Choate Rosemary Hall is a private boarding and day school in Wallingford, Connecticut. Some famous people who attended include Jamie Lee Curtis, Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Ali McGraw, and Adlai Stevenson. The school motto is 'Fidelitas et Integritas', which appears at the bottom of the seal. At the top of the seal is a fist gripping a broken sword that means "tested in battle." There are three unbroken swords on the seal that means service to the king, for which an early Choate ancestor was awarded a knighthood by King Henry III.
John F. Kennedy, a 1935 graduate of the Choate School (who, incidentally, graduated 64th in a class of 112), was so inspired by Choate's motto, "Ask not what your school can do for you-- but what you can do for your school." that he paraphrased it in his eloquent inaugural address-- "Ask not what your country can do for you-- but what you can do for your country."
The modern incarnation of CRH was arrived at with the 1973 merger of Rosemary Hall in Greenwich, Connecticut, and The Choate School in Wallingford-- both founded in 1890 and 1896, respectively, by descendants of the Choate family. An interesting part of the school crest includes a fist gripping a broken sword-- signifying that it is "tested by battle."
Currently, there are about 800 students attending, with 28% (mostly Asian), identifying themselves as a minority. Tuition for boarding students is about $27,000 a year-- however, significant financial aid and academic scholarships are granted. I had a very cushy scholarship package based on academics. Average class size is 12, with nearly 250 courses offered a year. 30% of those who apply are accepted. It's very difficult to get in-- they require the SAT or SSAT, a parental recommendation, other recommendations, and a personal interview.
The rules are extremely strict-- There is a dress code forbidding shorts/athletic attire and requiring collared shirts, skirts, dresses, or sweaters. There are required study hours where students are required to be in their rooms, silent and studying. Lights out are around 11:00 PM for third and fourth formers (9th and 10th year). To encourage an academic environment, phone service is disconnected from 11:00 at night to 7:00 in the morning. Opposite-sex visiting in rooms is allowed only with special permission, prohibited on academic days (M-F), and on weekends only allowed at certain times with the door open. Drinking, sex, and porn are grounds for disciplinary action.
However, there is a rifle range in the Johnson Athletic Center.
The academic aspect is the most appealing-- they offer courses like Chaos and dynamical systems, Ethics and Philosophy, Linear Algebra, Multivariate, and independent research oriented projects, as well as personally designed interdisciplinary projects.
Choate is, in my opinion, one of the best educations in the country, whether one is interested in art, mathematics, humanities, or science. One negative aspect of this academic distinction is the competition. The students are among the brightest in the country, and strive to be the best-- which also leads to depression, backstabbing and odd behavior.
Choate hosts a very impressive lacrosse and fencing team, but above all it is home to the best damn crew team in the country, mostly due to the coach, Ben Sylvester, who has been with Choate crew since 1955. In 1998, we went to Royal Henleys and got whipped by Eton, we raced the Princeton freshman crew repeatedly and won, and all of the college crews during the Spring Break trip in South Carolina. The best athletes on Choate crew invariably fill out the roster of the US Junior National team. Over the years we've proved our dominance over Kent, Taft, Gunnery, Exeter, Andover...
The thing about Choate that makes it different from a regular public or private school is that it is Choate, one of the best schools in the country. Choate hits you with a brick wall when you are robbed of the anonymity of a regular high school like thousands of others, all exactly alike. Choate is a proving ground for your intellect, for your ability to be an individual and distinguish yourself; where you try and succeed and fail on a grand scale, and everybody knows it. You can take some easy courses and get through all right, like JFK even become president, but you know that you could have done more.
I attended Choate for two years, and have never regretted it. There's no better way to learn independence than to have it forced upon you-- I don't love my school because it was enjoyable-- I love it because it was hard, and a lot of it sucked. Builds character.
CRH taught me to be confident in my convictions, and to value action over speculation. It teaches never to be complacent, that rather than inheriting a legacy, or using it as a crutch, one must earn it. We always made fun of the 'legacies', the not-so-bright students whose parents donated a building so they could get in.
Taking me away from my parents' home was, in retrospect, the best decision-- At home, my parents always had my best interests at heart. At school, they care, but they don't really care-- they want your tuition, they want your endowments, they want the prestige of your future success. As soon as you fuck up, you're out. Kind of like real life.