Kristin Leasia's Letter to Chris Blair

Dear Mr. Blair:

      I am writing you this evening to express my concern over the lastest important decision the administration has made, regarding the sudden disappearance of Mr. Capron from the Castilleja campus. I do not claim to know all the facts behind the current state of affairs, as I understand for legal and privacy reasons, they must be kept personal. I also do not officially know, nor has anyone explicitly told me, that Mr. Capron has been dismissed. You more than anyone understand, however, that current and former Castilleja students are generally intelligent, and, given that Mr. Capron appears to be in good health, and with no obvious cause for his sudden departure, permit me to make the assumption that he has, indeed, been dismissed from employment.

      For better or for worse, I believe I understand more that a lot of current and former students who have begun raising questions about the issue (I am sure that you are more than aware of the firestorm that has evolved in the last week or so), the delicacy that must be taken when considering issues of employment (the result of having a labor and employment attorney as a father, who used to discuss business at the dinner table). I am aware of the difficult position in which the school finds itself, and that it feels justified in the decisions that it has made as of late.

      My main concern, however, more than what was done, or why, is the long-term consequences that these recent actions will have on the overall educational and experiential quality of the school. During my time at Castilleja, I participated every year in the fall play, and fulfilled my arts requirement by taking drama classes from Mr. Capron. While I was never and will never be the next Meryl Streep, I felt I learned so much from Mr. Capron, not only about drama and the theatre world, but about myself, which is perhaps even more important. I learned a confidence and self-presence, and really, a personal responsibility, which I might not have otherwise found. I also observed him with other students, especially those very heavily involved with theatre. He connects with students on a deep and personal level that is very rarely seen in an educator, and which I believe is integral to the learning process. Furthermore, the quality of productions he produces, through his skill as a director, is almost without parallel at the high school level. I currently attend Northwestern University, which is renowned for its theatre program. And, I must say, that many of Mr. Capron's productions would fit quite well into the caliber of theatre found at Northwestern.

      Thus, what concerns me the most is that the school is in the process of making a decision that will ultimately reduce its effectiveness as a learning institution. What concerns me ever the more, is that this is not the first time that this has happened. Last year the school attempted to unilaterally do away with the Latin program. That issue, obviously, has since been resolved, and thus I have no need to go into it now, expect to say that I see here the same sort of short-sighted decision making that is coming into play again with Mr. Capron. I feel that these two issues point to a trend where, as of late, the administration of the school is making broad decisions of change, without considering fully what the long-term implications of these decisions might be. This is to say, not considering how the academic program will be affected.

      I believe that, during my four years at Castilleja, I received an education, on many levels, that was of a premiere quality, which in many ways rivals the education I am now getting at university. Thus, it pains me to see the school making decisions that might reduce that level of excellence for the next generation of students. As an alum, I feel it is my responsibility and duty to make sure that the academic integrity of the school remains in-tact into the future. Thus, it is for this reason above all others that I urge you, as Dean of Students, to urge the administration, and whoever was involved with the decision, to take another look at the matter, and to seriously consider whether whatever brought about the current course of action, was indeed serious enough to warrant such a huge and I would argue devastating change in the Castilleja community. I can guarantee you that you will be hard-pressed to find another educator that possesses Mr. Capron's level of expertise and knowledge, along with his unique rapport with his students. I also urge you to take a look at the direction that the school has been taking lately, at why the administration has suddenly and rather bluntly felt the necessity to make such polarizing decisions. In the wake of these actions taken by the administration, and the resulting community (students, parents, alum) backlash, I believe it would behoove the school to examine whether its interests are still in touch with the student's interests, as well as the fundamental goal of academic excellence.

      Again, I completely understand the extreme care that these matters must take, and am fully aware that there is much I do not know about the exact circumstances. Still, if you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me at: [address removed]. Please know that I really only have the best interests of the school and its current students at heart, and am simply concerned that the school's present course of action, with this and similar decisions, are and have been unfortunately short-sighted. My only concern is to preserve the integrity and excellence of a school I came to love and value very highly for the education and experience it gives to its students.

Sincerely,
Kristin Leasia
Class of 2007

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