For many of us, a necktie on a little boy conjures images of uncomfortable squirming at a formal family event. That’s not the case at Fessenden.
For our Fessenden boys, from first to ninth grade, a necktie is a simple article of everyday clothing. Even The Running Boy, a long-standing symbol of the School, has his tie flowing behind him as he races with great energy and purpose toward his next destination, an accurate depiction of the typical Fessenden student.
Neckties don’t slow our students down at all. The hustle and bustle of Fessenden is
created each day by over five hundred boys whose ties are often seen flapping behind them as they dart from class to class; activity to activity. There is nothing restrictive or ‘stiff’ about the dress code at Fessenden, and our boys are remarkably adaptive and creative in the ways they incorporate this usually formal accessory into school life.
For instance, in wood shop classes, ties are tucked carefully into each boy’s shirt, out of the way of saws and sanders. A student serving as a waiter artfully flings his tie over his shoulder to keep it from dipping into bowls of tomato soup. Art classes challenge his creativity as a sculptor or painter, as well as his skill at keeping his tie away from his brushes, though occasionally the tie is dotted with evidence of his artistic endeavors.
Of course, a tie can make a fashion statement, too. Although most of the blazers worn by the boys are of the standard blue variety, our students’ ties come in an amazing array of colors, styles, and shapes, displaying the wide range individual tastes of the boys. From familiar regimented stripes, to paisley prints, and a never-ending variety of cartoon and comic book characters, their choices present a unique opportunity for boys to express their personalities in a way that is distinctly “Fessenden.” Some boys give careful consideration to the coordination of their tie with the rest of their wardrobe, while others seem oblivious and unconcerned with that aspect of their chosen neckwear. The result is always interesting and fun. On ‘Ugly Tie Day’, closets are raided and dad’s biggest mistakes are paraded through the school, with big prizes for the ‘winners’ in each category.
Lately, bow ties have made a comeback, of sorts, and in the Upper School, boys eagerly sign up to become members of The Bow Tie Club, a service group that assists with the opening of car doors at morning drop off each day.
Of course, tying a tie is an acquired skill for Fessenden students. Often, our youngest boys rely on the safety and simplicity of clip-ons, then moving on to ‘zipper’ ties, and finally graduating to the complicated half-Windsor knot. Boarding students who arrive without this requisite ability are quickly tutored by a dorm parent or roommate, although some who haven’t mastered the task choose to slide the tie over their heads, and hang it on the bedpost, all ready to be used again the next day. In every case, the necktie eventually becomes second nature to our boys, as much a part of their school lives as math and English.