Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

March 2013

Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter March 2013

The Nobles Connection by Brooke Asnis '90, Director of Graduate Affairs

Best friends Erin Greene and E.B. Bartels, both Nobles Class of 2006, live together in a tiny apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. During our annual winter trip to New York for a graduate reception, we met up with Erin and E.B. for a lively dinner. Erin works as director of stewardship at Columbia Business School, and E.B. is a student at Columbia’s School of the Arts, working towards a master’s degree in creative writing. They are clearly enjoying NYC life and their close friendship is evident from the minute you meet them. “This is the 10-year anniversary of our friendship!” they told us over dinner.

In our Graduate Affairs work, we meet with hundreds of Nobles graduates each year, and we often ask people to reflect on the role that Nobles has played in their lives. Inevitably, graduates discuss their academic experiences and relationships with teachers. If you really want to appreciate the impact that a teacher can have on an adolescent kid, ask Putty McDowell ’42 to tell you his story. McDowell came to Nobles as a boarder in 1937, soon after the death of his father. He recalls that Charles Wiggins, the school’s Headmaster, became like a grandfather to him. He remembers skating up the frozen Charles River with teacher (and future Headmaster) Eliot Putnam. “Being at Nobles during those years made all the difference in the world in my life,” he explains. “I am just sure of it.”

Graduates also offer stories of extracurricular life, and it is downright eerie how some of these memories remain vivid decades later. Personally, I can’t remember where I was yesterday at this time, but I do remember our senior fall at Nobles, and our final field hockey game against Milton. I can tell you that we were losing 2-0 at halftime and came back to win 4-3, and that my co-captain Christina Novicki ’90 scored a hat-trick and that one of her goals resembled Bobby Orr’s 1970 Stanley Cup game-winner.

Most saliently, we hear stories of close and enduring friendships like that between E.B. and Erin. We speculate as to why Nobles friendships seem unusually strong and long-lasting. Nobles is, first and foremost, a community that is defined by some core principles, as outlined in the school’s mission statement:

The Nobles community:

  •     Generates critical, creative, socially conscious thinkers;
  •     Upholds a commitment to diversity;
  •     Develops character and intellect in deliberate conjunction;
  •     Cultivates purposeful citizenship on local, national and global levels;
  •     Builds independence and self-respect through challenge and achievement; 
  •     Espouses humility, humor, collaboration, honesty and respect for others as the foundations of a vibrant intellectual community

Laced throughout our mission are references to how we treat one another, and I believe that kids here do internalize that relationships are the cornerstone of any strong community. Friendships that are born here are cultivated here, and they tend to last. In the Graduate Affairs Office, we have learned that a “best practice” of our work is to create opportunities for graduates to connect with one another through Nobles. We visit young graduates at colleges and host reunions, graduate athletic games, community service projects and networking events. We involve grads in meaningful volunteer work through the Graduates Council and the Hall of Fame Committee, among others. For us, the goal is to keep graduates connected to Nobles, and we are happy when we hear of any gathering of Nobles graduates, whether it be on campus or off, organized by us or not. We operate on the belief that when graduates are connected to one another, they are connected to Nobles.

Your children’s Nobles friends will enrich their lives in good times and buoy them in difficult times. My own Nobles friends surrounded me on my wedding day, and more recently, they stood by me through a year of cancer treatment. At the risk of oversimplifying the social landscape of high school, it is safe to say that one or a few close friendships may well be the gifts of a Nobles education that your son or daughter will appreciate most throughout their lives.

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If you have questions, comments or suggestions for this newsletter, email Kim Neal at