WRITTEN ON January 27th, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Baking, Chocolate, Cookies

Last night I went to a very special event here in the Big Apple.  It was the annual alumnae cocktail reception for my K-12, all girls, home away from home school.  Every year the headmistress and the ladies from alumnae relations and development make the trek up to NYC to check in on the alum’s living here, and give us the lowdown on what’s new at Roland Park.

I can’t explain to you, dear readers, the depth of the connection I have to my alma mater. While I loved Bucknell, where I spent my college years, my most memorable and lasting education took place before I even got to Lewisburg, PA.

There is something so empowering about an all-girls education.  Especially at a school like RPCS.  The admissions people will talk to you about providing girls with the tools they need, the small class sizes, the beautiful computer labs. But if you ask any alum (or current student, for that matter) what they love and remember most about their time at Roland Park, they’ll all likely come up with the same answer.  The spirit.

You can feel it the moment you step on campus, and it’s infectious. It’s a magical place where girls are allowed to just be…girls.  No adolescent boys to make eyes at, no fancy clothes (uniforms all the way, baby), no fist fights or metal detectors.  It’s a safe haven where silliness is allowed, where appetites are large, where voices are heard and where you are told from the moment you arrive that “we” really can do it. There’s no need to be afraid of fractions and the science teacher is your friend.

The fact that my mother (a fellow alum of the school) was on hand for all of my time there (she taught art there for 30 years) didn’t hurt, of course.  Money for french fries or a forgotten permission form (or signature on a failed test) wasn’t such a problem when you have a parent on hand (and you know where the purse is hidden).  But it was more than that.  Being part of such a dynamic and far reaching community of women gives young girls a certain confidence.  There will absolutely be someone there to pick them up if they fall.

In my Upper School years, my friends and I loved the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies from the cafeteria. I made these cookies the other night while thinking about wandering the halls at school in search of our next meal (farewell, my long lost metabolism).  They’re normally called cowboy cookies, but for the sake of my girl power post, I’ve renamed them cowgirl cookies.

Returning to the school now feels like walking into the warm embrace of a family member.  It’s a gift I will always be thankful for, and one I wish I could give to all the girls and women I know. It makes me so sad to think that unless I end up back in Baltimore, which is looking less and less likely, I won’t be able to pass along such a gift to a (hoped for) daughter.  And then I realize how absurd that is.  Someone once said we never really leave the places we love.  I believe that.  I am a walking representation of all that RPCS has to offer.  I learned at a young age that I am strong, and capable, and even if I get lost, I can find my way again.  My mom taught me that, of course.  But so did Mrs. Randrop, Mrs. Sutton, Mrs. Mainolfi, Mr. Forbes, Mr. Timm, “Aunt” Judy, Mrs. Pittenger, Mrs. Goldgier, Mrs. Vikan…the list could go for miles. I plan to pass it on.

So, thank you, Roland Park community. For starting me off on the right track and for checking in along the way, to remind me that I’ll always have another place to call home (awww crap, now I gotta go find some tissues).

Home on the range

Cowgirl Cookies (makes about 4 dozen)
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder, softened
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flours, baking soda and powder, and salt. In a large bowl  with a mixer, combine sugars and butter until they are light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat thoroughly. Add flour mixture, beat about 30 seconds more until just combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in chocolate, pecans and coconut.  Drop onto non-stick cookie sheets by the tablespoon full, and bake for 12 minutes until golden.  Cool on baking racks.

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