Thursday, September 04, 2008

School Days

Anne's recent post about her high school and Boston magazine's coverage of a high school lots of my college classmates attended (there were so many alumni of Newton North High School in my dorm, which was officially named "North House," that the place was nicknamed "Newton North House") have reminded me that I owe my own alma mater of the 1980s some congratulations. Millburn High School has been named the best public high school in New Jersey, and that's impressive.

As miserable as I was most days I walked through its doors (and routinely I do thank God those years are over), I owe Millburn High School a lot. I owe it introductions to and quality time spent with Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell, Sinclair Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Theodore Dreiser, Shakespeare, Racine, Stendhal, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, W.E.B. Du Bois, Arthur Koestler, and so many others. I owe it the experience of co-editing-in-chief the school newspaper and helping to produce literary magazines in two languages. I owe it the confidence imparted by those faculty and staff who saw something worth cultivating and encouraging in me and my work. I owe it a lot of things that have contributed, in various ways, to my development as a writer. (And let's not forget the most important practical skill that the Millburn public schools gave me: the ability to type, courtesy of that 12-week "related arts" course back in seventh grade.)

So, in this back-to-school season, allow this alumna to express some long-delayed appreciation for the best public high school in New Jersey.


Lisa Romeo said...

Ok, I'll play. I went to high school in Cedar Grove, NJ, which is only about 8 miles from Millburn.

If it weren't for Mrs. Merz -- later to become a superior superintendent when my own kids started school in the same town -- I don't know where I'd be.

She taught me English, Journalism, Literature, and was the advisor to the school newspaper, which I edited for two years. But more than that, she routinely told me that I was a writer.

More than a decade later, when I had my first byline of any significance, she was the first to phone.

I doesn't get better than that.

Erika D. said...

You're right, Lisa: It really doesn't get better than that. Thank you for sharing your story.