"Old School".......With an Ocean View

Friday, May 23, 2014
"Old School" doesn't necessarily refer to one-room schoolhouses.  Although those one-room schoolhouses are full of stories and charm of their own, as we recently learned during a talk given by our town historian about the many one-room schoolhouses in Clifton Park back in "the day".  While attending school in one room with kids of all ages must have been fun and had its benefits......I am more intrigued by "old schools" like this one - St. George's School in Middletown, RI.

The first time we vacationed in Newport the weather was cloudy and drizzly.  We arrived too early for our hotel check-in so we drove around exploring.   We came upon this magnificent church, which we were able to see long before we approached it.  I was immediately intrigued and felt like I'd been transported back in time to some European city.  Not being much of a traveler, we were not accustomed to seeing this type of church in upstate NY.   Discovering that this was not just a church, but a boarding school intrigued me even further.    As soon as we returned from our trip, I couldn't wait to research and learn more about this unusual academic paradise.

St. George's is a private, Episcopal, co-ed boarding school that covers 125 acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean just east of the city of Newport.  It was founded in 1896 by Rev. John Bryon Diman who was a member of  a prominent Rhode Island family.  Although the school is of Episcopal heritage, it welcomes students of all faiths.  It's student body consists of  373 students in grades 9-12 from all over the world.  It's missions statement reads: 
"the specific objectives of St. George's are to give its students the opportunity of developing to the fullest extent possible the particular gifts that are theirs and to encourage in them the desire to do so. Their immediate job after leaving school is to handle successfully the demands of college; later it is hoped that their lives will be ones of constructive service to the world and to God.” 
St. George's population is evenly split between boys and girls; 84% of the students are from the US and 16% from foreign countries. St. George's operates on a six-day school week, meaning that classes meet Monday through Saturday. Wednesdays and Saturdays, however, are half-days, with athletic games in the afternoons.  The average class size is 10 students per class.  Only 15% of the students are day students, the other 85% are boarders. 

 The View from School on our first visit.....and below on our recent visit.

The William and Lois Buell Dormitory was built in 1993.  The George and Marge Wheeler dormitory was built in 1993. The Nash Common Room connects the two dorms together.

Taken from the school website, you can see this is a large campus. 

As part of their mission to nurture faith and understanding, the school community gathers twice a week in the chapel. Services follow the order for worship in the Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer. 
Transportation is arranged for those wishing to attend local churches on Sundays, and offered to students who would like to attend services at synagogues, mosques, or temples.
I have always wondered what it must be like living away from home, attending a school such as this where expectations were high and the students (and their parents) were serious about learning and success.   What a different lifestyle this must be from the one most of us have experienced in our academic years!!  
Now I am betting that you are wondering what this type of education costs.......I couldn't have even come close to guessing.  Tuition for 2013-2014 was $65,000 for boarding students, and $45,000 for day students.  What?????    That's right, I didn't add too many zeros.  About $5.56 million was given to 119 of the students needing financial aid this year.  I suspect, like me, you are wondering who is able to attend a school of this caliber and cost.  Wikipedia has a long list of notable St. Georgians -  
  1.  Billy Bush of the t.v. program, Access Hollywood 
  2.  Julie Bowen, actress on Modern Family
  3. John Jacob Aster V,  Philanthropist, Owner of The Times Newspaper
  4. Morgan Parker, inventor of the disposable scapel
  5. Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. Bush
  6. Phillipe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau
  7. Clairborne Pell, longest-serving Rhode Island Senator, famous for creating the Pell Grant
  8. Tucker Carlson, writer and former host of Crossfire on CNN and Tucker on MSNBC and now an NBC political commentator
This is just a few of a long list of famous people.  Clearly you get what you pay for when you attend St. George's School - aside from an ocean view.  But if you can't afford to send your loved ones to school here, you can at least admire the architecture and ponder what an education here may have been like.  Daydreaming is still free!  I encourage you to use the links below to read more about St. George's.  Who knows, maybe you'll win the PowerBall and send your kids or grandkids one day!

Since my initial writing of this story in 2014....this has taken place (according to Wikipedia):
In early 2016 the school stated that sexual abuse of students had occurred, dating from the 1970s, and perpetrated by employees and students. St. George's "repeatedly failed to notify police and child welfare authorities as required by law", a news report said. Many accusers at the time contested school assertions that accusations were only recent and "much of their anger has fallen on [the head of school]", the report continued.[14] The extensive abuse—"at least 51 students were abused by employees ... and at least 10 others by fellow students"—was further documented in a 400-page independent report released in September.
The independent report also noted the following positive observation. "Fortunately, St. George’s is certainly a very different place now. We find that St. George’s current leaders have established a culture of respect for the students who attend there now, including new traditions that set an entirely different tone for students and faculty than prevailed during the 1970s and 1980s. We also find that St. George’s has in place programming, policies, practices, and systems intended to eliminate, to the largest extent possible, faculty abuse of students and student-on-student abuse, and to address correctly reports of abuse or assault should they arise. And the school is committed to a process of continuous improvement to ensure that its practices remain those thought best to address difficult issues of faculty and student boundaries, student sexuality, and new opportunities for harm that digital and other new technologies may bring."

Thank you for allowing me to share by photos and thoughts with you!  And Have a Great Day!!!

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