high school memories…

So we all have memories of high school… me too!  I definitely had a different high school experience than most American kids.  No football, or Proms….but I still value my experiences. 

I went to Westtown School in Pennsylvania.  Its  private co-ed boarding school, established back in the early days of the US by The Society of Friends, or the Quakers.

It's still a very quakerly place…As Friends believe in living simply, there was no Prom, nor football…I think that was the official reason for no football, but to be honest I think they avoid it because of the expense of equipment and the health risks… We are pretty good at soccer, however…

And if you throw a punch at someone, well, that pretty much seals your fate.

Alot of people think of Boarding School life as something like seen in The Facts of life…

Westtown is different.  It has become alot more modern, even since my time, but its different.

Firstly the

rooms are so small.  We each had a roommate, one chest o drawers and one closet in the room, 2 desks and bunk beds… This is one of the rooms, made bigger by a loft bed, but in general you had to really like your roomie, or be very aggravated by them. See the photo makes you think theres more space, but there isn't most rooms I'd say were about 16 feet by 6 feet across, sort of like a prison cell. I unfortunately, was pretty aggravated, most of the time. I went maybe 4 months oncewithout talking to my roomie… I'm not really proud of that now, but it's what I did. She was, in my defense, a freak of nature… announcing one night at dinner, "I'm going off my anti depressant soon and I think I'll feel better"  Not dinner conversation….

My other roommate and I generally managed ok.  We used to crack each other up by imitating a certain teacher saying, "I don't believe we shall have a fire drill tonight"…. We had fire drills ALL the time.  The main building is quite old, so much so that most of the bathrooms appear to be added on, and were called "the towers"  and susceptible to fire.  With the drill, I remember we all had to line up on our respective ends (boys end and girls end), and be accounted for.  Drills often happened right before dinner, resulting in many people coming out from a shower in towels with shampoo still in the hair…so each night, before bed, my roommate and I would try to remember to put shoes out so we could easily find them…

Nowadays, they are allowed locks on the doors. We had no locks and theft was of course rampant.  Borrowing also occurred, and was sometimes very nice, if you couldn't find your text and knew your neighbour hd the same one, you just took it…sometimes leaving a note of thanks….

They are also allowed telephones in the rooms!  It seems amazing to me that I did not have a phone at all!  There was one on the hall, but you could'nt tie it up for long…

I feel of course that they have it soft with locks and phones!!!

The Facts of Life Girls always seemed to have loads of time for this and that….

We didn't.  Here's a typical day for a current Westtowner, and it was a pretty typical day for me when I was there.



I reme,ber once going to sleep thinking,"oh isn't it nice that I finally have time to sleep"…

Of course, being a Religious school, we attended Quaker Meeting right on campus in this meeting house.  Wednesdays and Sundays.  Meeting was a typical silent meeting.  We did have one Elder though, who I am convinced had a series of "inspirational speeches" to give when others weren't enlightened by God to speak.  I used to get soooo annoyed when he would stand up and clear his throat…


In the Facts of Life, the girls were punished by doing the Kitchen work. At Westtown, work duties are a must.  Everyone plays on 2 sports teams a year no matter how not athletic they are, and everyone has a work job…They changed every couple of weeks, I did kitchen jobs, sweeping of classrooms, picking up litter outside…and a few jobs I can not recall…


while they weren't fun, I remember absebtmindedly pulling all the stray tiny bits of paper from my notebook in class one day and then having to sweep it the same day…a big lesson for me.

Of course, things did not always come up roses.I occasionally got into trouble, was given a demerit or two, and once had the honour of "hour book"  I had gone off campus with anotherstudent and his friend who was visiting from out of town.  We went somewhere in a car and somehow got found out.  So for the rest of the weekend, I had to find a teacher, every flipping hour and get them to sign it.  I don't know if the teachers or if I was more annoyed by that one… I went to bed waaay early on Sunday.


I did learn a lot there.I'm particularly grateful to my Spanish teacher.  With just three years of high school spanish, I've been able to make my way pretty easily through several Latin American countries, as well as the Emergency Department where I work now…

Gotta say though, I was delighted to find no hour book in college!!!

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7 thoughts on “high school memories…

  1. Very interesting! I enjoy reading these stories. Proms weren't worth it, by the way. 🙂 What do you think you gained and/or missed compared to a "traditional" public school?

  2. Wow! This is interesting. I too enjoy reading your stories. [I still have to go back and read about Sudan.] If you had it all to do again and could choose this school over a more traditional one which would you choose?

  3. Thanks for posting this! I read it to Ben and Savannah. I wish I could tell Savannah that's where SHE is going to go without Ben losing it on me! LOL I think kids need structure like this and some more than others. I can't imagine you being one of the kids who needed this though! How did you GET to this point?

  4. @katibell: As you know, it's always interesting to explore our shared connection to Pennsylvania.
    Is there a reason why you attended that particular school, or one rooted in the Quaker tradition?

  5. it was essential to getting into a good college. It wasn't punishment at all, and all kids need structure. I never would have gotten into the college i went to without the name of my high school, and thats a basic fact. but you know, it wasn't bad at all…the worst thing was that the girls were, just like at other high schools, kind of mean…
    but the best thing was that you could really be your own person…

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