Author Archives: GeorgeSchoolVoices

A Special Community

by David Mark ’18

My favorite part of George School is our community. I remember coming here freshman year inexperienced and scared for what would come. As soon as I walked into Campbell I felt welcomed and knew that I would be successful here. I was used to being away from home already as I went to a boarding school before, but George school is a place unlike any I’ve ever known.

The community and people are the part that makes up George School and sets it apart from the rest. The feeling you get when you walk into a room full of strangers is usually anxiety and fear, but here when you walk into a room you can’t wait to meet everyone and share your story. Everyone here makes you feel very welcome and wants to get to know the real you. I was shocked about this because I was used to walking down the streets at home staring straight down or ahead. Now, whenever I’m walking I look up and am greeted with a smile from everyone.

I really appreciate everything about the school because it invites you to be yourself in your truest form. No one judges or criticizes you. If you are sitting by yourself simply reflecting, people will recognize that and acknowledge it. I think that anyone who steps foot on this campus will instantaneously fall in love with everyone and everything here.

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Why I Love Writing

by Jayde Dieu ‘20

I have always had a passion for writing. From the moment my hands first felt a book to the first time my pencil touched paper, I knew that it would be essential to me. It is through writing that one can experience the past and determine the future. It is humanity’s greatest superpower.

As a young girl, I kept journals of my life as I experienced it. I still own diaries from my six-year-old self, and they are littered with stories of imaginary friends and sandbox antics. I have journals from my thirteen-year-old self as well, and not even a love expert could convince me that I was not in love with the boy whose name I no longer remember. The freedom I got from expressing myself is a feeling that I have only been able to experience through writing.

As I grew, however, I found that it became increasingly difficult for me to be completely honest when sharing aspects of my story through writing. Human beings naturally fear vulnerability. People often shy away from the idea of sharing their true and complete self with a reader. By writing, an author relinquishes the narrative of their being to the judgement of others, and this is quite possibly the most terrifying act imaginable.

I had to overcome the idea that my tribulations were mine alone. As a young adult, it is quite easy to feel lonely among your challenges even if you are not alone. Everyone carries the burden of their own story, but it is through vulnerability that we, as a society, can lighten each other’s load.

Although it will be difficult, I want to make a difference in this world, and I choose to arm myself with pen and paper.

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College Application Stress

by Patrick Mahoney ’18

The beginning of senior year is always a stressful time. There are countless things to keep up with, nagging parents, everybody who asks where you are going to school, and all the deadlines that seem to be far away, but creep up in no time.

I wanted to apply to become a chemical engineer and although that might be a lofty goal, it is something that interests me. The College Counseling office, specifically Tova who was my college counselor, helped me figure out where I wanted to apply, shared a good schedule to follow for when what things should be done, and answered any questions I had about the college process.

Now most of my applications are turned in, but my college application anxiety has not faded. I will always be worrying about what schools I will get into and if I will be accepted into my top choice. Tova is always there to help me out, however, she helps me stay calm and manage my level of stress. Even though I know she has many students asking her questions and wanting her to look over things, she always has time to either meet with me or to revise any writing that I send her way.

George School is not only great for how they handle the application process, but that type of care pervades the entire school. It shows up in admissions, the course selection process, and your every school day as a whole. George School is a great place. You always know you have the support of the whole community for any problems that you might have.

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My Year with Four Female African Presidents

by Liz Grossman ’05

As I struggle to come to terms with the current state of gender politics in my own country, I am looking to Africa for inspiration, where many countries are actually making steps to bring women into positions of public leadership. Seven African countries make the top twenty of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s statistical rankings on the percentage of women in parliament, Rwanda being first globally. Not only this, but four different women from four different African countries have served in the highest office of the land.

This past year, I have had the honor to listen to, shake hands with, meet with, and grow professionally with all four of these women:  Her Excellency Ellen Sirleaf Johnson President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Her Excellency Joyce Banda Former President of Malawi, Her Excellency Catherine Samba Panza President of the Transitional Government of Central African Republic, and Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib President of Mauritius.

My first exposure to these female African heads of state was with Gwen Young, a role model and inspirational leader who runs the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center.  Gwen moderated a panel entitled “Women’s Political Participation: Leadership and the Global Agenda” at the Concordia Summit in New York City, featuring Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, the first African woman president, and Dr. Joyce Banda, the second. Fortunately, I had the chance to sit down with Gwen and Dr. Banda during a break, and my first impression was how down to earth Dr. Banda was. I noticed several young African women come over to her, nervously make small talk and ask for pictures, to which she graciously obliged. I noticed how much she cared about people, especially those with a passion for making change in Africa.

