Category Archives: Admission Office

Harvest Weekend

teenage boy sitting on brick bench. a tree and brick building are in the background

Michael Silver ’16

by Michael Silver ’16, Admission Office ambassador

At George School, we have many weekends dedicated to certain topics. Recently, George School hosted Harvest Weekend, one of the most exciting seasonal weekends of the year. Highlights from the weekend included pumpkin carving, hayrides, a haunted house, a costume dance, and apple butter making. Needless to say, much of the campus spent the weekend enthralled in the fun activities. Personally, I particularly enjoyed pumpkin carving, and found it to be a new, intriguing, and joyously laborious event. Continue reading

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Filed under A Day in the Life, Admission Office, Students

Just North of Retford

Our George School Ambassadors were asked to share their favorite spot on campus. Read on to learn about Jake’s (Class of 2016) favorite spot. 

It is strangely comfortable how safely and spontaneously my back melts into the mix of brick and backpack that function as the pit stop for this specific realm on campus. All around me, people of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities, whiz by, but I remain at the pit stop–refueling–sometimes with a friend, ofttimes alone, as the day turns to after light and the academics morph into athletics. I sit and I rest. Some would find it uncomfortable, almost strange and meticulously attention grabbing, however here, and when I saytwo bushes intertwined with brick in the background. ivy on the ground here, I mean campus, it is normal – accepted, if I may. So I lay, under the bush of no blueberries, to the north of Retford. I wait, I know not of the event I place myself there for, but I know that its arrival is soon to come. It brings me joy, just to ponder, to think and push down the pedals of my mind, knowing that body will remain in rest as soul effects change in the pit stop. Continue reading

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Why I Chose George School – Rob

Our George School  Ambassadors were asked to share their stories about why they chose George School. There is no typical George School path but they all share a common thread: a love of people and learning. Read on to find out what made Rob ’16 join the George School community. 

“The school’s statistics and campus were very nice too, yeah, but George School isn’t the only school with good numbers and nice buildings. The hospitality I felt during my tour was the factor that distinguished George School from the rest for me.”

I found George School in a pretty uninteresting way compared to many of my peers. A few of my relatives attended here, so I grew up with a second-hand familiarity with George School. But I didn’t think about applying until after my freshmen year of high school. I decided to apply as a new sophomore having been disillusioned with my experience as a freshman in public school. It was a rather spontaneous let-me-just-check-it-out decision to tour and apply to a few boarding schools. It was probably the best spontaneous decision I’ve ever made. Continue reading

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Tour Guides: A Glimpse of Life at GS

by Ashley Pettway, Admission Office

First term is in full swing and our campus is buzzing with visitors. It gives us great joy here in the Admission Office to share our campus with you and it takes a lot of people behind the scenes to make your visit special. Last week, I introduced the ambassadors, a select group of students who blog, take pictures, and talk with families during visits. This week, I’d like to introduce you to our tour guides. Each year, the Admission Office selects outgoing sophomores, juniors, and seniors to serve as student leaders in our office. These students have shown a love for George School and often hold additional leadership positions on campus.  They are the heart of our office and we could not function without them. Continue reading

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Meet Our Ambassadors

by Ashley Pettway (admission office) and the George School Ambassadors

I haven’t been at George School long but I already feel at home. I can’t quite pinpoint exactly what it is about this place that makes it so incredibly special—maybe it’s the beautiful campus, the incredible resources both tangible and intangible, or maybe it’s the genuinely friendly people who emanate warmth every day. I guess it’s silly to attempt to identify one thing that makes George School so special. There are lots of incredible aspects of this school and honestly, what makes this place special is different for everyone…so, I’ve enlisted some help. Continue reading

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by | October 3, 2014 · 4:38 pm

Filling Your Empty Canvases (Making a Dorm Room Feel Like a Home, Not a Box)

by Chloe ’16

Chloe is a second year boarding student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the orchestra, a talented artist, and a “geometry and biology wiz this year.” Chloe wrote two of the limericks used in the recent post “For the Birds: Part Four.”

A dorm room is not designed to be a super hangout space. It is meant to house one to two people from 9:30pm to 7:55am, seven days a week. In an empty dorm room, you will not find curtains with butterflies on them or photos of smiling cartoon animals. The beds are gray, the walls are white, and the windows are made so that if one were to try something stupid (teenagers do stupid things, don’t deny it) no one would be hurt. They aren’t meant to be pretty. The chairs in a dorm room are made to keep you awake while you study, and the storage space is… well, let’s just say it is minimal.

