Tag Archives: life

Weekend Boarder Life

2017-02-13-25

Students build a snowman during a weekend winter snowstorm.

by Bea Feicenbiner ’19

As a boarding student, sometimes I am left wondering what I can do on weekends. Every weekend has a theme, but some have more activities than others. Weekends like Harvest Weekend and Student Council Weekend are jam packed with things to do. All of the weekends can be fun for the students, but some, like Alumni Weekend, have less activities than others.

Of course, my roommate is always there and I have friends in my dorm. On weekends, more often than not, I have a friend sleepover in my room or I sleep in hers. I can walk into Newtown to get some ice cream or go to Starbucks. Sometimes we will walk over to the shopping center across the street and get lunch before running errands to Giant or Rite Aid. Newtown Book and Record has a great variety of entertainment if I need something new. There is a lot to do around town on the weekends.

My personal favorite weekend is Student Council Weekend. SAGE, another club I am a part of, also has a weekend. We do fun activities that include bonding opportunities with members of the community that otherwise you might not have met. Harvest Weekend is super fun, especially for boarders. Day students are invited too, but for domestic boarders who do not get to spend as much time with their family. Carving pumpkins and making buttercream brings people together. For international students, the Harvest Weekend activities might be the first time they are experiencing these things. Other weekends are club affiliated. Umoja Weekend and Footbag Weekend happened not long ago and they both included events that were fun for the whole campus.

There are other things to do instead of weekend activities and day trips to Newtown. The Deans’ office is always open to hang out in and the SAGE room is open Friday and Saturday too. During the warmer months, there is four-square on Red Square and during the colder months, you can borrow sleds from the Deans’ Office and sled down South Lawn. If you’re looking for a quiet place to study, the library is open on both Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes dorm parents and prefects will host activities, like tea parties or clothing swaps.

No matter what the weekend is, there is plenty to do, so you should not worry about being bored.

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My Summer Plans

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Bea and her sisters on a 2012 vacation in Hawaii. 

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

Summer starts in just nineteen school days (twenty-six days total) and the Class of 2017 graduates in two weeks. As the school year comes to a close, it is time to start thinking about what I am going to do this summer. Now that AP exams are done, I just have the SAT subject tests on June 3rd and then Term 3 exams the week of June 5th to 8th. My sophomore year is almost over.

Of course, the last day of school will be both filled with sadness and excitement. Sadness because I will not see some of my friends for the whole two months of summer. That is the hardest part of being friends with international students. They are too far away for me to visit them. My roommate is from Beijing and I know that it is going to be weird not seeing her every day until September 3 when we move back.

The last day is also going to be exciting because I have so many exciting plans this summer. The first week or two are going to be pretty boring. I am going to be running all over the place trying to make up for not seeing my family and friends. Then I start driving lessons. I turned sixteen in October, but I think I have driven a grand total of five hours since then. I am also self-studying Spanish 3 this summer, so I will be meeting with my tutor pretty often as well. The real excitement does not start until June 29.

I love traveling, and this summer my family is going to Greece. We leave at the end of June and will not be back in the states until July 12. We are going to see the Parthenon, visit Delphi, and tour museums and the city of Athens for a couple days before heading to Santorini. As a Latin student, I have been reading and translating myths surrounding the ancient history of these places. Next year, I have to write a paper on the classical time period of the Greeks and Romans. After a couple days history, everyone will be ready for a break. We are heading to Santorini for almost a week before heading back to Athens to fly home.

When I get back from Greece, I will have to resume my Spanish studies. But then I am enrolled in a summer camp called Camp Neuro where I will have the opportunity to learn a ton about neurology, which I am considering to be my major. I even get to dissect a pig’s brain! After Camp Neuro, I have another summer program for neurology, but this one is through the National Student Leaders Conference. I am headed to DC for nine days to stay at American University and participate in labs and lectures.

My family always makes a trip up to Traverse City, Michigan to visit my grandma at the end of the summer. While the twelve-hour car trip is not fantastic, snorkeling in Mickey Lake and sailing on Long Lake will be. If I get lucky, we might even head over to Lake Michigan for a day trip.

Once I come home from Michigan, I will have to start packing for school. I still have one more trip though. One of my friends at home has a beach house in Ocean City and my family will probably stay with them for a few days. Of course, I will have to be studying Spanish as well.

After I go to the beach, the summer is pretty much over. I will be studying for my Spanish placement test, finishing up the summer work I am going to be assigned, and packing up everything I want for my junior year. It is definitely going to be a busy summer, but it will also be fun… if everything goes according to plan!

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Georgestock

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Students gather in Marshall Center where Georgestock was held due to inclement weather.

