Author Archives: Eliot Taft

Alumnae/i Update: Kyllan Gilmore ’08

This year’s graduation speaker is Kyllan Gilmore ’08. An attorney in the DC area, Kyllan specializes in intellectual property law and is a Young Alumnae/i Trustee for White Mountain. Kyllan grew up in Littleton NH, and attended WMS as a day student. Kyllan attended Cornell University in Ithaca NY and Georgetown Law in Washington DC. Kyllan joined the DC office of Winston & Strawn, LLP as a litigation associate this past year. Read more about him and other updates in this year’s issue Echoes.

“I’ve always been cursed with the burden of diverse interests so I spent a lot of time at Cornell trying to discover what I was going to do. I wanted to pursue something that allowed me to attend to all those diverse interests – math and science, philosophy and international relations – and patent law allowed me to dabble in all those things.” As a litigation associate in the patent law office at Winston & Strawn, Kyllan works with clients to develop patent systems that will both achieve economic and technological advancement while bettering the human condition.

Kyllan credits White Mountain with exposing him to the varied interests that drive him today. “As a 4-year day student from Littleton, I wasn’t exposed to particularly diverse backgrounds until I came to White Mountain. The White Mountain School’s unique ability to not only bring people together from around the world in a school setting but to also force students to engage with each other on a personal level through Field Courses and a quality community life program are opportunities that you just don’t get anywhere else. Even as a day student, I was integrated into that global community. It’s kind of hard to be a member of the White Mountain community and not try new things.”

Faculty Profile: Hiapo Emmons-Shaw

My ultimate goal in education is to get students involved in important global conversations and to give them the tools to participate productively in those conversations.

As a White Mountain history teacher, dorm parent and climbing coach, Hiapo Emmons-Shaw does it all! He talks a bit more about his 18 years here at White Mountain and what he loves most about the School below.

You seem to do everything: teach, coach and dorm parent. Could you speak a bit more about your roles here at White Mountain? 

Sure! I teach World History II which focuses on modern world history and AP Human Geography which focuses on peoples’ interactions with the landscape. AP Human Geography is an upperclassmen course, whereas World History II is usually taken by sophomores. I think I’ll also be teaching an Eastern Religions elective in the fall next year.

My classes are designed to spark discussion. Real learning begins with a conversation, and in my view the most genuine learning is discursive and involves back and forth discourse. Most assignments and projects are designed to allow the students some latitude in their choice of topics and to assess both the products of student work and the process by which they arrived at that product. Some example assignments include team debates, book reviews, guided and open research projects, readings and note-taking, and Socratic seminars. All the work is meant to generate interest, improve skills and to launch new conversations.

Continue reading

WMS Game Development

Written in Python3 using a PyGame game engine, students in Nathan Carlson’s Game Development class created a variety of computer video games. Check out each of the games and see if you can set a high score here and via the below link. Currently students are building their own version of Flappy Birds.

WMS Game Development

Learn more about our Computer Science department and course offerings via our website.



Politics and Policy

To start off Trustee Weekend, students and faculty heard from former White Mountain trustee, Kenneth Klothen P’02, at morning meeting this past Friday. Included below is the text from his talk. Mr. Klothen served on the White Mountain Board of Trustees for ten years, from 2001-2011, in various roles including Chair of the Advancement Committee and Secretary.

Kenneth Klothen is an attorney and public policy analyst, specializing in bioethics and mediation in the health care field. He is the founder and current Principal of E2K Consulting, LLC — a firm specializing in research and clinical ethics — in Philadelphia.

Mr. Klothen served as the Director of Economic Development for Montgomery County Pennsylvania from 2009-2012 and as Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development before that. Appointed the Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States in 1998, Mr. Klothen has also served as General Counsel to the Corporation for National and Community Service and Executive Director of Defense for Children International-USA. He has taught human rights law as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Case Western Reserve and Widener Law Schools, and has been a member of the executive boards of a number of organizations including the National Jewish Democratic Council and Americans for Peace Now.

