Mr. Reed Reflects on How Northwood Students Have Changed

Mr. Steve Reed has taught at Northwood for over 40 years. He has been chair of the English Department, Assistant Headmaster, Director of College Guidance, Director of Hockey Operations, and coach (of what?).  Mr. Reed’s deep connection with the school gives him a valuable perspective on how the school and its students have changed over the years.

Senior Shane McGrath sat down with Mr. Reed to understand how the students and the school have changed over the past forty years.

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Mr. Steve Reed (file photo)

Shane McGrath ‘18: How have the students changed at Northwood since you started teaching here?

Mr. Reed: In most ways, they are similar: the same ambitions, the same insecurities, the same naivete. I think that in the early seventies, the students were more assertive and independent, more willing to break rules and be non-conforming. They probably presented us with more challenges, hence, more rewards.

McGrath: Have you noticed trends over the decades?

Reed: More trends are evident as I think of the school itself. The additions of girls in 1971 changed the school for the better, but the transition was not without bumps. The girls who pioneered were remarkable for their toughness, their strength in a masculine and somewhat insensitive environment. I think the paternal warmth of Mr. Friedlander was crucial in providing support in those years.

Somewhere around 1977, both changes in faculty and an easing of the rebelliousness of the Vietnam era made the school seem a bit less raucous, a bit more conservative and traditional. The changes have been more superficial in regard to the student body. The admissions of students from Asia added much to the talent pool, but offered challenges as we worked to find ways to fully integrate them. In general, it seems to me that while our students are respectful of and friendly with one another, there is perhaps an unfortunate tendency to be primarily part of a definable group (hockey players, skiers, Asians) than there was in the early days when there were fewer of those types.

The kids today are politer, more concerned with their future goals, and more homogenized. Less likely to challenge or threaten authority. That is both good and bad, in my opinion.

McGrath: Do any graduating classes stick out as particularly memorable?

I’m a hockey fan, as some might guess. I think the team we had in 1987 sticks in my mind because it was arguably the best high school/prep school team ever. Having said that, I tend to remember the individuals, not the classes.

McGrath: What common traits do memorable students at Northwood have?

For me, the kids I’ve become closest to had he most intense personalities: individualistic  and driven. I’m a fan of the tough, not needy (although everybody including me, suffers from that flaw). A great sense of humor separates the most from the least memorable

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