What Really Matters: Two Days At The Groton School

A Ticket to the Game of Life

Activity on Adrants has been light the past couple days and now I will tell you why. About four miles from the posh, suburban offices of Adrants lies the spectacularly gated, storybook world of The Groton School. Entering the campus through an imposing brick and iron gateway, one is thrust into a world experienced only by a privileged few. Having lived in Groton for six years, I've passed through that gateway several times for various reasons, mostly to visit the art camp my wife runs during the Summer, but today and yesterday, I passed through them for a very special reason - to proctor Advanced Placement exams for the privileged few who will be the future leaders of our world.

The pressure to succeed for these students -and all students - can be all-consuming. In the middle of the Calculus exam one girl's calculator batteries died. I saw a look of despair and horror cross her face as she raised her hand frantically to get my attention. As I neared her desk, she was shaking and almost crying. The pressure revealed. Luckily, I had seen another student who had a set of extra batteries lying atop his desk. I walked quickly over and asked if he would let another student use his batteries. He said yes. I grabbed them and hurriedly walked the batteries back to the girl who placed them in her calculator. As she looked up and thanked me, her expression shifted dramatically to one that looked as though I had just plucked her from the deck of the Titanic the moment it went under. I guess, in a way, I did.

Sitting the "Schoolhouse" where the exams are held, I felt as though I was trespassing on the hallowed grounds of the most successful and privileged people in the world. Beneath a magnificent, exposed beam ceiling and busts of well known historical figures placed around the room's edges are embossed wooden panels listing the names of each year's graduating class from 1886 to 2003. It's quite impressive.

Say what you will about the prep school stereotypes but succeeding at a school like The Groton School can propel one into the Ivy League of colleges and into the upper echelons of our business-driven culture. Granted, a prep school education and a college degree does not define the person but it can most assuredly be instrumental in placing one in the top consideration set for a much sought after position in the cut-throat game of life. For me, it was fascinating to witness a small part of that preparation for the game.

by Steve Hall    May- 6-04   Click to Comment   
  

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Comments



Comments

For the last six years the Groton School ? largely through Karen Schwartzman, their publicist ? has denied the widespread nature of the sexual attacks on campus as well as their failure to report. ?There?s no question it is demoralizing to have the story go on when you know in your heart you did the right thing,? she complained to an AP article in 2002. In pleading guilty to the criminal charge of not reporting, Groton and Schwartzman expose their true selves. Instead of dealing truthfully with the situation on campus, Groton officials tried to discredit victims, refused to turn over subpoenaed documents, and stonewalled in court.

Now Headmaster Rick Commons - rather than offer an apology to the victims and a firm promise that the school will never behave this way again ? said instead: ?In this case, we believe this is the best way to put the matter behind us.? He refused to comment further. Six years and huge legal fees ? by my calculation over $1,000,000 - belie Commons? casual dismissal of the school?s guilty plea in criminal court. It seems obvious that the school was afraid that additional information would have come out if the case had gone to trial.

It is disheartening to me, as a parent of one of the victims that Groton still refuses to admit to and apologize for its criminal wrongdoing. Until that happens, no student is really safe at the school. When the victims reported sexual attacks to the Headmaster six years ago, Groton harbored the molesters and made it difficult for authorities to get at the truth. The school created an environment where other victims feared to speak out. In his recent statement, Headmaster Commons shows that nothing has changed. When something happens which the school does not wish to acknowledge, the victim ? and not the crime - will be attacked, a sad lesson for Groton?s alumni to take with them in life. In all of this, it seems obvious that its image is to be of greater concern to Groton than the safety of its students and the substance of what they truly learn while at the school.

Posted by: peter hawkins on May 2, 2005 4:37 PM

For the last six years the Groton School – largely through Karen Schwartzman, their publicist – has denied the widespread nature of the sexual attacks on campus as well as their failure to report. “There’s no question it is demoralizing to have the story go on when you know in your heart you did the right thing,” she complained to an AP article in 2002. In pleading guilty to the criminal charge of not reporting, Groton and Schwartzman expose their true selves. Instead of dealing truthfully with the situation on campus, Groton officials tried to discredit victims, refused to turn over subpoenaed documents, and stonewalled in court.

Now Headmaster Rick Commons - rather than offer an apology to the victims and a firm promise that the school will never behave this way again – said instead: “In this case, we believe this is the best way to put the matter behind us.” He refused to comment further. Six years and huge legal fees – by my calculation over $1,000,000 - belie Commons’ casual dismissal of the school’s guilty plea in criminal court. It seems obvious that the school was afraid that additional information would have come out if the case had gone to trial.

It is disheartening to me, as a parent of one of the victims that Groton still refuses to admit to and apologize for its criminal wrongdoing. Until that happens, no student is really safe at the school. When the victims reported sexual attacks to the Headmaster six years ago, Groton harbored the molesters and made it difficult for authorities to get at the truth. The school created an environment where other victims feared to speak out. In his recent statement, Headmaster Commons shows that nothing has changed. When something happens which the school does not wish to acknowledge, the victim – and not the crime - will be attacked, a sad lesson for Groton’s alumni to take with them in life. In all of this, it seems obvious that its image is to be of greater concern to Groton than the safety of its students and the substance of what they truly learn while at the school.

Posted by: peter hawkins on May 2, 2005 4:38 PM





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