Prep Reunion

This past weekend was my 15th high school reunion. Besides being in near shock over the fact that time has flown at a terrifying clip, it was so nice to go back to one of my favorite places of my past.  You see, unlike most people I LOVED high school and HATED college.  And when I refer to high school, I mean the two years I spent as a boarding student at the famed Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT.  I began high school in my local public school as a painfully shy and very ill girl. After having to withdraw from school to reside in a hospital and work on getting healthy I did not want to go back into the situation I had left and so looked into enrolling in a private school.  After touring many I knew the very second I stepped onto the MPS campus that it was where I needed to be, and luckily it was an option for me. It was a scary prospect for my parents as I was fresh out of the hospital and not quite “cured”.  But the gamble they took by letting me go was the decision that not only saved me from my disease but also was the catalyst that made me who I am today.

(the MPS ring)

When I tell most people that I went to all girls school they look at me with an “awww, I’m sorry” face and I have to interject and tell them it was not only my choice but one of the best ones I ever made.  I was cared for, inspired, supported and enveloped by a community of teachers and girls with whom I will forever have a bond.  I learned to be brave, try new things, take care of myself and enjoy being my age and not feel rushed to grow up.  Unlike the school’s reputation of yesteryear as a “finishing school”, it was a place where we felt comfortable wearing sweats or pearls (sometimes both together) and being smart and working hard was cool. I’m scared that places like this are going extinct for women in this country. And coming back together this weekend, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have had that time, in that place , with those women and how it’s shaped me in such indelible ways.  And while we all have lead vastly different lives since leaving Farmington, the bonds we share made it the easiest thing in the world to share some laughs, a lot of wine and remember how far we’ve come.

The other thing that going back reminded me of is how much I love preppy style :) Farmington is such a classic New England town and the school itself is beyond stunning.  It made me want to buy a ton of cable sweaters and riding boots and hang a thousand framed paintings on my wall! Here’s a collection of images and items that bring me back to good ol’ Farmington!

Chatelles Paris slippers/ Jackie O (fellow alumnae)

I would sell an organ for some Leontine Linens monogrammed bedding.

Cambridge Cable Sweater/ Staffordshire dogs

Monogrammed stationery by Sugar Paper

I die for these flats/classic oil painting in a gilded frame

The Hovey Sister’s wallpaper via Anthro/ classic trench

Barbour jacket/ Tory Burch green (amazeballs) bag

37 comments

  1. I love hearing about your high school. I grew up near by in South Windsor. My husband never understands why I can’t seem to have enough cable sweaters!

  2. So inspiring- it made me wish that all girls could have that type of empowering experience in high school! Working with at-risk teens and seeing that so many have such self esteem issues which are fuled by the dynamics of typical high schools makes me wish there were more options for so many of them! Thanks for sharing your experience and giving me a new perspective on private education!

  3. I graduated from a womens college, so I’m also a proponent of the option of single sex education. Thanks for sharing your open and honest story of your struggle, you are an inspiration to those of us who struggle with body issues.

  4. I have the same feeling when I think back to my high school which was also all-girls. While I agree single sex education isn’t for everyone it was a wonderful decision my parents made for me. I even decided to continue on and went to Wellesley College, all all-female. Loved both experiences!

  5. I totally understand where you are coming from. I went to Stoneleigh Burnham School (we played MPS in sports!) and had a wonderful time for all 4 years that I was there. I Feel like it prepared me more for college and allowed me to become a big fish in a little pond, which completely turned my academic and social life around.

  6. I went to Marymount in Los Angeles and while not actually a “preppy” school, the all-girls environment was absolutely amazing! I loved my experience and if I ever have a daughter I only wish that she could have the same benefits that an all-girls education offers. I tell everyone, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the encouragement and academic challenges that Marymount offered me.

  7. I went to a women’s college and it was exactly like you explained. the best decision i ever made. and i still met a man and got married! ha. imagine that.

  8. I went to an all girls high school and loved every minute. I already think about my little girls having the same, wonderful experience of an all girls education. Glad you had a wonderful reunion!

  9. Yes, The experiences and friendships that I made at Moore College of Art & Design (an all girls 4yr. design school in Philadelphia) was empowering! Although every girl had there own individual style,it was our love of art that unified us. Go girl power!

  10. I enjoyed reading your post today…I always do. Your blog is one of my favorites:) It is interesting to hear that someone enjoyed their experiences in an all girls school environment. I attended an all girls school from 7th through 12th grade in the South (which I know makes a huge difference), and I disliked the overall experience. Conversely, I loved the experiences that I had at my coed college. It was such an exciting and fun experience as opposed to the repressive environment I experienced during my years in an all girls school environment. I am so jealous of the stories that my husband shares about his experiences in a traditional, coed high school. I feel like I missed out on so many fun, social experiences.