Next in the presidential circuit was Ameenah Gurib, the sitting President of Mauritius. She was a keynote speaker at the MIT Sloan Innovate Africa Conference this past April. President Gurib inspired the audience with her vision for Africa, supporting entrepreneurship, improving access to education, and getting more women into political leadership.

The journey continued in May, when I applied for a consultancy at the Wilson Center, specifically to support Dr. Banda on the research and writing of her policy toolkit entitled “Advancing Women’s Leaders in Africa.”  Alongside Dr. Banda, I attended the launch of the African Women Leaders Network at the United Nations, where some of the continent’s most prominent leaders in government, business, and civil society gathered to figure out how to promote one another and address the issue of gender parity in public service.  Another important attendee was Catherine Samba Panza, former President of the Central African Republic.

Rounding out this year in Accra, Ghana, at the Harvard Africa Alumni Action Forum, came a second opportunity to listen to President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, a Harvard alumna, deliver a keynote speech alongside President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana. Several weeks later, I was flying back to Accra on a plane with my now client Dr. Joyce Banda, honored to accompany her to the UNDP Africa’s High-Level Policy Dialogue on Governance in Africa and support her while she spoke to policymakers about how promoting women’s leadership can end corruption and promote peace.

It has been an inspiring and humbling year, to say the very least. What has encouraged me the most was that four of these women all shared traits of relatability, kindness, and openness. All were receptive to questions, comments, often quite long-winded project partnership pitches, and even seem to genuinely welcomed them. Dr. Joyce Banda was sharing personal life anecdotes and taking selfies.  Catherine Samba Panza was handing out her personal business cards.  Ameenah Gurib was attending a conference dinner to chat with more participants, and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson was delivering an extra session about women’s leadership as a way to engage more with the audience in Accra.  These women all know how to relate to other people, and they all have a knack for making the average Joe and Jane feel like they were worthy of a President’s time.

Politics, particularly in Africa, can be dirty, but these women all showed no outward sign being bothered or upset by it. Each one of them, and most female leaders globally, have been dealing with harassment, reputation tarnishing scandals, and lies. They hold their heads up with poise and grace, remembering the real reason for their existence is for the people they serve, and the future young leaders who need their coaching and example to break the glass ceiling.

Being in proximity to these women leaders, and now counting Dr. Joyce Banda as a role model and mentor, I am energetic as ever to find ways not only to empower young women in Africa to access education and develop as leaders, but also to push my own compatriots to challenge the way we view women’s leadership. Women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves, fight harassment and overcome sexism in the workplace, and these four women in particular are showing that anything really is possible.

Engaging with four African female presidents renewed my certitude about the immense potential of girls and young women across the continent to become leaders of the next generation. Thinking of the students I spent three years teaching in Senegal and the countless entrepreneurs and community leaders I’ve met across the continent and here in the United States, I am confident that I already know many other future presidents.

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Music Girl

 

by Michelle Tyson ’18

So I find myself at quite a busy place right now. I have studied music for four years at George School and have become known as THE “Music Girl.” It is not against my will, though, do not get me wrong. I love music. I came into George School loving music and will leave pursuing a musical path.

In my opinion, it would be an absurdity for me to not love music fiercely. You can see it on my transcript: I have taken Instrumental Music and IB Music for every year I could take them. I’m also involved in the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County, a nearby youth orchestra which meets just five minutes off of campus. There, I’m the second chair violist for the symphony orchestra of the advanced division. I am a member with Goldfish ‘n Java, our school’s live music club. I’m pretty entrenched in music. Beyond that, though, believe it or not, I find so many more music-making opportunities.

During my Arizona service trip over the summer, George School’s dance teacher, Barb Kibler, happened to be a faculty sponsor for the trip. It was down time in our busy day, and our group was gathered in one room of our house. I decided to share the music that I produce with the group, playing some songs off of my recent album on my speaker. Long story short, Barb heard, and asked if I would collaborate with the dance program this year. I accepted.

Barb and I will work together to choreograph five dances to five of my songs for Dance Eclectic. It is the first project of its kind that Barb has undertaken, and also a big but fulfilling challenge for me.

