"How wonderful it felt to be back where we all found life friends."
These words from a parent of two Manhattan Country School alumni so accurately reflect the sentiment of the nearly 250 people who attended our Final Rent Party at 7 East 96th Street this past Saturday. The event, a chance to celebrate the building we’ve called home for nearly 50 years and revisit the places where so many memories reside, brought out current parents and staff, alumni and their parents, former staff members and friends. In the tradition of Rent Parties of MCS days gone by, guests reminisced over the melodic sounds of live music—this time Broadway tunes, Latin music and rock and roll, all performed by members of the MCS community. Admission was free, but donations on a sliding scale slid from $19.66 to $196.60 to $1,966.00.
September 2016 will mark MCS’ 50th anniversary. But we couldn’t begin the next chapter in MCS history without taking some time to recognize and celebrate the families who laid the foundation for what MCS has become today. A Founders Celebration and Jazz Supper, held on Saturday afternoon just before the Rent Party brought representatives from the first 66 families as well as others who were instrumental in working to make Gus and Marty Trowbridge’s dream a reality. What a treat it was to see Gus and Marty together again with Carl Flemister, MCS’ first board chair, and Frank Roosevelt, another board member who was instrumental in creating the sliding-scale tuition model that supports the rich diversity we have today.
During a Jazz Supper program honoring the history of the school and the legacy of the founding families, Lower School Director Mary Trowbridge ’76 and Katharine Carroll ’72 (Gus and Marty’s daughters) read an excerpt from Gus’ book, Begin with a Dream: How a Private School with a Public Mission Changed the Politics of Race, Class, and Gender in American Education. Former Music Director Clint Ingram gave a moving performance of “Without a Song,” from the musical Great Day. In my remarks, I shared my thoughts about how the legacy of the founding families is still felt at MCS.
“Different opinions are a familiar thing at MCS,” I said. “No surprise, though, that the founders’ legacy is powerfully felt, in the makeup and relationships hewn into a close-knit community, in the curriculum, and in the endlessly challenging financial model, and in a now respectable 50-year history. Also in the interplay of despair about the state of our world and hope and faith in what solutions young people will create.”
Stephen Trowbridge ’73 announced the creation of The Gus and Marty Trowbridge Forum: A Community Dialogue on Diversity and Equity in Education. MCS will honor Gus and Marty’s legacy by leading discussions about the issues our founders were compelled to address in opening the school so many years ago. While progress has been made, there is still much discussion and work that needs to be done.
I am extremely grateful to everyone who made both the Rent Party and the Founders Celebration a success. I invite you to enjoy the photo galleries from both events on the MCS website.
As we prepare for our transition to the Upper West Side this summer, I am energized by the knowledge that we will be bringing such a supportive community with us. I look forward to celebrating with you in our new building next year.