November 12, 2000 EDUCATION LIFE

Less Austerity, More Diversity at Prep School Today

By VICTORIA GOLDMAN and also CATHERINE HAUSMAN

 
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Ben Garvin for The New York Times

Above, Groton students leaving chapel, where some have been well-known to display up mornings through jackets over pajamas. Below, Rachel Thompboy gotten in Groton with a diversity regime and won the Wallace Scholarship for scholastic excellence.
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t has actually been half a century since Holden Caulfield bounced roughly a frozen archipelback of boarding colleges prior to flunking out of Pencey Prep. Turning his ago on the "phonies" and also the casual cruelty of his classmates, Holden walked out of the school's wrought iron gateways and right into the night, the snow swirling roughly his red searching cap; bound for house and his younger sister Phoebe - sweetness and light.

To generations of students whose syllabprovides incorporate J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye," boarding school represents the winter of their adolescent discontent; a cold, far-off area wright here paleas threaten to sfinish their kids if they don't measure up. In Holden's day, third-generation traditions - kids of alumni - kbrand-new that in the fevery one of their 13th year they and also their monogrammed suitcases were going to prep institution. Paleas dropped their children off in September, picked them up aget in June and also let the schoolmasters issue about what went on in in between.

If Holden Caularea were to go back to college for Alumni Day 2001, he would certainly find that the human being of proctors and prefects, dorm teas and Mr. Chips has undertaken a millennial thaw. Many of the roughly 36,000 students at boarding schools packed their bags willingly and also are in everyday e-mail call with mom and dad. The ivy is no much longer one shade of green. Students are as most likely to room through a real prince of Thailand as via the fresh prince of Bel Air, as the colleges reach farther into the public high colleges for the majority of their students, making adgoals even more competitive than ever. The monastic life of formal dinners, everyday chapel and also cold showers has given means to international design template meals, modern ecumenism and interdorm dances. Instead of debating whether to go coed - the institutions did a quarter-century back - trustees now conflict same-sex relationships within dorms.

Faculty members, the shrill martinets of yore, have actually mellowed right into compassionate mentors. Perhaps the greatest readjust is that the elite prep institutions are no longer a sure ticket to the Ivy League; a lot of of the prep schools have graduates at a variety of colleges. One point that will certainly never before readjust is that many type of students at the optimal colleges still pull all-nighters just to get a 4.5 average out of a possible 6.0. Stress junkies grow below. It was May in Massachusetts, and also the lilac and also doghardwood were in voluptuous bloom in the tvery own of Groton. At the wrought iron entrances of the Groton School, a plaque commemoprices Auchincloss family alumni. The Gothic Revival chapel is on the left. Groton is a tiny school via 340 residential students. Perhaps this was the Whooten School that Holden briefly attended. Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who planned Central Park, designed the campus. The structures in Georgian and Kentish Manor Housage style, red brick through white trim, encshed an island of emerald grass known as the Circle. Quincy Fennebresque, 18, a squash player through a straightforward grace, has been at Groton because nine grade, or third form. He wore an untucked Oxford shirt, no tie, khakis and a pair of reef sandals - the all-seaboy desired preppy footwear. His close-cropped hair is still tinged through the bleached blond shade that he sported most of sixth form, or senior year.

Growing up on Park Avenue, Holden's residence turf, Quincy attfinished a private day college that ends at ninth grade. After a lot discussion with his parental fees in the family members library, Quincy decided to go away, as perform just one-tenth of 1 percent of all high college students. "I felt like I might govern my own hrs, eat, sleep and research when I wanted to," he said.

What ultimately convinced him to go to Groton was his revisit to the institution. "My ninth-grade hold and I saw dinner, and also Thursday is parlor night at the headmaster's house: cookies, milk, Twister, air hockey, Ping-Pong and football," he recalled. "Then tbelow was the pillow fight in the hallway, it was so a lot fun."