  11. Erin,

    I love your blog! Your post on the “very ill girl” was wonderful and touched me. I, too, woke up one day, felt ugly and my happiness gone in elementary school. I did not know how to talk to my parents about these issues. School was not my strongest attribute I hated it. I moved to a different state and high school when I was a junior. I hated this too. I hated the change and had a personal struggle opening up to people. In college, my first three years I was clueless on what I wanted to major in. I changed my major 3-4 times. I finally decided that I wanted to decorate and I majored in Interior Design. It was a struggle and a big change for me. My gut felt like it was not a good fit for me because of my low self esteem. I struggled with my designs and I wanted to be praised instead I got critical advice and was told that it was a process designers need and I kept going feeling inadequate until my 4th year in ID school. I was praised for my efforts. I hated college and was happy to be done with it. Now, I am struggling in getting employment I wanted to go into commercial design because I was told it would be a valuable experience. My heart has been set on residential design this whole time, and I find every excuse not to start my own ID business like what if I fail, what if no one wants to hire an inexperienced designer, and you don’t have the money you can barely pay your student loan debt. You don’t have the energetic personality and this profession can be cruel at times and not so glamours as it is portrayed. I let these excuses get to me and it’s something I’m working on. I find your successes inspirational, the way you are able to share your life, overcome your personal struggles, and continue to find yourself is great.

    Thank you!

  12. I attended an all-girl high school in NJ and I often say to my husband that I’d love it if our daughter chose to attend one, too (she is only 4 now). Mine happened to be Catholic, which I didn’t love, but the same sex aspect was SO freeing. It’s probably not for everyone, but I credit it with allowing me to be “young” for just a few more years, if that makes sense. I was painfully shy leading up to high school, and I still struggle with it today, BUT for those four years, I felt fine just being my goofy self, and I think that is priceless.

  13. I love the preppy style and enjoyed all of your pics. I clicked on the “ill girl” link and read your moving story. Thank you so much for sharing it. It makes me feel more normal that I too constantly worry about how I look, what I’m eating, how I’m preceived, etc…It really is exhausting. It’s nice to know I’m not alone – Brandy

  14. I enjoyed reading your lovely tribute MPS. I am a fellow Ancient who graduated in 1989 and had my 20th a few years ago. Thank you for sharing how much Farmington empowered and formed you. I feel the same way.

  15. love how you share so much with each of us and all your experiences.
    glad you were able to get the proper treatment and education every girl deserves and often does not get.
    privilege has a price~
    pve

  16. What I wouldn’t have done to go to that school! I was boy-crazy yet dreamed of going to an all girls school where girls could just be girls (even the catty ones) and the emphasis would be on learning, doing well and going places in life rather than on what someone is wearing and who they’re crushing on. Alas, I was not so fortunate and was stuck in my painful public high school!! I hope to make things different for my girls if I am lucky enough to have girls…someday. I was the only person in my school addicted to fine paper goods. I was probably the only girl working as many part-time hours as possible (at Papyrus, at 15 years old!) to buy Crane’s engraved notes for myself! lol Regarding the linens…who needs both kidneys?? Go ahead…prepare an ice bath and get those linens!

  17. Lovely post. I too am a graduate of an all-girls school. You should go back to your high school and talk
    to the young gals there about your success of overcoming your struggles and design career. Very moving post.
    I too am an interior designer and the art world and freedom of creativity is so soothing to my mind. I have
    three grown children and I found working in design made me a better Mom. I had a creative
    outlet, but could control my schedule and be home for them too. Love reading your blog.

  18. i clicked over to your little girl post and was so touched that you shared that with everyone. My sister has struggled with those exact same issues her entire life that continues to today. There really is something so wrong with a society that judges women to the point they become ill. I am glad you made it out alive, as they say, and are living a wonderful life now. Age will continue to help you overcome those self esteem issues because it really is true, we do get wiser.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing parts of your life with blogland. It is difficult to become a successful woman in all areas of our life but you have shown it is possible.

  20. I really enjoyed reading this post, Erin. I can so relate to how you feel about your all-girls high school experience. I went to an all-girls school here in Boston and was lucky enough to spend six years surrounded by intelligent and inquisitive classmates and friends in such a supportive environment. It’s been so fun to see what incredible things people have gone on to do. My experience there shaped who I am today (I even named my business after the school!), and I loved reading about the appreciation you had for your Miss Porter’s experience. Oh, and I also HATED college. ;-)

  21. I would have loved to go to an all-girls school! Actually, I wasn’t so bothered about boys (or the lack of them), it’s the boarding school style I longed for. Wearing a uniform? Dorm mischief? Perhaps solving mysteries or time travelling in our spare time? Sign me up! (Yes, I read far too much Enid Blyton and similar as a child…)

  22. Yes! The sweats and pearls combo! I always thought it was hilarious that a bunch of girls would wear kitten heels, our school sweats (green), Polo long sleeve button-downs (pink) and pearls. Only at New England Boarding schools…

  23. Thank you for this post, Erin. It sums up how I feel about my experience at my all women’s college. I’m always defending it! I was recently back there for my 15th reunion and was just filled with warmth, happiness and gratitude that I was able to have such a wonderful experience in such beautiful surroundings.

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