Mr. Klothen earned his B.A. from Swarthmore College, an M.A. in History of Science and Medicine from Princeton University, an M.A. in Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Three Ideas (With One Corollary) for WMS Students about Politics and Policy

Point 1: On behalf of all those who were able to participate in the last Presidential election (whether they did or not), to all of you who weren’t yet old enough to do so: I apologize. Not for the result (although I don’t mind disclosing that it’s not the one I favored) but for the fact that all of us, whatever side we were on, have left you a country divided as never before since the Civil War. Politics in a democracy is supposed to be that place in civic life where ideas are debated, interests mediated and ways to move forward agreed upon that are acceptable to all even if viewed as ideal by none. But in our country today, politics has become a battle against “others” who are viewed not as fellow citizens but as dangerous opponents who must be defeated, not persuaded. Compromise is viewed as losing, and the only thing viewed as more important than winning is that the opponent loses. Democracy can’t survive in that kind of environment.

This situation is made worse by the fact that all of us operate in bubbles of our own creation, where our views of reality are reinforced by “news” sources and “friends” we select because they agree with us. So as a first clean-up step I recommend that you follow through on Lawrence Alexander’s call to you to take the Kind Foundation Pop Your Bubble challenge and populate your social media feeds with people who don’t agree with you.

But that’s not enough – simple tolerance won’t do the trick.  It’s not enough to say “I’ve got a lot of friends on Facebook who have crazy ideas even though they’re nice people.”  So…

Point 2: You’ve got to engage seriously with the ideas you disagree with. You’ve got to analyze those ideas for their strengths as well as their weaknesses. You’ve got to admit it when your own ideas may not account for this or that reality the other guy sees. At the very least you’ve got to try to understand what interests or needs that other person has that makes him or her believe something you find wrong, or even offensive.

The good news is that the skills you’ll need to analyze and debate these kinds of ideas are just those you’re learning here at WMS – how to break down a problem into its component parts, how to gather support for and against a proposition about history, or numbers, or the physical or biological world. Which leads to…

Corollary: Be very skeptical of any proposed simple solution.  The problems our country, our world and our human civilization face are enormously complex. You guys know this better than most – after all, the math problems you do get harder as you progress from arithmetic through algebra to calculus; the grammar is harder in Spanish 4 than in Spanish 1; relativity is harder to get your arms around than Newtonian physics. There just aren’t any easy solutions to the problems of providing health care to 320 million people, or assuring a quality education to all children, or ending homelessness, or creating a sustainable economy. If you believe that building a wall on our southern border will solve the problems of unemployed former steel workers in Western Pennsylvania, you’re not doing justice to what you’ve learned at WMS. But neither are you doing justice to your education here if you believe that we can provide free health care and a college education to everyone by taxing some vaguely defined “billionaire class.”  To clean up the mess, you’ll have to commit yourselves to figuring out the hard problems, and bringing into your solutions the ideas of others. That’s how you work collaboratively at WMS, so I know you can do it out there in the “real” world.

Point 3: If our democracy is to survive, you’re going have to do this complex, collaborative problem solving in the institutions that already exist – institutions of civil society like businesses, political parties, non-profit organizations, religious institutions and governments. That won’t be easy, because these institutions are far from perfect, and bringing new ideas to them is often a frustrating and slow process. But they are the institutions we have developed over our history to address the issues we face, so that’s where the work has to be done. I encourage all of you to spend some time volunteering or working in these institutions at this point in your lives, to develop some inside knowledge about how they work and how they can be changed.  Go volunteer in a political campaign, or for an environmental advocacy organization, or take a summer job in a local business – you’ll be a better change agent for the experience.

