Buxton School is a small boarding school
in Williamstown, Mass. There are about 90 students
who live on campus in dorm rooms. Buxton School shares driveways with Clark Art Institute
and the Williams Collage Art Museum
. It also has a very scenic view of the Berkshires
. The campus is an old estate donated by the founder Ellen Geer Sangster
. The buildings include the Main House where the girls sleep upstairs, two female faculty apartments reside, the kitchen, and dinning room where everyone eats. The Gatehouse where a few more girls sleep. The Library where there is an art studio, photo lab, and ceramics studio as well as a well stocked library with computers connected to the internet. The New Building is about thirty years old but names are hard to change. The New Building is a classroom building heated by wood stoves. The Barn (rightfully named) is where all the boys sleep as well as a class room and three faculty apartments. The headmaster of the school, Clarence William Bennet (or just Bill) also lives here. There aslo is a theater, another classroom building named the Forge
, and music building named the Toolshed. There are also a number of smaller buildings and faculty homes that are on campus. There is always someone to take people to the hospital, watch movies with, or just sit down and chat. Buxton School focuses upon community life
and progressive education
The school starts at 9th grade and goes to 12th grade. And in case something did not quite catch the first time around some people get asked back for another year, such as I for my sophmore year. The students get to make a lot of choices on their own. They choose what classes they want to take that year aside from the state required classes such as American History, English, and a few others. The work load is not heavy at all, no matter what people say. The teachers at Buxton realize that the students are people too and treat them as such. We are on first name basis with all our teachers and the support staff. We get to know our teachers very well considering most of them reside in the dorm buildings. Buxton is a very trusting community and the faculty are very much a part of it. This year we had all school meetings that sprang out of the mayhem of a few years ago that I remember so well. Student goverment proved to be very chaotic and was left in the dust, then tried again, and dropped, and so on and so forth. But now we have tried Quaker style meetings where the entire school is hauled into the theater once a week. It seems to keep presure in the community down.
There is a strong sense of community in various ways at Buxton. The biggest one is meals. We do not have people line up and get gruel, but instead we get other students to wait on the rest of us to serve us...gruel
. But good tasting gruel for that amount of people at the school. In all honesty the food is very good. And the waiting cycle changes once a week. Two students are picked out to assign waiters. The next community activity is work jobs. We hire no maid service to vaccum the halls. In the morning Dorm Supervisors, or DS's are voted by the students to go around and wake up "crews" to do various work jobs. Vaccuming, washing, and trash are a few jobs. But the idea is to make the dorms look civilized. Or you could become a stove stoker, like me, and light a fire early in the morning and warm everyone in the New Building. And how do you get the wood to the New Building? Well that is when Work Program comes into the picture of community. It happens every Tuesday and Saturday, rain or shine, snow or hail, and trust me hail hurts. The entire school gets divided into crews to do various jobs. Take for example; wood. Buxton owns a few acres of woodland. The crew 'Jax' takes to the woods with a faculty member who can use a chainsaw
and cuts up the fallen down or dying trees. Then the crew 'Tractoring' drives into the woods and hauls the wood into the back of the trailer. Then 'Tractoring' hauls the wood to the woodyard where it is kindled, split, and stacked. The tractoring takes the split wood to the buildings that use wood to heat themselves, such as the New Building or the Mainhouse. And there are other crews that always change crew heads so no one gets bored! Very active community with just enought free time to keep some sanity.
Every year there is a school trip to a city. The trip takes a week to plan for, a week to explore, and a week to collect thoughts. Then it is a three week long spring break! That is six weeks with no classes! The school trip is a must for anyone who goes to Buxton. All the faculty members take charge of a trip group to study one aspect of the city. For example this year we went to Chicago and I was on the Labor and Social Activism group. In the first week we set up interviews, studied the labor movement in Chicago, and set up our schedual. The group was about 7 people in total and that was average sized. Other groups studied Race and Class while other went after Goverment. The school also brings a play and preforms it at retirment homes and hospitals. Everyone is in the play somehow, from setting up the lights, make-up, acting, general crew, and the most important part, trip orchestra lead by the world renowed Dave Denhard. Buxton wants to bring something to the city we go to. Buxton has also gone to Cuba, Washington D.C., and Toronto, just to name a few. This is the main reason people stay sane in the winter.