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The Amazing Mr. Stetson, Flintridge Prep’s Director of Admissions

Stetson is by far in the top three when you think of interesting people on campus

Published on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | 10:59 am

Art Stetson, Flintridge Prep’s Director of  Admissions, is by far in the top three when you think of interesting people on campus. He’s a charmer, and he never runs out of costumes – year after year he tops himself at Halloween.

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And if you haven’t seen his office, believe me, you need to check it out. Get to know the man behind the interesting artifacts. You can also meet the front office staff by clicking here.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: On weekends, a lot of my free time is spent with my sons, John and Geoffrey…taking them to sports and things. In my own spare time, I like to browse antique shops, flea markets, and yard sales. I also love to read when I can find the time.

Q: What is the most common reaction that students have when they walk into your office for the first time? How do you ‘break the ice’ when meeting these prospective students?
A: Fortunately, the reputation of my office décor has usually reached them before they’ve gotten inside. It’s an icebreaker in itself! If they still seem nervous, I’ll ask them if they were wondering about my office. The admissions officer before me collected antiques, so I kind of had a role model even before I started decorating my office.

Q: I heard that you won the Class of 1987 Service Award last year! How did it feel to receive this award?
A: Well, obviously that was huge and totally unexpected. I was actually sitting at my desk when Mrs. Herroon came in and reminded me to go to the assembly. If it weren’t for her, I might have been late! I was speechless, considering how much I love this school…I was completely speechless. It meant a lot to me because input for that award came from both colleagues and students.

Q: How long have you been working at Flintridge Prep, and what experience or event has been the highlight of your time here?
A: This is my 17th year. There’s so much I could point to as highlights…the 1987 Award was certainly special. On a yearly basis, I love going on the 7th, 9th, and 12th grade trips. On the 7th grade trip, I get to see the new students; on the 9th grades trip, I get to see a completed class; and the 12th grade trip shows me the completed product of a Flintridge Prep experience. The Pine Cone Ceremony on the 12th grade trip is tremendously interesting and satisfying for me. I also enjoyed watching students I admitted beat Poly. And of course, our basketball team that won CIF last year.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective students? What about current students?
A: I would urge them to behave themselves and be good citizens before they even come to Flintridge Prep. We pay a lot of attention to that. Sometimes we turn down straight-A students because they don’t have good citizen behavior. For current students, I think the best advice for any young person would be to seek out mentors, get to know them, and depend on them. It’s critical for preparing them for any stage of life, and builds healthy bonds.

Q: In what ways have you seen Prep’s honor code affect the actions and interactions of the ‘Prep family?’
A: For me, the most significant part of our honor code is that it includes the adults. I know of no other honor code that is so inclusive, and I think it builds mutual respect and trust.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Until my sons were born, my favorite part was going on the class trips. But now, I would have to say my favorite part is bringing my sons to Flintridge Prep events, and exposing them to positive role models in my own students. They see good kids that are older than them pursuing passions, and I hope that some of that rubs off on them.

Q: In your own words, what type of student is Flintridge Prep looking for? What kind of student best fits into the Prep culture?
A: My first month on the job, I was speaking to Mr. Bachmann after an event, on the sidewalk of Crown Avenue. Every school is looking for bright, talented students, but when I asked him, he replied without hesitating, “Nice kids, nice kids do well here.” Obviously, we pay attention to talent and passion, but niceness is essential. I hope that the students we enroll are the type that anyone would want as a neighbor, student, or a member of their family.

Q: You seem to keep a very active presence on Flintridge Prep’s campus. How would you describe the student life?
A: Filled to the brim! I love that our students have so many passions. I think that a student who pursues his or her passions, as well as academics, will get the most out of Prep.

Q: What is the biggest change you see in Prep students from the moment when they enter this school to the moment that they graduate?
A: The moment Prep students first enter this school is Book Day. I’m always amused by the somewhat deer-in-the-headlights look as new students come into a new environment. That contrasts with the confidence and excitement I see in students as college approaches. Prep builds confidence that school can be a fun and supportive place, not to be feared.

Q: And lastly, if you could summarize the Flintridge Prep experience in one sentence, what would you say?
A: The Flintridge Prep experience is the good life, for those who are willing to live it.

Meet Mr. Stetson in person at the school’s Admissions Open House, Sunday, Dec. 4 from 1:00 to 3:00. Visit for more information.

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