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My daughter is longing to go to boarding school for high school, and though this is
totally out of our experience, we think it might well be a good match for this
particular child. She has good social skills and is comfortably very independent. Are
there schools you can recommend to us given the following elements:
1) Prefer an inclusive, values-based school where character development, work-ethic, and community/ world citizenship are prioritized â€“ Could be religious if non-dogmatic. Perhaps a Quaker school?
2) Child is an excellent student and tests as profoundly gifted (Davidson Young Scholar) so a challenging academic/ artistic exploratory community would be great.
3) This kid really needs a firm structure in terms of routines, expectations, etc. to thrive.
4) Prefer West Coast of USA but are open to other places. We are also willing to consider Central/ South America or Europe (or....) as learning another language and culture would boost the level of challenge for her.
5) She loves horses and being outdoors, in nature and is very skilled at working with her hands.
6) Must offer very considerable financial aid.
We'd also welcome other outside-the-box ideas... like going to apprentice with a textile artist or woodcarver in Mexico and living with a family there.
Many thanks for your collective creativity and imagination. A seeking Mom
I am considering this & want to hear from anyone who used one. How did it go? How strict are they? What's the housing & food like? How much access is there to computers?
My son had been A student with academic awards but not at BHS. He is too addicted to computer & getting worse.
Often he comes home from school and gets straight on it then goes to bed until about 10:00, then gets up, does homework for 1 classes, then stays on computer until some unknown time. If I lock it up he will simply go to bed & boycott everything, not eating, showering, doing homework, etc. He is way too computer savvy for ''parental controls'' so don't even suggest it. It'll make him howl with laughter and slap his leg. He can (and will)put them on me & can literally take a computer apart, program it, install (or remove) software, disable flash player so you can't watch Youtube, or do anything else. We have OSX version 10.8 & the tecchie at Apple said ''But that doesn't exist yet!'' I said ''Well somehow he got it!'' He insists on having it for any homework including math so he can have earphones with I-tunes going (of course he's sneaking lots of looks at the screen so minimal amount of work is done). Getting rid of computer would be like cutting off my hand. I need it for email, homework, job assignments, international communication, etc.
Cost is a big factor, as I don't have huge amounts of Money. But if he doesn't shape up I don't see any alternative. I can't whip him with a belt and talking isn't working. If I tell him ''Do homework; think about future'' he says I'm Lecturing. I'm telling him of this idea and saying ''You need to improve or I have no choice''. We don't like idea but I can't see any other way.
Please no hostile, smug, judgmental or hateful email, only recommendations & reviews. Thanks. Frustrated
I am a mentor to a 13-year-old girl in Oakland, who is very bright, but has an overwhelmingly difficult home life with significant emotional abuse that affects her academic performance. She spent this past summer running away from home for days/weeks at a time just to get a break from it all.
The situation is not bad enough to warrant foster care, and there are other siblings in the home. Additionally, I just don't think foster care is the right solution for this kid. Boarding school seems like the best option. Does anyone know anything about boardings schools that might be able to provide a scholarship? Or, can anyone recommend an educational consultant who might be willing to work pro-bono to find the right situation for this kid? Trying to help a kid in need
My daughter is asking to go away to boarding school, and looking at our public high school, I don't blame her. We are looking at the Hyde School but my sense is that it's a school for troubled kids, and my daughter doesn't have those sorts of issues: she is sweet and kind but we've really seen her grades falter; she works half-heartedly at school, and last year got her first F. Is there a boarding school for girls that is good academically that she could get into even with that F, that is not for troubled teens but somewhat wholesome? I would appreciate any advice of school recommendations. Thanks so much. Anxious Mom
We have a 16 1/2 year old boy with severe social anxiety disorder and major depression. No friends at all. He is very smart (scored a perfect 80 on a portion of the PSAT) but now will not leave the house and sleeps all day and stays up at night. He has NO history at all of substance abuse. His Dr. is suggesting a long term placement (12 months) but does anyone know of a place for a scared, depressed non-drug teen where there is also a good academic progam for 11th grade? Thank you.
If you are looking for academic excellence in a therapeutic, residential program you will be disappointed. The emphasis in these programs is on the therapeutic, emotional issues; academics take a back seat. Know this as part of your decision. Then too, there are some good programs out there and ones that are, well, awful.
