Rebecca Clark Cole ’88

Alumna finds confidence and opportunities at Perkiomen School.

The 80s. ZZ Top, Wham!, Cyndi Lauper, and Prince topped the Billboards. It was the decade for neon colors, high-waisted jeans, and leg warmers. You either had a Walkman, a Cabbage Patch Kid, or a Rubik’s Cube, “and lots of big hair!” recounts Becky Clark Cole ’88 with a laugh.

Amidst a culture of loud colors and hair bands, Becky was a quiet freshman arriving in Pennsburg each morning as a day student at Perkiomen School. From a sleepy, rural area, her parents recognized the potential she could reach within a more diverse and academically challenging environment. Happy to be accepted but nervous to begin, we can picture Becky starting her journey in a slightly sepia-toned, technicolor image arriving at a pool party for new day students at the home of one of Perkiomen’s faculty members. Like a good John Hughes film, we see our protagonist right away.

“It was a welcoming way to meet other kids and make us excited about school starting,” Becky recalls.

She quickly connected with a core group of friends and began to navigate the awkwardness of being 14 at a new school, meeting students from all over the world, and getting to know adults called dorm parents.

Like any inspiring coming-of-age story, Becky’s was full of attempts, trials, and triumphs. By the time she was a collegebound senior headed to Boston, she barely recognized that quiet freshman of four years prior.

Let’s roll through a montage of her extracurricular activities set to The Go-Go’s“We Got The Beat!”: Junior varsity field hockey led to a varsity position as sweeper during her junior year with Coach Busby. Becky’s hard work earned her the title of Most Improved Player at the end of that season. Cut to yearbook committee, basketball, softball, and lacrosse. By senior year, her confidence had soared! She eventually found herself standing up in front of a crowd to audition for the school musical. After her performance, Mr. Filhaven, the music teacher, gave her a thoughtful look and said, “I want you to do that again, but this time open your mouth!” Becky scored the lead role of Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and her performance earned her Best Actress at the end of the year.

We can picture the final scene of Becky’s time at Perkiomen with her performing “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor with three other girls at the parents’ reception for seniors.

She remembers, “On my graduation day, The Morning Call [the local paper] covered the festivities! In one picture, I was crying hysterically – I was so happy! I felt like I had really accomplished something.”

Unlike a movie, of course, Becky’s story didn’t end there. The layers of experiences from her time at Perkiomen prepared her for a trip to Boston where she spent six years at Simmons College earning a BA and MA in physical therapy.

“By the time I finished at Perkiomen, I was ready for another big change,” Becky says. “I wasn’t afraid to apply and go to a completely different state and be in the city! I felt like I had the confidence to do that.”

After Boston, it was onward to California where she met her husband, David. Eventually, they settled in Massachusetts with their three kids David, Sarah, and Elizabeth. Today, Becky’s own kids are at or nearing college age. Watching her daughters at an independent secondary school, one can’t help by consider a Becky Clark Cole reboot for 2022. She’s no longer singing in musicals, but she’s volunteering! She’s PTO president of Preschool at Wellesley Schools and Schofield Elementary and a board member with the Wellesley Education Foundation- just to name a few roles! Almost 30 years later, the hair is no longer big, popular colors are a bit more neutral than neon, but the lessons are the same.

Becky has this to say about the moral of her story: “[Before Perkiomen], I was so self-conscious! I never rushed into anything new because I didn’t know what to expect. I could have been a little less afraid. Seeing others act so confidently, I wish I had realized that everyone’s got their own stuff going on and their own problems. People put on a front. You don’t always know what is going on with someone else until you try and understand their point of view.”

Becky’s 5-year pledge will contribute a Student Life work room in the new student center where students can hold meetings with faculty, staff, and peers, building community amongst one another. With her contribution to the Our Moment to Lead Campaign, she feels a sense of pride knowing that future Perkiomen students will see alumni and others investing in their future.

Becky exclaims, “I’m grateful that I’m in a position where I can help and do something like this! I never thought I could help influence such positive changes for the school!”

Of course, any good coming-of-age story ends with an adult voiceover. Becky of today reflects in this way: “Perkiomen is an example of an up-and-coming independent school that is always evolving. I’m so grateful to be a part of it. As a student, it placed me in a smaller environment and really forced me to come out of my shell. I could have just been a number at my public school, and I would have gone four years without accomplishing anything. I wouldn’t have pushed myself to try sports or be in plays. At Perkiomen, they made it easy to come out of your shell. You had everyone rooting for you! I felt like I was always pushing more to become person I was meant to be.”

Cue credits with “Situation” by Yaz!