by Sophia Guo ’18
I had no idea what a Quaker school would be like when I first came to visit George School. Instead of perceiving Quakerism as a religion, I perceived it as a set of spiritual values that continuously influence this school community. George School left me the impression of being the most open, friendly, and caring among the eighteen schools I visited in the US, and thus I spontaneously attribute the community’s unique aura to the biggest difference it has from other high schools, that is, Quakerism.
I always learn about the environment from people who live in it. Holding firmly to the belief that a school should not be approved until its people are worth trusting and being friends with. I was not committed to George School by its beautiful campus with squirrels running around, its two-floor library filled with natural light and over two thousand paperbacks as well as ten thousand electronic books, or its modernly designed Fitness Athletics Center with a homeothermal swimming pool, wrestling rooms, yoga rooms, and a supervised fitness center.
Instead, I was gradually convinced to select George School as my first choice through my talk with my tour guide and the community I observed in a very short time period. What surprised me was that people called each other by their first name, even a student to a teacher. It was one of the “SPICES” in Quakerism: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and service. “People feel that they are responsible for the community,” explained my tour guide, “because everyone is equal.”
I was impressed by the rigor of courses that George School students take. George School provides over 20 AP courses, as well as a full IB program for students who want to challenge themselves academically. Challenging oneself and trying to achieve a higher academic level seems very normal. Not to mention that students also pursue scores of leadership roles and passions. When I told my tour guide that she was very excellent, she blushed a little and told me that she thought “excellence should be a habit.”
It was not “love at first sight” between me and George School. It was the relationship between the kinds of lovers that the more they find out about each other the deeper their love is. Community, culture, and academics were all great reasons why I selected George School.
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.
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!
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.
Photo by Kim Major.
by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19
Life in the dorms is nothing like I expected. Coming to George School, I was terrified. What if I didn’t like my roommate or what if she didn’t like me? What if I didn’t make friends or I missed home? Questions along these lines ran through my head as I packed my stuff to leave. I don’t know what I was expecting, I think it was probably a combination of the dorm life from Pitch Perfect or Legally Blonde, where everyone meets for study groups, clubs, and parties, and Mean Girls which—to me was an example of what high school was like.
When I got to George School, I was shocked. I didn’t hate my roommate and she didn’t hate me. Making friends was easy. I missed home, but not so much that I actually wanted to go home. But more importantly, high school wasn’t like Mean Girls. It wasn’t full of scheming and plotting against those around me. Living in the dorms was like Pitch Perfect or Legally Blonde. I didn’t have to be part of a clique to fit in. I just had to be myself. I don’t spend a lot of time in the dorm, I prefer being out and about during whatever free time I can manage.
George School purposefully keeps you busy. There is hardly time to think of those “what ifs” that I couldn’t get out of my mind at the beginning of the year. When I do get free time, I use it to get ahead on homework. I call my parents on a regular schedule, so I never really missed them that much.
Of course, there were some things with which I struggle. I miss my dog, my bed, and my friends from home. I miss my sisters and home-cooked meals. I recently got sick and I missed having someone to take care of me. Going to a boarding school changes the way you view things. Things that were once important, take a back burner; especially when you go back home. You begin to appreciate life a little more. Small things become important. Like my Mom cooking my favorite meal when I went home for the first time after my birthday or my Dad getting me something that we were talking about on the phone a couple weeks prior.
Being a boarder at George School was like moving from one home to another. My parents and siblings will always be my family, but now I also have dozens of sisters and handfuls of brothers. My dorm parents are my parents away from home. Of all the things George School teaches its students, boarding or day, the most important is that family isn’t about genetics – it’s about who stands by you when you need it the most but deserve it the least.
by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19
George School’s International Student Assembly takes place every winter and students of all nationalities look forward to it. There are a variety of acts—from singing and dancing to Kung Fu and magic tricks. This year, Jason Chien’s ’18 Kung Fu performance was authentic right down to the clothing. Kiana Wong ’17, from Jamaica, performed an amazing modern dance to a popular song Don’t Judge Me by Chris Brown. Anney Ye ’20 and Jennifer Chang ’19 sang a popular Chinese song.
The International Student Assembly is one of my favorites each year. Students from all cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities have a chance to show off some of their many talents. American students get a chance to be immersed in traditions from all over the world. The assembly is enlightening, introspective, and entertaining. The audience can tell that the performers are having fun. Everyone has international friends at George School, and everyone wants to see their friends perform. I believe the International Student Assembly brings George School students closer to their roots—and to each other.
George School is home to hundreds of students, representing forty-three different countries. So why is it that students stay away from the unfamiliar when deciding what to perform? I imagine they could feel like their traditions won’t be respected, but what I think is more likely, after having spent so much time in the United States, they begin to assume American culture as their own. I would think the performers want to choose something they know, so the songs they hear on the radio on a regular basis are a good place to start. Maybe culturally traditional performances are harder to prepare or recognize. Being from the United States myself, I cannot explain the reasons for why international students choose the performances they do. I suppose it all depends on the student and how close they feel to their culture. Either way—culturally diverse performances or not—the international student assembly is not one to miss.