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

Coming to George School next weekend is Georgestock. As Paris Parker ’17 wrote in a recent email to the school, “LMW + outdoors + Hallowell + sunset + food= Georgestock. Woodstock + George School – all the questionable stuff= Georgestock. Tunes + jams= a dope addition to footbag club weekend.” No one is exactly sure what Georgestock will be. It’s the first year anyone has done it. There will be music, fun activities, fundraisings, and a smattering of other activities on May 13, 2017 from 5:30-10:30 on Hallowell Porch and South Lawn. The leaders of Footbag Club, along with Goldfish and Java, invite everyone and expect people to have a great time.

Footbag Club is hosting Georgestock. Footbag Club is a newly formed club led by Andrew Arth ’19, Thomas Kumar ’17, Julian Lindenmaier ’18, Alec Palmiotti ’17, Sundar Pratt ’17, and Charles Ryan ’17. A select group of twenty-five or thirty members get together ­­­­once a week to play hacky sack and hang out. Georgestock was created in combination with Paris Parker and the rest of Goldfish and Java, as it is a live music event.

Goldfish and Java are responsible for some of the most entertaining events on campus, including Live Music Weekend and Spring Fling. For the first time, they are hosting yet another outdoor music performance. The main organizers are Paris, Alec, and Sydney Johnson ’17, with help from Sundar, Thomas, and Caleigh Hoffman ’18. So far, about 9-15 groups have signed up, but more are expected in the next couple of days. There also will be a special appearance from the band Liz De Lise.

Everyone who wants to perform just fills out a form to let Paris know what music and instruments are needed and they are on the set list. Paris has sent out a few emails with the form and there are more to come. He also carries a few with him so people can get them directly from him.

“GS Alumni Ethan Carpene had the idea, but so did GS alumni Justin Daniel Becker,” Paris said. “Sadly, it was never realized and now we have resurrected the corpse of this idea and tried to make it a reality.”

While people listen to their peers perform and enjoy all the other activities Footbag Club have, people can also sign up to fundraise. Coordinated by Sydney, clubs, classes, and whoever else wants to can sign up to raise money for any cause by selling food, clothing, or other items. When asked to describe Georgestock, Paris replied, “Imagine a scene where George School students are sprawled across South Lawn on (provided) blankets listening to dank tunes while eating food and watching the sun set. The moon rises and the party continues. It supports George School arts and artists. It seeks to return GS to its organic, outdoors roots while also providing a bumpin’ time. There is which bonds communities more than music, food, and carefree moments.”

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“Be Authentic”

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Dana Falsetti ’11 during assembly.

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

Lots of college students have no clue what they want to do with their life. They wander aimlessly from class to class, stressed but not overly worried for their future. They commit to multiple majors before choosing a career. Dana Falsetti ’11, a plus-sized yoga teacher and Instagram blogger, was one of these students.

During her college years, Dana thought she wanted to be a lawyer. Little did she know, her calling was something else entirely. Now, instead of practicing law, she travels the world teaching inclusive yoga. Recently, she has been to Arkansas, Denver, Seattle, and Thailand. She is only twenty-three, yet she seems to have a world of knowledge.

“Growing up,” Dana said during a recent George School assembly presentation, “my life was defined by the numbers on the scale.” Dana struggled with her weight all throughout childhood. In her sophomore year of college, she lost over a hundred pounds. She expected to feel happier, prouder, and better. However, this was when she hit her lowest of lows. The expectation she had was shattered. She felt the same as before she lost the weight, just lighter.

It was the summer after her sophomore year when she started yoga, on a spur of the moment decision. A studio near her house was offering classes for the summer for a relatively low price and she just went to check it out. She expected it to be easy, but her expectations were again shattered. Not only did she struggle immensely in the class, but she blamed it on her weight. She hated the class, but she went back again anyway because she “had something to prove to myself.”

After taking yoga classes all summer, Dana started an Instagram account that now has over 280,000 followers.

Instagram now calls Dana a public figure, while Buzzfeed wrote an article called “19 Badass Instagrammers Who Prove Yoga Bodies Come in All Shapes And Sizes” that featured her. She has been on the cover of Om Yoga Magazine, she was nominated for a 2017 Shorty Awards for Excellence in Social Media (Health & Wellness), and she has a combined social media following of over half a million.

Her Instagram documents her life as a yoga teacher, body activist, and empowered woman with captions that read like journal entries. Each one promotes body positivity, confidence, and strength.

Social media has been a favorite of trolls and haters since its creation, but Dana does not worry about this. She ignores the comments against her by simply not caring about those opinions. She is happy with who she is and her goal is to help others be as happy as her.

So her best advice? “Be authentic.”

 

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Why I Said Yes to GS

2017-02-20-07

Bea, seen here in her Oxford University Sweatshirt, works with another student on the Curious George. 

