Last week, I found out that my high school was sold to a for-profit organization, which meant a change in campus and such. I was taken aback from the announcement through email, and I first heard about it through friends on Facebook. It was definitely overwhelming and upsetting at first.
I’ll tell you why. I went to the MacDuffie School because of the campus. That was one of my major deciding factors, as well as the high level of education, strong performing arts program and the people. The campus was special to me. I wanted the experience of walking to a different school building for a class in my high school years. So, I got that. But, it meant more than that. I learned that in my four years of school there. The campus meant so much more than just a piece of land with historic houses and school buildings spread apart. It scared people away because it was in the middle of Springfield, Massachusetts, a city that was falling apart. (No offense, Springfield, I still support you and your attempts of climbing back to success.) The city’s violence and danger scared people away from MacDuffie’s beautiful campus. MacDuffie proved people wrong. It could still create a sense of belonging and make you feel like you were home, right in the middle of a violence ridden city. On my way to school, I saw the bad parts of Springfield, but when I put my foot onto MacDuffie’s property, every single day, none of Springfield’s dangers crossed my mind as I ran to catch up with my friends and stress out about my studies.
The campus meant more than that too. It had history. That’s where MacDuffie was founded. 120 years! And all those incredible historic buildings with its beautiful architecture. And special traditions were performed here. Remember Candlelight? Candlelight is a ceremony where the entire school goes out to one of the fields on campus and everyone forms a circle around a bonfire while holding an unlit candle. There’s an outer circle of students and faculty who have been there for the previous year, and there’s an inner circle composing of those who are new. Then, administration and student government light the candles of the outer circle and then speeches are made. Then, the inner circle joins the outer circle and gets their candles lit. They are no longer known as “new kids.” They are a part of the community. We then all line up and make a small half circle around the circle on the campus and sing the school song.
There are so many special things on campus that make it special. The magnolia trees. The athletic field that used to be just dust. Tanning on the tennis courts. Those extremely steep stairs down to South Hall and how they used to get so flooded in torrential rain storms. The circle, where a motto was made and traditions were done. That tiny stage for our extravagantly done shows. The first snow on campus. The senior murals. The locker room, as well as the senior cubby room. Dancing on the field in the spring. No other school had that. The school was extremely unique. It was run down, people would visit the school and not view it as a college prep private school, because it didn’t look like one. It was beat up and, honestly, people who wanted to go to MacDuffie for school, didn’t go because of how run down it looked. But, the people – the students, faculty and administration – made it all not matter. We made the school special by creating a tight-knit community of intelligence, creativity and love. MacDuffie was really special.
There are some other issues relating the new campus in Granby, such as, students leaving because of how far it is, transportation issues, a new headmaster, the whole change to for-profit, the possibility of the mission changing and all. I was upset about a few of these things, but I’m not going to comment on those issues. I’m going to just stand behind the point that campus was incredibly special and that’s one of the reasons MacDuffie will stay in my heart forever. The only thing I’ll say about the new campus and to all the people moving over there is: Along with all the changes, please, please, don’t change your mission and turn into another one of those snooty, obnoxious prep schools, because that’s not who you truly are.
After talking all about the campus and how it was special to the school… it is the people who made it great. So, I hope that the people who are there right now, stay true to themselves and to the school; and bring all of that heart and spirit to Granby. I wish MacDuffie the best of luck, and I’ll still visit!