 
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Ben Garvin for The New York Times

Above, a solitary Groton School student at occupational. Below, members of the Exeter boys' soccer team at a game against Deerfield.

But it is not all fun and also games at Groton, a rigorous institution through Saturday morning classes and mandatory chapel attendance 4 days a week. In nine grade the school instills study abilities, "In tenth grade when they bestow all this cost-free time on you - hopetotally you'll understand what to carry out through it," Quincy shelp. Apparently he did, undertaking a six-academic course fill eincredibly semester, consisting of Greek and Latin, and also completing seven progressed placement courses.

When asked what he missed many about being amethod from home, Quincy responded, "Watching my bit sister thrive up." Echoes of Holden's yearning for sister Phoebe and possibly his lost youth. In the dining hall, seating is informal, and also because the institution is so tiny, it is basic to get to recognize one one more. Three days a week students sit dvery own to a formal meal under the John Singer Sargent portrait of Endicott Peabody, the founder, rector and also head of Groton School from 1884 to 1940, a 56-year power. Groton was started to educate the sons of New England's socially prominent family members.

For years Groton was a portal to power whose graduates trod a well-worn path to the State Department and the C.I.A. The Groton "honor roll" of public servants contains Dean Acheson, W. Averill Harrimale, Paul H. Nitze and Presidents Franklin D. and also Theodore Roosevelt. Today, the idea of business is still paramount, yet students offer earlier in even more individual, less political means. Quincy invested one summer functioning for Amigos, a public health and wellness routine in Mexico that helps villagers combat dehydration and condition. Quincy sassist he and two other young males stayed in a shack via one light bulb and also no running water and also dug holes, blended cement, and built latrines and also stoves.

Hardwick Simmons, Groton '58, parent '84, said: "About 4 years earlier, Groton hired a consultant to help through the design of current funding project. He told us that we would have actually a tough time, not bereason the alumni didn't have actually the suggests, yet bereason he had never watched a group of alumni through so many type of charitable interests."

Mr. Simmons, well-known to friends as Wick, retired this loss as chief executive of Prudential Securities at age 60. In his office in downtown Manhattan a pillow embroidered through the Groton school cremainder sat on his school chair. Mr. Simmons, a patrician-looking male through chiseled functions and salt and pepper hair, is president of Groton's board of trustees. He gotten in the 9th grade at Groton once he was 14.

"At that time, boarding college basically offered a item of your upbringing," he redubbed. "When you went ameans to boarding college, it was bereason you had a parent who believed like mine did, and also I think this for my very own youngsters, the the majority of crucial point I carry out is put you on your very own 2 feet. We were pushed out of the swarm."

Groton was a location of technique where boys wore a coat and also tie to breakfast, lunch and dinner. "I provided to sneak into the fine arts library music room and also play Elvis Presley, which I couldn't carry out any kind of various other area," Mr. Simmons said. For amusement, he and also his friends periodically "trundled off and also walked dvery own the train tracks to Ayer," a nearby town.

"The just time you saw a girl was at 3 glee club concerts a year and also a dance in February. You might invite a girl up for that weekfinish and also she would certainly stay at a master's house," Mr. Simmons said. Preppies had to occupational added difficult to meet girls over the summer and on breaks.

Beginning in the early 1970's, coeducation changed the landscape of boarding schools forever. What was as soon as the old boy netjob-related came to be the old college network. Mr. Simmons says girls softened the edges of the college. "It isn't the English boarding college it when was," he sassist wistcompletely. "It doesn't have actually the same hierarchical thunder." Sixth form prefects - seniors - no much longer preeminence the institution, doling out black marks. Students no longer "work all that time in that incubating community to be the optimal dog," he shelp, including, "Life's wider."

Groton enrolled a black student in 1952, a move that made the newsfiles at the moment. In the 1999-2000 college year 76 students of color were enrolled at Groton, audit for 22 percent of all students.

