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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Real Life – Kenwood forever

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Daily I am grateful for the wonderful education I enjoyed.

It was not a grind of rote recitations and regurgitations, but an atmosphere that nurtured curiosity, respect, the habit of performing service to others, and a thirst for deepening understanding of the world and our place in it.

This evening, my school burned down.

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Originally built on 80 acres as a summer home for Jared Rathbone, it was named Kenwood, honoring his ancestral Scottish motherland. Kenwood was purchased in the 1850’s after Rathbone’s sudden death by the Society of the Sacred Heart, who converted the Albany, New York property into a private girls’ school.

The public school I had attended since first grade was a single story red brick building, with royal blue metal posts supporting the roof for the front entrance. Kenwood was a majestic, Gothic revival-style assortment of interconnected buildings, commanding views of the Catskill Mountains, a river, orchards, gardens and paths.

This contrast was the first of many lessons Kenwood would teach about possibilities, and about choices.

Since Kenwood was a convent as well as a boarding and day school, my sixth through twelfth grade education was an intergenerational experience. The nuns emphasized academics, but also the development of impeccable manners, and the attendance at teas, funerals, and feast day processions. We wore uniforms, and often white gloves.

We also curtseyed.

The curriculum was time-tested and rigorous, yet the nuns were progressive. We read widely about history, the environment, and politics, and debated our ideas passionately and openly.

We also went to nursing homes to visit the sick, packed boxes for the Red Cross, and learned by doing that we could make a difference in others’ lives—and were expected to do so.

Kenwood went through many transformations since I graduated.

And though on March 23, 2023, Kenwood was reduced to ashes, this too teaches a lesson about constancy and impermanence.

When we are young, we learn.

When we are old, we understand. ©

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Patti Koltes
Patti Koltes
Real Life © by Patti Koltes. Contact her at pkoltes@gmail.com.

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