I suggest that you call Heritage School in Provo, Utah. It is a very good, highly therapeutic program, one that is intensive. However, it is a residential treatment center, the highest level of intervention and some of the kids are quite ill. Know this too.
I also suggest you contact the Hyde School in Maine. I know both programs personally. Hyde is at the other end of the spectrum. They do not have therapists on staff. It is an excellent, very supportive program but not a therapeutic one. The admissions directors are warm, caring people. Call them and talk to them about your son. If he is not right for them, Hyde will be the first to tell you. Hyde emphasizes character education, connection, responsibility, caring for oneself and others, family, and making good choices. Classes are small and faculty relationships with kids are close. Parent involvement is part of the program. Hyde is well structured but not the structure of a program like Heritage. At Heritage, your son cannot leave. Home visits will have to be earned. There are levels for privileges. And, kids are stripped search for contraband after home visits and parent visits. This will give you a feeling for how serious this program is.
Which brings me to the last point. Please seek a second opinion on whether or not your son needs to be placed. If his safety is at risk and the threat is serious, you may not have a choice. Then Heritage is a good choice, with excellent therapy services and a decent school. Otherwise, please check with another professional whether intensive outpatient therapy and wrap around support can keep your young man at home with family. Finally, do you know the cost of these programs??? They are beyond expensive.
I wish you the best in a difficult decision. anon
I would like to receive comments or suggestions regarding boarding school for a high school student. My son, he is 14 years old, his academics is good so far, but he is kind of lack of motivation for anything, and he has problem in controlling his emotion and angry, which resulted in a lot of fighting and arguments in our family. The situation seems getting worse, and I don't know what to do. I read a lot of parenting books about adolescence, but none of them is working. The boarding school might be a solution for our family but I also heard some bad stories regarding boarding school, for example, addict to drug and alcohol ... My son also resists my idea of sending him to boarding school, I think that he might feel that he is abandoned if he is sent to boarding school. Please provide me any suggestion or comment? Thanks a lot. A desperate mom
I personally think of high school boarding school as an educational option for those who can afford it, and students who really are ready and want the challenge and the options afforded by it.
If you are thinking about a therapeutic situation, it would seem that option might be best reached at the end of a long investigation of local options to improve your family relationships and son's well being. There are many stories of horrible deprivation and inhumane treatment handed out in such situations of children being ''sent off to straighten them out.''
If you have the money to send your son to one of the reputable places, I would think you would be using those resources to engage mental health and learning specialists in the Bay Area. Start with your school counselor, or family pediatrician and look at your insurance benefits for therapists of various types. He may be having social or learning handicapps that are expressing themselves thru ''acting out''. You may unknowingly be playing a role that is habituating these recurring situations.
The '' Nanny type'' television shows can actually be helpful in role modeling consistent communication. Therapy Believer
My daughter isn't very happy with middle school and has expressed a desire to go away to boarding school for high school. I agree that it would be great for her but we definitely could afford it only if we got a huge scholarship. Before I say no way, I want to do the research but don't know where to begin re finding the right places to apply...one with lots of money for starters! Are there hs counselors for this? Any insights would be appreciated.
The concensus of the parents seemed to be something along the lines of their not being an objective group to counsel and calm the student since parents were taken out of the equation and a lot of house advisors, not very much older than the boarders, fell prey to trying to be cool with the students. Parents were quoted as saying that when ''tragedy'' struck--a busted-up romance, poor performance on a test, an embarrassing moment--the kids serve to exaccerbate each other's angst instead of mitigating and calming things down much like most reasoned parents would. Anyway, I thought it interesting, and it might help you form some realistic expectations about what boarding school can and can't provide.
I am a product of summer boarding programs at Choate-Rosemary Hall and Andover, and I can tell you that Choate, particularly, is a wonderful school academically and its administration is kind and caring--very !! hard to get into. It also has a day population, too.
Best of luck to you and your daughter. Anon
Some schools are segregated by sex so make sure your are making the right match for your child, you will see all-boys, all-girls, co-ed. Also the schools may have a focus: college prep, therapeutic, military etc. The website also has info for each school that is helpful in financial decisions. It lists each schools' endowment, costs, percentage of students on financial aid and average financial award, and some financial calculation tools.
