Category Archives: A Day in the Life

Culture Shock, Vietnam and Plastic Bottles: Lessons Learned (thus far) at GS

226-William Street

by Will Street ’18

When I was first driving through what I would later call Newtown, my first thought was, “Wow, this place is super white.” Now, I would ask that you excuse me for that, as I come from a city that is quite literally the blackest municipality in the country with an 82% African-American or Black population. I also ask that you remain conscious that I had always been around people who looked differently than me, but an entire city? Never that.

When I hit George School’s campus, though, I released a long, loud sigh of relief when I saw a group of people of color walking across campus, and a smile went across my face when I saw that the group was not monolithic. There was an Asian student, a black student, a white student, and a Hispanic student all laughing and enjoying each other’s company. What I did not know that day is that, that friend group would mirror mine in the coming years. I would make an Asian friend who lives in the bustling city of Seoul, I would make friends who look like me but their origins span from the Bronx to Somalia and I would make white friends from small, rural towns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This is proof that George School is not just a melting pot, but it is a massive cauldron of cultures, races, and identities. All that said, there were still growing pains in me reaching this conclusion.

Walking into my room on August 31, 2014 would be the event that would change my perspective on culture and would challenge my patience and my desire to keep an open mind. I stopped in front of the door, and the name read “Truong Son Nguyen Viet” and I felt my face scrunch up and my parents prodded me to open the door. They were seemingly as nervous and unsure as I was. I opened the door and I saw a tall, lanky, large headed (Son, forgive me for that) figure standing and putting away his clothes. He turned around  and there was a brief pause. He broke the silence by saying, “Hi, my name is Son” and held out his hand for me to shake. Admittedly, he was harder to understand, but we’ll address that later.

The first couple of months were bad. We argued about the room being cleaned (I was the dirty one), my volume of showers a day and how loud my friends were when they came inside of the room. A couple of years later, he would later admit that he wanted to make a roommate switch, but luckily he didn’t. After our rough patch, we made a deal that if I taught him to speak English more proficiently, he would teach me Vietnamese curse words. As a freshman, this was a sweet quid pro quo. There were many nights where we would talk and whenever he mispronounced a word, I would kindly tell him the correct pronunciation. In return, he would spend 10 minutes helping me properly pronounce how to tell someone off in his language. We would have extensive conversations, albeit at times uncomfortable, about foreign policy namely the Vietnamese war and how the way we’re taught about it differs. These conversations changed how I viewed the world and encouraged me to be a more understanding, open minded global citizen and he admitted that I changed his perspective on race and how he viewed people of color. We remained roommates up until our senior year, and it was not by choice that we were separated. We were given prefect in different dorms.

Now, at this point you may be wondering what plastic bottles has to do with one of my important lessons. 9th grade, I had been elected to student council as a class representative, and my motives were not pure. In fact, I had this Machiavellian-esque plan to take over the council that ultimately failed, so I would go on to fight every battle that came before us as a council and was debateable. There was one moment that would teach me a lesson that would be important to my development as a GS man. One day, a proposal came before us to discuss the use of plastic water bottles. I thought to myself: “this is my chance!” I tirelessly researched plastic bottle usage and how it would hurt the American worker. I said my points before the meeting, and people looked at me confused and some were chuckling. Later that year, Tom Hoopes would give me the wisdom I needed all along and that was to pick your battles carefully. That made me realize that every hill is not worth dying on and there are more noble and pure causes to have discourse over. This skill is going to help me in my life as a public servant and global citizen and it will always remind me to make sure my motivations are pure and that something is a fight worth fighting.

There it is. I tied together Culture Shock, Vietnam and Plastic Bottles. I reckon Kim McGlyn is to be given credit for that!

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One Day at George School

by Connor Stoklosa ’19

My name is Connor Stoklosa and I am a Junior day student at George school. I live roughly twenty minutes away, on the other side of Newtown. This video is what a day of my George School life looks like through my eyes. Join me on my adventure and gain a greater understanding of our community.

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Student Leadership at George School

There is never a moment when you are not around a student leader. In the dining hall, on the athletic fields, in the classrooms, and even in your dorm. Our student leaders are all around us and sometimes without us knowing that one is in our presence. From being a curious freshman to needing help with my Pre-Calculus homework, I have always taken advantage of the student leaders around me. They always make me feel like I belong at George School and they are a big part of the many reasons why being here means so much to me. Since I had such a positive experience with the student leaders I interact with, I wanted the opportunity to spread this warmth I felt to others.

I applied for my first leadership position at the end of my sophomore year. I knew that by then I had the necessary tools to handle any situation that was presented to me. I basically had two years of being a student at George School under my belt, which let me familiarize myself with the rules, the adult support, and some connections that have helped me make the most out of my experience here. The position was called a Junior Peer Group Leader; the purpose of peer group is to integrate the newest members of our George School family properly onto our campus. My favorite part of peer group as a freshman was watching Disney movies with pizza, cookies, and soda before my next class. It was such a good break from my chaotic day and I made a lifelong friend because of peer group.

