Public Adoration

RowlandUnless there’s a seismic shift in my personal economic fortunes sometime in the next 10 years or so, my daughter will be attending a public high school. And I’m more than OK with that.

When Sophie was born, we were living in the desirable Atlanta suburb of Decatur. And while there was a lot to like about our proximity to the self-described “New York City of the South,” its traffic congestion, air pollution and public schools were not on the list of positives. So my wife and I made up our minds early on that we’d do everything we could to return to the Main Line by the time Sophie was 5. As luck would have it, we beat that self-imposed deadline by about three years—much to my daughter’s benefit, I believe.

As a private school kid living in Paoli, some 20 miles from Episcopal Academy’s former campus, I often found myself running with a Conestoga High School crowd. I was in EA’s first coed class, in which the boys far outnumbered the girls. So going public in my spare time was a boon for my social life. By and large, my Conestoga pals—though from diverse income levels—were smart, creative, more open-minded and less judgmental than many of my EA peers. And though I wouldn’t trade my private education for anything, I learned that public school rocks, too.

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RileyThis month, assistant editor Emily Riley takes that contention and runs with it in our “Best Public High Schools” cover story, citing statistics to back it up. Riley also goes off the chart (so to speak), offering 20 things you might not know about our public schools—the sort of unique programs, awards and student-based efforts that can’t be quantified. In addition, she details Pennsylvania’s statewide efforts to improve public education and how that impact has been felt here on the Main Line.

Riley notes that my surrogate high school received “Silver Medal” honors in U.S. News & World Report’s well-regarded “Best High Schools” list for 2010. Joining ’Stoga are Lower Merion, Harriton, Radnor and Unionville high schools.

In an unprecedented two-part series, senior writer J.F. Pirro documents the still-unfolding 68-year saga of Gladwyne’s Peace Mission, one of the Main Line’s most mysterious and controversial institutions. Much of the story is told through the eyes of a man who was thought to be a potential successor to its long-deceased leader, Father Divine. The revelations about the withering cult and its reclusive matriarch are compelling and sometimes shocking. It’s a page-turner that’ll leave you wanting more. Look for Part 2 in MLT’s October issue.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!