The Paideia School

Susan Amsler '77

Susan Young Amsler ‘77

As graduation ’08 approaches, I am overcome with a sense of deja-vu that approaches the surreal.

This year, my eldest child, Morgan, will become a Paideia School graduate and will make the transition from student to alumni. Finally, he will actually want to be a member of a club to which I belong. Not so long ago I was on the receiving end of Paul Bianchi’s diploma dispensation. It is said that the more things change, the more they stay the same so here are just a few examples of the differences and similarities between the year I walked off the wood chips, (1977) and now.

The class of 1977:

14 Graduates in a tiny Quaker church.

The class of 2008:

101 Graduates in Symphony Hall.

The class of 1977:

Individualized remarks by Paul for every graduate, (ceremony length around 1 hour.)

The class of 2008:

Individualized remarks by Paul for every graduate, (ceremony length, don’t even want to think about it.)

The class of 1977:

Short Term, Wonderful Wednesday and Black’s Farm.

The class of 2008:

Short Term, DJ 101, History of Hip Hop, Mixed Media, My Beautiful Self, Yogalates and Jewelry making

The class of 1977:

No cafeteria, occasional contraband Krishna treats.

The class of 2008:

No cafeteria, PI Bites and Pizza Day.

The class of 1977:

Two buildings, no gym, no fields, no library, no theater, no mascot, no orchestra or chorus, not so much of anything.

The class of 2008:

A growing monopoly board of buildings, a gym, a theater, art rooms, fields, library and much more to look forward to.

The class of 1977:

Called adults by first names, community service required, hung out in park across the street to get away from the teachers.

The class of 2008:

Call adults by first names, community service required, still hanging out in the park for same reasons.

The class of 1977:

High School Tuition: $1,590.

The class of 2008:

High School Tuition: $16,860.

Total Faculty in 1977:

40, many were part-time.

Total Faculty in 2008:

125 full-and part-time teachers.

Some Teachers in 1977:

Steve Sigur, Judy Schwartz, Paul Hayward, Paul Bianchi, Jane Harmon, Robert Falk.

Some Teachers in 2008:

All of the above.

Class of 1977:

Funny, irreverent, musical, athletic, inspiring, interesting, generous, open-minded, intelligent, talented, kind, well rounded, often dorky but generally cool.

Class of 2008:


All in all, despite monumental changes in terms of size and scale, Paideia is essentially the same place. The spirit and sense of humor that infused the campus in 1977 live on in a myriad of ways. Perhaps one distant day, I will have a grandchild or two who will become third generation Paideians. If it’s still Bianchi handing out the diplomas, that will be truly surreal.

Susan Amsler, 1977