Senior Seminar

Much like our freshman seminar starts students on their White Mountain journey, our senior seminar ends it. Created and enacted by Matthew Toms, the Director of the Student Assistance Program, senior seminar is a way to help students as they transition into a new school and a new way of life at college. It meets three times a year and provides time and space for students to process what will be their new home away from home at college.

Senior Seminar consists of three discussions: Healthy Relationships, Sex Ed and Consent; Drugs and Alcohol; and Social, Emotional, and Mental Health. The three meetings are led by various members of the faculty and also feature videos from WMS alumni where they talk about the challenging aspects of their transition to college, what has been helpful, and what advice they wish they had received (or paid attention to) when they were at WMS.

“The intent is really to prepare our seniors for some of the more complicated, non-academic challenges they will encounter in college. WMS is a really healthy and safe place, and that is wonderful in so many ways!  It does, however, lead some students to a rude awakening when they get to college and certain experience aspects of the college experience.  We try to leave students with a few pieces of advice,” comments Matthew.

•Get involved and active. Join clubs, play club/intramural sports, etc. • Actively develop your support system. • Have a wing man!  Make sure you surround yourself with people that have your best interests in mind. • Do not be afraid to stand up for what is right and help others even if you are going against the grain.•

Learn more about our other co-curricular offerings, including freshman seminar, here.

Opportunity Knocks

To start off Spring Family Weekend this year, Associate Head of School Nate Snow encouraged us to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way in a riveting morning reading. Below is the text from his reading. Be sure to check out photos from the weekend by following us on Facebook, Instagram and SmugMug.

This morning, I want to take the opportunity to talk with you about opportunity. There are certainly many ways to define ‘opportunity’ and many angles from which to consider its role and impact. At its core, the primary dictionary definition of ‘opportunity’ is: “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.” That makes sense, right? I’ve always found it intriguing that ‘opportunity’ typically has an innately positive connotation and is also generally viewed via an external lens, as in: “this great opportunity just landed in my lap!” You may have had nothing do with it, but isn’t it still awesome? However, you could take that same dictionary definition and reword it to say:  “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do nothing, or to do the wrong thing, or even to do something really stupid” What is the difference between opportunity and adversity – whose dictionary definitions all seem to center around misfortune or bad luck? Is it still an opportunity if not somehow actualized positively through your behavior? Is an open door welcoming if you have no intention of walking through it? Is it then just an open door? A set of circumstances?

The utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill coined the term “opportunity cost” to mean “ the value of the next best thing you give up when you make a decision.” This expression is now mostly used in economic terms, but I like its application in personal terms as well. What is life if not a near constant set of opportunities, each with mini (and sometimes not so mini) consequences that follow from what you chose and of what you chose to give up. It starts right away every day when your alarm goes off: Do you get up right away (yay, first in the shower!)? Or do you hit snooze (9 more minutes in my bed!)? We’ll circle back to that snooze button later, but the rest of your day is ALL more of the same, opportunity after opportunity all with values and costs. This is what opportunity means to me.

We’ve been told that “opportunity knocks”. I don’t actually know where that notion comes from but I’m sure that there are times when opportunity does in fact knock politely on your door: showing up like Ed McMahon with a bunch of balloons and a check from Publishers Clearing House. More often than not, however, I’m guessing “opportunity knocks” is closer to the 90s movie of the same name in which Dana Carvey poses as a meter reader to knock on doors and then steal TV sets from unoccupied living rooms. In fact, I think it is actually pretty clear to everyone that sometimes opportunity doesn’t even knock at all. Sometimes opportunity kicks your door in. Sometimes it may sneak up behind you and hit you with a frying pan. Sometimes opportunity can feel a lot more like a requirement or an obligation that you didn’t get to choose at all. And sometimes opportunity politely makes an appointment with you, but then doesn’t bother to show up at all. At that point, you may have to go out by yourself and search high and low in the worst of places and circumstances to find wherever it may be that opportunity hangs out. Or, even, if you do all that and still can’t find it, you might have to go back home and figure out how to just make it yourself with your next best decision.

