Category Archives: A Day in the Life

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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Summer: The Perfect Time to Learn?

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by Addie Gerszberg ’18

While rest seemed to be a critical part of many students’ agendas this past summer, so was learning for the many of us who take the time to investigate passions that the busy grind of the school year often prohibits us from pursuing. For me, those passions are international relations and learning more about the world’s languages and cultures. This summer, I focused my attention on learning about Japan after I was grateful to have been accepted to the High School Diplomats Program at Princeton University.

This program, which has run for the last 30 years thanks to the generosity of AIU Insurance Company of Tokyo and the Freeman Foundation, focuses on friendship, community, and peace: values that were all consistent with what I have learned at George School. During the ten days of this program, my Japanese roommate, Hana, and I had the opportunity to see diplomacy at its most basic level: through friendship. Through each days’ themes and scheduling, all of the Japanese and American students engaged in meaningful activities and conversations. I will never forget when my friend, Mizuki, from Hiroshima, shared her grandmother’s experience of the atomic bombings of their city during World War II. Likewise, my friend Sayaka’s story about being from Fukushima and the impact the nuclear power plant disaster following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 has had on her life was also profoundly moving. Through these friendships, what I had previously only learned in history books, came to life, and while those examples are of atrocities, the positive stories these new friends have shared are already too numerous to count. These jovial experiences of connection among us “high school diplomats” are best exemplified through two of my favorite days of the program: the Japanese culture festival and the Paula Chow Diplomat Talks.

During the festival, I gained cultural insights, and a closeness to Hana, that I had not had before through partaking in a traditional tea ceremony, appreciating the art of calligraphy, and playing games. This experience was only strengthened by wearing traditional Japanese dresses called yukata (light cotton kimono) with Hana. This gift from my roommate is one I treasure dearly.

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While the festival was light hearted, the Diplomat Talks took on a more serious note, enabling all of the Japanese and American students to have discussions about the world in which we live. Being a George School student and having learned about how to have these kinds of difficult discussions was the best preparation I could have had to fully embrace the experience. The program and my education complimented each other, and while George School has taught me how to be an engaged community member, High School Diplomats enhanced my ability to be a global citizen. Now a month after I have completed the program, I have been gifted with lasting friendships and a new knowledge set that has already enriched my first classes back at school. I hope more George School students can take part in this life altering experience, and current sophomores and juniors can check the program’s website for the application (available online from 9/15/2017–1/8/2018) for this fully funded opportunity.*

*For more information please visit the website: Highschooldiplomats.com or contact the American Director, Mrs. Celine Zapolski at (571) 234-5072 or celinezapolski@highschooldiplomats.com

 

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Coming Full Circle

by Kim Major, associate director of admission

Last week was my favorite week of the year, hands down. While my children think I am crazy (they think the last day of summer vacation is the worst!), I know I am right. You see, last week was orientation for our new students and the start of our new academic year here at George School.

So, why was that the best? I mean, the start of the academic year to faculty and admission officers means back to long workdays. It means many, many meetings. It means late nights, tired eyes, and no more trips to the beach or the pool. I already miss those trips to the beach and the pool. HOWEVER, what it also means is that I get to see the fruits of last year’s labor. All of the students with whom I worked so hard last year – at admission events, in interviews, in follow-up phone calls, meetings, and emails – I get to see all of them on campus, here and now as students!

Over the last year, I got to know 170 new students, most of them in person in some capacity. I knew we admitted a rocketry wizard, and I got to make sure our robotics and engineering faculty knew about her. I knew we had at least four students who count ukulele as a big-time hobby, and I got to let them know about one another (some pretty cool jam sessions are about to go down in our dorms). I knew that one of our students had a really challenging summer and was feeling a bit down, and I got to make sure his advisor was prepared to offer a little extra love. I got to understand, before the rest of the school, that our new students are going to knock the socks off of our faculty and returning students. Now everyone gets to know it and I get to see the joy that brings.

Many people see admission officers as gatekeepers, standing at the school doors and judging who gets to come in. While we certainly have a difficult task in making admission decisions, we aren’t gatekeepers. No, I see myself more as a matchmaker. Through the admission process, I help students to navigate the admission process (and sometimes that means helping them to find a match that is better suited to their particular needs). And, when the school year starts, my matchmaker skills kick into high gear as the entire school prepares to welcome them. I help in the faculty advising and roommate pairing processes and work with families to match them with the resources they will need to get started here at George School.

So, when move-in and registration days roll around, it all comes together, and it is magic. The best part? I know that I have two, three, or four years more with these students and I get to see all the dreams they talked about in the application process come true – and I get to see them discover new dreams they didn’t even know they had!

That, to me, is what makes George School so special. New students aren’t a number. Each new student is a person, a part of a family, a dreamer, a do-er, an artist, an athlete, and so much more. When they start their first day here, they start with many, many people knowing quite a bit about who they are, and they already have a jumpstart in helping them to reach their goals.

Here’s to another terrific year!