I do share my music on my social media, and my George School peers have started to take notice. My friend recently asked me to write a score for her film project, and I’m working on that project as well.

Dave Nolan, the instrumental and voice music teacher, is working with me on a solo piece for the spring instrumental concert. Also, the George School Community Choir, which meets each Sunday, will need a violist to perform Mozart’s Requiem with them.

My point? There is a place for everyone at George School. If you are a music nerd, that’s okay. I am too! And it’s a really, really, fun time. To any potential music-makers reading this who are hesitant about their future, I suggest to them: just go for it. This also goes for anyone with a particular passion—from soccer, to politics.

My music experience at George School has been a direct result of my pushing for my own passions to be fulfilled. And that’s an invaluable opportunity that every student finds here at George School.

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Managing Stress

by Aaron Zhao ‘19

Stress plays a major part of every high school student’s life; however, George School is the ideal place to cope with it. As an international student, I have come a great distance from home and am managing the long separation from my family. In the beginning, both physical and emotional feelings impacted me. Nevertheless, organizations and people are here at George School to ensure everyone’s well-being from consultation sessions with faculty members to simply just talking to one of the student members of SAGE (Students Associated for Greater Empathy). At the same time, stress is not consistently a negative emotion or feeling. Oftentimes, just the right amount of stress encourages me to avoid procrastination and learn self-discipline.

George School stimulates the development of individuality through the freedom of learning, not only for boarding students, but for day students as well. Every night I attend the two-hour study hall in Mollie Dodd Anderson Library to complete assignments and study with other students. In addition, term exams can be overwhelming for some students, but at George School there are people at the Learning Center who are always there to assist students with any problems.

From a personal experience, adapting to the George School environment was difficult at first, but becoming acclimated to the workload I slowly developed time management, collaboration skills with groups, individuality, coping abilities, and adaptability.

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You Know You’re a George School Student When:

by Julia Wilson and Grace Clark

1. You get up close and personal with a squirrel.

Rumor has it that one stole a piece of pizza right from a student’s hands.

 

2. You eat Bettye’s cookies more than once a week.

They’re better than your Grandma’s.

 

3. The activity you get most competitive in is playing foursquare.

You are recruited Division 1 foursquare for college.

 

4. You have rolled down South Lawn more than once.

Or maybe you just slid on the Student Council Slip n’ Slide.

 

5. You think some alumni are still students.

They’re always here.

 

6. You religiously follow @GSculinart on Instagram.

Smokin’ Sean can cook up some good fried rice.

 

7. You’re confident that you and your friends are the last people on earth to use a film camera and lab.

But it is so cool, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

8. When you find a “Mind the Light” sticker from 10 years ago on your dorm room light switch.

They are everywhere.

 

9. You don’t “step on the circle” because it’s bad luck.

You also have searched for the steam tunnels and gone ghost hunting in Tate House.

 

10. Either you or one of your friends has dressed up as your teacher for Halloween.

Ralph Lelii and Travis are popular choices.

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A Miracle of Sorts

by Ralph Lelii

I want to share a wonderful class experience I had today with the community. My students presented their Shakespearean recitations in my HL English class. Students had to don the Shakespearean hat, stand on an ersatz stage, and recite from memory. With one exception, these were not theater kids. Only two had ever memorized and recited from memory before, and none a passage of 65-70 lines.

Most of them chose the St. Crispian’s Day speech from Henry the V. For me, it is a most extraordinary passage, one which reveals Shakespeare’s unerring comprehension of human consciousness and the vagaries of the human heart.

King Harry has brought along an army to France to fight a war so he can marry a woman and thus earn him more land. The soldiers in the fight have no personal stake in it, nothing to gain in any material sense, as is the case for millions of men who have fought and died in wars across all cultures and all times. The passage rouses them to an existential epiphany, where they come to see their death as a form of honor, of transcendence.

Watching scared 17 year olds, having spent hours taking this beautiful, complex and archaic language deep into their memories and then reciting it, making it into a kind of spoken music—what literature has been since the times of Homer—is a wondrous thing. To do something hard, really hard, is to gain self-esteem, I believe, an enduring sense that one has agency in this life, that they can make a life by facing down whatever challenges are presented to them.

