Preparing for Power: America's Elite Boarding Schools

By Peter W. Cookson; Caroline Hodges Persell | Go to book overview

8
The Student Underlife and the Loss of Innocence

IT IS a clear New England morning when Chip, a student guide at a select 16 school, shepherds us from chapel to gym to dorm. Bright and articulate, the tall, thin, redheaded junior is bubbly in his praise of his school. "This is a great school," he says several times. "My father went here, this is a great school." A public relations natural, Chip knows everything about his school. He rattles off figures with ease; he is particularly proud of the new science wing and the Gothic chapel with "real" stained glass windows. "Hey, I'll bet you'd be interested in this," Chip says, pointing to a bluff behind the library.

The path up the bluff is narrow and rocky. As we struggle along, Chip glides ahead--and patiently waits for us at the top.

"Isn't the view incredible!" he says, sweeping the horizon with his arms.

The view is magnificent. The sloping green hills run down to the blue water for miles up and down the Atlantic coast. Sailboats, their colorful spinnakers at full wind, dart among the whitecaps. Chip suddenly becomes quiet, his youthful face less poised and more innocent. His eyes follow the boats for several seconds. "And this," he says simply, "is where I come to cry. Everybody's got to have a place to cry."

-146-

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