From the Scarlet Knight
The Knights of Campion
It is jousting day in the Land during the harvest equinox and the Campion Knights have gathered together at their jousting field much like the gatherings of the Guardians at the rituals of Stonehenge. The Knights and their adversaries have met on this field this day to compete for Regional Honors between each other in order to strengthen and to lay claim to the richness of their Brotherhoods. No blood of any consequence will be spilled on this day.
Day of Chapel for all Knights and Guardians is the day after jousting day. In the Chapel, a Table draped in linen recapitulates the Place in the Guardians Keep for Someone Else. Blood on this day is not spilled but faithfully shared between all in Chapel and all blood shared on this day is of Great Consequence. On this Day, Knights with their shields spend time on knees with heads bowed in silence, thought and prayer. In the Land, the Chapel represents the Body and Spirit of Someone Else, and the Knights are in Chapel to renew their pledge to protect and serve the essence of Someone Else and the Land.
Other days in the Land, the Knights live their lives in study, competition and contemplation alone and with each other. The Knights begin these days at an early hour of the day amid blaring sounds and seminal pain typical of a child's birth. After breaking of Fast, the Halls of Learning await their presence with typically one Guardian to a small group of Knights culled by intellect and discipline but not by potential. Totally outmanned, the Guardians often rely upon guile and intimidation to instruct and train the Knights under their tutelage. The Knights often challenge the Guardians strength and guile and intimidation but always the Knights succumb to their authority. Yet in order to attain their individual Quest, each Knight in the Land must fully realize their own strength within the Brotherhood of Knights, and especially their own strength directed against the Guardians themselves.
In the Home of the Knights, the Knights are quartered as four cohorts in three gatehouses strategic to the Land and the Guardians Keep. All Knights are kept close in their Homeland but with a measured distance from the Guardians.
The youngest of Knights constitute Cohort I and live in the Eastern gatehouse nearest the Chapel and visit in Chapel every day of the week at the midday break from their studies. They visit as One without shields and without the Guardians but one. It is in Chapel that Beliefs in Someone Else and in the Land begin to live well within the youngest of Knights. The youngest of Knights, some only a handful of years off their mother's breast but all in conflict with their father's strength and domination, were crucial to the Land. The Guardians recognized this extreme loss of Mother and the extreme gain in leverage against the Father to Teach and to Train the youngest of Knights in the ways of the Guardians and the Land. Once arrived in the Land, the youngest of Knights were immediately quartered, fed and placed in training with each other such that influence of the youngest of Knights would now be in the hands of the Guardians. The lives of the youngest of Knights were now destined to become the same so that the youngest of Knights could begin to coalesce into One. Their lives would become the same but with each young Knight becoming more distinct in many and meaningful ways during their years in pursuit of their individual Quest.
The Guardians immediately began to train the youngest of Knights with sword, shield and lance and every day the youngest of Knights were placed in Challenge amongst each other that was overseen by the Guardians. Loss of blood and gain of pain almost always preceded their daily evening meal. Other times of each day the youngest of Knights were in study and introduced into Someone Else, into the Knighthood and into the Land. The Guardians would hold sway over the youngest of Knights until the Knighthood would fully enter their lives.
Even though the youngest of Knights would live, study and train together, they would meal with the Knights Elite each day at morning, midday and evening hours. It is this blending of the youngest and the strongest of Knights in both mind and body during sustenance that would engender a special camaraderie within the Knighthood. It is sustenance of more than food and drink for the body. It is sustenance provided by the Knights Elite to nourish the youngest of Knights in strength, courage and maturity for battles both bloody and unbloody that would need to be fought for themselves, each other and for the Land. It is mentorship by nearness in space and time - a net movement of Knowledge streaming from Knights who Have to Knights who Need. A diffusion gradient described by Nature and its described effect sought out by the Guardians. The bond forged between the youngest of Knights and the Knights Elite would be strong and would feed both their loyalties to the Knighthood and to the Land.
Two cohorts of Knights live in the largest gatehouse, Lucius Mater, which rests adjacent to the gatehouse housing the youngest of Knights. These two cohorts are distinct from each other but still maintain a unique bond between themselves. They live, meal, challenge, and study together so that their individual lives and the valor of each cohort are determined by each other to the greatest extent. In numbers, strength and speed, Lucius Mater is the core strength of both the Knights and the Land, and it is Lucius Mater that will always be in the Front Lines of battle freely willing to lose lifeblood to protect the Land and the Knighthood. In the Land, it is the losing of one's blood that is but one and important measure of the life of a Knight.
