With my secondary school diploma in hand, poised to begin my first year at Harvard University, it is now very easy for me to see how instrumental Abelard has been in getting me to where I am today. In preparing me and my classmates for higher learning, in teaching us to read and think critically, and most of all in opening our wondering eyes to the pure excitement of academic learning, Abelard has been nothing short of spectacular.
I initially embarked upon my secondary studies elsewhere, but as I very soon discovered, I was never cut out for life at a big public school. I hated the anonymity of a regular school with its 30-something class sizes; I was frustrated by the bureaucratic inflexibility of some of the teachers and administrators; but worst of all, I found the course material boring and uninspiring. Some part of me didn't want to be reading watered-down textbooks - where the classic works of Western literature are briefly summarized in a 50-word blurb at the side of the page - forever. It's not hard to imagine my excitement then, when in my very first history class at Abelard, a thick packet of photocopied papers was plopped down in front of me: our introductory reading assignment was the first book of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.
My coursework at Abelard only got meatier. It is a school where all the grade 10 students read The Iliad, where the grade 12 English class reads Joyce's Ulysses, and where the third-year Latin class reads Virgil in the original. Academically, Abelard gives its students something to sink their teeth into. But it wasn't just the interesting and rigorous coursework that made me come to love Abelard. Guiding us through such a challenging curriculum was a set of the most intelligent, highly educated, and dedicated teachers I have ever known. Whether to help with a difficult concept, to provide extra information for curious students, or simply to chat about this or that, Abelard's teachers with their infinite patience were always there for us.
Abelard, with its small size, inclusive warmth, and quirky student body, sees each of its classes gel together and learn from each other. Abelard not only guided me towards a great university experience, but it also gave me the skills I will need to thrive there, and the sense of belonging to a community that will enable me to stand on my feet.
- Anne-Marie Zapf-Belanger, A.B. (Harvard), JD -- in progress (UBC), Abelard Class of '05