By Aubrey Aust, Class of 2018
It all began with a vision. In 1976, seven families joined together with a desire to provide their children with a college preparatory education. As they discussed their hopes and aspirations for a school with challenging classes, competitive sports, and a strong arts program, they began to realize that there was a significant need to create the type of school they were searching for. During these early meetings, they refined their vision and worked on designing an independent school built on small class sizes, academic rigor, abundant opportunities in both arts and athletics, and Christian principles.
Canterbury opened its doors September 8, 1977, to 89 students. The founders shared a concern of whether or not the school would truly be a success, but 40 years later, it is evident that their vision was one that would stand the test of time. Beth Behrendt, a writer, school volunteer, and mother to three boys, captured the enduring heart of Canterbury in her book A Mighty Spirit: Canterbury School at 40 Years. Behrendt explores the school’s history from its early years to the present day. She chronicles the changes that have occurred over the past 40 years, and one unifying theme clearly emerges: Canterbury’s spirit remains the same.
The idea for the book grew from a conversation with Susan Johnson. I wanted to become more involved in the school community and was chatting with her about how I might use my professional backgrounds in library science and freelance writing. We talked about the school’s somewhat neglected archives, about the approaching 40th anniversary, and about interviewing the founders for this occasion. All of which led to the idea of a book to celebrate the anniversary. Susan and I pitched the idea to Jonathan Hancock, Headmaster at the time, who was immediately supportive.
I started the process in the spring of 2016 by going through the archives and reading everything I could find about Canterbury’s founding, early history, and milestones through the years. I began the interview process with Jonathan and then each of the founders. I then tried to interview as representative a sample as possible of current and former administrators and faculty, alums and parents of alums, and current families. The interview process took a little over a year. A few of the founders shared documents from their personal collections that really helped round out the research. I had a constantly evolving draft of the book going the whole time – rearranging the chapters and plugging in quotes and interesting facts as I collected them. The focused writing and fact-checking happened in late summer and early fall of 2017; that draft was run by a proofreader/editor; the final text then went to a graphic designer for layout. After her layout was done we knew exactly how much space we had for photos.