An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Alexander P. '19

Sophomore Alexander P. recently emailed two of his former teachers – Middle School history teacher Merissa Reed and Upper School math teacher Todd Kresser – to share some good news. With his permission, we're republishing his letter as a blog.

Dear Ms. Reed and Mr. Kresser,

I am writing you with some excellent news, and to thank you again for your contributions to my learning. The skills and knowledge I acquired in your classes helped me to publish a short article today on the U.S. Supreme Court in the University of Pennsylvania Law School's journal, The Regulatory Review.

Ms. Reed, in your class in 7th grade you asked us to select and study landmark cases heard by the Supreme Court. You taught us about the Court's relevance to our lives as U.S. citizens, and peaked my curiosity in the judicial system. Because of your homework assignment, I began listening to audio files of the Court's oral arguments with my parents, and reading the scholarly literature on the Court's behavior. Your assignment opened a window into a world which I knew nothing about and I have been watching this world since then. By teaching us to think historically, you gave me the tools to analyze the participation of the justices and lawyers in these oral arguments, and formulate hypotheses about the factors which might have affected them.

Mr. Kresser, in your class in 9th grade, you taught us the Python programming language and thus made it possible for me to write a program to analyze the oral argument transcripts I downloaded from the Supreme Court's website. Your programming assignments gave me the skills to build a database of the speaking times of every justice and lawyer for almost 300 oral arguments. This enabled me to undertake this research project on a scale I would never have been able to do without the help of the program. Your teaching enabled me to run the statistical analyses that form the backbone of the article I published, as well as a longer and more detailed version that I am in the process of writing.

Thank you again for your invaluable contributions to my education and learning; your classes have allowed me to explore the fascinating world of judicial scholarship.


Alexander P.