Headmaster's Thoughts: September 2020

Well, the Governor is allowing us to open. And we will be open, in as normal a fashion as possible. Some parents have chosen to keep their children at home, and they will see each class, as it happens, Zoomed to them. We will do whatever we can to accommodate all of our students.

There seems to be a book (maybe in Las Vegas?) on whether schools will stay open. Authoritatively, a teacher said to me that “Dollars to Donuts,” there will be some closures in the Fall. This is a very peculiar betting expression because doughnuts (and I am giving the correct spelling) cost more than a dollar. So which side is the prevailing group? The Dollar or the Doughnut? Whoever invented this expression has seen it turn around because of the rise in the cost of doughnuts.

It is alluringly alliterative …”Dollars to Donuts”. I like alliteration. It helps you remember the phrase of a poem. Everything from television commercials (“Dare to Dream”) to popular songs, use alliteration. In The History of Mr. Polly, H.G. Wells used the expression “alliterations’ artful aid,” which is the only quote I can remember having read the book over 50 years ago.

In Anglo Saxon poetry, alliteration was everything. Who cared about rhyming?  In Beowulf (where there are over 3000 alliterative examples), my favorite (translated) is “Girt with God’s anger, Grendel came gliding”. Again, I read the translation over 50 years ago, and that is the only phrase that has stayed in what I, optimistically, call my mind.

There is a school in Brooklyn, which is alliteratively called, Poly Prep. Good for them!  Some parents choose the first name for their child based on alliteration. Easier to remember. Have you met “Matt Matthew”? If you did, you would remember his name. Who does not recognize the tongue twister “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers, People say”, or the sitcom “Suddenly Susan”?  Alliteration makes it easy. Similarly, products have jumped on this bandwagon; Krispy Kreme, Coca Cola, and, of course, Dunkin Donuts. Ah hah! We have found out where that spelling came from.

So, satisfied that it will not be selectively specified that schools shutter their screens before the sunny spring season, I surreptitiously pray that scholars will be able to study substantially all the year. I subscribe to the sensible (if unsurprising) sentiment that students are best served in a school setting. This would be sublimely sane. At least I say what I suppose. Dollars to donuts!
Ronald P. Stewart
York Prep