Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Hidden Jewel

In the six or seven years I've been teaching for the Great Smokies Writing Program, outreach classes through University of North Carolina at Asheville,  my classes have met in various venues -- in a lovely board room decorated with African art at the Young Men's Institute in downtown Asheville, in the library of a city school, in the upstairs of a bookstore, in a classroom at an elementary school, in a meeting room in Burnsville, and in a meeting room at the Historic Thomas Wolfe House. But this term, I hit the jackpot.  I meet my classes in a board room in the library of The Asheville School, a boarding school for grades 9 - 12.

 I had never visited the school  though I knew of it as a well-regarded prep school just off a busy highway in West Asheville. Indeed, the Tampa prep school I taught at many years ago was headed by several men who had previously served on the faculty of The Asheville School.

But in near forty years of being in the area, I never had occasion to visit the campus. And what a campus it is.  Just off a busy highway, lined with fast food restaurants, car lots, and other non-upscale enterprises, hidden behind a wall of trees are three hundred acres of classrooms, dormitories, faculty housing, sports complexes, and I don't know what all.  That there is an equestrian center suggests the range of amenities available to the students.

I was overcome with appalling  envy on first seeing this place -- the sort of feeling I got when we visited Oxford -- why couldn't I have had a school experience like this? 

The answer is simple: I didn't know at the time that it was something I wanted. Not that my family could have afforded such a thing.  

Of course, I probably wouldn't have appreciated it if I had been given such an opportunity. But I found myself wanting to grab a random passing kid and ask if he or she knew how fortunate he or she is to be able to attend a school like this. 

I went online to find out more  about this idyllic grove of academe HERE.  I was taken aback at the tuition that tops $47,ooo for boarding students ("Pocket change for some people," said John,) but I noted that there was a fair amount of student aid. 

Ah, well, perhaps in another life. Though if I'm going to dream, perhaps I would put Hogwarts at the top of my list. Less field hockey, more quidditch.


Ms. A said...

Fortyseventhousanddollars, WOW! And it's not even a college!

Kath Marsh said...

I know what you mean about the envy. But then again it's a Boarding school. Away from family.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

It is a lovely campus and the students there are very fortunate indeed. I find it incredible how expensive education is today. How nice that you got to teach there in such pretty surroundings.

Thérèse said...

Such an opportunity to discover new grounds and new students.
Hard to tell if each student feels the value of it.

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

So beautiful for an educational experience! Since I've driven by I never imagined what was on the grounds!
I played hockey also...I wonder where they get teams from other schools to play against!

NCmountainwoman said...

We have friends who visited and one was an alumnus. Back when it was Asheville School for Boys. We drove over to the campus and I was struck with the size of the trees. So beautiful.

dannie said...

It is a lovely campus. I have found the students to be well mannered and polite. I'm sure they have their share of challenges. All I could think of the first day was how on earth did they keep track of all those kids and their raging hormones?

Jim Egerton said...

I remember Asheville School. I have mentioned that I went to Christ School in Arden from 1954 to 1957. Tuition was 1000 dollars a year. One Farmer and family and two cooks took care of the things kids could not. the boys did everything else. Kept the classrooms, dormitory rooms and yards clean. The headmaster cut the grass.

This was an Episcopal school fashioned at the English Form system.

Things have changed. We had evensong every night and a high mass on Sundays.

Alot different from the Asheville school

Anonymous said...

I really do understand your envy. I felt the same way when my daughter attended Linfield College in Oregon. Why couldn't I have gone to such a college?

Then I attended a summer photo seminar at Stanford University and fell in love with the campus. More envy. And regret. Had I applied, I probably could have gone to Stanford back in the 70s but I didn't even know it was an option for me. I only looked at public schools.

What a treat to have gotten to teach at such a great school. Heck, I'm envious of you for that.