Also check with your current school's principal, and classroom teacher. If you are in private school some of the boarding schools will be visiting as part of their recruitment. If you are in public school the principal and teacher may be able to share information about other students who have gone onto boarding school - if there is a neighboring private elementary/middle school you might call them to see if you could participate when boarding schools are visiting: or at least find out when the rep is coming so you can contact the rep on your own and arrange a meeting while they are in town. Helps to ask questions and set up an interview without having to travel the miles.
Your student most likey will need to take either standardized or the school's own entrance/placement exams so you need to get that organized now.
If you are really poor - disabled, single parent, rent your home etc you may get a full or close to a full scholarship. But if you just feel poor because you did not buy a new car this year, and you had to cut back the European trip to four days instead of the 10 you did last year, etc they may expect you to dig pretty deep to come up with the cash. Good luck, I think a great high school experience is very, very important, many of the boarding schools are superlative places to go to school High School Parent
Two years ago, my middle child indicated his displeasure with middle school and stated that he did not want to attend our local (academically well regarded) public high school. We have a loving and close relationship. Together, we researched both local private schools and boarding schools on both coasts. At each boarding school we visited, there were dedicated, supportive adults (often faculty - certainly not 20-somethings as one post suggested) living in the dorms and responsible for the students. My son was drawn to the intellectual stimulation, sense of community, opportunity for independence and the beautiful campuses. Today, he is doing well in his second year at an academic boarding school in New England. Yes, you give up time and experiences with your child. Frequent cell phone calls and e- mails are not the same as hugs and kisses. But you are giving your child the loving gift of freedom to pursue an academic path; the experience for your teen can be invaluable. If you do, be prepared for the following: incredible growth and maturity from your teen and some social inquiries and speculation as to the quality of your relationship and whether there are disciplinary issues in your home.
While there are many similarities, boarding schools are quite different; they do have distinct cultures. They have varying degrees of diversity. I agree with a previous post that it is invaluable to visit the schools to which you might apply. However, if you cant visit, then do significant research on each schools web site. Read everything beyond the academic pages including parent and student life pages, alumni news and athletic pages even if your daughter has no interest in athletics. It can be quite informative. For schools to which you will apply, admission rep interviews and alumni interviews may be available locally. Request one as soon as possible. Some of the top academic schools have local receptions in the homes of current parents.
Just as in the college admission process, there are many factors to consider, not the least of which is your daughters level of maturity and independence, academic proficiencies and interests, the closeness of your relationship, her experiences away from home and family, and the relationships she has with close friends. What are her (and your) criteria for a school? What are her preferences for gender based education, dress codes and geographic location? You can find statistics about boarding schools, make searches and comparisons at http://www.schools.com (The Association of Boarding Schools) and http://www.boardingschoolreview.com.
Once your daughter is admitted to boarding schools, there will be a week or so in the Spring when each will host an Open House Day for admitted students. She can sit in on a few classes (you also may at some but not all schools), sample the food and talk to students and faculty. To assist her in her final decision, it would be important to visit the campuses.
Boarding schools do expect parents to contribute a substantial amount toward the cost of educating your teen. However, several factors including your familys financial need, the number of students in your home attending private high school or college and the schools endowment, all enter into the consideration of financial aid (note: some schools' admissions are not need blind). At a handful of schools, there are financial scholarships that are designated for students from specific geographical areas such as the SF Bay Area. One cannot apply for them, but the schools use them in the aggregate award of financial aid packages that could include institutional loans. Often, the well-endowed schools have statistics for the previous year regarding the number of families in several different income brackets that received aid and the average aid amounts. While the bulk of financial aid is awarded to families in lower income brackets, it is not uncommon at schools with large endowments to see some aid provided to families with incomes from $75,000 to $150,000. Private K-12 education loan financing is another option.
There are two Boarding School Fairs in our area. The first will be on Wednesday, October 11th from 7:00pm 9:00pm, at The Seven Hills School, in Walnut Creek. The second (and more crowded) will be on Saturday, October 14th from 10:00am 1:00pm, at the Town School for Boys in San Francisco. These are good opportunities to meet admission reps and obtain information.