So, I wanted to take some time this morning and talk about three people’s stories, some of which may be familiar and some not. I think it is instructive to investigate how opportunity found them (or they found it), but, much more importantly in my opinion, what they did with it. It will be surprising to absolutely nobody here that these people all hail in some form or another from the world of sports, but in all of these cases, it goes much deeper into their lives as people and their roles in their communities and the world.

On every April 15th since 2004, every single player in all of Major League Baseball wears the exact same number on their uniform: 42Most people know the story of Jackie Robinson and how on April 15th, 1947, Robinson started at 1st base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus breaking baseball’s color barrier as the first black player to play in a major league game. It is that opportunity, which he worked towards for years, which led him to be named Rookie of the Year that year, make 6 different All-Star teams (once black players were allowed to compete in the All-Star game), helped lead the Dodgers past the arch-rival New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series and to have his number 42 retired across the entire league. His talent, grace under pressure and ability to withstand the enormous forces of hate which surrounded him not just that day, but for his entire career, also very clearly opened the doors for Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League, who entered his first big league game just 11 weeks after Robinson; as well as thousands of players since that day. Beyond baseball, Jackie Robinson was the first black high level executive at a major US company and was also instrumental in helping to originate and define the Civil Rights movement to a national audience, since baseball was America’s game.

What many people do not know about Jackie Robinson’s story is that the Brooklyn Dodgers were not his first opportunity. His first opportunity to try out for a major league team actually came two years earlier on April 16th, 1945 at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox. By all accounts, this entire tryout was nothing but a political sham from the beginning and Robinson was subjected to racial epithets throughout. Obviously, this opportunity did not open a door for Robinson into the Major Leagues. It did, however, raise up something inside of him that made him ever more determined to reach that threshold, even though those next two years in the minors and the barnstorming leagues were some of the toughest he faced, with racial slurs levied at him in every game by players, managers and fans, teams refusing to play against him and locking their stadiums and not being able to stay in hotels with his own team. It is what he made of that first failed and negative opportunity in Boston that truly shaped his ultimate success and led him to capitalize on the next opportunity. In what is, for me certainly, a sad footnote to this story, The Boston Red Sox were the absolute last team in Major League Baseball to integrate their roster when they added Pumpsie Green in the summer of 1959, three full years after Jackie Robinson had retired from the game of baseball.

I have spent some time in years past at morning meeting talking about the life and death of Pat Tillman. For those unfamiliar with his story, Pat Tillman was a passionate athlete from California who earned the exact last football scholarship available for his class at Arizona State. He played linebacker for the Sun Devils and though undersized, worked his way up the ladder to be a college star. He also graduated in just 3.5 years with a 3.85 GPA. After college, he got the opportunity every athlete wants: he was drafted into the NFL by the Arizona Cardinals.Though he went in the 7th round and 225 players were drafted before he was, via his efforts and tenacity, he excelled for the Cardinals and was on his way to being a star again at the highest level of his sport. During his short career with the Cardinals, he was offered and turned down a contract nearly three times larger than his current one to stay with the Cardinals out of loyalty to the team that drafted him.

Despite all of these, however, his greatest ‘opportunity’ came as a result of the attacks of September 11th, 2001. After finishing the 2001 season, Pat Tillman turned down a multi-million dollar contract to continue playing football in order to enlist in the Army and ultimately become a Ranger, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He signed up with and fought alongside his brother Kevin (who had been playing professional baseball at the time in the Cleveland Indians system). For Pat, the opportunity cost of not enlisting to serve and defend his country was simply too great, despite having to give up the game he loved, millions of dollars, and though he obviously didn’t know it at the time, ultimately his life. Pat Tillman was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on April 22nd, 2004. An even more tragic element of his story is that it was eventually determined that his death was the result of friendly fire, a fact that was brazenly and purposefully covered up for far too long by the US Government.

