by Cayman Kai Macdonald ’12For me, the greatest value of Pomfret School has not been the ivy-laced brick, educators armed with doctorates, rigorous athletic programs, top-quality technology, or even the expansive buffet meals – it has been the flexibility to shape my own unbounded experience and to pursue a personalized intellectual journey.
Since I was a young child plagued with glasses and an eye patch to correct my lazy eye, I have always loved reading. At Pomfret, I have enjoyed the passionate debates in the classroom over the American Dream as we discuss The Great Gatsby or the symbolism of birds as we ponder Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. But my sophomore year, I realized something was missing: there was no forum for members of the community to erase the titles of “teacher” and “student” and to simply connect as human beings while enjoying brownies and coffee and celebrating the shared human experience portrayed in a book of choice.
At school meeting one crisp fall morning in my sophomore year, my heart fluttered and my breath caught in my throat as I rose to make my first announcement before the entire school community. I looked out over the silent sea of faces and felt a smile stretch across my cheeks as I loudly proclaimed the birth of the newest club on campus: Book Club. I explained that whomever came to the meetings would help choose the book, that it would not be a requirement to have read the entire book to participate in the discussion, and that there would, of course, be delicious treats to enjoy at every meeting.
From that day on, Book Club has met once a month. We have read books ranging from the zombies in World War Z by Max Brooks to the holiday humor in David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice. Although we do not always probe into tenets of existential philosophy like my English class does as we examine The Stranger, I never miss those moments in Book Club when a student opens up and empathizes with a character who has lost a loved one to cancer, or when a faculty member’s eyes light up as a student banters with him as they munch on homemade treats.
Book Club has been just one of the numerous side avenues I have paved on my own from the main street of endowments at Pomfret. After asking again and again in every history class, “How did this brand of thought develop?” I explored an independent study in which I found myself fascinated and lost in the writings of intellectuals such as Karl Marx, John Locke, and Edmund Burke during my junior spring. On my spring break sophomore year in Rome, I breathed life into Latin, a “dead language” I savor studying, as I marveled at the ancient ruins of the most prominent civilization in history. Pomfret has been a priceless vessel that has allowed and encouraged me to roam the depths of my creativity and passions.