An affluent suburb just half an hour from the heart of the city, a house owned by a mover and shaker (possibly two) in the worlds of law, investments, medicine, philanthropy. The scene is familiar. They’ve got their kids lined up in front of them, and proudly claim, “We moved here for the schools.”
The Bronxville School neatly fits kindergarten through high school in a building that, if a student spends his life in Bronxville, he or she will never leave. It feels that way, sometimes. By the time a Bronxville kid has reached high school he has indeed become a ‘Bronxville kid’, complete with quotes: quietly confident in being able to slack off, affable, horrifyingly suburban with aspirations of the urban, or even urbane, life.
Yet there is no arguing with the SAT scores, the exclusive college selections or the money flowing in and out; Bronxville High delivers, no matter how much the students resist. Achievement, if not born into, at least bears thrusting upon them. There is an active selection of athletics as well, and a few drama and music programs; the school is too small to support the eight thousand strange clubs and organizations some of us may recall from high school, but nonetheless, there is enough to do.
Bronxville students are descendents of superior people, and mistakenly consider themselves superior as well. “Mean Girls” could well have been inspired from the conversations in these halls; woe to the young woman a few pounds overweight or who does not shop at the correct stores. The social scene consists largely of driving around aimlessly and drinking at other people’s houses. The school makes an effort to inspire fun without alcohol. It may not have worked out too well.
Bronxville High considers itself, perhaps rightly, an active community member whether or not school is in session at the moment, and the school is part of everyone’s life whether or not you have a child there. It’s the six-thousand-pound gorilla of the village. A considerate one as an institution, at least, if not on the individual student level.
There is no question that Bronxville offers an academic program that will help any student write his or her own ticket. The social scene, with its mix of catty snobs, chirpy overachievers and well-sired dimwits, may yet give one pause. Perhaps the true value Bronxville High has to offer is not in learning facts about history and math, but in looking around the tiny village and the tinier classroom, and realizing, “I don’t want to be here any more. I don’t want to be one of these people.” Then standing up and walking away.
Like so many things in life, Bronxville High gives rewards based on what you put into it. The academic rewards are solid. The life rewards, if taken in the proper context, are invaluable.