Is the Grass Greener?

Saturday, April 11, 2015 - By: Bud Patel

As we transition from winter to spring term, the cherry blossoms, daffodils, and tulips that pepper our campus remind us that planning for the 2015-16 school year is well under way. The spring bloom was coupled with a registration notification that all Grade 8-11 families received. Decision time. Should I return to Brentwood or make other plans? Most of us, at times, believe “the grass is greener” in a different city, different program, or different school. These questions tend to arise when we are most challenged in our current environment. Deadlines, tests, room inspection, breakfast sign-in, etc. mark these challenging times and plant some seeds of doubt in us all.

Recently, I received a letter from an Old Brentonian from the Class of 2014. Her carefully crafted message is an excellent reminder of the special “greenness” of Brentwood.

March 5, 2015

Dear Mr. Patel,

It has been eight months since I took my last deep breath of sea air before driving away from the Brentwood campus. I have been pondering the idea of sending you a little note for a while, not quite able to articulate what I wanted to say. Brentwood became my home when it also became yours. Let's go back to that.

I arrived at Brentwood horrified by the decision I had made, horrified about the life I had chosen to live. A farm kid from northern Alberta moving to a boarding school was not something many people had done. I remember how beautiful I thought the campus was when we first drove up, and feeling that way every time I saw the sunrise during breakfast. That feeling was, of course, amplified when I knew that the sunrise on the morning of graduation would be my final Brentwood sunrise.

I am not saying Brentwood was easy, but Brentwood was there for us, at any time. I use Brentwood as a term to describe all of the staff, students and any other affiliate of the school. I believe very strongly in the influence of every person on the lives of every other person they've met. English literature with Mr. Collis gifted me with my favorite quote and one I live my life by.

"I am a part of all that I have met." - Ulysses, Alfred Tennyson

The friends I made at Brentwood were unlike any other friendships I had ever had. In my house, I felt the cliche saying "we were like sisters" was the only way to describe it. At Brentwood I was able to be the absolute best version of myself. Pottery, sculpture, rugby and, of course, outdoor pursuits, along with being a junior mentor are things that helped me not only develop into who I was, but develop an understanding of what I was capable. The teachers, the special few who believed in me even when I was either too shy to speak in Socials 11 or failing quizzes in Chemistry 12; I am so grateful for each of them. At times, in between becoming an adult and still being a teenager, I had some of the best guidance from some of the very best people.

I know medical school wouldn't have been a possibility without Brentwood. I can never repay all those who helped and believed in me. Brentwood will always be held in the highest of regards in my heart.

I want to share another small word of wisdom, unrelated to what I've said, but still important. Put aside everything else; Brentwood was our home. At the time, our rooms, communal bathrooms and cafeteria were everything to us. Remember that; make sure that the Brentwood that was my home stays as wonderful as I remember it. We have something so special; Brentwood is unique. It is not without its imperfections, but by the time your students have left, make sure their memories of Brentwood are some of their most important. And eventually, when I find my way home, I hope it will be just as beautiful as it was the first time I stepped onto that campus.

Share this email with whomever you'd like. Brentwood will always be home to me and I hope other students will share in my feelings. Sometimes in the thick of it all, we forget that there really is no other place we will ever experience quite like Brentwood.

Warmest Regards,

Erin Vos, Allard '14, UEA medical student

Wise words.

De Manu In Manum, Bud Patel

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