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The Country School



The MacLane Finals: A magical, moving tradition
Posted 02/23/2012 12:49PM

The 21 finalists in the Lois MacLane Poetry Recitation received a standing ovation at the conclusion of an extraordinary recitation on Friday. One of the judges was so moved that he felt compelled to stand up and express his deep appreciation (and to say that he would happily hire any one of the reciters).

Others were also deeply moved. “These children were prepared, formal, articulate, animated and beautiful,” said Deanna Williams, the parent of students in Kindergarten and 2nd Grade, who helped photograph the event and was attending her first-ever MacLane finals. “I had tears in my eyes for the parents – what a proud moment and a strong reflection of what it means to have an engaging educational experience at TCS. Watching some of my adult friends whose children were reciting, I was elated for them. It makes me have visions of my boys’ educational potential in a school that fosters growth in so many directions.”

Click here to see a slideshow from the finals.

Winning medals for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place were the following students:

Gabby L., 7th Grade, and Sarah P., 6th Grade - a tie for 1st Place

Emma C., 8th Grade - 2nd Place

Sonny C., 8th Grade, and Cecilia C., 6th Grade - a tie for 3rd Place

In announcing the top finishers, Dr. Bottiger directed attention to the MacLane Recitation program, which included a tribute to and short essay by David T. MacLane, The Country School’s first headmaster, who passed away in late November. In a 1960 essay in The Owl, the school publication, Mr. MacLane wrote about the spirit of competition at school events, including the recitation, which he started in 1957. Quoting from Mr. MacLane, Dr. Bottiger said, “Competition isn’t about who’s the final winner. It’s the stimulation that helps each of us, all of you, all of you in the room, and hopefully everyone we meet, to do his or her best, both as an individual and as a community. Ultimately what we want for each of you is for you to have the opportunity over and over again to take a challenge, embrace it, fly with it, learn from it, and take on another challenge.”

The other students who competed in the finals include: 5th Grade - Joseph C., Caitlin J., Graham K., Andrew N., Hunter S.; 6th Grade - Rob G., Nina H., Oliver Z.; 7th Grade - Brendan E., Jake J., Ryan K., Connor L., Tara M.; 8th Grade - Madie L., Anna M., Charlie Z.

Dr. Bottiger congratulated the finalists for their hard work, and she congratulated all of the children in the audience, a group which included 2nd through 8th Graders, for their work in the recitation as well. Looking up at the stage, she said, “Once again I see that beautiful Country School spirit, where there are 5th through 8th Graders – you guys are really different sizes – and what we notice is that at The Country School, when you are involved in a group and competition, it doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, it doesn’t matter how big or small you are, each of you looks to the other and says, 'Nice job.' Hold on to that for the rest of your life.”

Dr. Bottiger also thanked the panel of judges, who included:

Duncan MacLane ’64, David MacLane’s son, a naval architect and world-class catamaran racer who has played a key role in six America’s Cup campaigns.

Paul Erik Lipp ’95, a talented musician, singer, and songwriter who has made multiple recordings and whose bands have warmed up for Bon Jovi and performed for the USO in Guam and Japan.

Tammey Rooney (the parent of Zane ’03 and Max ’06), who served The Country School for many years as a trustee. In reflecting on the recitation finals, Tammey wrote in an email:

After leaving TCS yesterday I headed up to VT to pick Max up from school and bring him home for the weekend. We talked about the poetry recitation, and it did my heart good to hear him talk about what a great experience poetry recitation was for him, and that looking back now as a college student, he can really appreciate the power of those experiences with poetry at TCS. Wow! (Isn't it rewarding when we parents hear our children affirming that the decisions we made for them and the opportunities that we were able to provide for them were the right ones?)

Michelle Chan Brown, Paul Erik’s wife, a poet and editor and the writer-in-residence at the Pomfret School, who said she was impressed by the school's commitment to oral presentation and to poetry (she was also impressed with the sophistication with which several reciters interpreted their selections). 

Kingsley Goddard, a farmer and owner/operator of Barberry Farms in Madison. A former high school English teacher, Kingsley has judged the recitation before and this time said he would be happy to hire any of the reciters. After his comment, Dr. Bottiger joked to students that this was one of those teachable moment. "When someone offers you a job, get it in writing," she said.

In addition to the judges, TCS wishes to offer a special thanks to Deanna Williams for her wonderful photography and for sharing her heartfelt response after watching her first recitation finals.

Finally, the school salutes the late David T. MacLane, who as the school's first head, initiated a tradition that remains one of the most important and unique features of The Country School experience.

As Dr. Bottiger, overseeing her first MacLane Recitation as head of school, said, "When you are a founding head of a school it's amazing because you get to set course for how people will live for a long time.... This incredibly important event that takes place each year in the name of Lois MacLane is something that is absolutely foundational for every one of our children."


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