A Fenwick father explains why his highly regarded twin daughters — student-athletes Caroline and Cecilia Jenkins ’19 — are staying put at Fenwick instead of transferring to an elite, East Coast prep school.
By Paul Jenkins ’81
I can’t tell you how I felt when the call came in. I knew it was coming, and yet I hesitated to pick up the phone when I saw the number in my caller ID. One of the country’s premier boarding schools* was calling to offer my twin daughters scholarships for their senior year. Juniors at Fenwick, they needed only to say ‘yes’ to be carried away into the ivy-covered embrace of East Coast privilege.
They’re hockey players, and the head coach at the prep school had been recruiting them for years. We’d been to visit the school several times. The coach had come to watch them play in tournaments around the U.S. and Canada. My wife and I had always said ‘no;’ we couldn’t see sending our youngest off to boarding school.
But the truth is, we all love that school. Imagine Hogwarts, filled with students who open every door; who greet every stranger by looking them in the eye and smiling; who almost uniformly go on to elite schools and then achieve greatness in life. Centuries of intellectual and athletic prowess seem to cling to the old stone walls of the place. The list of alumni reads like who’s who of American politics, literature and industry.
And we love the coach. He’s one of the most impressive people we’ve ever known. His athletes and his students adore him. We’d love to have our girls play for him.
I hung up the phone and told them it was official: They’d been tendered an offer and were on their way east. I was proud. I was sort of shocked. I was a little sad. My youngest would be moving away a year early.
But the girls said ‘no.’
They couldn’t hold back their tears. They choked on those tears and it took both of them, together, to say, “We want to stay at Fenwick.” The floodgates opened:
- They named teachers they wanted to thank at graduation.
- They talked about their teammates — both hockey and water polo — and what they wanted to achieve with them as seniors.
- They talked about classmates, coaches, carpools, dances, school plays, lunch-table discussions, the German Club, the Write Place and all the little things they’d be leaving behind if they took the offer.
All of those things, together, are the Fenwick experience.
I didn’t need to ask if they needed time to think about it.
In half-year’s time (God willing) there will be a couple of twin girls who will earn their diplomas with their classmates in the Fenwick class of 2019. Their parents will likely continue to reflect on what might have been, but I don’t think they will. They made a mature, informed decision, and they’ve never looked back.
Fenwick is in their blood.
* The Hill School is a coeducational preparatory boarding school located on a 200-acre campus located approximately 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Annual tuition is $59,050 (for boarding students) for the 2018-19 academic year.