Monday, December 11, 2023

ACADEMY X: A Prep School Student Seduces Teacher for Princeton

Here’s Amazon’s synopsis for Andrew Trees’ Academy X (Bloomsbury, 2006):

[Mr.] John Spencer, an English teacher at the elite Academy X, is struggling through the final weeks of the spring semester [...] Pushy parents demanding higher grades lurk behind every corner and a favorite pupil suddenly reveals a cunning and sophistication far beyond her years [...] John digs himself deeper into trouble, until his very career is at stake. [...] Academy X is a priceless peek into New York City's top private schools [...] where parents risk all for their child's academic resume and no price is too high (or pressure too great) to achieve a coveted admission to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton.

It may be beneficial to read my recap of Academy X with the knowledge that Trees wrote the novel while he was an English teacher at the Horace Mann School - a New York City prep school whose most infamous alumna is inarguably Swiffer Girl

In Academy X, 18-year-old Caitlyn Brie, the antagonist, was “attractive and slim”. Her “six-hundred-dollar haircut and three-hundred-dollar highlights [...] gave her a glamorous, tousled look.” She was “handsome, clever, and rich” and “sophisticated beyond her years”.

Mr. Spencer admitted that Caitlyn was “incredibly attractive”, but he blamed his attraction on Caitlyn’s outfits that “fell somewhere between skimpy and obscene.” For example, during class: “Caityln stretched her arms above her head and managed to make her top, which was already verging on the theoretical, nearly disappear altogether.”

To keep his “libido firmly on the straight and narrow”, Mr. Spencer stopped walking around the class during discussions. Why? Mr. Spencer shared:

“[...] I had stopped doing that because each day I was confronted with another of Caitlyn’s wispy thongs - at least on the days that she decided to wear any underwear at all.”


Phil Snopes, the head of college counseling department, was re-named Mr. Ivy by the Academy X students. Connectedly, he was “rumored to be the highest paid employee at the school.” 

Snopes told Mr. Spencer that Caitlyn had been accepted to Wellesley, but that she preferred to go to Princeton. Consequently, Snopes asked Mr. Spencer to write Caitlyn a recommendation letter. Mr. Spencer had already written Caitlyn “a very strong letter of recommendation”, but Snopes requested, indirectly in exchange for courtside Knicks tickets,  “another letter, a stronger letter.” 

Subsequently, during class, after Mr. Spencer asked, “Does the boy always have to be the one to ask [for a prom date]? Caitlyn replied, “I think that, if you know what you are doing, you can make a boy do anything you want him to [...] and by boys I mean all men.” 

After class, Mr. Spencer entered the cafeteria, and Caitlyn decided to tease her English teacher with some sexual innuendos and kino, which began by Caitlyn implying that her Mr. Spencer wanted to eat her. 

“Mr. Spencer,” said Caitlyn, “you are looking at me as if you haven’t eaten in three days.”

She laughed, and the other girls laughed with her. 

“I mean, looking at my food,” she said with a giggle.

The girls around her exploded in shrieks and screams.

“Save my seat. I need to talk to Mr. Spencer,” she said. 

After joining Mr. Spencer, Caitlyn placed her hand on his arm and implied that she wished there was a way that she could repay him for writing her (another) recommendation letter.

“I just wanted to say thanks. Mr. Snopes told me about your letter. And I really appreciate it.” 

“I hope things work out for you,” I said, pretending not to notice her hand.”

“I wish there was something I could do to show you how much I appreciate it,” she said.

While Caitlyn “fingered her bra strap”, Mr. Spencer encouraged her to be an empathetic classmate and prevent bullying on campus to which she replied with an innuendo:

“Are you trying to mold me now?”

“Never mind,” I said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I turned away before she could begin fingering some other undergarment [...] 

For an assignment, Caitlyn wrote an erotic essay. Consequently, Mr. Spencer was “appalled” yet “a little turned on”, and he found it difficult to stop “dwelling on the sexual details of her essay”. 

Günter, another Academy X student, advised Mr. Spencer to ignore the erotic essay, because Caitlyn had an agenda, which was to provoke and get a reaction out of her teacher. 

Mr. Spencer complained to Günter that if the parents couldn't prevent the students from writing erotic essays, they should, “[...] at least impose some control on wardrobes” to which Günter advised Mr. Spencer to enjoy the scantily clad schoolgirls, which reminded Mr. Spencer that a number of the Academy X nymphets were in age-gap relationships:

“You should enjoy it. Other men your age do,” he said. “There are girls here who date men in their twenties and thirties.”