The last story I want to talk about is that of Kimberley Chambers, who, unless you happen to follow the world of long distance open water swimming, you likely have never heard about. Spoiler alert: This example feels like opportunity hitting you on the head with a frying pan. Kimberly Chambers grew up in New Zealand and spent much of her childhood and adolescence focused on her dream of becoming a ballet dancer. At 17, she left her family farm in New Zealand and followed her brother to UC Berkeley where she left dance behind for her studies, completing both undergraduate and Master’s degrees at Berkeley with self described Type – A zeal. Upon her graduation, she applied this same zeal to successively greater tech jobs in Silicon Valley.  

Then, one day in 2007, she fell down the stairs on her way to work. Because she was who she was, she ignored her swollen and disfigured leg and got in her car and went to work – where she promptly passed out and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed acute compartment syndrome and she immediately went into surgery. They were able to save her leg but told her that she would never be able to walk on her own. It took two long years of physical therapy to prove them wrong and she was able to walk. The scars, both physical and emotional, ran deep.   

Was this adversity or an opportunity? Was this bad luck or a set of circumstances which made it possible for things to happen? As Chambers herself says it, “ That accident was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was the beginning of me having gratitude. Up to this point, I had a body that always did whatever I asked of it.”  Another quote: “I won’t say I’m happy I got injured, but it did change my life in many ways, most for the better.”  

During her rehab, Chambers begin swimming, which she had never really done.  This led to some friends from the pool challenging her to swim with them in the cold waters of San Francisco Bay, thinking that she would bail immediately.  Since that first dip in the bay, however, she became hooked and since that day has trained for and completed some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous open water swims (think sharks, jellyfish, storms, etc. . . ). She is, among many other notable achievements, only the 6th person in the world to complete the Ocean’s Seven, sort of the Seven Summits of open water swimming. She continues also to work in Silicon Valley in and around her swimming adventures, but now with a very different perspective on life.

These are all amazing and remarkable stories of growth, challenge, perseverance, courage and passion.  The ‘opportunities’ that I highlighted in their lives, good or bad, seemed to happen on a grand scale. Because of these factors, I recognize that it may be easy to dismiss them as irrelevant to our own lives. “That is not going to happen to me”. You may very well be right.

But, what I find most inspiring in Jackie Robinson’s story is not that he took the opportunity to take the field in Brooklyn on April 15th, 1947, but that he came back and took the field on April 16th and 17th and 18th. Kimberley Chambers was not defined by the ‘opportunity’ that happened to her and magically made her develop a greater sense of purpose and gratitude. She hauled herself out of bed every day for the next two years to make that transformation and now continues to live in that way. Pat Tillman’s story became popular because he turned down the opportunity that the rest of us would have taken in an instant. Why would someone do that? For me, that is not what should be taken from his story. What we should learn from this is that Pat Tillman took every opportunity he got and lived every moment of his life in the way that aligned most tightly with his values: passion, commitment, honor, devotion. To make any other choice than all of the ones he made simply would not have been tolerable.

So, where does this leave us, living our lives in perhaps somewhat less dramatic fashion than these three? Here is the secret: It all remains exactly the same, regardless of scale or external input. It is not one bit different for any of us. Opportunity and adversity are both simply what we choose to make them, or take from them.

Though there are a number of different translations, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with the idea that “No man can step in the same river twice; because he is not the same man, and it is not the same river.”  

Thus, every day is a new day, filled with a whole new set of opportunities: some will knock, some will kick, some will hide from us, some will be required by others and some may even hit you in the head and feel like adversity. This is an unavoidable truth for every single one of us. The only questions that remain then are not:  What opportunity will befall me today?  Or what adversity? But, rather what will I do with each of them? How will I make my own opportunities when necessary? And how will I decide what calculus to use in making those judgments? Can I be nicer tomorrow than I was today? Can I be more compassionate? Can I be more honest? Can I work harder? Love more deeply? Learn more broadly? How will I challenge myself to make the most of every type of opportunity in my life, big or small, internal or external, good or bad?

