Editor’s Notebook: The School You Remember

Jeff TophamIt might surprise you to hear this, but KCD is not the same school that you remember. This is probably a strange thing to say in an alumni magazine, but bear with me.

For one thing, those of you who graduated in the 1990s or earlier might have a hard time recognizing the place. When I started at KCD 16 years ago, there was no theater, no turf field, no tennis courts or softball diamond. The old Smiser farmhouse stood where the Frazier Upper School is now. Across Springdale Road, there was nothing but an empty field where the Paddock Shopping Center is today.

It’s not just the facilities that have changed. In 1998, the only computers on campus were in the computer labs—students had to visit a special classroom if they wanted to use a computer! Thanks to computer teacher Jim Conrey, teachers were just learning to use email. KCD didn’t even have a website, although a student version designed by Adam Jobson ’99 and Jeff Schwitters ’99 launched the following year. (When it went live in 2000, the ‘official’ KCD website was able to use the kcd.org domain thanks to Dave Davis ’85, who had registered it for us a few years earlier.)

Look around now and you’ll see a school where technology is everywhere. Students are building and programming their own robots. They’re using 3D printers and laser cutters to make things from their own designs. They’re using the vast resources of the Web to enhance and extend what they’re learning in the classroom. Across the school, students and teachers are using technology on a daily basis to create, collaborate, and communicate.

It’s a whole new world now, and the pace of change is accelerating so fast it’s almost dizzying. KCD has changed along with the rest of the world, and that’s probably a good thing. If we were still doing things exactly the way we did them in 1995—or 1985 or 1975—KCD would be a snapshot of the past instead of a vibrant, living community.

That said, there are some things that haven’t changed. Take away the facilities and the technology, and the heart of KCD remains what it’s always been: a community of passionate, dedicated teachers who are able to build close relationships with students and to inspire an intellectual curiosity and love of learning. That’s something that doesn’t change whether it’s 1975 or 2015. Maybe KCD is still the same school that you remember after all.