In Lucius Mater, there exists a hierarchy of the two cohorts, Cohorts II and III. Cohort II, scarcely older than Cohort I, is comprised of Knights still early in training but possessing the necessary skills for pitched battle. These skills are first taught by the Guardians but honed by life in Lucius Mater, by life within the Brotherhood of Knights, and by the Land itself. In engagement with the enemy, Cohort II will always set the edge on both flanks for the attack and set the edge on both flanks in defense of the Land. The Knights of Cohort II are advanced both in their studies of Someone Else and in their studies of the Natural World as believed in and as taught by the Guardians. As such, the Knights of Cohort II have been Learning and have begun to examine their place in the Knighthood, in the Land and in the World. They are collectively known as The Sophius.
The Juvenus, Cohort III of Lucius Mater, are even Less Young than the youngest of Knights and The Sophius. The Juvenus are battle-hardened and highly skilled in the art of conflict and in the art of reason. Their loyalty to Lucius Mater, the Knighthood and the Land live in their scars of battle and in their depth of Learning. The belief that the Juvenus have in Someone Else is steadfast but they are highly Learned in the fundamentals of Natural Law and in fundamentals Not of Someone Else with much of these Learnings coming from the Guardians themselves. The Juvenus have received the temporal training and experience able to Question their belief in the fundamentals of the World and in their belief in Someone Else. Still, the Juvenus Question neither the Knighthood nor the Land and many of the Juvenus are prepared to join the Knights Elite when so chosen.
The Knights Elite, the Ultimate cohort and the Final Meaning of The Knights of Campion in the Land define the Knighthood but not the Knights themselves. The Knights Elite are the Great Strength of the Knights when the Knighthood, the Guardians and the Land come into conflict with the World. The Knights Elite have Trained and Learned well to protect and serve the Knighthood, the Guardians, the Land and All the World with their Strength and Beliefs being vital to their Lives. The Knights Elite truly evolved unto Themselves and have become Teachers to The Guardians and the Knighthood. The Knights Elite have greatly strengthened the Guardians and the Land forever.
Once The Knights of Campion have achieved their individual Quests and have left the Land, the Mission of The Knights is to prosper in other lands, to Teach and Protect these lands and to save the World around Them and Beyond. This Mission lives deeply and strongly within All Knights of Campion. Hence, the Knights must leave the Land in order to fulfill their Final Quest and give leave for the Guardians to renew their Promise to other young boys in need of the Land and in need of the Guadians. Thus, the Knighthood will be replenished and the Land and the Guardians will be sustained until they are no longer Needed.
Wisely, The Guardians and the Fathers and the Mothers always believed that the Final Meaning of The Knights of Campion would not be defined in the Land. They knew that the True Final Meaning of The Knights of Campion, their young boys, would be defined Outside the Land with the Knights living in all the lands in All the World. The Knights of Campion were always destined to Surround All the World with their Strength and Beliefs for All the World to be Saved.
For The Knights of Campion, it will always be "another day, and yet another destiny".
From the Desk Of John Duskey '63
Reflection on telltale signs that you attended a boarding school.
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at boarding schools today, to see if what they are doing matches up with our experiences at Campion. A few years ago, I came across an entry on Buzzfeed called "67 Telltale Signs that you went to a Boarding School." It is a collection of random ideas, compiled by a graduate of a boarding school (obviously a co-ed school) which review influences on the lives of boarding school students. Not all 67 are pertinent to us. I have skipped over 22 of them and present 45 of them here. But these 45 signs reveal some interesting experiences, characteristics and contrasts.
1. You've been addicted to coffee since you were 14. I don't think coffee was the standard drink in Campion's dining hall. Obviously it was in other boarding schools.
2. You have an abundance of blazers and dress socks. At Campion, we did not have a dress code requiring these on a daily basis. Having an abundance of these may be more relevant for those with such a requirement in their employment in later years.
3. You never had a snow day. Right! Brother Eakin, or one of the other employees, would always keep the sidewalks cleared of snow. And the faculty, mostly Jesuits, lived on campus like the rest of us, so there was never a need for a snow day.
4. You are totally comfortable with public speaking. I believe this is generally true, but not in every case. We had speech class in sophomore year, and there were opportunities for participation in debate and forensics. But it looks like this was a universal quality of education in more recent years.
