I am Christopher St. Clair, BCD class of 2010 2S. I came to Berkshire Country Day Secondary School as a ninth-grader in the fall of 2006 and left in the summer of 2007 with the closing of the high school. I graduated from BCD with High Honors.When I first arrived at BCD, I was incredibly nervous: out of the entire school, I was the only new student. I had not made any close friends during my last three years in the New Lebanon Public School system, and now here I was surrounded by another school of strangers, most of whom had known each other for as long as they could remember. I quickly learned, however, that my experience at BCD would not be what I had expected.
My teachers and peers possessed a true dedication to learning. This made me love my classwork, but what occurred outside of the classroom is what really amazed me about BCD. It was a community. I remember clearly Mr. Clifford coaching us in the three R’s of soccer (and of life in general): Respect yourself, Respect your opponent, and Respect the game. That really sums it all up for me. Our teachers respected us, we respected each other, and we all respected our school. This respect was plain to see in our theater teacher Mr. Howard.
That year I took part in our production of “The Secret in the Wings,” the most exhausting production I have ever been in. The play was a surreal collage of fairytale vignettes where nearly every actor played at least three characters with up to a dozen costume changes. The lighting booth had the most intimidating set of cues I ever heard of. However, Mr. Howard led us through it. No matter our age or talent, he treated us as equals and gave us the guidance and the liberty to make the play our own. I am now a music teacher, and this above all else is how I aspire to teach.Another of my fondest memories from BCD is of our end-of-the-year trip to China. I was in tenth-grade Social Studies that year, so the tenth-graders and I packed our bags and flew for sixteen hours straight from JFK to Beijing. We walked on the Great Wall, explored the Forbidden City, haggled with peddlers for five-dollar Rolex knock-offs, and quickly learned that actual Chinese food is nothing at all like what we have back home. We each even got to live with a foster family for a week. That above all else illustrated to me the greatest lesson that I took from our trip: no matter how different another person’s culture or traditions might be, we are all really the same when it comes to heart and home.The experience itself, however, is not why this is one of my fondest memories of BCD. Instead, it is that I felt equally comfortable among the tenth-graders as among the students of my own year. While at BCD, I had friends in every grade. There was no segregation by age or sect whatsoever. The whole school was one big clique. Nowhere was this shown to me more than on the day when everyone was asked to come to the dining room for an all-school meeting. There we were told that BCD2S would be closing at the end of the year. Then, one by one, every student and every teacher spoke about what BCD meant to them. I have rarely seen such a wealth of emotion, grief, and actual love as I saw then. Nearly everyone was crying, and all at the loss of a school. It was only my second week, and I had only just begun to make friends among my classmates, but it did not take long after that for me to figure out why our school was loved so much: it was a family.
After leaving BCD many of my schoolmates and I enrolled in Bard College at Simon’s Rock and together we took the plunge into the life of early college. Four years later I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance and Audio Engineering. I also had the privilege of designing my ideal thesis: I created an album. I gathered four of my classmates into a band and together we wrote four original jazz and fusion instrumental songs. I organized the rehearsals, arranged the material, and recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. I also transcribed each composition and wrote a dissertation analyzing their structure and recounting the process of creating the recording. Finally, we performed our compositions in front of a live audience, including my thesis committee.
Now, I am living in my hometown of New Lebanon, NY with my fiancée Amy. We are to be married this July. I work as a Studio Engineer at Muddy Angel Music & Arts in Richmond, MA (the same studio where I recorded my thesis and interned for my major). I also give private music lessons, which is the most rewarding work I have ever done. Finding more students to teach is currently my greatest endeavor. Whatever the instrument, they all speak different dialects of the same language, and teaching the intricacies of that language is my greatest passion. If you have a love for the language of music, either as a complete beginner or as a furthering of your passion, write to me at [email protected] Whether or not you are seeking a teacher, I would be delighted to give you whatever assistance I can.
If I were to give any advice to the students at BCD today, I would say this: pay attention. There are not many places like BCD in our world, and you will have left sooner than you think. Stop and look. See the camaraderie, respect, and love you have for your friends and your teachers. They are family, and all that really matters is our time with our family. (photo by Jane Feldman, www.janefeldman.com)