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August 7: Stanley Bosworth and St. Ann’s School

lawrencebush
August 6, 2015

dtg_bosworthobit_2011_8_19_bk02_zStanley Bosworth (Boscovitz), the founding headmaster of St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, which in a 2004 Wall Street Journal survey led the nation in placements of graduating students in the nation’s top ten colleges and universities, died at 83 on this date in 2011. Bosworth took the job in 1965, turned St. Ann’s, founded by an Episcopal church, into a non-sectarian institution, and created an admissions process that used intelligence tests and his own intuition to attract creative, bohemian kids from families that could, by and large, afford the annual tuition of more than $25,000. The school grew into a K-12 institution, gave no grades, taught puppetry alongside calculus, and described itself, according to the New York Times, as an "'amusement park' whose attractions were Aristophanes, Darwin and Baudelaire.... Bosworth’s expansive, scampish personality was stamped everywhere, so much so that it was common to speak of a cult of personality at the school." But he "may not have pleased potential donors when he was quoted... as saying that he liked' scandalizing and scaring away the bourgeoisie.' He did not like bankers’ children, he told parents another time, but said he would instantly admit the offspring of 'real artists.'" Such comments may have helped fuel his retirement in 2004.

"I believe in the freedom of the individual, I believe in sexual freedom, I believe that the racist thing is unspeakable, that the sexist thing is unspeakable — these things are not just beliefs. They’re lives lived." —Stanley Bosworth