Jonathan Harrar acknowledges that growing up in a military family can create challenges both academically and socially. “I became very used to being the new kid,” he says. When he finally settled with his mother in Chester County for middle school, the constant change had taken a toll on both his grades and behavior. He left public school for Church Farm School in 1998 as a freshman, and by sophomore year, his initial reticence about boarding school life gave way to structure and stability, and a desire to engage. "I started to realize that everyone around me was invested in giving me the foundation needed to be successful in life. I started to read on my own, I started to take more difficult classes, I began wrestling and working out and I started to form stronger relationships with the dorm faculty and teachers. In what other school do you take a pre-calculus class with a doctorate of math and there are only nine other students in the class? Where else can you live in the dorm with a faculty member educated at Harvard literally helping every single night with your homework."
Today, Jonathan is a Captain in the U.S. Army, working as a defense attorney for the Judge Advocate General (JAG). Army JAG handles the prosecution and defense of criminal matters involving Army personnel, as well as other legal matters. Jonathan is currently stationed with his wife and two young daughters in Ft. Drum (on the Canada/New York) border; his military career has caused him to relocate quite regularly, something very common as you rise in the military ranks. In the past five years since he joined the Army JAG program, he’s spent time in Ft. Benning, Georgia, for mini boot camp; Charlottesville, Virginia, where the Army JAG school is located; Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas (focusing on national security law); Bagram, Afghanistan (serving as chief of justice on base); and Washington, DC, as a prosecutor.
After CFS, Jonathan majored in political science and minored in philosophy at Cabrini College, finding it to be a good fit financially and academically. Following his graduation from Cabrini in 2006, he worked at a small plaintiff’s firm in Philadelphia. He enjoyed the experience and decided to enroll in the nighttime program at Widener University School of Law. Simultaneously, he worked at Church Farm School, serving as a member of the cottage faculty and as an assistant wrestling coach. After graduating from Widener cum laude, he passed the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bar exams and joined the Chester County District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor, where he spent several years. Living locally, Jonathan remained very engaged in the CFS community, serving on the school’s Leadership Council and Gala Committee, attending alumni events and speaking to students about his experiences at the school.
Despite his success as Assistant DA, Jonathan knew that military service – a longtime family tradition – was something he needed to do for himself. “There is a long military lineage in my family; I didn’t want to look back and regret it.” He applied and was accepted to the competitive JAG program. While there have been sacrifices – he was able to come home for the birth of his oldest daughter but had to redeploy immediately after, missing the first six months of her life – he truly enjoys the work. Jonathan doesn’t have to worry yet about school for his young children, but he says that many of his peers in the military select boarding school for their children for the stability it can provide, especially during the high school years and through parents’ deployments. “It’s important to provide some continuity of education,” he says. Clearly, the boarding school structure helped propel Jonathan to increasing levels of success. “By my senior year at CFS, I had really done a 180, and become the person I was supposed to be.”