5. You can recite Shakespeare on command. Many of us may recall certain excerpts from Shakespeare that we memorized in English class. But I doubt if everyone can recite these on command, either then or now.
6. You call the principal the "headmaster." This was not true at Campion; the principal was simply the principal.
7. Academic/residential buildings are called "Halls." This was true at Campion.
8. Marks for misconduct are called "demerits." Not true at Campion - we used the term "JUG." This is understandable, as today's boarding schools would not use a term that meant "Justice Under God."
9. School nurse was headquartered in the "Infirmary." This was true at Campion.
10. The cafeteria was called the "Dining Hall." This was also true at Campion, even as many of us will recall the name "Loyola Hall."
11. The comfort food you miss isn't your mom's secret recipe, but your dining hall's. I don't think any of us remember any food we were served as "comfort food" or longed for knowing a "secret recipe" for any dining hall food.
12. They mainly served various kinds of chicken. If today's boarding schools mainly served various kinds of chicken, that was not always the practice at Campion.
13. You ate at a table, family style, during "seated meals" with faculty members. Our practice at Campion was to go through a cafeteria line and then take the tray and sit at a table. We, generally, did not eat "family style." Nor did our teachers eat at the same table with students.
14. Our teachers were also our coaches. Also true at Campion.
15. Teachers lived on campus. In most cases, our teachers lived on campus, but lay teachers, in general, lived in their own homes off campus.
16. You always knew when your favorite teacher was on dorm duty. A teacher being on "dorm duty" was not a common practice. Certain Jesuits lived in an apartment on a particular floor of the dorm, and were usually "on duty" when students had access to their rooms. Usually there were two Jesuit (priests or scholastics) on each floor.
17. You checked the mailroom everyday. Distribution of mail varied throughout the years at Campion. In the freshman rec room, we had "mail call." But in later years, there was a mailroom.
18. You are all too familiar with the Harkness Method. This method was devised at Phillips-Exeter Academy in the 1930s, where a small group of students and a teacher sit around an oval table and ask questions and contribute their own thoughts. This was largely unknown at Campion. I did experience something like this in graduate school.
19. You were closer to the faculty children at your school than to your own siblings. This was not true at Campion. Jesuits, of course, did not have children. And if a child of a lay teacher attended the school, that did not give him any special status.
20. You got used to study hall. This was certainly true at Campion, from the very first day!
21. You never stopped hating Saturday classes. I don't think this was true at Campion. To me, it seemed like a good deal, as we were enabled to have Wednesday afternoons off. However, in the latter years, there was some shifting of the afternoon schedule.
22. Weekend restriction was nothing like The Breakfast Club. Lost weekends were nothing like that ABC radio show with Don McNeill and Fran Allison. Isn't that what they mean by "The Breakfast Club?"
23. Expulsion was a fate worse than death. Except for those students who really wanted to go home, expulsion at Campion was certainly undesirable. The possibility of expulsion may have been a motivating influence for good behavior.
24. You didn't have electives so you never took Phys Ed. Campion's curriculum had little allowance for electives, and there were no physical education classes offered. PE was, effectively intramural sports. In the latter years when ROTC became an elective, if you didn't take ROTC you had to take extra PE classes different from intramural sports.
25. There was required sport every season. Yes, we had intramural football, basketball and softball as a means of physical activity.
26. In addition to sports, you cultivated at least one bizarre or artistic activity during your high school career. I'm not sure what they mean by "bizarre" but, at Campion, artistic activities were available opportunities for all.
27. No one will ever understand the special bond you share with your high school roommate. I think this may be more likely between female roommates. At Campion, this may have been true in some cases, but not in others.
In a larger sense, there is a special 'bond' between all Campion alumni, even though some do not choose to communicate with other alumni.
28. You had to sign out every time you left campus. This was true then, as it is true today.
29. Proctors and prefects aren't just from Harry Potter. At Campion, we had proctors/prefects with us all day long. Usually they were Jesuit Scholastics, but sometimes they were priests.
30. You contracted every ailment known to man at one point or another. At Campion, we generally had good health. There were exceptions - that is what the infirmary was for. But 'every ailment known to man' was certainly not our experience at Campion.
31. You remain unfazed by communal bathrooms. This assertion poses the question, what is there to be fazed about?
32. Air conditioning was a foreign concept. This was true at Campion, as the heat of summer usually didn't arrive until the end of May, and ended in early September.