Steve Ruzika, director of the Association of Boarding Schools, said, "Tbelow is so a lot even more diversity on campus now. There's been a aware effort to have children of color, kids from abroad and from Latin and also South America, and also the recognition that they have actually enriched the life of the college." Elitism is a label the boarding institutions stop prefer poikid ivy, but they still take into consideration themselves academically elite.

The function of adgoals director at the height institutions has adjusted from that of gate keeper to door opener, shelp Rictough Schubart, former director of adobjectives and chairmale of the history department at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H. Once a haven for the upper crust, these schools have increasingly attracted intellectual students from the inner city. Of the 334 new students entering Exeter last year, 55 percent came from public institutions. Children of alumni, valued for neighborhood building and also nurturing the endowment, are still provided a 2nd look, provided they fulfill the rigorous admission standards.

 
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Ben Garvin for The New York Times

Above, Patricia Babecki teaches a math class at Exeter. Bottom, students play drums at a human being music present on Parental fees Weekend.

While recruiting students is nothing brand-new - the schools have been stocking their athletic groups for years - marketing is. Adgoals officers hold receptions in small communities and city neighborhoods at the homes of families whose youngsters are presently enrolled. Each year the association of boarding schools sponsors a tour to Asia, wbelow it holds boarding school fairs in six nations.

It was the day after advanced placement exams. Speakers in dorm home windows blared the music of "No Doubt," while Frisbee players ran barefoot over the grass.

Rachel Thompkid, a junior from Washington, involved Groton with Project Match, among a dozen diversity programs that open up the doors to boarding colleges for academically talented minority students. "I never before thought this would be a component of me," she sassist. "I love the fact that my Spanish teacher not only teaches Spanish yet he's created the book we are reading out of.'' In enhancement to transporting six scholastic courses, she is head of the gospel choir, a member of the Alliance for Student Harmony, and also plays soccer, ice hoccrucial and basketball. She is additionally the initially babsence woman to be awarded the Wallace Scholarship, given by a Boston family members in acknowledgment of scholastic excellence and also impressive character.

Project Match is run by Wanda Hill out of her residence in McLean, Va. In the 1970's she sent out her 2 sons to Groton, calling it a "leap of confidence." "We're not rich, and we were older parental fees," Ms. Hill shelp, "and we kbrand-new that we could not leave them anything however a great education." Over the last two decades she has actually placed even more than 400 students in 78 institutions. A few of her students cannot afford to buy the institution T-shirt, while others pay complete tuition. One of the alters she has actually checked out is a better inclusiveness of minority students on campus. "It progressed from an African-Amerihave the right to society or a black student union to institutions for all kids, white kids had," she said.

Admission to boarding school is getting more competitive, even for talented minority students. In 1956 fewer than 5,000 students took the entrance exam for second schools. Last year, roughly 51,000 students sat for the exam. Barring a sudden downrevolve in the economic situation, the number is expected to rise through 2007 prior to dropping off, according to Regan Kenyon, who runs the Secondary School Admission Test.

For all the changes, the soul of old Groton stays in Rector Peabody's chapel, but right here aget legacy occasionally collides with modern mores. Although no longer a everyday routine, students still fill the pews the majority of mornings at 8 as component of the school's mission to "cultivate manly, Christian character." Students have been recognized to present up for morning chapel through their jackets thrvery own over their pajamas. The centerpiece of chapel is the chapel talk, a rite of passage for seniors. Recently, a senior came out in chapel, trusting in the assistance of the community, which he got. At Sunday chapel on Alumni Day, seniors reinserted the opening hymn in the Groton School Hymnal, "Thy temple entrances stand also open wide" through Britney Spears's "Baby, One More Time."

"There's less of a Groton product this day than as soon as I went," Mr. Simmons said. "We're turning out an extra diverse team of people. We were type of incubated; we were a product that came out the various other finish." Exeter is a huge institution of around 1,000 students, 16 percent of whom are day students. The founder, John Phillips, was known as a strict Calvinist with a liberal soul, and also the school still mixes Puritan worths with a democratic ethos.

