(Recorded on March 17, 1994)

~ Introductory Text by John Sherin ~

Part One

A STUDENT FROM THE CLASS OF 1976, aware he'd be unable to attend, wrote a letter. As this evening began, a friend and former classmate of his read from it aloud to those present. It was an 18-year odyssey of his life thus far, chronicled on paper, exactly what others were about to do in person, to share through personal histories those life lessons garnered through education and experience since departing Brentwood.

Memories of this one special place provided a connecting chain linking the group to each other. While a few reflected on difficult years of self-doubt and floundering, juggling the universal quest of teens in America to find purpose and discover identity, others dealt with the weighty matters of sexual identity or pure physical survival, navigating the maze of social agencies intended to provide assistance to the most vulnerable of those among us.

Part Two

The crucial importance of the performing arts is attested to by those for whom it spelled validation along unfolding career paths to the present. Many expressed feelings of appreciation and gratitude to the Community of Brentwood for the opportunities afforded at M-T to discover higher learning and go to college. "It's really a shame," said one, "there aren't schools like this out there today."

As a result of the knowledge acquired, they've also had to endure difficult times. To practice being your own person is not easy in a country whose culture pays lip service to individual freedom and extols diversity while simultaneously fearing or rejecting those who are "different" or "alternative" or "queer."

Part Three

One person learned firsthand how difficult is was to teach. She had taught for ten years and confessed to being burned out, used up, done. No longer wishing to impact the system, she's opted to trade one career for the role of mother and take on the challenging, rewarding responsibility of child-rearing. At this point she has effectively decided to leave the classroom for good.

Part Four

Transparency being an M-T ideal, the school was never without controversy. Abhorring the duplicity often encountered in large systems, the cover-ups and statistical sleights of hand that were the earmarks of political power struggles and adversarial constituencies, this (some say utopian) education community espoused the directness of up-front confrontation, thereby becoming an easy target of critics.

As you watch this revealing and painfully honest discussion, you'll witness an underlying level of mutual trust and see an absence of fear made manifest. Understanding all the better perhaps is how a love of this kind of education persists among its former students even to this day. The session ends with their questions:  "Is high school the same today as it was when we were in school, or is it different?"  "Whatever happened to M-T?"  "If it was so successful, then why did it close?"