Posted by: Toadsly on May 15, 2012
If you’re ever interrogated by the CIA, singing St. John’s College’s alma mater might be your best ploy…more on this later! St. John’s College (SJC), in Annapolis, was founded in 1696 as King William’s School. Much of its 36-acre campus resembles Colonial Williamsburg. SJC offers but one degree: a bachelor’s in Liberal Arts. Students are not given grades -- they are evaluated by their class participation and oral exams. In 2011, Newsweek stated St. John’s has the “most rigorous” curriculum in the U.S.: four years of language (ancient Greek, early/middle English, French); four years of math, literature, philosophy and political science; three years of laboratory science. Each year, a 20-30 page essay is required, and during senior year, all students submit a full-blown thesis they must defend, publicly, before three faculty members. The title of my niece’s, whose graduation I was attending, was “Swept up in the Song: Relationship With God Through Music in J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.” A phony, like me, wouldn’t last one semester in such an institution. Thank God for that! Because I couldn’t stomach sitting through the bi-annual “Don Rag” where tutors discuss your progress, as if you weren’t there! Tuition, with all the fixings for four years, pushes a nifty quarter of a million dollars. But considering that SJC produces an articulate, independent-thinking, polished gentleperson, it might be the best deal under the North American sun. Rumor has it that U.S. intelligence agencies heavily recruit these polyglotic, out-of-the-box thinkers. Not bad for a school that supported the British during the American Revolution! SJC competes against other schools, including high schools, in only three sports: rowing, sailing and croquet. And they only have one annual croquet match – against the nearby (about a solid four iron shot) United States Naval Academy. This contest, called by GQ “The purest intercollegiate athletic event in America,” launches graduation weekend. The nattily-dressed participants and picnicking witnesses resembled a scene penned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Graduation Sunday was sunny and pleasant. We, observers, sat on chairs under God’s blue vault and spreading ancient tree branches. Took but an hour for the 120 grads to receive their hard-won diplomas. And singularly gifted writer Salvatore Scibona’s address to the senior class was worth hearing twice!
After the commencement exercises concluded, new graduates and guests celebrated by drinking champagne and eating giant strawberries...burp!