I told you at the beginning that we would circle back to the snooze button, and it is here that I will wrap up. I recently found this quote from David Goggins, former Navy Seal and ultramarathoner, which seems to sum this up well: Goggins writes: “You will never find your best self in that extra nine minutes of sleep.” So my challenge to all of us is to wake up tomorrow with an eye towards maximizing every opportunity and every adversity that we face, starting with that alarm going off. Just get up and start your day. Maybe you’ll even be the first one to the shower.

Student Profile: Kexu ‘Dora’ Duan

With a curriculum that prompts students to actively engage in inquiry, White Mountain seniors oftentimes finish their high school careers with an impressive resume of self-driven academic achievements.

Current senior and visual arts natural Kexu “Dora” Duan shares the manifold successes and passions she has found here at The White Mountain School. Winner of the 2016 Excellence in Art Award here at White Mountain, as well as the Gold Prize of Scholastic Art Awards of New Hampshire, Dora was chosen for a summer internship at the Xi’an Art Museum and asked to participate in the Second International Art Exhibition in her hometown that same year. Recently, Dora showcased her own art in an art exhibition in the Manupelli Student Gallery, in Bethlehem, NH. Dora will be attending New York University in the fall to continue her career in art!

You seem to be very successful at art here at school.  What inspired you to follow an art career?

I decided to study fine art after serious deliberation and communication with my family, teachers and friends at White Mountain. I have been enthusiastic about drawing since childhood and was given the chance to study Studio Art here at a school where I was able to deepen my understanding and sharpen my skills. The inquiry process for each project in Studio Art class inspires me to try new things and explore my creativity. For example, when I first attempted ink painting in Studio Art class, I decided to paint on a different medium apart from white paper. I took pages from a discarded book from school’s library and painted on them. Then I deliberately disrupted the page order to make the layout interesting. I enjoyed playing with these painted book pages and my final work was highly recognized by my teacher. That also inspired my future artwork.

Do you have a favorite class at White Mountain?

My favorite class at The White Mountain School is Studio Art, which I am also taking as my LASR project and as an AP course. I really enjoy how this class is set up – I feel it allows me to pursue the specific niches of the art world in which I am interested. There are several independent projects throughout the semester where I can fully develop my ideas and put them into practice. I also feel my art skills, like painting, graphite and sculpting, have improved a lot through the daily practice I receive from this class.

What do you like to do outside of classes? What is your favorite hobby here at school? 

I like to listen to music and hang out with my friends. I also like to play guitar and flute. I have individual lessons each week from teachers outside of White Mountain. They will come to the school and give me lessons, which is really convenient and has been a great way for me to pursue something outside of classes here at White Mountain. As for the community, I love how White Mountain is such a small school. You get to know everyone and you end up with some really close friends as a boarding student. Living in this community has been an incredibly valuable experience and a supportive one as I’ve worked to pursue my career in art.



New Faculty at WMS

We recently had the chance to sit down with the new Director of the Learning Center, Rebecca Dickinson. Currently the Director of the Learning Commons at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, Rebecca has presented at both national and regional independent school conferences and has served on outside evaluation teams for learning centers at several private colleges. She shares a bit about her background and educational philosophy below.

Education and Background

I graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in East Asian Studies and History. I went directly to the PhD program in Chinese at the University of Chicago, but quickly realized my passion was not academia and transferred to and graduated from University of Chicago’s MAT/Social Sciences program. I also completed extensive additional coursework toward a second MAT in mathematics from Columbia University.  Since then she has been a history/math teacher and school administrator (Assistant Head, Academic Dean, Dean of Faculty, Division Director)  in various independent schools (and has never once regretted leaving the PhD program).   

