Confessions of a boarding school grad

Allyn Harvey
Allyn Harvey
Staff Photo |

I confess! I went to boarding school.

Not Colorado Rocky Mountain School, the local boarding school that’s been grabbing headlines lately for trying to close a public right-of-way that runs through its campus.

I went to Pomfret, a traditional boarding school in New England. Instead of kayaking, we rowed sculls. Instead of climbing, we shot skeet. You get the drill. We were being prepped to take our places in the American Aristocracy — and I’m sure some of us did.

Boarding school was a great experience. Most of the teaching was top notch, and all but one of us ended up attending great colleges. (One kid joined the Army.)

Dorm life really taught me how to fend for myself. Halfway through my first year I moved in with my friend Tom, whose first roommate was kicked out for drinking. We lived together for the better part of three years.

Overall, the kids — boys and girls — were athletic, smart, intellectual and generally fun to hang out with. To be sure, they were cocksure, rebellious and at times more than a tad arrogant.

Pomfret is in a rural setting. One thing I really liked was running through the woods that surrounded our campus or lying around in an open meadow with friends trying to sound cool in front of the girls. I bet a lot of the kids at CRMS feel the same.

The nearest community was an old mill town called Putnam, about 5 miles down a two-lane road. It might as well have been a million miles away. We preppies had nothing to do with Putnam, except on Fridays when a few of us would hitch a ride to a liquor store that accepted our ridiculously fake identification and sold us a fifth of ridiculously bad whiskey or vodka.

Then we’d spend the weekend dodging teachers like Monsieur Maurice Oudin, the French teacher who loved to bust kids for drinking. If you were caught, especially by M. Oudin, you were going to be kicked out. It was a very real game of cat and mouse. I loved to foil M. Oudin, who actually was a great teacher, in the same fashion that Bugs Bunny foils Elmer Fudd.

I don’t doubt that some of the kids at CRMS spend weekends alternating between athletic and alcoholic endeavor. Sports are a big part of life in a boarding school, as is having to make decisions about partying with your friends. In the end, however, most of the students will put the peer pressure and all their experiences in perspective and come away from CRMS with a great education.

Like CRMS, Pomfret has a right-of-way running through the middle of campus. Actually, it’s U.S. Highway 44 that bisects Pomfret. I crossed that road every day for two years and never once felt threatened by either traffic or strangers (read: locals). CRMS’s flap with the community over Garfield County Road 106 seems so small-town. I’m glad the school administration has at last agreed to work with the community on a clearly marked path through campus.

Speaking of community, it would be nice if CRMS showed a little more pride in its connection with Carbondale. Much of the CRMS website is devoid of any references to our town. Here’s the first paragraph prospective students and their parents read when they link on “Location” under the “About CRMS” menu:

“Colorado Rocky Mountain School is located just 30 miles (48 Kilometers) from Aspen, Colorado — a world-renowned destination. Aspen is famous for its majestic setting and exceptional mountains, as well as bringing together the very best in the worlds of art, music and dance. Aspen is also a global leader in environmental studies and think-tank policies. Olympic snow-sport athletes such as Gretchen Bleiler and Chris Klug call Aspen ‘home.’ The Aspen Music Festival and the Aspen Institute are just two examples of elite institutions that reside in Aspen.”

Score: Aspen 7, Carbondale 0.

To be fair, there is one link that highlights Carbondale nicely — but that’s about it. Oddly, Carbondale actually gets more (and better) ink from Outside Magazine, National Geographic and Men’s Journal.

Allyn Harvey, a Carbondale town trustee, writes a monthly column for the Post Independent. He can be reached at

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