Thursday, May 7, 2015

Restoring the Art of Education, Part 2

Hi everyone,

Well as promised, I am elaborating on my original Restoring the Art of Education post regarding the school, Gregory the Great Academy and their current project.
But first, how did I come to know this all male Catholic Boarding school, you ask?

Well, when I was in high school, I was taking vocal lessons at Wilkes University (in Northeastern PA). My voice teacher's husband was on the faculty at the school (I believe as a music director if memory serves me correctly?). One evening during a vocal lesson, she informed me that the boys at St. Gregory's school were putting on a production of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and had a bit of a dilemma: no one to play Esmeralda. So she asked me if I would be interested and I said I would be.

I remember arriving for the first rehearsal and being greeted by two absolute gentlemen (one was to play Frollo and the other Quasimodo/the director/set designer/script writer and pretty much everything else the show needed). In fact, I think everyone I encountered at that school were some of the most well-mannered individuals I've ever met. The entire rural area and gothic buildings that made up the school exuded a sort of serenity and it was actually difficult returning to "the real world" after rehearsals wrapped. My time there came at a moment in my life where something like that was much needed and there was actually a sense of melancholy when the show wrapped.

As years passed, Gregory the Great Academy and my experience there fell into being a mere fond memory. I went through dark, self-destructive periods in my life and came out of them. A couple times, I may have Googled the school to see what was going on with them, but it wasn't until 2012 when I was writing the first drafts for my book series, The Birthrite and I was doing some research on Catholicism. It was then the school came to mind again. I was also cleaning and reorganizing my office and came across the program, script, and VHS copy of the show (yes, this was the late 1990s). Subtle nods to this school and my time there have come up in my writings, including my short story, The Cemetery by the Lake and in The Birthrite Series, I decided to name the church that Dorothy and her family attend Gregory the Great Church (and yes I also checked dates to make sure there actually COULD be a church with such a name in the year 1931).

Gregory the Great Academy was a wonderfully positive experience and as I said earlier, I like to give back to those that helped me in some way, whether they know it or not. The school has since moved from the location I recall, but they are still going strong (as I do check in on occasion). And "Jack of all trades Quasimodo" is also headmaster there now (sweet Lord, we're old!). It's great to see the school continuing to do well and providing a great education, something that is very hard to come by nowadays. From what I can see, the school seems to strongly encourage critical thinking as opposed to the problematic and very dangerous "group think" that has become so prevalent in our schools over the last few decades.
Some of you may be scratching your heads at the notion of a religious based school encouraging critical thinking while also teaching young men to have the utmost respect for women. Well those of you who are regular readers of my blog should know by now what I always say about making sweeping generalizations based on erroneous actions of a few or even many: Just don't do it. As I said, when I was there for rehearsals, these were some of the most respectful, intelligent gentlemen I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (more so than many in the so-called progressive and "enlightened" modern world). And that is what they are aiming to do and continue with their new "Happy Like Kings" project.

As I said before, please take a moment to check out their indiegogo page. There is still time to contribute, and if you can't then please share. I don't just "willy-nilly"ask people to contribute and support something. It has to be a cause I truly believe in. And I truly believe in this.

Gregory the Great School: Restoring the Art of Education Indiegogo Page

Gregory the Great Academy Website

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