playwriting stories.

A finished his playwriting assignment this morning. It was a rough draft.

"That means it doesn't need to be finished, mom."


About two weeks ago, the playwriting students saw a Stephen Sondheim play. Stephen Sondheim founded the teen playwriting group. So it was no big deal that each student had his address and wrote him "thank you" letters for comping tickets to the play.

Tonight, one student received a reply from Mr. Sondheim.

"Because she asked him to reply," said my A.
"Erm...did you ask him to reply?" I asked.
"No. Why would I do that?"
"No reason. Just wondering. What did the Sondheim letter look like?"
"It was in courier font. Like it was written in a typewriter, in neat little blocks. He answered a question about the new Sweeney Todd."
"Yeah. And then all my classmates said they were now going to revise their letters and ask him a question, too."


So...did you turn in your rough draft?
Yep. And you know what?
There was this student who didn't turn in his. So our professor asked where it was. The student said, "it's printing."
Oh yeah? (me, suspicious of this student's real motives)
Yeah. Then midway through the class, our professor asked for it again. And the dude said, "It's printing."
Then finally, when our pizza arrived and everybody was ready to leave, he said it wasn't ready yet. It was "still printing."
Guess what?
When the printer finally finished printing, his play was about a foot thick. [A demonstrates the width with his hands] Our professor freaked and asked him to have mercy on the poor trees that gave up their lives to be his rough draft.

He got accepted. And then I cried. (but not for the reasons you think...)

I had a conversation with a homeschooling mom 5 minutes ago. Her son, a high school-aged kid, applied to and was accepted to a competitive public high school.

To motivate him to take exams and do school interviews, she'd tell her son, "Okay, let's get up and out of bed and prepare for another exercise in futility." And that's how they approached it. No big deal. An exercise "in futility."

And then, he got accepted to a really great Big City school.

"I saw the acceptance letter. He got accepted. The hard work paid off. And then I cried."

Tears of happiness? Joy? Maybe. But for a homeschooling mother, acceptance to an institutional school marks the beginning of an end. We relinquish our power over our child to others. And that feels so...weird. Sad. Tear-inducing sad.

But, happily, that student is doing great as a regular Big City institutional school student. I know that that homeschooling mom gave him a great foundation.


why I posted the entire article below...

Because providing a link would lead you to a page asking if you already subscribe to the online edition.

I recall one mother at PPSI who told me her son "is a fencer." I asked what weapon he used. She didn't know. When I was finally introduced to her son, he told me, "OH, I haven't fenced in over a year!"

I have a feeling, however, that "fencer" just may make it on his college application.


Everything is not necessarily everything.

While we were at BTBSA, I eavesdropped on conversations among parents and students. Many parents and students were also going to revisit -- or had already revisited -- BTBSB and Big Time Boarding School in New Hampshire that Feeds to Harvard (BTBSRed) and Sounds Like "Frirrips Tess Dexter", as well as Totally Left Field Boarding School (which apparently has us "on hold") and other Big Time schools. These schools are among the "Top 10" residential schools in the United States.

One studious-looking girl with spectacles balanced on her nose, said, "Yeah, I'm also doing revisits at BTBSB, BTBSRed, and Totally Left Field BS. This school is nice, I guess. But I will have to go with my *gut* won't I?"

OK, people. LaMai has said this before. This chickadee was not about her "gut" or where she really wanted to go. She wanted the Top 10. And she got the Top 10.

The things that attracted us to BTBSA were its sports teams, the fact that student bands (jazz, rock, blues, etc.) are common on campus, its affinity for the arts, and its dedication to the sciences -- the things that A is passionate about. It's the only residential secondary school that includes a concentration in the arts. There is absolutely no way we would have applied to BTBSB, which does not have an arts concentration program, nor a photography program, nor a sport in which A was already involved.

In other words, we have been looking at schools in which A's already-existing talents (or things that give A his "sense of self") could be nurtured.

So far, A's acceptances have come from the schools which fit his "type" best, and that includes Public High School/Early College, which is a smaller school than Stuy.

BTBSRed is in New Hampshire. Sorry, but my selfishness would warrant A coming home on weekends as often as possible.

There are lots of great schools out there. I just can't stand when kids -- and parents -- apply to EVERYTHING and are clueless about what might be a good fit. Unless they're just after labels.

But then -- that's what distinguishes a homeschooled student from everybody else.


LaMai and A's Excellent Adventure (in New England)

So we were picked up by a navy blue Volvo at the destination train station. Our driver was a totally sweet jock-type who likes Dave Matthews, and is on the admissions committee and doubles-up duty as an ice hockey coach.

The blue Volvo and sweet jock-type dropped us off at our hotel. In the morning, the hotel had a nasty alarm go off before 6:00 AM that lasted 10 minutes. It was ear-deafening. The hotel staff compensated with free breakfast.

The same morning, we were picked up and taken to The BTBSA Lodge. The Lodge is actually quite beautiful. Smiles everywhere. Was our stay in the hotel satisfactory? Yes, thank you, except for the alarm. "Oh, we heard about that. You did manage to wake up on time though, eh?" Smile. Breakfast and coffee and juice were offered. Faculty came up and spoke to A like clockwork. "Oh, I hear you row." "Oh, I hear you studied at PPSI in Boston." "Oh, you do photography, right?" "You would be coming in as a 10th grader, correct? You'll have no problem." These people sure do their homework. I was impressed.

We walked to the Dining Hall for some a capella and more coffee. I guess the two go hand-in-hand. There was a School Fair with school clubs prominently featured. We spoke to the students with Model UN, then the school athletic paper, as well as a couple of other clubs.

Next was the school auditorium, which was about 100 acres away. Just kidding. It was a 10-minute walk.

I spoke to families from Spain, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and New Jersey. A single parent, I was definitely a minority. But I felt no less welcome.

In the auditorium, there were student performances (an African-American step dance - I LOVE step dancing), video, and school fight song. Students went off to classes. Parents walked to the science building.

Coffee was offered again, with nibblies. Parents stayed to attend more informationals -- panels titled "Arts and Athletics" and "Academic Planning and College Counseling" and "Math and Sciences." There was one more. I forgot what that was. The science building was nicer than my undergraduate college's.


I was tired. It was only 1:30 PM.

Long-short, there was a lot of coffee, a lot of food, more student performances, a lot of Botox, fake suntannng, Tod's shoes, and a BTBSA t-shirt giveaway. But somehow I didn't feel displaced. I was asked if I was faculty -- more than once.

"You're not a parent...are YOU?"
"Yes I am."
"Get out."
"It's true. I am XX years old."

Just kidding. Nobody said "Get out" this time, but I did mention that to the admissions staff, and laughed about how I thought that was going to be a bad admissions sign.

More importantly: A loved his re-visit to BTBSA.

Finally, after our Very Last Punch Bowl and cookies and Question and Answer session, we were shuttled to the train station in the BTBSA vehicle (which I will mention, is not very green) and we fell asleep on the train ride home.



Yes, we're off. To represent homeschooled students everywhere to an elite boarding school in New England.

That's right. We're representin', yo.

[Has anyone here seen Mean Girls? Is there a prep school equivalent? I hope not]