Hello there from the Dominican Republic where the sun is still warm and life relaxed. Sally and I are well and happy and though maybe more broke than we should be at this point in our life, I can't honestly say I would choose otherwise from this creative freedom and healthy life we live.
One of our great fortunes as a family was to find Rutgers Prep so David and Julie could grow up in an environment that allowed
them peace through the trying years of childhood and adolescence. In each case they prospered because of the Prep culture and now both stand before what we hope will be fulfilling lives of contribution to society. Julie is studying in St. Petersburg, Russia and doing well at George Washington; she's just been invited into phi beta kappa and is double majoring in Russian and environmental studies with perhaps an eye towards a special double masters program at U Penn, and Dave is of course every the social butterfly and has great fun in the Shakespeare troupe in which he participates as well as in the Improv comedy group he started up at American. They both love D.C. and of course beach time here in DR.
Anyway, wanted to say how much the entire staff at Prep meant to our two children and how proud we are of their time there.
Thanks for everything.
I can't begin to express my gratitude towards Rutgers Prep as an alumnus as I think about it now. Every single portion that Rutgers Prep delivered towards me was extremely beneficial. My path was different than most. I think once I decided where I was going to school was a key factor in my opinion. I knew that Rutgers Prep had an extraordinary role in why I got into college, why I got to go where I wanted.
The people at RPS are the kind of people who really get into your skin to find out who you are and show you who YOU really are. Scot Wittman is an extraordinary example of this. Wittman juggles his own artwork, his life around that, marketing his artwork, thinking of new ideas to present to students, and his relentless research of the photography field and ultimately dominating any photography class that Rutgers Prep has ever offered. Scot Wittman has brought something else to the table other than knowledge. He has brought commitment towards the program, always introducing news skills and techniques. ( Scot's programs are more advanced than classes I am taking in one the top three photojournalism programs in the country and his programs are more demanding). Technology is a huge part in the field of photojournalism. Photojournalism went from still photographs to stills and audio, to stills and video and audio. Wittman had these skills embedded in his memory way before it was necessary to have them. Photojournalism isn't the only field to get into through Rutgers Prep's photography program.
A dominant amount of the program had to deal with shooting scenes and more graphically motivated photographs. This plays into the commercial photography scene in today's world. Scot has an extremist passion for the teaching of the arts, which is widespread amongst the faculty at Rutgers Prep. The path of a Rutgers Prep student doesn't always have to be towards a traditional major. My path towards photojournalism is a unique path that I have chosen uniquely among my fellow classmates and alumni. Being different is a good thing, break from the norm and become what you want. Nothing good comes without some sort of struggle.
IB Class of 2010
Dear Dr. Loy,
I’m writing to let you know what a great experience I had during my most recent visit to Rutgers Prep. In the past I’ve had the pleasure of attending the performance of a play, as well as participating in Career Day, but the time I spent at Prep this spring during a regular school week gave me a real sense of what the institution is all about. I’ve always been impressed by the curiosity and confidence of your students, but it was such an insight to see them display these qualities in the course of an average school day. The community you’ve built seems truly exemplary across the board; from the students themselves to the faculty and class structure. As a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, a small liberal arts school in Westchester, I highly value the concentrated and progressive education I experienced there and I believe it has helped me enormously to build my career since graduation. I do, however, wish I’d had the opportunity to begin earlier with a private primary school. Although the public schools I grew up with in Maryland were decent, upon arriving at Sarah Lawrence I immediately regretted that I’d missed a more comprehensive foundation, like the one clearly available at Rutgers Prep.
One of the first things I noticed during my visit was the small class size, also a hallmark of my college, and the way your students interacted as a result of its intimacy. This feature not only provides for more teacher attention, it creates an atmosphere of positive academic peer pressure, which goes beyond competition over grades or test scores to engender a sense of real intellectual pride. Vying to join one of the many AP classes available, the students obviously revel in their mastery of each subject, rather than simply achieving what is expected. In a small setting, students want to show each other their mastery of the material, as well as have the opportunity to publicly please the teacher. In an elite school such as Rutgers Prep, these teachers are not only gifted educators, but they clearly spend time pursuing their fields outside the classroom. I loved seeing the art department’s work displayed in the Faculty Art Show and hearing about the workshop your government teacher, Stacy McMillen, recently took with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
The students respect their instructors and recognize the opportunity they have to study with such caring and enthusiastic professionals. Coupled with the limited class size, this selectivity creates a de facto sense of respect in the classroom, rather than the resentment and contempt often present at large public schools. In a class of over thirty, the unavoidable anonymity between students and teachers is a roadblock to respect, which I think is a key aspect of learning. Your students demonstrate the confidence that comes from feeling known and respected by their teachers.
