This is one of the first images students see in a required freshman Humanities- Cultural Studies course upon arriving at the Lawrenceville School. The first history we learn is the history of the school that will now become home. However, the magic of Lawrenceville one cannot comprehend until after attending the school. It only takes one year to fall in love with Lawrenceville. I know of students spending only their senior year at Lawrenceville who still feel forever indebted to the place’s splendor. Yet, when I visualize the magic of Lawrenceville, I do not see this place in black and white despite its abundant, glorious traditions. I see Lawrenceville in color.
This photograph was taken the very beginning of my sophomore year on the walk to Convocation, a Lawrenceville tradition that even the young men (in the previously mentioned photograph) and I have in common. The walk to Convocation is even a tradition in itself as we walk with our fellow housemates. At Lawrenceville, we do not refer to our dormitories as dorms. We have a House System, and every dormitory on campus is called a house. The House System makes Lawrenceville unique from other boarding schools in that as a sophomore and junior you have a specific house in the Circle or in the Crescent, where you live with all of your friends and get the wonderful opportunity to make new ones. Upon meeting a fellow Lawrenceville alumni, the first question I am always asked is undoubtedly, “What house were you in?” They say that if Lawrenceville ever were to go broke the alumni would never let them sell any of the houses on the infamous Circle. The Circle consists of all the boy’s houses, which have a much more marvelous glow than the newer female houses on the Crescent. In fact, Convocation will and forever consist of the headmaster beginning the school year in the infamous Circle designed by Frederick Olmstead (who also designed Central Park).
This is Bruce McClellan, one of the most influential headmasters of Lawrenceville history. He passed away shortly after that photograph of my housemates and I was taken. Two of his granddaughters were in the Class of 2010, a class above me. I knew them both. Michael Eisner, CEO of Walt Disney from 1984-2005 and Lawrenceville alumni, lectured us my junior year. The only thing I truly remember is him referring to Bruce McClellan as a Headmaster who not only inspired him to work hard but to be great and to exceed greatness in all of his works. Since then, I have equated Bruce McClellan with Lawrenceville’s ability to “capture the moment of perfection, savoring the ordinary but still honoring the ideal” (Pamuk, 14). Here, he stands in front of the Chapel on the Circle that is so dear to all Lawrentians’ hearts.
If I told you that I lived in the same place as that first photograph was taken during my freshman year would you believe me? Look at it again. I am almost certain that was taken in what is now called Girls Lower, the freshman girls house that precedes Crescent life. The black and white has a different effect for you than it does for me. The black and white photographs from the Lawrenceville Archives look historic to you. They look more epic. To me, the color photographs are history too. In 2010, my senior class encouraged Lawrenceville to break a World Record, and as the 201st class we made it happen.
You do not see the magic of Lawrenceville until you look back at your alma mater and take it all in, because Lawrenceville is not magical when you are there. The coursework is demanding, the extracurriculars are overwhelming, and the lectures are not yet applicable to your everyday life. However, “What I loved most about” Lawrenceville “was its power to force people out of themselves to act as one; cut off from the world, we were stranded together.” (Pamuk, 39)