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The Big Names of Boarding Schools

Long dark hallways, gothic architecture, and trouble-making students -- is this what you think of when it comes to boarding schools? If so, your mind's stuck in the fictional world of novels like "A Separate Peace." Real-world boarding schools can be thriving communities of students dedicated to academic excellence, and have turned out droves of graduates who have gone on the do better and bigger things. Here's but a small sampling of the great movers and shakers that boarding schools have churned out -- along with a few novelty students:

Leader of the Pack
Politicians and world leaders are known for being well-learned, but did you know that a good number -- past and present -- were graduates of boarding schools? While former president Calvin Coolidge attended St. Johnsbury Academy (St. Johnsbury, Vermont), Franklin D. Roosevelt along with two of his cousin's -- former president Theodore Roosevelt -- sons, walked the halls of the Groton School (Groton, Massachusetts). The Democratic nominee for president in the year 2000, and former vice president, Al Gore Jr., also got his start at the all-boy St. Albans School (Washington, D.C.).

Even King Abdullah II of the nation of Jordan, has a boarding school history: he attended Deerfield Academy (Deerfield, Massachusetts).

The "Write" Stuff
While boarding school isn't a novel idea, a variety of well-known writers learned the difference between "there" and "they're" at boarding schools. Classic wordsmiths like Edgar Rice Burroughs, who penned Tarzan, and T.S. Eliot, whose poems still entertain, attended Philips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts) and Milton Academy (Milton, Massachusetts) respectively.

Contemporary author Julia Alvarez, who wrote the book In the Time of the Butterflies, graduated from Abbot Academy (Andover, Massachusetts), which would eventually merge with Philips Academy in 1973.

A Who's Who
While some boarding schools can count a handful of famous alumni amongst their thousands of students, Philips Academy has graduated hundreds. Of particular note is the father-and-son presidential team of George Bush and George W. Bush, along with the inventor of Morse Code, Samuel F.B. Morse. Popular actors like James Spader (Boston Legal), Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca), and Some Like it Hot star Jack Lemmon, also counted on Philips Academy for their educations.

Of course, famous Philips Academy Andover alumni aren't limited to the history books and Hollywood; a number of pop culture icons and players -- such as Jane Pratt, editor-in-chief of Jane magazine; John F. Kennedy Jr. publisher of George and son of JFK; and Ming Tsai, chef and star of Simply Ming -- got their starts there.

Would You Have Guessed...
That Paris Hilton, infamous debutante and sometimes singer/actress, also attended Canterbury School (New Millord, Connecticut), which counts former president John F. Kennedy as an alumni? How about that both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, sons of multi-billionaire businessman Donald Trump, have attended The Hill School (Pottstown, Pennsylvania) which also graduated the famed World War II general, George Patton?

You might even be surprised to find out that actor Ted Danson (Becker) and Seth MacFarlane, best known for creating, voice acting, and screenwriting for such shows as American Dad and Family Guy, spent their years at the Kent School (Kent, Connecticut) -- an even more surprising fact when you realize that Prince Carl Philip Edmund Bertil, Duke of Varmland, of Sweden, also attended Kent School for two years.

A Stepping Stone
From pop-stars to politicians, boarding schools form a solid background for thousands of hopeful graduates each year. Before you dismiss them as relics of the past or just another fad, take the time to see what boarding schools have to offer.