Years ago there were more schools of the same gender available than today. In place of going to the local public high school, one had the option to attend a private one. Some were there after high school. Because the cost got to be so high, only a few have this advantage today.
Some of the schools were just for boys or just girls. Many were co-educational, but there were many for those of the same sex.
Both offer great advantages to those who could attend. One big advantage is that all the students who do go have college in mind, thus there is much more seriousness. They are in with others who would do some serious studying. In sports, there are other advantages. Sports are all kept in the same perspective, not overly done. Kids compete against one another with similar skills. These schools were all over New England. To attend one you’d have to live there. They all have dormitories right on the campus. Should one live close enough to one, they could commute there.
The cost of the schools keeps rising, so only a few have the means to attend. That’s so unfortunate because it eliminates so many.
Just out of Newburyport a short way is The Governor’s Academy. In my day it was strictly a boys school. Today, it’s co-educational. Still a very fine secondary school with fine athletes.
Down the Pike a little farther is St. John’s Prep in Danvers. That has been an all-boys school for as far back as I remember. Up until recent years it had dormitories so students could live there. That’s changed today. It’s strictly a day school, and all the boys commute. They have a large enrollment and you have to take exams to be admitted. All the graduates go on to college all over the country.
I feel most fortunate that I had the opportunity to experience this type of education. Following graduation from Newburyport High School in 1942, I went to a private military academy. It was an all-boys school in Virginia. The experience was terrific. Not having girls around didn’t cause any problems. We were too occupied with school work and sports to care. Because of WWII, I could only attend for one year. The next year it was the U.S. Army. There were females in the military then, but none where I spent my time. Again, I’m pleased because we had to concentrate on being a soldier.
As in school, not having that distraction of girls around worked to our advantage. Oh, we got to a USO dance occasionally. This took up all my time for 2 1/2 years. Following the end of the war I went off to college. Where did I end up going but to an all-male Boston College. Back then, there were no girls on campus. That worked out fine too.
Graduating from there, my first job was teacher-coach at an all- boys prep school. My second job was at St. John’s Prep. That was pretty tough because the students were all serious about school. There was no fooling around. It was hard for a first-year teacher. You had so much to learn. After three years I was able to get a teaching job in public schools in Newburyport. But all those years were beneficial to me. I’m certainly glad I had those years in separate schools and situations with just guys.
Going to co-educational schools is great too, but I really don’t know what I missed. About all schools are co-educational today. There are a couple of things I don’t understand. One is, why is it so expensive? Another is that there are dormitories for girls and those for boys, so why do they need co-ed dorms? I’m certainly grateful for the way things were in my day.
Robert “Boots” Chouinard lives in Salisbury.