He was right, of course. That year, one senior girl was dating a man in his fifties. He was famous, an artist, and French - each quality apparently taking about decade off of his age.”

During class, Caitlyn shared with her classmates that she wrote about, “You know, sex.” And she defended her choice of topic by stating that even the New York Times [and the Washington Post] wrote about (middle school) sex.

“But you can even read about it in the New York Times,” Caitlyn said. “Remember that article about how middle school girls give boys blow jobs as a way to have sex but keep their virginity?”

And Caitlyn looked at Mr. Spencer “intently” and advised him to be more comfortable with his sexuality, because humans are inherently “deeply sexual”.

And speaking of school sex. Since it was the spring semester on Academy X’s campus, “[s]ex was in the air”; thus, Mr. Spencer: “[...] tried to avoid using any out-of-the-way stairwells in the afternoon.”

And, per Günter, the Academy X schoolgirls were having unprotected teen sex and were, consequently, on antibiotics. Günter encouraged Mr. Spencer to read the next issue of the school newspaper, which would be a “double-page spread” that connected the “[...] sexual dots among the senior class.” The piece would analyze “[...] an array of drunken one-night stands, dances, overnight trips, and summer flings”. Günter stated that the piece would be a “testament to the flagging sexual ardor” of the Academy X senior class. 

After class, Caitlyn informed Mr. Spencer that Mr. Snopes informed her that it appeared that Princeton was going to accept her off the waiting list. Mr. Spencer informed Caitlyn that Laura, another Academy X student, “insisted” that he check Caitlyn’s essay for plagiarism. The paper in question had been submitted to the Turbridge Student Essay Prize committee. Fearing that plagiarism could prevent her from going to Princeton, Caitlyn attempted to seduce her Mr. Spencer slash Turbridge Student Essay Prize committee member.

Caitlyn “leaned forward and slid her hand” up her English teacher’s thigh and said, “You know I think so much of you…” Caitlyn smiled, took her teacher’s silence as “acquiescence and confidently”, slid her hand higher towards her teacher’s penis, and she shared that she found “[...] older men so much more … interesting.”

“Stop!" I shouted, pushing her hand off my leg.

As my fragilely maintained view of student innocence came crashing down, I couldn't help imagining Günter saying that he told me so.

"I think you'd better go," I said.

"But, Mr. Spencer, I find older men so much more . . . interesting." She looked at me like I was a particularly tasty ice cream cone that she intended to lick.


She stood up reluctantly and left. 

Subsequently, Mr. Spencer learned from Snopes that Caitlyn had been officially accepted to Princeton. Consequently, Mr. Brie attempted to bribe Mr. Spencer into overlooking Caitlyn’s plagiarism with a hundred thousand dollar (fake) advance on a novel. 

The readers learned via Caitlyn’s lawyer’s “confidential notes” that Caitlyn opined that Mr. Spencer was cute, but she wasn’t sure if she was attracted to him, but she did enjoy provoking him, because teens tested boundaries and explored. 

“I’m I attracted to him? I don’t know. I enjoyed provoking him. I guess I thought he was cute…To be honest, I feel like I am more of an adult than he is. I obviously have more life experience [...] I guess you could say some of my behavior was inappropriate, but I’m only a teenager. Isn’t this what we are supposed to be doing? Testing our boundaries? Exploring?”

Due to the (seemingly) unsuccessful bribe, Caitlyn, seated across from Mr. Spencer and dressed in a “flimsy” miniskirt, took off her t-shirt to reveal her bra “[...] that seemed to be in the planning stages of construction.” Then she donned a torn t-shirt from her Prada bag, said, “I just want you to know that I didn’t want to do this,” ripped the torn t-shirt to reveal “double-barreled trouble”, and screamed. Lastly and unsurprisingly, Mr. Spencer was accused by the Head of, “Groping a student in a sexual manner,” and he was asked to resign. 

Allen Salkin reported in the New York Times piece “Private School, Public Fuss” (Nov. 18, 2007) that, due to writing Academy X: “Andrew Trees had been informed that his contract at the Horace Mann School, one of the nation’s most academically respected high schools, would not be renewed.” However, the Washington Post opined that Academy X was: “Smart, on-target and very funny.” [Emphasis added]

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