Years and grades at BCD: K-9 (1987-1997)What are your fondest memories from BCD? Story time with Mrs. Underwood in the library. Rock-climbing the chimney of the science building during Spring Fair. Dipping candles and wax hands in Mr. Miller’s shop class every winter, and the first time I used a soldering iron, a chisel, and a pottery wheel. Constructing projects like a wooden pinball machine and a nightstand. Crafting Valentines for everyone in the class in Mrs. Rockwell’s art room. Collecting milkweed and tagging pine trees on nature hikes with Mr. Gore—and the time we found skinny dippers in the brook. Dissecting the owl pellet…and then the frog.
- Making lemonade for the pizza sales.
- Classics Day with Mrs. Fawcett. (And those blue ditto sheets!)
- Slow dancing awkwardly to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” in the Furey Hall gymnasium.
- Mr. C clearing the frozen pond for ice skating.
- Gertrude’s Secrets on our classroom computer in second grade.
- Telefrancais and Muzzy.
- Finally finishing the Mad Minute.
- FIELD DAY.
- Trying not to laugh while playing the glockenspiel during the holiday recital.
- The year our class had to chop the onions for Thanksgiving Soup—ow!
- Bus rides with Mrs. Benner to Indian Mountain and Pine Cobble to play girls’ soccer and lacrosse.
- And Ski Friday, always the best day of the week.
Where did you go once you left BCD? I went to Taconic High School in Pittsfield before attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, from which I graduated in 2004 with a dual degree in Magazine Journalism and Psychology with a minor in French. (Thanks to BCD’s Mme. Zaffanella and our ninth-grade exchange program with students from Lyon!) Second semester of my junior year, I studied abroad in Strasbourg, France, followed by a thirty-day backpacking tour of Europe and a summer internship at the BBC in London with Good Food magazine. The summer after I graduated from college I joined a fledgling Berkshire Living magazine, where I was an editor for seven years until the publication folded in May 2011.
Where are you living now? After my apartment in Pittsfield burned down in May 2011, I set off on a solo journey across the country, and I’ve been chronicling my experiences at AmandaRaeWasHere.com ever since. So far, I’ve visited 30 states, more than 200 cities, and dozens of national parks, museums, monuments, farms, and factories—you name it. I’ve enjoyed an amazing series of new experiences, but the best part has been reconnecting with so many old friends—including a few BCD classmates! I plan to settle somewhere soon, likely out West for a bit.
What are you doing now? I’m currently working on freelance projects, including editing for CULTURE: The Word on Cheese, a niche magazine available at Whole Foods stores across the country, and I’m pitching articles inspired by my travels to various publications. I’ve taken thousands of photographs on my journey, so I’m excited to turn those into something more than just blog posts.
What are your plans for the future? I’m working on a book based on my adventures—the more exciting stuff that never made it to the blog. And while I hope to continue writing professionally, I’m also exploring other creative avenues. I’m passionate about food. I feel at home in the wilderness. After seeing so much of our magnificent country—studying its social history, traversing its vast and varied landscape—I can’t seem to shake the adventuress in me. The future is nothing if not a surprise.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? I remember the day we learned about similes, alliteration, and onomatopoeia in Mr. Fawcett’s English class and I knew I wanted to become a writer. Mrs. Fletcher’s gentle encouragement and guidance in creative writing and poetry helped me immensely. One year, I won the BCD spelling bee and advanced to the Berkshire Museum—I was so proud! Finally, working on the school yearbook—and in the darkroom—cemented my fascination with packaging words with imagery.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? Mandatory French, Latin, and sports; field trips that exposed us to so many arts, cultures, and regions.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? Respect your teachers—you probably don’t realize it now, but they are giving you the tools to become well-rounded and confident individuals as you grow up. Also: take advantage of the activities, and try new hobbies often. Be interesting! You’re only bored if you’re boring.