Patton in the Classroom


All of upper-crust Philadelphia — my home town — is abuzz with the news of a major drug bust in one of the most elite prep schools in the area. Apparently, two recent graduates of the Haverford School, located on the Main Line in Philadelphia (where The Philadelphia Story was set), ran an illicit drug conspiracy to a number of local schools, including their alma mater. Police confiscated drugs and a number of weapons.

The roundup was the end of a four-month investigation into the ring that began after authorities received a tip. Search warrants executed at nine different locations turned up 8 pounds of marijuana, 3 grams of hash oil, 23 grams of cocaine, 11 grams of MDMA, more than $11,000 in cash, a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, a loaded 9mm pistol, gun ammunition, eight cellphones and two cars.

I went to Haverford’s arch-rival school, Episcopal Academy. In the spirit of elitist prep school rivalry, I had two thoughts:

1. Unlike Episcopal, Haverford has refused to go co-ed. It is still all boys … which is why the students needed all those drugs.

2. The new headmaster of Haverford, John Nagl, is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, an Iraq war veteran, and one of the major figures behind the counterinsurgency doctrine that underpinned the surge in Iraq. He eventually became the head of an influential defense think tank in Washington, D.C. People wondered why he would leave the beltway to run a prep school. Now we know. If only all of our latter-day Pattons were available to put down drug conspiracies in all of our schools.


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  1. Misthiocracy Member

    In my town, the only buzz that comes from a criminal investigation at the local prep school is an article in the local political gossip rag.  Cover ups of illegal activity by prep school students is pretty common, considering how many children of high-power newspaper editors attend the schools.

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  2. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty

    Episcopal Academy?  Isn’t that the school taken over by the Jesuits?

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  3. Guruforhire Member

    I have hard time that some kids created a good well run organization to sell narcotics to willing consumers.  Its probably less destructive than our inflating equities market.

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  4. user_86050 Inactive

    As it turns out, my brother won a football scholarship to the Haverford School. He went for one year, didn’t much like it, and transferred to the local parochial high school where all of our neighborhood attended. That was probably my first evidence that when it comes to education, quality and reputation are not the same thing. Not every school is right for everyone.

    As for Episcopal Academy (if John Yoo doesn’t reply), they basically sold the property and moved out to the suburbs. The Jesuit university, St. Joseph’s (my alma mater), bought the property as part of a huge expansion project. 

    That part of Philly is an interesting social laboratory. The Main Line is one of the richest patches in the country, a true bastion of old money. And yet, just a few minutes away is West Philadelphia – which has been a ghetto for just as long, hosting a variety of immigrants. (My father was born and raised there, when it was an Irish ghetto. )  

    The fact that there’s a huge amount of money within walking distance of urban blight creates an interesting mix. It’s also a perfect cauldron for a drug market.

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