This was a challenge; George School provides them many challenges; it is not the only one they had today, perhaps not even the hardest one, but it was something they could not fake or avoid or BS their way through; it was a challenge they had to face or go home, and they all did it, the shy, the diffident, the lost, the confident and the haughty. It makes me so proud of them.

Here is the miracle. Scientists have charted a map of the brain’s somatosensory cortex for specific facial and oral body parts. The resulting brain activity is like a carefully tuned orchestra; each instrument section generates a specific sound, and those sounds are coordinated to produce the overall symphony. The time from a word’s identification to its travel to the mouth is 1/600 of a millisecond. What miracles these young people are—this speech, the mystery of memorization, the confrontation of the emotional lability of anticipation–wonders all. I find it astonishingly beautiful.

 

Henry the V: St. Crispian’s Day

 

WESTMORLAND. O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!

 

KING. What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more methinks would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse;

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,

And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,

Familiar in his mouth as household words—

Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be rememberèd-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 

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Learning on the Fields and Courts

by Max Malavsky ’18

My favorite activities at George School are varsity basketball and varsity soccer. Through playing two varsity sports, I’ve learned how important teamwork and leadership are on and off the court and field. In addition, I’ve learned to develop my time management skills through juggling two hour practices, games that include hour and a half bus rides, and homework from the six classes that I am enrolled in. These obstacles have not only made me a better student-athlete, but also have allowed me to understand the importance of representing George School to the best of my ability whether or not I’m wearing the green and white.

Personally, I am happy that George School strongly recommended that first year students play a team sport. I know that I made some of my best friends through freshmen soccer and have maintained those friendships to this day. Sports as a whole promote the coming together of students to achieve a common goal and they are a great way to make friends and develop relationships that go beyond the classroom. Overall, I am thankful for the opportunity to represent George School outside the classroom by being the goalkeeper for the varsity soccer team and the shooting guard for the varsity basketball team.

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Top 10 Ways You Know You’re a George School Student

by Alice Ke ’19

1. You call teachers by their first name!

Hey Kevin! Hey Faith! Relationships with teachers are casual and friendly. You might see them as a teacher or a mentor in the classroom, but they are also there for you as a friend.

2. You’ve sprinted up the hill from the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library to McFeely.

We all dread that long walk from one end of campus to the complete opposite, hopefully your teacher will understand why you are late.

3. You get excited for the games against rival Westtown!

Support our sports teams! Moose Points! Moose Cup! Everyone gets hyped to come out and cheer on our Friends Schools League rival Westtown. The energy is amazing for both the team and the crowd of Cougar crazy fans.

4. You may technically be a day student, but let’s be real, you’re pretty much a boarder since you spend so much time on campus.

Dinner and study hall during the weekdays are staples for most day students. Activities on Fridays and over the weekend are the best of times—ranging from fairs to movies, and Student Council Weekend.

5. You’ve heard everyone talk about the IB program and how it’s so rigorous.

In truth, it’s hard. International Baccalaureate is one of George School’s most renowned programs, and those who choose to do the classes or diploma know that they’re getting into an academically challenging curriculum. Between internal assessments and the IB exams, it is a lot of work, but the recognition and diploma in the end are the ultimate feeling of satisfaction.

6. You’ve witnessed a dance battle happen on Red Square due to a Four Square disagreement.

Four Square gets intense. An iconic George School tradition enjoyed by everyone on campus. Sometimes disagreements break out on who is to blame for the ball going out, or if the ball even did go out. The only way to settle such a brawl is simple: a dance battle.

7. You’ve heard conversations in at least three different languages across campus.

With a wide diversity of international students on campus, you’re bound to hear a foreign language you’ve never heard before and could not fathom understanding. Chances are you can probably pick up phrases from some of these languages from an international friend and feel accomplished!

8. You’ve spent an afternoon relaxing (and possibly napping) on South Lawn.

After a long day, if it’s nice outside, South Lawn is the ultimate spot to unwind and destress on a nice day.

9. STICKY BUNS!

An iconic George School dessert. Sticky buns. The most gooey, delicious treats you’ll find in the dining hall. Bless the days that you see sticky buns waiting for you on the dessert platter.

10. You’ve found a family here.

The sense of community is by far the strongest of the Quaker values (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Equality, Community, Stewardship) that George School embodies. Ranging from students, to faculty, to staff, to pets, and many others, the George School community is one that simply cannot be replicated. It is what makes George School feel like home.

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