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How We All Live To Let Our Lives Speak

2004_Jessica (Jess) M. Klaphaak

by Jess Klaphaak ’04

In recent years, I have come to be a rather active member of the Quaker meeting here in Copenhagen. Every Sunday I sit with Ulla and Mogens, both are over 90 years old, who lived through World War II and took part in the Danish resistance against the Nazis. It is quite an experience to listen to their stories of vandalizing fighter jets and sewing dresses from fallen parachutes to hide the evidence of soldiers escaping from battle. We have about ten regular members and at 30, I am the youngest of our little group by about three decades.

At the beginning of July, my family and I went to the Scandinavian Yearly Meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden. There were over 120 participants from Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The three of us went as the only participants from Denmark. One afternoon, I sat with the executive secretary of FWCC-EMES and we had a-one-on one conversation about the challenges that face all Quaker communities across Europe. I voiced my concern that our biggest challenge in Denmark is building community, getting people to stay and take on responsibility and that I personally struggle with a feeling of hopelessness for our community that has recently been affecting my motivation and drive.

Being a Quaker and going to Yearly Meeting and other Quaker retreats was such a big part of my childhood and teenage years, and subsequently my adult life, that it is difficult to witness the community that always seemed to sail so smoothly, struggle so hard to keep afloat. Here in Copenhagen, I often feel like I am alone on the mast of a sinking ship. What should I do? Should I jump into the lifeboat of mindfulness or Buddhism or should I climb down and repair the holes myself? For now, I choose to patch the holes. Quakerism offers something more than mindfulness and obviously something different from Buddhism.

As a whole, my experience in Gothenburg left me with the sense that we are all delicately connected—a connection that exists because we, as Quakers, reach out beyond ourselves to actively create community. Perhaps Quakers are particularly good at this because, in my opinion, a true sense of community is formed when we answer that of God in others.

Community is by definition something bigger than one’s self. It is a network of connections to which we belong. Even though un-programmed meetings face dwindling membership across the planet, the few who stick around often accomplish great things through service efforts and lobbying activities. Silence is merely a tool we use to listen to our inner Light, but it is what we do with the messages we receive that defines us, both as individuals and as a group. When a group of over 120 active and engaged Quakers meet, in spite of cultural and language barriers, it is impossible not to feel how we all live to let our lives speak.

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A Reflection on Life After Graduation

Sarah Kelly

by Sarah Kelly ’17 

On May 28 I graduated from George School. On August 17 I will be moving in to my dorm at Philadelphia University. This summer and the time I have had between these two dates has been probably the most exciting time of my life, as I gather up all my dorm supplies, meet new friends, find a roommate, figure out my schedule, go to orientation, and so much more.

But with this excitement, also comes anxiety. I grew up on this campus, from being at the George School Children’s Center, then Newtown Friends School, and then George School again. I have known some of my friends since I was 2 years old and a student in the Children’s Center. These 81 days between high school graduation and the start of my college career, have been and will continue to be strange. I am no longer a George School student, but I am still only barely part of the Philadelphia University community. This is the first time I will be in a community other than George School.

If I had to give advice to rising seniors of George School, or any high school for that matter, it is not to worry about this potentially awkward in-between time. Instead, use this time to focus and try to identify your own identity, not relating to what school or community you belong to. Although it may feel like you don’t belong to anywhere during this time, that is ok, because you learn a lot more about your own self during times like these. You will have plenty of time to shape your identity around a community in the next four, five, six, or more years in college. And if this task is too daunting, too scary, then don’t sweat it. Because once you are part of the George School community, you never really leave it. It is ok to be part of more than one community. Just do not let leaving this one, great, small, George School community make joining a new one difficult. Just because you graduate, does not mean you cannot talk to your old friends. Remember you are not alone, because everyone else is experiencing the same feelings you are. Trust me. I did too.

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Why I Chose the IB Program

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Teacher Kathy Rodgers helps with a class assignment. 

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

When I was about twelve, I started thinking about college. I was not sure of much, but I knew I wanted to go far, possibly even outside the country. My mom has a few friends who live in California and the school their kids go to offers the International Baccalaureate diploma. I first heard of it over the phone when I was in seventh grade. I looked it up and was drawn into the information I found.

The idea of having six subjects and having an equal balance in each interested me. At first, I worried about the arts, but I figured out that I could double in a subject to replace it. After thinking about it for a couple of months, I talked to my mom about my findings. I was really interested in getting this diploma. I was convinced it would make me a better student and wanted the opportunity to engage in this deeper level thinking.

She gave me the green light to go ahead and research schools. That’s actually how I found George School. When I got here, I was not sure what would happen. I did not know if I would change my mind and drop the IB idea. But two years later, I am a likely IB candidate. I plan to take two standard level exams, Spanish and Economics, and four higher level exams, English, Latin, Math, and Biology. The rest of my classes are a sprinkling of APs. I am doubling in language and not taking an art.

I know this is going to be very difficult, but I am prepared. The IB diploma is something I have been working towards for three years now. I love the thought of learning to think critically. I am anxious for a chance to write essays of deeper level thinking. I want to learn, but I don’t want to focus in one subject. I want to be a well-rounded academic and I feel like IB offers me more resources to do that.

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