My parents sent me to private school in the fifth grade for all the right reasons: higher academic standards, better student-teacher ratio, an actual shot at Ivy League glory, etc. Me, I had more pressing reasons for ditching public education—namely, escaping the bullies that had been tormenting me since third grade.
And, yes, I actually had a choice in the matter. I spent a day at the Haverford School, my dad’s alma mater. But even at 10, I couldn’t stomach the all-boys format. Instead I opted for Episcopal Academy’s Devon campus. The school was brand-new, the classes tiny, the teachers warm, funny and genuinely devoted to their jobs. There were even a few girls. In fact, I was part of the first coed class to graduate from Episcopal.
Even so, our class was predominantly male, and the few brave female souls willing to buck tradition had plenty of dates. Let’s just say that as an average student with a varsity letter in, uh, swimming, I wasn’t at the top of their list. Not exactly the sort of optimal socialization a teenage boy craves.
Now EA’s boy-girl ratio is about 50:50, and Haverford remains steadfastly all male. Two very different student bodies; two wildly successful Main Line institutions; same old rivalry. Not sure my dad ever got over my act of scholastic treason. But he sure understood the part about the girls.
And while he might kill me for writing this, I discovered his Haverford report cards in the basement of my parents’ home awhile back. His grades looked a lot like mine—lots of B’s and C’s. Pretty mediocre stuff for a guy who went on to Penn and Harvard. But then, long gone are the days when any kid with a prep school education was an Ivy League shoo-in. Now overachievement is looked upon as merely a prerequisite.
All that pressure to succeed can be overwhelming. Sadly, many kids turn to drugs as a perceived path to acceptance and a means of escape. In this month’s feature “Generation RX,” associate editor Dawn Warden takes a hard look at the alarming surge in prescription drug abuse among teens, which is hitting home in hospitals and rehab centers throughout our area. Warden spoke with many recovering addicts—most of them from great schools and good families. “On the outside, none of these kids looks like a stereotypical drug addict,” says Warden. “They could be your son or my son or your son’s best friend.”
Through research and extensive interviews with patients, medical professionals and substance abuse experts, Warden enhances the real-life drama with a wealth of practical information on the drugs themselves and what loved ones can do when faced with a crisis in their family.
Think of “Generation RX” as the cautionary flipside to this issue’s equally informative “Best High Schools” package. After all, the more informed we are, the better equipped we’ll be to meet adversity head-on in the school of life.