A Day In The Life
Two lifelong friends take separate high school paths: one private, one public. Are the two as different as you might think?
Peter Quinn of Bedford and Andrew Laird of Pound Ridge met each other in fourth grade at the private Rippowam Cisqua School in Bedford. Within a year, they became best friends. That friendship only grew over time as they continued through Ripp until ninth grade, when the school graduates its “seniors.” Then, their paths diverged. For tenth grade, Peter decided to attend Bedford’s public Fox Lane High School. If Andrew had gone to public school, he too would have enrolled at Fox Lane (his younger sister goes there and loves it). Instead, he chose Greenwich’s private Brunswick School. The boys remained close and, now both beginning their freshmen years in college, have coincidentally crossed paths once more. Both had decided to attend the University of Vermont.
But what about those intervening years? Two friends, two schools—one public, one private—how different were their high-school experiences? During their last semester in high school this past spring, we decided to track them during one average Tuesday from sunrise to bedtime.
›Peter is up and in the shower. He dresses in a Hawaiian shirt and jeans, calls to his brother, Benjamin, who’s a freshman at Fox Lane, and the two get into Peter’s 2005 black Subaru Outback and drive the five minutes to school. They have to be there by 7:45.
›Andrew wakes at 6:45. His wardrobe choice is significantly different from Peter’s. Brunswick has a dress code, so Andrew chooses a jacket (required), tie (required), dress shoes, and khaki pants. He doesn’t mind that he can’t wear jeans. “The clothes kind of put me in the mood to do work,” he says. At 7:15, he gets in his 1990 black BMW and drives for about a half hour to school, which begins at 7:45, too.
›Peter doesn’t have homeroom, although twice a month there are guidance-counselor meetings. Today he goes directly to first period, which is Math IV. “It’s a combination of all kinds of math,” he says. “Today we went over sine and cosine graphs.”
›Andrew is in advisory (something akin to public school’s homeroom), where he gets the news of the day. Sometimes that means an assembly or college counseling. Nothing important for today. He walks over to the cafeteria for seniors-only breakfast.
›Peter’s math class ends at 8:25. He’s got five minutes to get to second period, which is Eastern Literature with Western Parallels. He and his classmates are sent into the halls to interview other kids. Their assignment is to explore their peers’ views on the afterlife. At 9:15, the class is over. Today he has two free periods in a row. He decides to get an early lunch at the Bedford Deli.
›Andrew already has been in English class for five minutes at Greenwich Academy (GA), the girls’ school, which in high school becomes co-ed. The two schools are a five-minute walk apart. “We had a reading quiz on the book Atonement,” Andrew says.
›Peter’s classes each run about 45 minutes today; Andrew’s last about an hour and he’s given 10 minutes to get from period to period. Peter has five minutes to get to his next class.
›Andrew is in Macroeconomics, a smart choice for a student who will enroll in UVM’s School of Business Administration. The class usually begins by going over the previous night’s homework. Today the class also does an exercise in banking. Fake money is handed out and some students play the role of bankers.
›Peter is back from his morning “lunch” and in his accounting class. He loves music, but wants a little business in his background, too.
›Andrew’s Spanish class started at 10:30.
›Peter is in physics, where he’s studying “Hook’s Law,” the law of pendulums.
›Andrew has been in AP Calculus since 11:05. At the moment, the class is going over worksheets and preparing for the AP exam. Andrew decides to have lunch at Brunswick.
›Peter has gym, during which he plays a game of Wiffle ball.
›Andrew has a free period after his last class, and then he’s done for the day with academics, although his day usually ends around 2:40. He gets in his car and heads over to the King Street campus to get an early start on lacrosse practice.
›Peter is in a class called SLT—Society, Literature, and Truth. It’s a double period combining history and English. “Today we watched an old Charlie Chaplin movie, Modern Times, about a factory worker.” The movie was chosen because the class is discussing the worker in society and how jobs have become so specialized that they sometimes take away people’s free will.
›Academics are over for both boys. Peter would usually play golf as a member of the school team, but today there is no match. Instead he gets together with a group of friends at 3:30 for a basketball game.
›For Andrew, sports practice ends at 6 pm.
In the evening, Peter and Andrew both have about an hour and a half of homework. Peter finally goes to bed at 11, after a full 16-hour day. Andrew is asleep at 11.
Meredith Berlin has been an editor, TV reporter, and magazine contributor. Her last article for this magazine was a profile of District Attorney Janet DiFiore in the July 2007 issue. She lives with her family in Armonk.