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Seabury Memories (Stirred up by Facebook)

Logo_top Facebook has become the defacto Seabury alumni website for me lately. Especially with Sarah Bott (class of 80) and Courtney (my classmate in 85) doing up a list of high school memories, and then other Seabury alum chiming in on the comments about their memories.

Seabury was so small that if you went there all six years (7th through 12th grade when I was there, now there is a middle school and high school, but still very small), you got to know and become friends with people who were five years older and five years younger than you. If you had siblings also attending, your circle was that much wider. Sarah A. and I are bestest friends now, but she was Jen's best friend back then in the class of 80. They knew each other years before I started which means I knew Sarah A. from when I was about 10 or so. Dude.

But it wasn't just the small size, lunch used to be assigned seating so you really got to know everyone. When I started my 7th grade year in the fall of 1979, Seabury had about 180 students. When I graduated in spring of 1985, there were about 220 students. My class had 33 people in it. Lunch was served family style and you sat at an assigned table for two weeks, then you would switch tables. Teachers were heads of each table (and remained constant.) Each table you went to was a mix of grades, if you ended up sitting with a friend, it was a bonus. There were 10 people per table (including the teacher) so each day of that two weeks, one person was the "waiter" and you went to the kitchen to get the tray of food in family style serving bowls. If a bowl was empty you got up and got more. When lunch was done and people were gone, you cleaned the table. It was awesome. One lunch table assignment stands out. I think was in 8th or 9th grade and was assigned to Joe Brocoli's table. When we all sat down that first day, he announced to the nine of us that the last table he had ate nine serving bowls of peas at one lunch sitting and he knew we could beat that record! So we collectively ate 10 bowls of peas! There was no prize other than the joy that Joe had presented us with a challange and we met it. 

Sometime around junior year, I think, they switched to buffet style lunch and you could sit anywhere. I think some part of the Seabury family feeling was lost with that switch.

And the noon-announcements! Ha! Almost forgot about those. There was a pad of paper in the front hall of Cooper House (the school sits on what used to be a private estate with the old mansion (Cooper house) as the main building) and you could write up anything on that pad that you needed to convey to the whole school. It was kind of a daily newspaper, as Lance Anderson pointed out in one of our english classes. Meetings, lost items, birthday wishes, announcements of any kind were written on that pad then xeroxed directly for each table and delivered at lunch. Everyone took turns reading the mishmash of hand writing and info. If there was something that needed announcing last minute, you could stand up with Roger Melrose (the headmaster), or whoever was giving the prayer that day, at the front of the room (near the trash for some reason) and speak into the little microphone/speaker deal he had. Usually it was a last minute meeting, but often it was to announce in public someone's special birthday or if someone had won an award, often that person came to the front and were given leis and lots of applause. New students were welcomed and occasionally sad news of someone's parent's death were told. (There was at least one death every year I was there.)

There is a hazy memory of someone (Matt Kresser I think) getting a dip slip for bending forks during the "don't bend forks" announcement. I only really remember it because that dip slip was published in the yearbook for that year. (Too lazy to go dig out the yearbook.)

With a school that small, school plays were filled with a mix of students (again you became friends with people of all ages), sports teams were well mixed in ages and then there was Winterim. Oh thank the gods for Charlotte Melrose! YOU ONLY GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT! Words to live by, my friends.  

Winterim happened every February for a week. Instead of regular classes you had a week of "outside the box/outside the classroom" education. Each year had a theme and the groups you signed up to be in were specific to that theme. 7th grade was Hawaiiana and I learned how to make leis. (I'm old school, still say "leis" not "lei" like they do now...) Jen (Senior) took Hula, there was canoe paddling and hawaiian history and hawaiian cooking and things like that. Again you signed up for the top three activities and you got assigned with a mix of people. Charlotte and the other organizers made sure you weren't just in a group of your own friends. 8th grade I learned how to silkscreen. 9th=Volcano, 10th=astronomy (which is amazing in hawaii where the night sky is DARK) and 11th=touring military bases (I got to fly a huge hydraulic ride-type helicopter simulator!). Senior year I went to Kauai and it was really a great trip, thanks mostly to Mr. Moragne for being an amazing tour guide. Generally you bonded with your group and at the end of the week there was an assembly and each group had to do a skit about what their experience was like. Songs were written and performed, props were used, hilarity generally ensued. Teachers were also part of each group so you got to know them outside of the classroom too and that made you respect and appreciate them as human beings, not just as "Teachers". 

But Seabury was already different in how you related to teachers. Most lived on campus (Seabury was a day school and boarding school) and so you got to know their kids and pets and parents. Most teachers were called by their first names, though Mr. Melrose was always Mr. Melrose and Fred Rawe was usually always Mr. Rawe. (Until he became Dr. Rawe.)  I'm not sure why (Maybe because I was so square--student body prez after all!) but this never seemed to take away the distinction between teachers and students. It was relaxed, but still a college prep school after all and we were all expected to do well. 

I loved all of the teachers I knew at Seabury. Okay wait, I did get bored to death by Cliff Oje in Pre-Calc, but maybe that was because I hated Pre-Calc...hmmm. Sorry Cliff. I have stayed in touch with a few teachers over the years and have occasionally googled and emailed others out of the blue to say hi and we catch up for a short bit. 

Some people are gone now. Bruce Wilson (my class), Karen (Jai) Roberts ('84), David Melrose (my biology teacher), Mr. Melrose and Snooker. Oh man I cried my eyes out about Snooker. 

It was a special place and I amaze my friends now when I say, sincerely, honestly, I loved high school. Was I happy all the time? Uh, hell no. But I got to have experiences that so few people get to do --- repel off waterfalls, ropes courses through trees, forming human chains of 200 people and walk all over campus holding hands, a school wide water fight!  I hope someday my kids can have something similar.