But No! Don’t for a second think that these are complaints! A dorm room is not bare to make you feel as though you are a prisoner. The way I see it, a dorm room is so boring to start so that students will have a chance to make it their own. The white walls are yours to do with what you please, and, believe it or not, the beds can be moved. Your room is no prison, it’s a fun-sized palace!

Tips for an awesome room:

  • Color coordination is key. Although it may be hard freshman year (my old roommate had pink everything that, when coupled with my green everything, made our room look a bit like an excited watermelon), discuss what you want the general theme of your room to be with your future roommate before the next year starts.

    Chloe 2

    My room now is the picture of cohesion: a theme of greens and blues that spreads from our rugs to our bed sheets.

  • Decorate. Those aren’t white walls, those are empty canvases! Although you are not allowed to paint the walls, for that would be breaking the rules, you have complete and total freedom to do what you may with your walls so long as it doesn’t offend anyone or break anything (including regulations). You can’t use nails, no. But give a kid four packs of command strips and some duct tape (both available in the student store), and she will find a way to hang her chandelier.

    Chloe 5

    Those aren’t white walls, those are empty canvases!

  • Throw furniture around (not literally). What I mean is change the room from a lesson in parallelity to an abstract work of art. Arranging your beds is the funnest way to make your room something you want to come home to. Try designs like the “L,” the “sisterly love,” the “one-sider,” or the popular “mirror image.”

Don’t be afraid to go the distance to make your room yours, and defy the laws of dormatism. They say that a dorm room is not a hangout space? To that I say only this: We. Will. Make. It. One.


Chloe and her roommate pose in their dorm room.

Mind the Light and Follow the Blog,

Chloe HD


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Why We Offer Both–Justifying the IB and the AP

by Ralph Lelii, English department

When I speak with parents of prospective IB Diploma candidates, I am asked this question most frequently: “What is the difference between the IB and the AP?” My answer reflects differences in assessments, curricula, and philosophy, but I do not think it is the most significant question one might ask about the two programs. I believe instead that a far more interesting query might be centered on what justification we might offer for featuring both programs here at George School.

The respective histories are worth mentioning first. After WWII, the Ford Foundation supported the formation of a committee to study innovation in secondary education. It was called the “Kenyon Plan” because it originated at Kenyon College. The first study was conducted by three prep schools—the Lawrenceville School, Phillips Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy—and three universities—Harvard University, Princeton University and Yale University. They concluded it was possible to teach rigorous, college level material at the secondary level and offer college credits. The Advanced Placement program has been in existence continually since 1955.

The IB has a more complex genesis. Though the idea for the IB began in 1948, it was at an international conference in Geneva in 1962 that the plan gained traction. It was actually an American history teacher, Robert Leach, who organized the Geneva conference. UNESCO became interested and funded the ongoing development. Coincidentally, a Ford Foundation grant funded the final study at Oxford University in 1966. The participants looked at the A level system in the UK and studied the Advanced Placement program as well. In 1969, the IB began its Diploma with a six year test program, and the IB Diploma was formalized in 1975.

Both the AP and the IB stress academic rigor above all else, and interested readers can explore their respective philosophies and curricula readily online. For me, the justification for our participation in both programs resides in two ideas about human nature and our existence as an International Friends School.

The term “confirmation bias” was coined in a paper published in 1960 by British psychologist Peter Wason.  It stated that people will tend to support their own hypothesis in a one-sided way by searching for evidence which supports their beliefs, and selectively excluding evidence which tends to disprove it. This idea is hardly new; Aristotle spoke of our desire to select our side in an argument on the basis of what we already believe and to eschew principles which seem to contradict them. These studies have been repeated again and again with similar results. Because any teacher worth his or her salt has a passion for the job, it seems likely to me that we will at least occasionally see things in ways that reinforce what we want to be true in our pedagogy. For me, the IB and the AP are like referees on a basketball court. Left to their own devices, players might begin to justify their own fouls and diminish the claims of the opponents. These two programs provide an outside pair of eyes, not perfect by any means, but rigorous and standardized.

The second idea about human nature that I reference is the “observer effect” first stated about physics. It suggests that by the mere act of observation, we change in some degree the things we see. In a small, highly personal school community, it seems at least possible to me that our perceptions of our students’ work, by virtue of our constant close observation, might influence the production of it and our evaluation as well. Having the outside assessments of the IB and AP on hand give us a way to balance our own perceptions. Again, it is not that one is right and the other wrong. It is a system of checks and balances, I believe, that can lead to a greater level of intellectual accuracy concerning our notions of what students actually learn. I would never be in support of a school curriculum composed entirely of AP or IB classes. Here at George School, students who take these externally assessed components still receive the full GS experience and most of their classes are mixed right through senior year.

