were two. Me and one other guy. Thankfully, the one other guy is someone I’d had a lot of classes with and was happy to see and had things to talk about with – which is pretty lucky, if we’re talking about a reunion of two!
It’s strange though that no one else showed up. Or is it? I don’t know. In conversations the past two days, the bizarre and often unhealthy relationship between students and school back in high school (and often the bizarre and unhealthy relationships between the students themselves, though that is endemic to the high school experience and can’t at all be thought of to be unique to our particular school) has been examined and it’s pretty obvious that if this is what we, the alums, are taking away from the experience, there’s absolutely no reason why anyone would go back.
It’s unfortunate. I saw lots of happy reunions from classes of yore, but other than a group meeting to honor a late classmate, the next-youngest alums that I saw were from the class of ’84. It would be the five year reunion for the class of ’04, and I didn’t see a one of ’em. Perhaps they were hiding. In any case, both of us from ’99 came out of a sense of “Well, we’re around so we might as well go and say hi” and not out of an overwhelming devotion to the school.
The school as it was when it was built in 1887. The class of 1887 also had a notably poor showing.
In my case, I never really fit in in high school. Which is putting it mildly. Nuno commented that he’s never seen me more out of place, and if this is true now, just imagine how bad it was ten years ago. I went to Hampshire to go someplace as different from high school as humanly possible, and it was a good choice. If we go to Hampshire alumni weekend, he can remark “Omig-d! They’re all crazy hippies! Just like you!” And actually, for a Hampshire alum, my hippie quotient is pretty tame.
(Just a few weeks ago, someone familiar with the Hampshire experience commented “You’re a Hampshire grad? I’m surprised you’re able to find a job and live indoors!” While, um, gee, thanks, I do also see where she’s coming from.)
So, what is it exactly about the school that leaves its graduates feeling apathetic at best after graduation? It’s a very jock school with a huge emphasis on competition and sports, but that certainly isn’t unique. Looking back, it’s amazing that the school didn’t have any psych. support staff – I know that I could have benefited from such a thing, and I imagine that I’m not alone here. Other glaring problems revolve around the fact that making a school co-ed is more difficult than just admitting a bunch of girls to an all-boys’ school. When I started my sophomore year, VA had 3 guys for every girl.
(To say that I was one of the very, very few girls who did not have guys chasing her gives you an idea on how little fitting in I did, given the dearth of girls, no one was particularly choosy. Unless the choice was me or a few of my nerd-sisters.)
And that creates some issues, beyond just housing. Which was really the only adjustment that – from what I can see – VA made. “Oh yeah, we’ll make some girls’ dorms!” Say what you will for equality, putting teenage girl hormones in a stew of teenage boy hormones is a recipe for strife. You want to treat everyone like they’re all on the same level, but denying the various needs of the students and assuming that girls’ needs are the same as boys’ needs is just… well… asinine.
Jones Hall, Vermont Academy.
I don’t know what other grads are thinking, and I know that for me, going back was weird. But hey, I’m willing to put that behind me and have a beverage or two with my compadres from back in the day. I’m also willing to examine why exactly we’re not flocking in droves to do so.
All of this is especially weird in light of the very successful reunion the public high school had this spring – the Class of ’99 that I was in elementary school with had about 30 people come back, which is pretty great for a class of ~100.
Anyhow, it’s been a long weekend and I’m going to reunite with a cup of tea.