Wishing you and your daughter much success. Dorothy
I'd really appreciate learning about boarding schools, especially those in (but not limited to) California. Interested in reviews of those schools where kids are superbly cared for; where they are well-educated; where academics do not dominate to the exclusion of the arts; where the whole child is nurtured, socially, academically, physically, psychologically. We're not interested in religious schools, not interested in military or East coast prep schools (like Andover) and not interested in schools with a conservative social agenda (we're from Berkeley after all).
I'd also love to hear from anyone with a kid currently at Athenian (either as a boarder or day student), since that school has come highly recommended and we really resonate with its philosophy of developing citizens of the world.
Our prospective boarder is our daughter, a very creative, smart, student who is particularly gifted in the literary arts. She is still in middle school, loves to learn, and really thrives in a peer group of similarly motivated, thoughtful learners.
Have checked the archives but didn't find current
responses to this issue. Many thanks,
Thinking ahead to high school
I've just started exploring the option of sending my 14
y.o. 8th grader to boarding school for High School.Like
many his age he's pretty bright but blowing it as far as
motivation.I've stopped the micromanaging and don't really
see him picking up the ball.I've tried many things
(counselors,teachers,my own attendance at parenting
classes,etc).I think that maybe the boarding school option
may engage him more and get him interested in learning.In
my research online I've seen nothing but positives and I'm
sure there are negative experiences out there.Can I get
some feedback as to some experiences regarding this?Thanks
Wanting the best for my kid.
Have to say you need to decide if this is something you are just thinking about or really plan to explore. Most boarding schools are in process now for selecting their freshman classes from eighth grade students right now. It is a bit easier to get into boarding schools in other parts of the country than in California - there is very tough competition here. You should also try to visit the schools or school you will be applying to.
There are many different schools with a variety of focus and settings. Some are well endowed and offer full scholarships, many offer no scholarships or only partial. With boarding your costs could run from $20,000 per year to $35,000 much like college. There may be exceptions out there - but check what the ''full year costs'' are since some schools combine the tuition and various fees and others break it out so you need to know what you need to provide.
Another school in California that friends have enjoyed is The Thacher School http://www.thacher.org/, it has a large endowment and a fairly high number of students on scholarship, also all students have a horse their freshman year that they must care for and learn to ride. We have family members that are alums of The Putney School in Vermont, http://www.putney.com/ ($34,300 for boarding per year). It is in a farm rural setting.
I am not sure what kind of program you are looking for - finding one that your son can get excited about is important - most of the academic schools are looking for motivated students rather than viewing themselves as the source of motivation. Smaller classes in the private schools make a big difference. It is very hard not to participate in classes that have 12-18 students. You might also look at The Orinda School - small classes, motivationally based curriculum, in Orinda, nice students and teachers.
Good Luck! We are very happy at The Athenian School ourselves. claudia
We are considering a girl's boarding high school in the East because it seems like a wonderful fit for my daughter. It's not because she's a problem kid or I want to get rid of her. I welcome suggestions, advice and hearing about experiences from families whose high school students have gone to boarding school. Thank you. Barbara
She loves the school, the feeling of independence, her new friendships with people from all over the world, and the vast academic course, arts/music, and athletic offerings.
We of course miss her, as she does us, but she (and we) feel that the fantastic educational and social opportunities outweigh this concern. Additionally, we see her often on lengthy school breaks, all summer, and the occasional trip back to see her (using very low off-season flights on the ''discount'' airlines).
We talk everyday (we have a cell phone ''family plan'' with free long distance phone calls among family members), and by AOL instant messenger.
We get constant feedback from the dorm counselors, and excellent communication with her teachers- first by email (which is so easy) and if need be, by follow up calls.
No school, of course, is perfect. And inevitably when your child has a bad day, they will cry about wanting to come home and you will feel wretched. But, as the school counselors advised us, in the vast majority of cases, the kids are fine the next day- busy with their activities, and have forgotten about crying on your shoulder. One thing that is very hard (but tolerable) for a Calif. kid is the harsh New England winters.
In talking to the parents of our daughter's 8th grade classmates when we were all looking at prospective high schools last year, most (but of course, not all) would not consider boarding schools because the parents' first thought was not about whether the school would be good for their child, but about what they thought *they* would miss out on -the kids' proms, first date, athletics, etc. Of course, those concerns are not totally trivial, but in our case we decided we'd forego those for the other benefits our child received.