At its starting in 1781, Exeter charged no tuition, and also the trustees voted that "no student shall wear silk of any type of kind." Students still dress down, yet tuition not only arrived yet has climbed sharply: For the scholastic year 2000-2001 tuition is $25,100 for boarding and also $18,900 for day students. Publication fees complete $600. The approximate value of Exeter's endowment as of June 30 was practically $500 million. Last year 35 percent of the student body received financial assistance grants, totaling even more than $6 million. The average give is $18,000.

Although Exeter admitted girls in 1973, the original motto, "Come hither, boys, that you might become men" is still engraved over the front entrance. The academy bell still chimes on the class readjust, not the hour; Lily of the Valley graces the entrance to Phillips Church, and kids of faculty members, affectionately well-known as fac brats, ride their tricycles down the courses.

Exeter and also Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., remain archrivals, and also Exeter's sporting activities scores, which are updated twice weekly, gain the a lot of hits on Exeter's Net site. Like Groton, the school has mellowed significantly. "Classical Exeter was harsher and even more forbidding," Mr. Schubart said, "You gained the feeling that eincredibly Exeter course was virtually a secondary adobjectives committee, out to prove that the adobjectives office obtained it wrong." Bernard Helfat, Class of '34, parent '69, spent his senior year at Exeter. His younger son attfinished the school, his older child, a late-bloomer cum millionaire who "wasn't that interested in institution," was not admitted. Mr. Helfat, a lawyer in New York, is a class agent and visits his alma mater each year. "The instructors were the heart and soul of the college," he sassist. "My Latin teacher would certainly take that home window pole, raise it over a student's head and slam it down on the middle of the table. It acquired everybody's attention. And he was a very famous instructor."

There is a lot greater interaction in between faculty and also students now. Dorm faculty prowl the halls telling students to "get off the phone," "gain to bed" or "clean up this mess." The TV in the widespread room goes off at 8 p.m. Dorm proctors check students right into their rooms at 9:30, and lights go out at 10:30. If students repursuit also many kind of "late lights," the dorm proctor will look into their study actions. They are likewise alert to indicators of social and also emotional ditension.

Three years earlier Exeter put phone and computer connections in eincredibly dorm room. Students can now be in everyday contact via their parental fees, and also term files deserve to be e-mailed home for editing and enhancing, although that is frowned upon. A junior who talks to her mom on the phone eexceptionally night sassist, "I'll never before soptimal absent my family members, I miss them, favor, eextremely day, but I understand exactly how to take care of it."

The attrition price, characterized as the number of students that perform not re-enroll at the institution also though they are invited to perform so, varies from college to college. According to statistics of the National Association of Independent Schools for the 1997-98 academic year the median attrition rate for boarding students was 10.6 percent.

In midafternoon, in a widespread room, a few boys were watching "Air Force One." In a room down the hall a tie, jacket and also khakis lay strewn on the floor and wet towels thrvery own over the lintel. Holden can have actually simply ducked out to meet via his rheumy adviser, "old Spencer."

Computers, printers and stackable CD players are on eextremely desk other than a couple of. Some students pertained to school via little bit more than a toothbrush. One faculty adviser took a student shopping for posters, curtains and a throw rug to make her stark room cozier.

Will Frazier, a senior from Cleveland who has deep dimples once he smiles, concerned Exeter almost by accident. When he took the private college entrance test he noted the box for Exeter bereason he liked the name. Raised by his aunt who reared 10 other youngsters - his mom is deceased - Will didn't understand what to suppose when he determined to prep. "I come from a pretty rough community, not many children complete high institution," he shelp. "There's the majority of drugs and violence. When I pertained to Exeter, it was a complete socioeconomic jump that I wasn't really ready for." At first Will and also a Hispanic student "were the diversity of the dorm."

