As I casually and slowly walked between the pews I spotted faces I recog nized

As i casually and slowly walked between the pews i

This preview shows page 7 - 9 out of 22 pages.

As I casually and slowly walked between the pews, I spotted faces I recog- nized and places I had occupied years ago as a student. I was the last new faculty member to enter; after me came a stream of incoming freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. They swarmed in quickly behind me, unable to hide their anxiety, stepping on my heels until I took my seat. This was our first ceremony at the school, "taking one's place." Through this ritual new members were formally introduced to the school and shown where we belonged among the community. Each new member had a desig- nated seat- one we would occupy almost every morning for the next year. The seating is arranged like bleachers in a football stadium - four rows of wood-carved seats face one another, with the aisle we had just paraded down separating them. I belonged in the highest, back row, where all fac-
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ulq lllt mh t> i ~ ~iH J, lilY tight ~>! l lolli!lliltp, ff!r 11h1, i1111!i~H~ til ll!tltl 11 1 '•ri 1tnlltr . l P lll )' lei! wnr the ntw h11 cS , In ftnJH ol . uullt.lt~ ll· 1111 ' '''" 1 nw . tfir• ' t· nw ol Dill . \ tth kt•l~ . II.~ dw tt t'W s tud e nt ~ t ook tlt rll J>l .u, thq hll, ~ d out the very ti·ont mw, close.st to th e.: aisl e. Like tbe fac ult y, tl, ,,, pl.t w.ts arranged by se niority, with the seniors sitting in th e row ju st bdow the faculty, and the new freshman in the lowest front row. Stretched before me were girls and boys who had fought to gain entry to St. Paul's SchooL The pews were bursting with the weight and the promise of monumental success. The seniors closest to me knew that next year the college they were most likely to attend was Harvard-almost a third of them would be at the Ivy League, and nearly all of them at one of the top colleges in the nation. And college placement was merely the next step in their carefully cultivated lives. Just as this seating ceremony endowed them with a specific place at St. Paul's, so too would graduation from St. Paul's endow them with a place in an even more bountiful world. As they all had doubtlessly been reminded by eager parents, they would be part of an even broader community-a member of a group of graduates who oc- cupied powerful positions throughout the world. The students around me, though fighting sleep and the hormonal haze of adolescence, knew that they were sitting in seats once occupied by the men and women who had led American commerce, government, and culture for the last century and a hal£ For the boys and girls around me, their own challenge was no less daunting; they were the new elite. Since 1855 St. Paul's has been one of the primary homes for the adoles- cent elite of our nation. It is a strange feeling to know that you are partly responsible for shaping the minds and hearts of children who are expected to one day lead the world. Doubly strange because I had once been one of those students, watched over by many of the same faculty members with whom I now shared the back row. Here I was again. Only now my mo- tives were far more complicated. I was here to mold these young men and women, but I was also here to study them.
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