Whether boarding school is a good fit depends on your child. My daughter was pretty outgoing, mature and adventurous. She is not a straight-A student, but a good student. She is not super competitive, but is intellectually curious. Shy, insecure teens will likely not do well at boarding school. Also, the teen must want to go himself or herself- it should not solely be a parental decision.
Despite our intital absolute refusal to even consider boarding school, and our friends and families' exhortations about ''How could you!'' (which continue even to this day!) our family and our daughter are extremely happy with our choice.
One thing I would defintely advise is to actually go and visit the school if you haven't already done so. Also, visit more than one school.
Many boarding schools have very large endowments and provide significant financial aid to both low income and middle class families.
Good luck with your decision.
A loving mom
I am entertaining an idea to send one of my daughters (12 years old) to a boarding school. She is very unhappy at home and doesn't get along with her siblings (middle child syndrom). She seems to function well outside of the family, is independent and self-assured. Any experience (yours or your child's) or recommendation with boarding school would be very appreciated. Can boarding school be good for some kids or is that just a last resort for "bad" parents who can't seem to muster their emotional resources and deal with the child, so they decide to dump him/her and make them someone else's responsibility? I know this sounds like a loaded question but I can take an honest answer. Anonymous
There are lots of wonderful schools, and I would be happy to answer any questions about some of my own experiences (I did end up in two different schools - one in the United States, and one in Switzerland, which had an extra year of school, i.e., a 13th year of high school). There certainly were plenty of children at both schools who were "dumped" there by frustrated parents, but both places were nurturing in their own ways. The schools provided students with an opportunity for development and independence as well as the chance to establish friendships that would endure for years. It is not for everybody, and can take some time for adjustment, but there are definitely positive reasons to send a child to boarding school. Kelly
I don't believe any of us thought of this as a punishment or an abdication of responsibility on the part of my father, rather we thought of it as a really cool opportunity. This isn't to say that there weren't kids in our classes who thought of it that way.
The kids who did particularly well were socially adept, self driven kids who could make their own way well. The kids who did less well were less well organized (NOT less bright) and less self directed. A couple of us were "asked not to return" to school after a summer, mostly for academic reasons.
Academically, the schools the kids in my family attended tended to be quite rigorous. Interestingly, it made very little difference in our final academic success whether we graduated from boarding school or a local school.
In any case, I'd ask your daughter and see what she felt and look at schools to see if there might be a hook for her, or whether you wanted her to be local so she could come home weekends (Athenian has a boarding program and so does a place in San Jose whose name escapes me)
During the "bad teen years", I ended up sending my older daughter to a boarding school. The person who helped me find the right school was Miriam Bodin in Los Altos. She is quite expensive (but so are most boarding schools), but in my opinion she is very much worth the expense.
The particular boarding school was non-voluntary for my daughter, focused on "behavior modification", somewhat psychological in nature, filled with fairly arbitrary rules, relevant punishments and rewards, etc., and was exactly what my daughter needed. Needless to say, this is only one kind of boarding school; different kids need different kinds of boarding schools.
Is a boarding school a last resort for "bad parents"? Maybe. But, if this is what your daughter needs to be happier and do better, then "good parents" will send her there (if they can afford it), and "bad parents" won't. I think being a "good parent" means doing the best you know how to do at the time. You always gain more experience and learn better ways of doing things. Don't beat yourself up for what you did in the past. Just do the best you know how now.
But I think it safe to say I can venture an opinion on a few things that haven't changed. For many of my peers, it was indeed a dumping ground, for some incredibly gifted, talented, non-conforming kids whose parents had no idea what to do with them. It was an incredibly bonding, socially important time for us - small, intimate campus, everyone knows everyone, etc. For all us of, and I am in touch with quite a few of my classmates, leaving for school was the last time we were ever home. Which is to say, I really feel that I "left home" at the age of fourteen and never returned. Which, in my case, I could handle. You as a parent of a kid in boarding school really need to prepare yourself to surrender all control to another authority, in this case, the school. Boarding school isn't just school, it's a complete way of life, with its own very consuming culture. I would deem it absolutely imperative that you get to know the school as much as is humanly possible, and definitely talk to alums about their true experience. Find out where graduates go to college, read alumni newsletters, learn whatever you can about the school's philosophy regarding sex, drugs, smoking on campus, hitchhiking, curfew, dorm life, and so on. What steps does the school offer to help students with issues and to those students without issues who are coping with the ones who are struggling. I personally would really assess the faculty, their tenure, their backround and expertise, and personally I would consider their age and maturity levels. One of the problems in the early days at the Athenian was very poor teacher-student boundaries, and for us young teens these waters were just treacherous to navigate. The teachers weren't much older and not much more mature that we were and boy, you can just imagine the trouble that caused. Also, coming from a small boarding school, it's very important to take into account the transition to college. I went on to UCLA, and spent four years feeling absolutely lost in this huge metropolis (after the shelter of my small high school campus life). And Athenian had no college-prep support back then, which led me to my poor match, and that of course has been completely revamped and kids now go to the best schools in the country. But for me UCLA was totally a default school, and I attribute that directly to my lack of any college counseling whatsoever.
