My Roeper Story is about (what else?) relationships!
We all know that the foundation for our lived Roeper experience is the relationships we built — with our teachers, with our fellow students, with the child inside and the young adult she was becoming. Roeper created a space to develop those relationships, safely and authentically, and constantly reminded us of our personal obligation to nurture existing ones and take risks in creating new ones.
My Roeper experience (which, at last count, spans 53 years) is a collage of these relationships and in the center row would, of course, be Mariann, and George and Annemarie, but also too many teachers (my own and my daughters’) to count (but all of which I could name), friends, and those who quietly watched out for us, in between classes and stairways and fields and parking lots — Jimmy and Vi Morris, Lucy Donald, and Virginia Splude.
Virginia was my bus driver back in the day the school ran busses. Virginia drove me to and from school every single day for 13 years. She was the first Roeper person to greet me each morning and the last to say goodbye each afternoon. She watched over me (and every other kid on that bus), not just to be sure I sat safely in my seat, but also to see if my day had been good or bad, if that test had turned out ok, if my best friend and I had finally made up. Virginia and I would together look forward to our birthdays, hers on March 7th and mine two days later.
Each bus had a paid bus supervisor, a coveted position among the older Upper School student population. I used to watch with envy as first Grace Rowley and later Andrea Miller and, in turn, Eric Linden sat in the seat directly behind Virginia, ordering the rest of us to sit down and be quiet, but then quickly turn their attention back to their on-going conversation with Virginia. Virginia would tell me, “Lori, you’re going to be my bus supervisor one day!” And when that day finally came, it was one of the proudest moments of my life — at long last, it was my turn to sit behind and share special private conversation with Virginia — twice – each and every day!
I will never forget the day of my 16th birthday and the apprehension of that day’s appointment to take the road test for my driver’s license. Not exactly the world’s most natural driver (driving being akin to athletics for me), Virginia watched as I grew more and more anxious as we approached my drop-off point. Just before stepping off the bus, Virginia leaned over and whispered to me, “I didn’t pass my first time.” Stunned, but then completely relieved, I thought, “Well, if the best driver I know didn’t pass her road test on the first try — should I fail, it would not be the end of the world.” Virginia knew what I needed to hear — and was selflessly generous in making sure I did. I feel so lucky to have grown up at Roeper, embraced in relationships that taught us that while it was important to care for the world, it was just as important to take care of each other.
Lori Lutz, Class of 1975