Why WMS?

I’m excited to join The White Mountain School community. I began my career in a small boarding high school (125 students) in New Jersey and feel have come full circle back to a small boarding school community similar to the one in which I began my career and which shaped my educational philosophy and approach to working with students. Even though my career has taken me to a wide variety of other independent schools, I value the small boarding school community because of the close relationships with students and colleagues, the ability to be involved in students’ lives, and the potential to make a meaningful difference in students’ development and progress.  

When I visited WMS, I immediately felt at home. Aside from the obvious beauty of the setting, I was impressed with the warmth of my welcome by administration and faculty, the friendliness of the students, and with seeing the mission of the school in action. This is a school that knows what it should be doing and constantly reflects on how to do it even better. I embrace that and am eager to be a part of such a vibrant community!

Fun Fact

I have a 10 month old goldendoodle named Tucker and a 12 year old Great Pyrenees/retriever mix named Hank.

Owning the College Essay

We want students to own the process of preparing for college.

-Barbara Buckley, English Teacher

At the end of every school year, juniors are given a chance to reflect upon their life and define — in 650 words or less — who they are. They are given a chance to discuss an accomplishment or an event that sparked a period of personal growth or reflect upon a time when they questioned a belief or idea. They are asked to recount challenges, failures or setbacks or even share an essay on a topic of their choosing. They are given a chance to write their college essay.

College essays are profoundly personal. The writing process requires authenticity and self-reflection. Although a daunting tasks, it allows students to reveal something unique about themselves and their perspective in this world. This year the common application prompts include:

Describe a topic, idea or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time.

Discuss a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve.

Discuss an accomplishment, event or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

“We always try to tell students to show, not tell. A few years ago, I had a student begin his essay in a pretty standard way. After a little prodding and encouragement, the student’s essay turned into a beautifully crafted piece about self-identity and the struggle he felt between the different worlds in which he lived,” comments English teacher Barbara Buckley.

Started by a student, our annual College Day in the fall provides seniors with an opportunity to refine their essay and receive feedback from teachers and faculty. They are able to set up meetings with a number of faculty members. First impressions are revealed: What am I seeing? What do I think you’re trying to tell me? What are you actually saying vs what are you trying to say? Seniors are then given strategies on how to improve their essay and refine their message.

Teachers are constantly encouraging juniors: Choose a topic, but don’t just talk about it, explain what it means to you and why. The essay is a great opportunity for students to not only prepare for college, but also to learn even more about who they are, how they have become curious, courageous and/or compassionate, and discover a bit more about their place in this world.

The College Process

How do I create a college list? How can I best prepare for the SAT? Should I take AP Calculus or AP Physics?

These questions and others become quite familiar to juniors as they navigate the 500 or so days before college. Our college counseling program provides answers to many of the questions students have as they figure out life after high school.

“The college really process begins freshman year. Freshmen take advantage of the time to explore interests that will be of use later in college and career guidance. Sophomore and juniors take the PSATs and prep courses. Seniors work to refine their college essay and complete their applications.” comments Director of College Counseling Lawrence Alexander.

A number of resources are readily available for students and their parents:

  • College list and visit planning
  • Individual and group counseling with our Director of College Counseling
  • College essay writing practice in English class
  • SAT/ACT prep courses
  • SAT II exam preparation
  • AP exam preparation
  • Course planning with advisors and our Director of College Counseling

Because we are a college-prep boarding School, we not only prepare students for college success, but also to become independent, curious learners. By incorporating inquiry and our Essential Skills and Habits into the classroom and school culture, our curriculum aligns well with academic and college success.

“Lawrence and the college counseling department offered insightful perspective throughout the whole process. His support was evident and his honesty helped me decide which college would be best for me!” comments Sarah Abbott, a senior. Sarah will be attending Bates College in the fall.

Be sure to check out our college counseling page and College Day blog post more information on our college program sets itself apart.