So, boarding school can be wonderful for the independent, composed, self-directed teen, who is ready to spread her wings and leave home. Or it can be out of the pot and right into the fire for the student who is not yet mature enough to handle the demands of great autonomy and separation from family. If your daughter does leave for school, do not let her think she has fallen off the family planet. Go visit, make calls, stay connected at every possible turn, even when she seems most disconnected from you and her original world.
Finally, in defense of and support of my alma mater, I will always be an Athenian at heart. I had a great time and would send my own two kids there in a heartbeat, after I win the lottery. Deborah
I attended boarding schools in Europe, and so did my younger stepbrother because my family lived and worked there from my freshman through junior years of high school in the early 60's. Our family was actually pretty disorganized, so I think in retrospect it gave my stepbrother and me much better coping and life skills than had we "home" stayed with the family---our younger siblings did, and two of the three of them have never quite recovered, or made it easily as adults. I tend to think this is more than coincidence......
At the boarding schools we attended, there was a full range of kids that you would find in any day school===misfits, smart, not so smart, well adjusted, happy, unhappy---some clearly were being dumped by families, but many were there on a year of special scrimping and saving by a struggling family who felt it was the best treat they could extend for one year to a worthy child.
A corollary of all this is that I sought out surrogate families throughout that time, and throughout college years, but was very adept at going off to universities in communities where I knew no one. However, most serious boyfriends had to come with a good nuclear family, to which I bonded intensely.
Years later, neither my stepbrother nor I sought to send our teens away to boarding schools, even when they were at the height of their teen troubles and crises---and in retrospect, I believe two things: being a boarder in my teens made me want to keep mine at home and nearby---. However, for one of my two sons, it might have actually helped to have let him board somewhere for a couple of years, and in retrospect, I wish we had investigated the possibilities and borrowed the money to try it---he even asked and I rejected the idea completely.
I do see that there is an ebb and flow to all of this----letting them go away, explore, take risks, drive you insane with worry, sometimes seems to bring them back closer and happier after a while. There is no "right answer"; it seems to be all hunt, peck, luck, pain, love, prayer, friends, and time.
Keep reading, talking to friends, working with school and therapeutic support systems, deep breathing, treating yourself well, and good luck. The kids have their own clocks, and sometimes it is absolutely irrelevant what we think, plan, or do-------they are mad and miserable for weeks or months, and then turn a corner and can sort of make jokes about it themselves. We are still in the thick of it with 18 and 26 year olds....
best wishes, a fellow nameless parent..... (to protect the innocent).
A similar school( in that working in gardens, fields, etc. is part of the experience) for those going on to college, is Deep Springs, a working ranch/alfalfa operation. Tuition is free if your are accepted. Men only.
I want to give huge praise to Wasatch Academy, a co-ed, college prep boarding school in Utah. My son struggled through middle school, with ADHD, poor grades, and a bad attitude. We originally put him in NAWA in California (which did not have the structure, support or supervision we feel is necessary with teenagers), then thankfully found Wasatch. Wasatch is not for troubled/drug addicted kids. It does, however, have a program for kids with minor learning issues.
The teachers are incredibly caring and supportive, the school is beautiful, and they really focus on the whole person, not just the academics. There is an outdoor component to the school that appeals to kids like my son, with optional trips on the weekends to go camping, mountain biking, rafting, you name it. With the small classes and individual attention, my son is thriving. I really can't say enough about the school. julie
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