Favorite Class: A complete tie between Humanities, Writing, and Art!
Favorite Waring experience: My favorite Waring experience was the last night of Junior Trip. Our entire grade was exhausted from hiking, swimming, and - small - cliff-jumping at Les Calanques; I was horribly sun-burnt and still a little congested and lacking in the voice department coming off a small cold. The night before, we had planned out a masterful finale to our trip: we'd write letters to each other and our chaperones, then hand them out sitting in a circle outside, and give a little thought to each student in the grade by sending them off so that we could come up with (and soon thereafter share) three words to describe them. Of course, we'd share tearful memories as well. Well, night fell and we pulled up a bunch of rickety plastic chairs and started our little ceremony. Everybody was dressed their best, or rather the least crumpled clothes they had left in their suitcases. Hours passed as we carefully gave out the letters and had little debates on what the three best words were to describe our classmates. Lots of tears were shed as we recounted middle-school memories, and even more when silence fell as we ruminated on our newfound senior-dom and our last year together as a grade. Some of the chefs at La Domaine de Petite - our home for that past week - took notice of our gathering and quietly brought out bottles of soda and little pastries from a celebration earlier that day. They turned on the fairy lights blanketing the courtyard, then disappeared back into the kitchen. Already starving from all the crying and debating we did, we descended on the snacks like a pack of grateful wolves. To our surprise, our teachers stopped us - we had to do a toast. Our symbolic transition between junior year and senior year. We each grabbed a cup and a bit of soda, raising them in tribute. Of course, this transition is something that happens to every high-schooler, but our emotional stakes were heightened after having spend the last three weeks traveling, eating, museum-going, and plainly living with each other. We sang Sylvie together as seniors (a tearful and well-established tradition), and fell into hugs and sobs and general loving revelry. It truly was love, and quite a special one at that; one that I hope everybody gets to experience at some point in their lives.
Why no grades: Not having grades has given me the opportunity to focus on myself, not academic perfection. Written evals take into account every aspect of me as a student, focusing on how I can improve my overall performance in class discussions, writing pieces, and participation/observation in general. In my experience, numeric grades look at a student's material output, telling them only that of which they are doing poorly and/or well on. Competition becomes a motivator; if I know what my friend's grade is in some subject, I can easily make a direct comparison. That is a fault of my own, however I recognize that it's shallow and doesn't mean much. I appreciate the personification written evals provide. There is no feeling of competition or rivalry, giving room to personal growth.
Favorite book and/or film: Ever since my mom left it on my bed in third grade, my favorite book has been The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I love the way it rationalizes every aspect of human knowledge and brings life to ideas that had always been in the back of my head - anyone's head, really.
Why French: French is similar to English in a way that makes it relatively easy to grasp, but is just different enough that there's always some new grammatical or semantic tidbit you run into in each conversation you have. It stretches that funny part of your brain that had been previously untouched if you were raised only with one language. On top of that, having one language that the whole school learns is an incredible way to unite our community. I can casually say something to a friend in French, and then have a half-joking conversation in French during some science lab or studio time. And of course, who would not want to be able to do the guttural French "R"?
After-school activities: Every Monday from 3:30-5:00, I putter around in the greenhouse along with a few other students. Technically, I am the leader of Green Thumb, but mainly I like plants. It had always been an elective offered at the school - I participated in it my first year! But alas, the teacher who so attentively ran it retired (I fully endorse that, I'd like to say), and a few years later I decided to reinstate it. I'm always impressed by the shocking amount of enthusiasm from my students while watering, sweeping, scrubbing, planting or the like. It's a quiet, joyful way to spend an afternoon.
Our community: At heart, Waring is a community that's full of humans (and sometimes dogs) who care deeply about the people and space around them. We are all excited to learn, think, write and discuss together. In other words, it's genuine.
A coeducational, independent day school for grades 6-12 in Beverly, Massachusetts