Brewster Academy Blogs



Rites of Spring

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Winter’s snow only a memory, excepting the residual white fingers slowly retreating up the slopes of Gunstock Ski Area across the lake. Early yesterday morning Lamb Green was frosty, and I left footprints in the grass, yet temps had soared to the mid-seventies by the time sailors and rowers made their way to the docks in the afternoon. Seniors cluster in eddies of conversation on their patio; I wore shorts last night after the school day had ended. Culminating and celebratory events fill the calendar, prom-posals are happening at a frenzied rate (Jake and Casey are going together if you haven’t gotten the memo), and the project period approaches quickly. Spring is here in all its mayhem.

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Story Time

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

8 a.m. last Thursday and Sarah Hunt’s junior English class is thick into Gatsby. I am trying to be invisible; I’m there to learn what I can about Brewster’s academic program in the latest of my string of team visits. She’s terrific – kids respond to her and book with aplomb. They break up into STAD (student team achievement divisions) groups 10 minutes in and their job is to develop a sense of the theme of chapters four and five.

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Beating the Winter Blues

By Rob O’Blenis
Science Teacher, Community Life Parent

What do you do when you attend a boarding school in New England and need to get through the winter? Well, our amazing dorm parents at Brewster have the answers. From getting off campus to fundraisers, if you are in a dorm at BA you have had plenty of opportunities to beat the winter blues!

In Fox House, with dorm parent Sarah Tierney, the girls took a spa night and were pampered with facial masks and nail painting. It was a wonderful night of relaxation and rest.

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Back to School

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

I taught nearly continuously for 27 school years before arriving at Brewster in July. Something like 5,000 days, perhaps 20,000 classes in total. I went cold turkey on July 1: I talked about animal energetics and human impact on the biosphere last year, energy budgets and personnel decisions now. What a difference a year makes.

I’m not wary about the work I do – I know deep down it is important because it lets the real work happen in the classrooms, the dining hall, on the playing fields, in the dorms – and I have no regrets. Like an athlete who has been sidelined, I still want to watch the game, yet caution has prevailed because my scientific training, owing at least in part to Heisenberg’s work, taught me long ago that the observer influences the system and becomes an unwitting variable, especially when the observer is the head of school and observation is perceived as evaluation.

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Winter Carnival

“My favorite memory was watching the freshmen overpower the juniors in the tug of war. I was caught off guard and at that moment  it showed me how passionate everybody was about the Winter Carnival” — David Winick ’17

Post holiday break in Wolfeboro, the chilly temperatures outside can bring on a little cabin fever inside but then comes Winter Carnival a few weeks after the students return to campus and teams gear up to compete for the “Headmaster’s Cup.” The name of the winning team is carved onto the Headmaster’s Cup for all to see for years to come. Winter Carnival is a week-long competition among the six academic teams.

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The Real Work

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

It’s Friday: the final two days of a seven-day boarding school week stretch before me. I’ve been scrambling because members of Brewster’s Board of Trustees are driving and flying from points near and far for a stretch of weekend meetings.

I’ve pored over the budget for weeks, prepared hours of content to shape the meetings and worried over details. I know I should be fretful. I won’t be able to answer every question perfectly and sweat my way through the challenging stretches. But I’m not all that wound up about the meetings because tonight we’re honoring the legacy of Bob and Shirley Richardson and I’m distracted. Though Bob passed away in 2014, Shirley will be with us.

I want to do right by them and have thought much about what they mean to this place — and in the process my thinking has spiraled from Bob and Shirley to Brewster to the very act of teaching and, ultimately, to the really big questions.
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a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.


By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Last week: I mostly walked from appointment to appointment, my leather-soled shoes radiating cold; drafts from leaky-doored coffee shops never let me warm up despite umpteen hot drinks through the week, but the chill was somehow exhilarating.

I was in the city to talk to parents and alumni in my first year at Brewster. Over breakfast, coffee, lunch, and dinner in restaurants, apartments, and offices, I talked, listened, and asked question after question. What made your family look at Brewster? What was school like before coming to Brewster? How has Brewster worked?

Anyone eavesdropping on these serial conversations would have thought I was a broken record and that there was some internal coherence to the superficially-varied responses.

Continue reading “com·mu·ni·ty”

Here’s to Winter

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

Pre-Christmas warm weather and green grass were supplanted in just a few days around the New Year with a crust of snow and clear, chilly air. Students migrated back on Monday to open water on the lake; ice came just yesterday in the inlet, and, early this morning, I could see an icy finger extending across the bay.

As with all molecules in the system that is our universe, water tends toward entropy – disorder. That’s why we can swim in it and drink it. Yet on the lake, today, anti-entropic forces are coming to rule as single water molecules bond with countless others in the big freeze underway. They are, literally, slowing down, crashing together, expanding, floating en masse. Soon, huts will get dragged onto the ice and bundled fishermen will auger holes, jigging for lethargic fish, and the rest of us will turn our faces from the west wind blowing across the bay.
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Cecil E. Wentworth

By Craig Gemmell
Head of School

I met Mr. Cecil E. Wentworth on the steps of the Academic Building on Monday.

Mr. Cecil E. Wentworth. His name alone sounds from another time. Continue reading “Cecil E. Wentworth”

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