I see this respect and the limited class size as the basis of intimate community you’ve built, a personal atmosphere which fuels accountability. True learning is not an SAT score or an aptitude test, a multiple choice box or rote memorization. Most students must wait for college to learn how to think, and then only if they are lucky. I believe Rutgers Prep allows for a head start on this concept; a carefully crafted launching pad for a lifetime of intellectual engagement among students who are both interesting and interested. Organizing roundtable discussions, pushing students to develop opinions, defend their convictions and thoughtfully listening to a broad spectrum of viewpoints, rather than relying on a lecture based curriculum, is a rare opportunity before college, and one I wish I’d had.
In my experience, most students get exactly what they don’t need in school; bright students are bored and challenged students are ignored. The Rutgers Prep community obviously works hard to calibrate its curriculum to satisfy the entire spectrum of academic needs. As I observed, classes almost become tutoring sessions, with each student afforded the opportunity to grasp key concepts at their own pace. This careful individuality and equality of voice was very happily present on a larger scale during the Rutgers Prep Upper School morning meeting I sat in on, which immediately struck me as such an innovative way to replace T.V. or P.A. announcements. Gathering by grade, students listened to short in-person presentations and reminders about upcoming events given by both faculty and peers. The constant interaction between age groups, even between the upper and lower schools of children and teenagers, surprised me. This integration was most notable during the meeting, as it was a true forum with open participation, providing exposure to a wide range of students, mixing ages and social spheres. The clearly diverse student body, which draws from a very global background, displayed no shyness about interacting with one another. Just as the students were carefully respectful of one another’s opinions during class, they honored their differences in a public way during the assembly. When I learned this meeting is a daily occurrence, I was even more surprised and impressed that Rutgers takes the time out of the hectic school day to recognize the importance of forging a connection between students and faculty. The respect between all groups was clear as I watched both students and teachers actively engage with each other during the entire meeting.
From the wide range of activities and clubs represented at the morning meeting it was obvious that students relish participating in their chosen area of interest, as well as in the support of other groups. From the school play to plans for school sponsored summer trips or team sports, these students seem busy but not anxious or overwhelmed. The kind of passion I’ve seen while working in a creative field in New York, where everyone seems to simultaneously pursue a string of personal and professional projects, was also noticeable among all the classes at Prep. Above all, I’d have to say this palpable sense of curiosity and drive was the most surprising and remarkable thing I learned about your school, a subtle quality that cannot be gleaned from a list of courses or facts.
Although I didn’t get the chance to attend a school like Rutgers Prep, I sincerely hope one day I’ll be able to participate in a community like yours by enrolling my own child in a similar institution. I feel they would gain an academic and social advantage that is invaluable in a modern world where so much has become anonymous. Creating a sense of safety along with unrestricted freedom is so important for learning, especially at an early age. I think this is truly possible at Prep, where the students I’ve interacted with extensively were both inquisitive and self-assured, ambitious and yet sensitive to others. Thank you for showing me the Rutgers Prep experience over the years through the well-produced events I’ve attended, as well as my more intimate recent look at a typical day. As a newcomer to the private school world, I’ve found what I expected and more in your organization.
I wish you, your faculty and students the best in all future endeavors.
I thought I'd give you a brief report about Jeff and his first semester experience at George Washington University.
Jeff took five strenuous/serious courses in the fall. They were Journalism; World History; Political Science; Micro Economics; and Biology. He is a dual major in Journalism and History with a minor in Political Science. He ended the semester earning a 3.94 GPA (out of a possible 4.0). He earned an "A" in all courses except Micro Economics where he got an "A-". GWU does not award a grade of "A+" thus eliminating the possibility of anyone having greater than a 4.0 average. If they did he would have had at least one "A+" since his class average in Journalism was 99%.
Jeff is in the process of applying for an internship with Congressman Rush Holt. I thought you might be interested in what Assemblyman Peter Barnes had to say about Jeff. His letter is attached. Jeff received a copy of a similar letter from Dana Korbman, Executive Director of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization, that was sent to Congressman Holt by her. He was an intern for the democratic organization after his junior year at RPS and an intern for Assemblyman Barnes after graduating from RPS.
Quite obviously I am very proud of Jeff. In fact, I'm bursting with pride. I recently had the pleasure of listening to Jeff analyze the politics of the health care reform bill (prior to passage in the Senate) for a group of adults in Florida. Someone asked a question with the attitude, "what can this kid possibly know about health care reform?" Jeff's half hour response left the room literally speechless and dumbfounded. No one there, including very successful and highly educated business people, could possibly debate him (if they cared to) because his depth of understanding and knowledge of the political intricacies were so deep. I couldn't even intelligently agree with him because my knowledge of the subject is only superficial compared to his.
I tell you all this for one particularly compelling reason. To thank you. RPS was the launching pad, or maybe the first stage of a multi-stage rocket, that started Jeff on his life's journey which has only just begun. But although his rocket has just started, it is fueled with many things RPS contributed to his development. First and foremost, RPS helped teach Jeff how to think critically. RPS inflamed a passion within him for learning. RPS taught him how to express himself logically and calmly, yet forcefully, both verbally and in writing. He is becoming a gifted writer. RPS gave him confidence to participate in a dialogue with his professors, even to strongly disagree. RPS built upon and reinforced the lessons of never judging anyone based on race, religion, color, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation that his mother and I taught him. I could go on and on about the tone and character of the school that exists under your leadership, but I'd be at my computer writing all night. Suffice it to say that Linda and I will always be indebted to RPS and to you for all you've given our son.
