Hanging within a small glass dome in my office is an early twentieth-century pocket watch. The watch was a gift from a young alumnus I had taught and coached, and with it came a note that began: “As you may know, I repair vintage American watches as a hobby…”— Well, no!? Truth be told, I hadn’t a clue that this young man had cultivated such an interest, developed such expertise, and honed such skill. Every time I look at the watch I am nearly as amazed as I was the day I first unwrapped it.
As I chat with US boys I am time and again amazed by the sheer range of their strengths and interests, and I am convinced that US is uniquely conducive and responsive to their remarkable dimensionality.
Our boys’ interests are piqued early. Their theme-based studies in the lower school engage them actively in their learning, grounding rich interdisciplinary exploration in further studies all their own. Listening to a first-grader discuss chemist Stephanie Louise Kwolek’s invention of Kevlar, for example, I hear a precocious learner already cultivating his interests and differentiating himself by dint of his choice to dig deep into a pioneering, life-saving technology.
They build their skills early, too, as they continue to not only explore new content but also apply it to new contexts. During STEAMweek, seventh-graders engaged in design thinking exercises, collaborating on constructing furniture for kindergartners. They busied themselves in our new state-of-the-art STEAMworks design lab at the Shaker campus, worked together to fashion workable designs, considered their “customers’” needs, and delivered working products – no two exactly the same – in short order.
By the time they walk the stage at Commencement at the Hunting Valley campus, they have certainly forged paths reflective of those strengths and interests. No two students’ transcripts are alike by the time US boys become US men, and their accomplishments as scholars, athletes, writers, scientists, artists, and more speak for themselves – and for the students themselves – as inspiring testaments to all they have taken advantage of at US. Indeed, whether they are Strnad Fellows investigating everything from baseball swings to pediatric bone cancers, Davey Fellows winning Gold Key Awards from the Scholastic Writing Awards, or even that young man with a side interest in restoring vintage timepieces, they are encouraged and equipped at US to make the most of their time here and to make their educational paths their own.
Thank you for your support for all the boys of US through every step of their unique educational journeys. The school could not be the transformative place that it is without your extraordinary support. “There’s no better intellectual playground, laboratory, and frontier than US,” an alumnus once told me. It is all those things and more thanks to your dedication of time, care, and love for US.