Gilman's preppy look lives in Seventeen magazine

March 29, 1991|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Evening Sun Staff

ANYONE WHO claims the preppy look has long since peaked need only open the April issue of Seventeen magazine, where Baltimore's own Gilman School -- make that The Gilman School -- commands a four-page spread.

There, in ubiquitous oxford shirt, tie and tousled hair, are the boys of Gilman, smiling out from the pages in all their traditional splendor. They're photographed seated at a roundtable having a heady discussion, gathered on the athletic field for a game of -- what else? -- lacrosse, and packed four to a seat into a '60s Mustang convertible, just being guys.

Interspersed among the many handsome pictures of the young men who attend the private school in North Baltimore are conversations with them about what they think of girls, what girls think of them and what it's like going to a school with a long tradition of excluding women.

It's all very clean-cut, and even the most telling comment about sex -- "Girls talk about sex more than guys" -- is hardly risque. It's enough to make any sweet, 15-year-old female reader drool.

But drooling isn't exactly the Gilman family style. Headmaster Redmond Finney says that the Gilman community was somewhat disappointed in the display. Students took Seventeen's campus visit very seriously, he said, and were a little disappointed in the light manner in which their comments and photos were presented.

Finney said the idea for the article came about after a Gilman teacher sent the teen magazine some student essays she thought were particularly sensitively written and revealing of student attitudes on gender issues. Seventeen editors' interest was piqued and they came to Baltimore to interview the boys in person.

Writer Robert Moritz, an all-boys' school graduate himself, describes Gilman as a place where the walls "whisper" tradition and where guys resort to macho talk when girls aren't around. Despite the fact that some girls from neighboring Bryn Mawr and Roland Park Country attend Gilman classes in an exchange program hasn't affected the school's image, writes Moritz.

"Gilman is anything but co-ed. In fact, the first thing you notice when you walk into the classroom is conformity," he writes. "The basic fashion statement is vintage Dead Poets."

Not so, says Finney. "I don't think we are as conformist as the article implies. There is a tremendous effort here to diversify," he says, noting that the school has a 30 percent minority population and that all juniors and seniors in the school attend at least one co-ed class.

"Unfortunately, I've had some of the boys express disappointment," he says. "They can appreciate the experience of being interviewed and they enjoyed meeting the people, but we just don't feel the article is very reflective of what the school is really like."

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