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.
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.