I knew that I would be a good match for the position, but I constantly had concerns about the people not liking me or not planning fun activities or even if they would ever speak to me again after our short time we spent together. All of these feelings quickly vanished when I first met the people I would be spending about an hour a week with. The group was so friendly, outgoing, and always had funny stories to tell the group. We spent most of our time just talking about our George School experiences and what we hope for in the future. We also played silent Hide-and-Go-Seek in the library after eating a bag of clementines. These sessions were the highlight of my week and a breath of fresh air during some stressful times. Being a peer group leader allowed me to form close relationships with different people who I would have never imagined being close to.

Although Junior Peer Group was the first of my leadership positions, it was certainly not my last. I am a Varsity Cheerleading Captain, Lead Tour Guide, and Prefect in Central Main. These positions are all special to me in their own way and when I reflect on why I chose to apply, it all boils down to one reason: George School gave me the confidence to interact with those who you might not initially be close with, but will have the ability to form a genuine connection with these individuals. I am appreciative of the leadership positons I have held/currently hold, and I hope that I have inspired others to follow in my footsteps.

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My Life and Theater

273-Tucker Ballantyne

By Tucker Ballantyne ’18

When I first came to George School I was insanely shy. I had a few friends that I talked to, but that was about it. I hated how shy I was, but had no idea what I could do to change myself.

During sophomore year course sign-ups, I saw theater and thought to myself, why not? For an introvert, going on stage and acting is the most terrifying thing in the world. That being said, I really wanted to change. I went through the theater equivalent of a trial by fire. Every time I went in front of the class I would do something embarrassing and funny. Though it was difficult at first, once you’re used to intentionally embarrassing yourself, everything else is easy.

That gave me the courage to participate in a few of the full theater productions that we do each term. It was incredibly fun and I learned a lot about myself in learning how to be more outgoing. I am going to be going off to college soon, and even though I’m majoring in something about as far from theater as possible, mechanical engineering, I still hope to be able to participate in any theatrical productions I can. Through theater I have emboldened myself to the point where I’m not afraid to go onstage and perform, and I’ve made a lot of friends. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is scared to put themselves out there but still wants to try.

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Why GS is the BEST!

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by Chloe Lentchner ’19

The Community is unlike any other

Never have I ever been a part of a place so warm and welcoming before I arrived at George School. GS is such a unique school because everyone actually cares about you and your success.

You can purse your interests

At George School you will find people who are passionate about so many different things and that is because you are able to explore any interests you may have. The arts department is filled with all sorts of classes such as, theater, painting and drawing, ceramics, woodworking, and dance. While our athletic department has so many sport options such as, swimming, equestrian and field hockey. For students who have interests beyond that you can create a club or join a club like Model UN or Argo (the student run literary magazine). It’s so cool that we all have the chance to continue to dive deeper into things that you love but at the same time, discover new interests.

The Traditions

For being open for 125 years now, GS has acquired a lot of traditions that the students and community as a whole get excited about. One thing that I personally look forward to is Live Music Weekend. LMW is put together by Goldfish n’ Java (a student music club) and is a weekend on campus filled with student performances. I am a musician myself and having the chance to perform with my friends and for my friends is such a fun time.

You can be yourself!

In a community like George School you will be accepted for whoever you are. That’s why I love GS because the people you meet are genuine. By being yourself, you will find friends that you connect with and create lifelong friendships, which is why I think GS is the actual best!

 

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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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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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Tips for Newly Accepted International Students at George School

by Elenore Wang ’18

As I am munching on lotus flavored moon cake from Lan, our Chinese teacher, I realize it is the fourth Mid-Autumn Festival that I have spent at George School. It has been four years since I flew across the earth from a Chinese public school to George School, a place that seemed so strange but full of opportunities to the ninth grade me at the time. Looking back, I can say my four years here as an international student have been very happy and fulfilling. If you follow my advice below, I promise you too will have a fabulous journey at George School.

1. Be yourself

I know it is a cliché, but this really is the key to happiness at George School. When I first came to campus, I felt compelled to ingratiate myself with American kids by pretending to be someone I am not, because I was afraid of being different. Later, I realized this concern was completely unnecessary, because George School is the most accepting place you will ever find. Pretending is exhausting and futile, for everyone at George School respects and values individuality. If you are confident just being yourself, friends will come to you and you will be much happier.

2.    Don’t be afraid and try your best

George School offered me countless opportunities to do things I never thought I could do before. Not only did I have fun trying things out, but I also found my passion—film. I took film class my sophomore year and immediately fell in love with it. Now, I am known among my friends as “the filmmaker” and I am happy about it. Before I made my first film I was terrified, because I had zero experience. However, the tremendous support and encouragement that George School offered me eliminated my fear of failure. Feel free to try anything you like—sports, like lacrosse, or arts, like film. As long as you are willing to give your maximum effort, you have no reason to be afraid because you will succeed.

3.    Have fun!

Always remember that George School wants you to have fun. Please do not over-stress yourself and enjoy the George School years to come!

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