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As dean of admission I am delighted to welcome you to Milton Academy. Your journey through the admission process is behind you, and I am eager to introduce you to your new teachers and classmates.  Nearly 1,300 boys and girls began the admission process at Milton last year, and members of the Admission Committee read each those folders three or four times as we selected this class of 133 new students, which includes 67 boys and 66 girls. Your academic credentials were consistently outstanding, with most of you earning straight-A records, and your median SSAT score was in the eighty-ninth percentile. Your teachers used phrases like “has an insatiable love of learning,” “perhaps the single most exciting student at our school,” and “a brilliant champion for the underdog” to describe you. (How could we not accept applicants like that?!) As I like to say, Milton is a school where it is cool to be smart, and I know you will be stimulated by your new environment. Eat it up!

You are 133 distinct, interesting and opinionated individuals. Remember that. Celebrate your diversity of thought, creed, ethnicity and style as you get to know one another. Your backgrounds and interests are rich, varied and intriguing, and that’s one of the defining qualities of this wonderful old school. Find the girl from Uzbekistan who likes to challenge the ideal of “the traditional Muslim woman.” Talk with the new sophomore from Tennessee who already has an agent in Hollywood. Both sound like they have cool stories to tell.

You are Jewish and Born-Again Christian, Catholic and Hindu, Buddhist, Greek Orthodox and Muslim. Your clothing is Abercrombie, Goth and Brittany-inspired; your appetites are carnivorous, vegetarian and kosher. You are straight and some are openly gay. You are athletes who sing, singers who love math, mathematicians who work in soup kitchens. Seek out these points of distinction. These are the qualities that make Milton “Milton.” Probe them around the Harkness Table, over lunch in Forbes Dining Hall, or while you eat late-night pizza in Hallowell. Share. Argue. Listen. Laugh.

At the start of Milton’s 206th academic year, you come together today from 24 states, the DC and 14 countries, places as geographically and culturally diverse as New England and the Pacific Northwest, Albania, France, Jamaica, Singapore and Uzbekistan. Thirty-eight percent of you are students of color, and at least 18 languages are spoken in your homes, so don’t be surprised if you hear Turkish or Creole, Tagalog or Slovak as your new friends call home. Your families span the rainbow of modern life, with traditional Mom and Dad pairings, joint custody arrangements, blended families, adopted families, single Moms, and single Dads. Forty percent come to Milton from public schools, and 38 are related to a Milton graduate or have a Milton sibling. In fact, this year’s super-legacy is descended from one of Milton’s founders!

You come to Milton from metropolises like Chicago and Shanghai as well as small places like Van Buren, Arkansas; Voorheesville, New York; and Ketchum, Idaho. You were reared on a llama farm in Vermont, in Downeast Maine and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, among the high-rises of Hong Kong and the wide open prairie of Wyoming. Your hometowns stretch around the globe from Brookline, Massachusetts to Sparks, Nevada to Bangkok, Thailand to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. You hail from the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston and Rock Hill, South Carolina; from Seal Harbor, Maine and Oyster Bay, New York; from Atlanta, Tampa and Seattle; Terre Haute, Indiana and Erie, Pennsylvania; from Kingston, Jamaica and Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

New Miltonians include 11 students who served as president of their class or student council, 15 captains of at least one team and four who were ranked #1 in their class last year. The class includes a rapper from Dorchester and a playwright from Vermont, someone ranked #8 in the United States in squash, and a member of the Unites States National Sailing Team. A composer, an Olympic hopeful in archery, a founding member of the Downeast Amateur Astronomers Association, an improv comedian, and a jazz drummer arrived on campus today. One freshman endured spinal fusion surgery to correct scoliosis. Others persevere with diabetes, dyslexia and Lyme disease. A few of you have lost a parent; others have survived war in their homelands. But whether or not adversity has touched you directly many answered the call to activism. Many volunteer with “Habitat for Humanity” or “Adopt a Grandparent.” Your classmates include budding political activists on the Right as well as the Left, who have organized a book club for senior citizens, started a local chapter of the Jane Goodall Society and adopted a single mother in Guatemala. Stay active. Impress your teachers with provocative, but respectful, dissent. I read all your applications so I know you have opinions. Don’t be shy.

In addition to the usual assortment of flutists, violinists and cellists the class includes hard-to-find talents in trombone, harp, viola, French horn and hand bells. Your peers include a specialist in Oriental painting, a kick boxer, and a black belt in karate. As you know, Milton’s mission “celebrates diversity in all its forms,” and this diversity is especially evident in your love of dance. You boogie to hip-hop and ballet, as well as through serious commitments to Israeli, African, Indian and Vietnamese folk dance.

Sometimes I learned unusual things about you. For example:

  • A girl performed on Broadway at the age of four
  • A budding young Schwarzenegger wannabe set an American record in weightlifting (maybe he’ll be a future governor of California…).
  • One of our varsity athletic prospects was 6’2” and weighed over 200 pounds in 8th grade!
  • A teacher recommendation read, “He plays the guitar and drums at a jaw dropping level equal to or greater than the pros.”
  • Someone dreams of a stint on Saturday Night Life before pursuing her PhD in environmental policy and then running for the White House

You are the children of the famous and not-so-famous. A yoga instructor in Miami and a pediatric oncologist at Dana Farber; a cartoonist for The New Yorker, a vice president for Reebok, a postal worker in Atlanta and a hotel owner in Jamaica; a Nobel Laureate and a nurse in Queens all have children in this class. So does the former DA of Suffolk County, an economist with the UN and professors at Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Princeton, BU and Brandeis.

Some parents were quite creative when they named you. Ajani, Blake, Cecelia, Cullen, Ezra, Gilliam, Kroger, Rueben, and Shira are some of the uncommon names in the Class. But, curiously, many parents were attracted to the very same name when they read the “Name Your Baby” book in the late ‘80s. So, here’s a tip for class discussion: if the teacher calls on John, Andrew, William, Daniel, Matthew, Michael, Katherine, Elizabeth, Amanda or Sarah look around before you answer. The freshmen, sophomore and juniors classes boast 16 boys named John or Jonathan, 12 boys named Andrew, nine William’s, eight sets of boys named Daniel Matthew or Michael, and nine girls named Katherine and eight more called Elizabeth as well as seven known as Amanda or Sarah. Add to this mix 15 kids who go by the unisex “Sam” and 12 called “Alex” and the opportunity for confusion is high. So, Reshmi and Zubin, relish your original monikers and remember you were admitted to Milton by a dean named COFFIN.

I hope that is not an inauspicious beginning for you.
Welcome to campus!

Lee Coffin
Dean of Admission
3 September 2003