The Best of the Best, Becoming Elite at An American Boarding School

The Best of the Best, Becoming Elite at An American Boarding School

Book - 2009
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Harvard University Press

For two years, Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández shared the life of what he calls the “Weston School,” an elite New England boarding school. He sat in on classes, ate meals in the dining halls, cheered at sporting events, hung out in dorms while students baked cookies or celebrated birthdays. And through it all, observing the experiences of a diverse group of students, conducting interviews and focus groups, he developed a nuanced portrait of how these students make sense of their extraordinary good fortune in attending the school.

Vividly describing the pastoral landscape and graceful buildings, the rich variety of classes and activities, and the official and unofficial rules that define the school, The Best of the Best reveals a small world of deeply ambitious, intensely pressured students. Some are on scholarship, others have never met a public school student, but all feel they have earned their place as a “Westonian” by being smart and working hard. Weston is a family, they declare, with a niche for everyone, but the hierarchy of coolness—the way in which class, race, sexism, and good looks can determine one’s place—is well known.

For Gaztambide-Fernández, Weston is daunting yet strikingly bucolic, inspiring but frustratingly incurious, and sometimes—especially for young women—a gilded cage for a gilded age. “Would you send your daughter here?” one girl asks him, and seeing his hesitation asks, “Because you love her?”


For two years, Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández shared the life of what he calls the “Weston School,” an elite New England boarding school. Vividly describing the pastoral landscape and graceful buildings, the rich variety of classes and activities, and the official and unofficial rules that define the school, The Best of the Best reveals a small world of deeply ambitious, intensely pressured students. For Gaztambide-Fernández, Weston is daunting yet strikingly bucolic, inspiring but frustratingly incurious, and sometimes—especially for young women—a gilded cage for a gilded age.

Baker & Taylor
Documents the author's two-year social experiment during which he worked beside students at an elite New England boarding school, where he joined in student life and conducted focus groups and interviews to offer insight into the high-pressure educational experiences of the privileged class.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2009
ISBN: 9780674035683
0674035682
Branch Call Number: 373.222 GAZTA
Characteristics: 297 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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