Finally, George School is an international Friends’ institution with young people in attendance from forty-eight different countries. That staggering number is a testament to the extraordinary ambition and energy of our Admissions Department. For me, it seems right that we acknowledge and reward the trust of those parents around the world by having the humility to temper our academic autonomy at least a bit with assessments constructed internationally and administered in all of the their respective homelands.

In 2007, I was a guest examiner in Cardiff, Wales at the IBO assessment center. The supervisor of my discipline, English Literature A1, was a Moroccan educated in Moscow and London. There was a Peruvian on my team, as well as a Canadian and a Saudi. I was the sole US representative, and I was not afforded any special status. I was treated equitably, charitably and professionally as was everyone else, and I came away with a sense that this collaboration was something worth modeling for our students, destined as are we all, to live with empathy and compassion in a world they never made.

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Behind the Scenes of Holiday Weekend


Juniors Jordan Dunbar, Alice Croom, and Kristine Olsen

Behind the glamour


Juniors Rachel Keller and Monica Nadeau

and the dresses


Seniors (and roomies) Buse (Sunny) Duz and Sunyul (Michelle) Kwak

and the smiles


Dorm head Julia Nickles and hall teacher Courtney Harrigan

are a whole bunch of adults in sweatshirts.  Just as excited as the students.


Junior Natalie Hackett and Courtney Harrigan

I can’t speak for the boys’ dormitories, but in Main (where sophomore through senior girls reside), watching the students depart for winter formal was one of the highlights of the weekend.


Hall teacher Michelle Ruess (standing on chair) and dorm head Avis Leverett (in pink shirt)

To me the moment encapsulated everything we try to do as dorm parents: be supportive.  Keep organized.  Take pictures.  With many families far away, we filled that role wholeheartedly, offering hugs and compliments and the occasional advice on footwear.  We wanted each girl to feel as beautiful as she looked.

The girls were stunning, but more importantly, they seemed happy.  They humored the adults who made them pose for photo after photo


Making C’s for Central (Central Main, our dorm)

and only got a little bit silly.

The holiday festivities continued the following day, with a dorm wide Yankee Swap (hot gift item: pink Snuggie), a candlelit Meeting for Worship with readings and music, and an elegant holiday dinner.  Even the beloved flamingos made an appearance in the Meeting centerpiece!

There are moments when dorm parenting (like real parenting) can seem focused on the humdrum.  Study.  Clean your room.  Call your mother.  These small things are part of building a relationship, and it’s important to have conversations about homework and college and why uneaten tacos shouldn’t be left in the hallway.  But this weekend, it was lovely to simply celebrate the season and the students.  Gathered in Midway with the residents of Main, decked out in their semi-formal finery, I felt every bit the proud parent.  I just happen to have 41 teenage girls.

Top photo by Courtney Harrigan


Filed under Admission Office, Musings from Faculty, Students

Holiday Greetings from George School

This year more than one hundred George School students, faculty, and staff joined together to share messages of gratitude with alumni and friends. We invite you to view the video by clicking the play button on the image above. Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season from our community to you!

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Writing Your Personal Statement

By Colleen Smith, associate director of admission

In college admission, the personal essay is a big deal. There are books and workshops on the subject, even private tutors you can hire for your writing roadblocks. Just picking a topic can be a source of agony.

High school admission? Not so bad in comparison. For one, there’s no gut-wrenching indecision about which topic to pick: we’ve decided for you! Yup, there’s just one option for the essay. Maybe you’ll like the topic, maybe you won’t. Point is, it’s simple, and you don’t have to worry that Applicant X has brainstormed something more innovative and glamorous.

The second reassurance: we don’t expect perfection. We hope you’ll write thoughtfully and give us a glimpse into who you are as a person. Structure and grammar are important (and in this age of computers, you have no excuse not to spellcheck), but a few errors are okay. We’d rather the essay be true to you than polished past recognition by well-intentioned parents and counselors.

The best essays aren’t all sunshine and roses. Every school wants to admit students with resilience, which is why we ask you specifically about a difficult experience. Maybe you were able to resolve it perfectly; maybe the outcome was nothing like you anticipated. Either way, we hope you learned from it. (Admission counselors are big suckers for growth.)

Finally, remember that the essay is just one part of the application. We’ll learn about you from your recommendations, your interview, and other pieces of the admission puzzle. Be honest, be reflective, and have fun with it.

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