33. You didn't get your driver's license until you were 18, or if you did, you rarely used it. This was probably true, as students rarely drove cars while at Campion.
34. You never took driver's ed. This was not offered at Campion, at least not until the last few years of the school's operation. Mr. Cyril Des Rocher taught Driver's Ed from 1970-1974.
35. You have friends from all over the world. At Campion we did have several students whose home was in another country, but not enough to verify this statement.
36. You took the honor code very seriously. The vast majority of Campion students did. If there were some who didn't, it seemed that they didn't last long. Yet, it was common to keep your dorm room locked when you were not in it, and to keep your key safe in your pocket.
37. You have yet to encounter a feud as serious as that between you and your rival school. We did have rivalries with other schools; mostly with other schools in the Central Wisconsin Catholic Conference. But I don't think those rivalries rose to the level of 'most serious feud ever.'
38. Your senior thesis was 10 times harder than anything you ever did in college. I don't doubt that this is true for today's students, but I don't recall a 'senior thesis' as a requirement at Campion. At times there were "senior projects" of various types.
39. You knew the name, hometown, and college plans of everyone in your class. The writer recalls a class size of 75. Classes at Campion, except at the very end, were larger than one hundred, and, while we knew everyone's name, we didn't always know the hometown, and probably did not know the college plans of all of our classmates.
40. You appreciate the value of a chaperoned outing. In the larger perspective, then and now, this is true.
41. You still know the phone number to the main office. Many of us remember "578" for Campion, but in later years it changed to 608-326-6432 - not as easy to remember.
42. No one else quite understands all your school's honored traditions. Campion had some honored traditions, but I never saw them as unusual or hard to understand.
43. Your school had a water tower, which sometimes displayed important messages. We did no have the 'message painted on the water tower' at Campion, but occasionally the letters "I A C" were added to the billboard along highway 18.
44. You always went to school dances, or "mixers." We had several of these at Campion, and they were fun, and most students went to them. In this way, the Campion experience was not terribly different from the contemporary experience.
45. The 1989 film Dead Poets Society will forever hold a special place in your heart. Here I will state my own opinions. I do not claim any knowledge that is not available to the public. The person who wrote that screenplay did so as a result of extended research into boarding schools, which took place over a period of several years. He gained an understanding of schools that were very different from Campion - schools that had a wealthy clientele and a large endowment to defend and conserve. He knew little about Campion.
The screenplay paid particular attention to the difficulties of the fictional student Neil Perry (regarding school and vocational choice), particularly with his father, played by Kurtwood Smith. You may recall Smith as the actor who played Red Forman on That 70s Show (1998-2006, set in Wisconsin), who continually berated his son Eric, played by Topher Grace. As Mr. Perry, he exemplified bad parenting and eventually drove his son to suicide. I would like to say that there were no such people among Campion parents.
Into this mix comes Mr. Keating, a newly-hired English teacher played by Robin Williams. Keating took his students through the world of imagination and poetry - even leading to a reenactment of the "Plato's cave" analogy in the Republic, well known, at least to a philosophy major. Keating was an outsider to the rest of the faculty, likely to be blamed for whatever went wrong. Reading Plato's Protagoras would help in understanding the film and its title.
The contrasts with Campion are striking. The Jesuits tended to listen to the students' concerns, even as they regularly met with parents' groups. In 1966, the Jesuits made changes to the overall curriculum at Campion without the agreement of the parents. True, the Jesuits weren't perfect: At times they failed to bring lay teachers into pertinent faculty discussions. Campion had a clientele that was not extremely wealthy, and no large endowment fund. What extra money they had or could raise went into new buildings to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the students.
As for this film, the screenwriter truly deserves the Academy Award he won in March 1990, as it is an outstanding, thought-provoking film. It holds a special place, though I feel that my reaction to it is different from that of the Buzzfeed author. I find it painful, especially the reaction of Mrs. Perry to her son's death, which recalls, for me, the poem, Mother and Child Reunion. The writer of this screenplay also wrote several other screenplays which I enjoy more: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Medicine Man - a film which demonstrates the value of knowledge in organic chemistry and biological research.
So, there it is. As Campion did not exist past 1975, we will never know if it would have changed into the kind of boarding school that the Buzzfeed author recalls. But just as many things would be different, many things would also be the same.