I hope RPS will continue its good work shaping our kids for centuries more to come.
It seems like yesterday that I wore my maroon graduation cap and gown and walked across the stage when my name was called to pick up my diploma from RPS and shake your hand. I still have a picture of the two of us from that day, and it always conjures up great memories that we have shared over the years. It is hard to believe that I became an alumnus of Rutgers Prep four years ago, as its spirit is still very much alive in me today.
Yesterday, as I was sitting in Yankee Stadium, the site of NYU's all-University commencement, I could not help but take the time in the warm spring air to reflect on how I got to this special moment in my life. Immediately my thoughts turned to Prep, and I recalled so many great memories that I had there over the course of 12 1/2 years. I thought about just how prepared RPS had made me for college life, and when I hear someone at NYU say "What don't you do?" when I tell them about the many clubs and organizations of which I am a part, I simply recall the fact that I was just as busy (if not busier at times) during my time at Rutgers Prep. Prep made my college life easier, and thus more enjoyable, and for that I am eternally grateful.
I write to thank you for always being so great to my family and me. You always worked tirelessly to make sure that Prep was a great institution, and I consider myself living proof of the school’s achievement.
I wanted to let you know that I graduated with Honors from the University (Gold tassel and all), and because I was a Founders' Day Award winner (acknowledging those who held a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher), I was able to sit ON STAGE at Radio City Music Hall for the graduation ceremony for the College of Arts and Science. You'll also be happy to know that Holly and I live together in Hoboken, NJ, and she has just graduated from a dual degree program from NYU/Long Island University and she now has two Masters Degrees! She is also the Asst. to the Dean of NYU Poly, our engineering division. As you can tell, I'm very proud of her.
I apologize for this endless novel, but as I move forward into Graduate School in the Fall I felt it necessary to stop, look back just once, and recognize a very important person who has left an indelible mark on my life. Thank you.
With Sincere Gratitude,
A few weeks ago I was hanging out with Rick Halmo, Rob Krauzer, Vicky Yen, Patti Thornton, Sarah Thornton, Michael Struening, Seema Rao, Leonard Maxwell, Will Hillsinger, and Patrick Felton. I had been thinking about Rutgers Prep a lot and decided to voice my thoughts with my friends. After doing so they all passionately agreed with me on this:
We grow up hearing about how you form your closest friendships in college and afterward, but that people tend to lose touch with any friends they had before hand. I think this is the case because it is hard to form a truly deep meaningful relationship while you're pretending to be someone else, and during the middle school and high school years people tend to do exactly that. I never attended another school but I figured, and my friends confirmed this, that in most schools students encourage one another to fit some form of stereotype or be a part of some crowd. I also figured that most schools are purely academic, and that enforcing a set of rules is the extent to which teachers go to encourage the development of character. Because of this, most teenagers don't start developing themselves and coming into their own until college where uniqueness is finally ready to be celebrated, and liberty enjoyed. But I have found that my deepest most meaningful friendships were formed at Prep. Don't get me wrong, we all have good, close friends in college, but the relationships we have with our peers from Prep are more than that. There is a sense of loyalty and camaraderie in a bond that I do not think will ever break. This is because Prep encouraged all of us to be who we are and not only to accept differences, but to value them. I could not see it at the time because I wasn't wise enough, but going into our third year of college we are all noticing how crucial the role was that Prep played in our development. The school sent me out into the world with beautiful friendships and it gave me utter confidence in who I am. I have yet to meet anyone at college who possess what I have begun to think of as the "signature" of RPS (other than those who actually came from RPS).
Because of this I wanted to email you and thank you, the other teachers of RPS, and the institution so much for everything you have given me. I became who I am there; we all became who we are there, and we are extremely grateful for it.
With the utmost love and respect,
I wanted to share with you what an impact the opening days of the Junior Class community service had on my daughter and thus all of my four children and me. Although she has always been aware of food banks because of
our son's long standing volunteering at our local food pantry and the school can drives through the years first with her siblings and then as a student herself, spending two days involved at the Community Foodbank really made the can drives more meaningful for the future. My daughter saw first hand the level of need all around us today and that
each volunteer can really make a difference in the life of another. But what REALLY had a major impact was the film/discussion about food production and consumption! I was astonished by her feedback. As a result we discussed at length our shopping and consuming habits and have made significant changes here at home. We have, since that film viewing, only purchased from the local farmers' market and butcher! It is our hope to promote better treatment for the animals and healthier living for our family. That is what I love about Prep - we are constantly learning things to make our world a better place, one family at a time. I hope you have a terrific afternoon. See you at back to school night!
Very truly yours,