Will linked via the Exeter community by joining the Exeter Social Service Organization, the Ionian Society, the concert choir and the Exceteras, an a cappella singing team. Spring breaks were invested with his roommate's household, and also they additionally aided him get a summer job in a law firm.

Will explains his years at Exeter as a "joyous struggle." He discovered the academics complicated, however asking for help was specifically tough, and also there were not many faculty members of shade to turn to.

He managed to acquire the grades yet took only one advanced placement course, in French. "Boarding school has been a life line for him - it's filled his summers, given him a peer team of various other high-achieving kids, and also he has actually the inner fortitude to make it occupational," said Lynne Harwell Algrant, executive director of a New York City routine that sends minority students to personal schools.

"But not being component of a bigger black neighborhood during the developpsychological years have the right to result in an insecure identity as a black man; socially, he'll have to navigate an extra diverse human being at college," she said.

"If you deserve to persevere via Exeter, you deserve to perserious via just about anything I think," Will shelp. "It's really tough on so many levels." When asked if he kept in touch with friends from residence, Will responded, "I don't have actually any type of house friends."

Ms. Harwell Alapprove sassist, "It have the right to be a painful realization that in order to proceed on this path of ambition, impetus and also mobility - to recognize that you can't go residence aget."

Exeter was constantly tough, yet obtaining right into college supplied to be much easier. "The biggest difference in the school today," Mr. Helfat said, "is if you got out of Exeter and you were interested in going to Harvard, Yale or Princeton, that's wbelow you went. The colleges figured that students at Exeter had basically been preschosen for them. This civilization is gone."

Phyllis Steinbrecher, an educational consultant in Westport, Conn., said, "High School is the best time to invest in your child's social and also intellectual abilities because that is the time once these abilities come together and also take off." Still, she identified, colleges and also universities "are in search of more than what a few choose schools deserve to develop."

In April, the Exonian, Exeter's college newspaper, publiburned the Class of 2000 adobjectives statistics. It is a tradition at many kind of elite prep institutions to publish the list of graduates and also the schools they will be attending however this was the initially year the Exonian did so. Many kind of students responded with outrage. "This was something that should be kept personal and not thrown on the front page of the school newspaper," wrote one student. The issue of racial choices in college adobjectives is particularly sensitive.

"We've had a really warm dispute around the whole college adgoals thing and being a perboy of shade versus being a normal majority," Will shelp. "It's really frustrating to me, well, because I'm babsence, and also I don't desire people to think that the only factor I acquired right into the college that I acquired into is because I'm babsence. People simply don't feed you off a silver plast just because you prospered up in the jobs. I mean you need to job-related." At Exeter's graduation, Will wore a white shirt, tie and also a blazer prefer the various other young males. The girls wore white dresses. The course of 2000 voted not to wear the traditional cap and gvery own. After the last diploma was handed out, practically everyone lit up a cigar.

On Prize Day at Groton, Quincy Fennebresque, wearing the Groton School tie offered to eextremely graduating senior, joyously threw his straw boater into the air. Will and Quincy are currently members of the Class of 2004 at Yale. Fortunately, they carry out not resemble Holden Caularea.

"You can see a couple of Holden Caulfields right here and tright here," shelp Sarah Curtis of Greenwich, Conn., a junior at Exeter. "You learn to appreciate civilization. You just don't just dismiss them as phonies.'' But Holden dropped via the cracks, and also found that his own two feet were too wobbly to support him, so young and also so far amethod from house.

The boarding colleges were forced to change via the times or risk coming to be as anachronistic as a faded letter sweater. Although they have actually serene the rules, they keep increasing the scholastic ante. It takes a teenager with a combination of maturity, toughness, an outgoing personality and also many self-self-control to succeed ameans from house. Yet, adolescents will constantly recognize with Holden, a misfit whose vulnercapacity is a reminder of their own flourishing pains.


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