Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

It’s that magical time of year again, daylight is a little bit shorter and parents begin to try and return their kids to a bedtime schedule –it’s back to school time. For some, this is a glorious time of year – a new beginning, the changing leaves as Fall ushers in. September always reminds me of a line from the movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” Joe Fox says to Kathleen Kelly in a chat room, “Don’t you love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

Here at The Archives we often receive email and calls from alumni. I recently received an inquiry from a Kingswood alum who shared some amazing stories with me and also piqued my interest in student organizations here at Cranbrook.

From the first days at Cranbrook and Kingswood schools, clubs and organizations were an integral part of student life. In addition to student newspapers, literary publications, and government—students participated in riding clubs, glee club, bridge club, and the stamp club. In 1938, the Areopagus club saw its membership swell. According to The Brook, students could be found “arguing over some minor question that momentarily assumed importance.”

Cranbrook School Radio Club, 1935. Photographer, Richard G. Askew.

Cranbrook School Radio Club, 1935. Photographer, Richard G. Askew.

Several of the earliest clubs and organizations still exist at Cranbrook schools today, including the Radio Club and Ergasterion—an organization representing theatre productions. Other clubs continue to unite alumni, such as “The Trifling Monographs of Birmingham, Michigan,” which had its first meeting in September 1971. The five founding members were Susan Rice (a 5th grade teacher at Brookside School); Lucy Chase Williams, then a Kingswood junior; John Gerard, then a Cranbrook junior; and Michael A. Cooper and Dion Kerr, Cranbrook sophomores.

The club was a scion of the Baker Street Irregulars (BSI)—an organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in New York in 1932. The BSI is considered the preeminent Sherlockian group in the U.S. and has published the Baker Street Journal since 1946. A local member of the BSI was a mentor to The Trifling Monographs (TTM) and regularly quizzed the members. The group took several field trips and in 1972 traveled to Canada to see the Windsor Light Opera production of the musical, “Baker Street.” In 1973, when Williams matriculated to Yale, the TTM became a corresponding scion, and remains so to this day.

KS student Lucy Chase Williams, head of the TTM, reads an issue of the Clarion in the Kingswood School Common Room, 1973. Photograph courtesy of Lucy Chase Williams.

KS student Lucy Chase Williams, head of the TTM, reads an issue of The Clarion in the Kingswood School Common Room, 1973. Photograph courtesy of Lucy Chase Williams.

As students head back to school after the Labor Day weekend, they will have much to look forward to above and beyond their studies. Today the upper school boasts nearly 40 clubs and organizations, including Anime, Beekeeping, Wilderness Expedition, Chamber Music, and Random Acts of Kindness.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

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