Always An Outsider: My Experience in The Shipley/Episcopal Exchange
Barbara Pitt Lougée ’72
My father and brother had attended Episcopal, so when the offer arose to attend as well, it was an intriguing concept, as part of a family tradition. I was not a particularly bold person at the time, and I remember feeling somewhat mediocre in most things, so I thought doing this unique program would make me stand out a bit and also take me out of my comfort zone. I was glad to still be able to do chorus and sports at Shipley, so I could keep my connections with my friends. But, as one might think, I didn’t do it for the boys. I just thought it would be a really interesting experience. And it was.
As unique as it was for us girls, it was also odd for the boys and the teachers at Episcopal. Most of the teachers had been teaching only boys for many years, so to have a girl in a class must have altered their perception of how they taught. I had one teacher who would slip photos of cute animals cut out from magazines onto my desk in the middle of quizzes after we realized that we shared a love of a particular obscure musical comedy album. And my calculus teacher and I had a special connection due to my being one of the four students who remained to the end of year from a starting class of 20 and really enjoying the challenge. And the English/drama teacher appreciated a built-in female in the class to do scenes (which was fun for me because I loved acting and theatre).
I made friends with the boys and had a couple of dates, but I can’t say that I particularly felt more of a connection with them than my Shipley friends. I can only guess that they felt a bit constrained by having girls to deal with in their previously safe, all-male environment. I was a curiosity. I felt a bit of an outsider there, as I did at Shipley, which was a bit lonely. I didn’t really belong totally to either place.
I might have thought that going to Episcopal would change me in significant ways, but I don’t think it did. I was mostly the same person coming out that I was going in. It was a fun experience to be a groundbreaker, but I didn’t make huge strides as a person or find myself to be significantly different in the end. In some ways, it was just another teenage growth experience.
Being an Episcopal girl has shaped who I am, as have all the experiences and choices in my life, especially making the decision to go to Episcopal in the first place. That was a bold step for an unremarkable girl, leaping out of any comfort zone that may have existed at Shipley. Perhaps that is where I found the courage to move to New York City after college, or to up and move alone to California in my thirties. I am who I am because of Shipley and Episcopal, someone of many choices.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.