Another day, another handful of letters from current or former students of pricey Upper East Side girls' academy Chapin, alternately defending and slamming their alma mater for its classism and sluttiness or lack thereof. Near as we can figure, attending the school seems to be a totally different experience for the truly super-wealthy than it is for the plain old wealthy (or, as our correspondents like to call it, "middle-class.") Huh!
This first dispatch is sort of like if Curtis Sittenfeld's novel Prep was an email.
The fact is, that no one who went to Chapin doubts that it's a good school. I've been in discussions and often found the women who were the most articulate and outspoken to be fellow alumnae. But to suggest that no one cared about money at Chapin is a fallacy. The fact is, the large percent of the Chapin population is so wealthy that of course no one needs to talk about their wealth — it's the standard. Girls who typically spilled White-Out in their $600 Prada bags and then just bought new ones. Or wore $800 shoes to go with their $80 scratchy low-quality Hanold plaid kilts. Of course there are exceptions — generalizations are characterized as such because they refer to "most but not ALL." Chapin varied class-to-class. The first girl to write in had a very dorky, low-drama class. The class below her was high drama (and sluttiness). My class was on the bitchier side.A current Chapin senior echoes some, but not all, of these sentiments.
As a side note: I never witnessed any Prep-for-Prep violence. On the whole, the Prep girls in my class were some of the hardest workers and I've found, many many years later, that they are the most centered and successful.
As for the *other* girls, it's incredibly easy to be bitchy about them. I was there with the Johnson & Johnson heiress, daughters of mega-famous authors, of course Ivanka Trump— but when your life doesn't include jet-setting to the Hamptons and riding lessons and unending piles of money for the 8,000 JCrew sweaters you simply *must* have — it's also easy to be bitter. It's a close-knit community: with 30 girls to a class you're bound to get some cattiness. Some of it is normal, and some of it isn't. It's exacerbated by this unnatural collection of rich girls, richer girls, schizos, cokeheads, mental patients, anorexics, underaged bartenders, not-so-rich girls, girls who (apparently) can't spell, and (the many)
girls who write into Gawker. And the biggest complaint you can ever make is that the rich girls have no idea what it's like to be anything else BUT rich. Chapin perpetuates that, because it's a pampered fairy land.
There are no consequences, because if you make a mistake, your rich daddy will bail you out. Whether it be flashing the hot dog man on the corner from the third floor window, or getting caught smoking pot with a group of friends, these girls know that they won't endure repercussions. Your friends might get expelled for it, but your daddy will make sure you don't. Didn't get into Brown? Maybe the family will donate a dorm building for you to live in - that might sway the admissions committee.
Yes, Chapin grooms remarkable women — for the girls who get that being interesting and well-learned is good as their take-away message. Learning that history is not just for "making good conversation at your husband's cocktail parties" (actual quotation). But for the rest of the Chapin girls, they were never going to fail no matter what. Even if they are too stupid to know which finger is THE finger ... Call it a safety net made of $100 bills.
Chapin probably deserves the increasingly awful reputation it has been getting on this website, if the two letters you have published are truly the most eloquent and well-written letters championing the school that have been submitted. I do, though, believe that some of us can express ourselves a little better than those two. I can spell "blatantly" and "ignorant" correctly, for a start. The alumna writer really expresses what Chapin girls used to be. Traditionally entitled, as all other independent school kids in Manhattan inevitably are, we were pretty fantastic, scandalous, and bitchy. Despite the coke, the token heiresses, and the alleged "penis drain," Chapin really does turn out some reasonably interesting and successful young women.Boy, if there's one thing they don't teach at Chapin, it's concision.
The second e-mail, however, sadly showcases the new, brainwashed breed of the Chapin Girl. Our school's attempts at creating an accepting, liberal, and politically correct establishment are draining us of our traditional hysterically catty, yet articulate, graduates. A large portion of us can still spell, express ourselves, and do well, even when our parents aren't coddling us and are allowing us outside of the Gossip Girl safety radius. Private school girls, contrary to common belief, do leave the Upper East Side. Sometimes, we even venture into outer burroughs, though of course we go out armed to the teeth with mace, rape horns, and drivers trailing at a discrete [sic] distance, sometimes armed with pepper spray. "Chapin is a wonderful school - the teachers are brilliant, the pupils are caring and respectful, and there is nothing that is true about that article." If we replaced "Chapin" with "Brearley" or "Spence," the letter this girl sent would still be fitting. Fitting, if the student in question was a typical 8th grader trained to worship the hallowed halls of the school she has been attending since age 5. I'm sure the majority of contributors on the private school girl thread of topics is a freshman of the warped and defensive attitude our school, and I'm sure many other schools, have been instilling in the student body. I have many fond memories from the Chapin; however, it is far from perfect, and the original letter was probably the more true of the two.