By Bea Feichtenbiner ‘19

George School is so much more than I thought it would be. In seventh grade, I began thinking about colleges. I know that is early, but I have always been hyper focused on my future. During this time, I wanted to major in English and obsessed with England. I decided that I wanted to go to the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, and I would do anything necessary to get there. I learned of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma from a family friend and I looked it up. Only two schools within an hour of my house offered the diploma. I knew this would help me get into my dream school, so I convinced my mom to let me look at them. The first school, Harriton High School in Lower Merion School District, was the closest to my house, but I would have to move to attend school there. George School was the second closest.

Neither my mom nor I felt any harm in applying, so I started the application. I went for a tour in October and I loved it. It just felt right. I finished my application and anxiously awaited a decision. The portal said decisions would be posted at midnight, so I planned to stay up. When the clock hit twelve, I logged in and sure enough, my decision was there. “Congratulations,” I read.

The next morning, I logged on again at 6:30 a.m. “Congratulations,” I read again. I ran upstairs to wake my mom up. She was excited, but we both knew what this meant: we had to decide whether or not I should go.

After I pondered it for a couple of weeks, I convinced myself that I needed to say yes to GS. I made a PowerPoint of pros and cons and presented it to my mom. We accepted the admission a week before it was due.

Then I had to tell my friends and my family. Some were shocked and some were not, but for the most part, everyone supported me. I got many comments about how I was “brave” or “crazy.” I didn’t understand this. Going to George School felt natural, I didn’t need to be brave or crazy. I felt like I belonged. That didn’t stop the butterflies in my stomach when I actually got ready to go though. For the first few hours, I was convinced I hated it. But then it got easier and I made new friends.

I am not going to lie, even now, three months away from my junior year, I sometimes feel like I made a terrible mistake. I miss my family and my friends, I miss my old life. But I don’t really regret it. I have my moments of doubt, but it has been a great opportunity and I am not going to waste it wondering about what might have been. George School is one of the best things to ever happen to me—it has a way of making you belong, no matter who you are.

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John Streetz: Teacher, Mentor, and Friend

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Friends,

I am deeply sorry to share the news that John Streetz, former George School teacher, coach, and a most beloved and devoted friend of the community, passed away on Saturday, March 18, 2017 in Oakland, CA.

George School’s first African-American teacher, John was hired in 1950 by Head of School Dick McFeely to teach Chemistry. Over the next sixteen years, John also coached track and cross-country and lived in Orton Dormitory with his family. He had a profound and lasting effect on his students, his colleagues, and the school; he was a legend in his own time.

In addition to his legacy within each of us who knew him, John’s presence will continue to be felt on campus every day. In 2009, several of John’s former students funded the construction of a new faculty home on campus, Streetz House. John and his late wife Jackie were the class sponsors for the Class of 1961 which, on the occasion of their 50th reunion, presented George School with a wonderful gift to the endowment, The John and Jackie Streetz Scholarship Fund. These generous gifts are fitting tributes to John that will support and nurture George School students and faculty for years to come.

I want to share with you an excerpt from the email sent earlier this week by Dick Brown to his 1961 classmates:

We have lost an exceptional person, a man who inspired us, comforted us, and often made us laugh. John was the heart and soul of our class inspiring us with his own accomplishments, challenging us with his intelligence, delighting us with his humor, and always taking pride in our accomplishments. We encourage all classmates to attend the memorial service when it is scheduled. 

With apologies to Eleanor Hoyle:  Quos valde amas numquam vere moriuntur … those who we love deeply never truly die.

As of this writing, there is not yet a date for a memorial service, but we will post new information on this page as it becomes available.

Please join me in holding John’s daughter Pamela ’70 and their family in the Light. I hope that you will share your remembrances and words of comfort here—in this community space dedicated to John Streetz and his remarkable life.

Karen Hallowell

April 20, 2017 editors note:  News of the death of John Streetz in March has left many in the extended George School family mourning the loss of our beloved teacher, coach, colleague, and friend. We will gather to honor John’s memory and celebrate his life at George School on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. in the meetinghouse. All are welcome.

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Nicaragua March 5-6

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March 5-6

Alexander Feldman ’18

After visiting the fortress (which was not extremely large) on the island of San Pedro, we had a delicious lunch of rice mixed with chicken and ham. Afterwards, Greg, Niccolo, Alex, Phillip, and I learned yet another card game from the students of La Nicaraguita who accompanied us. It was called “Sietilo”; a combination of Uno and Crazy Eights. Then, Alex and Alyssa decided to swim, and later Maia, Greg, Phillip and I joined in, with Tali and Niccolo keeping us company from the shore. There were several chicken fights, and then, we spent the rest of our time on the island relaxing in the sun and drinking coconut water, fresh from coconuts sold to us by a man who knew how to use a machete very well. We hopped back in our boats and returned to the mainland. In the central Plaza in Granada, we stopped for a bit and we split into groups to explore and buy some items. Phillip and I, and some of the kids from La Nicaraguita, bought raspados, cups of shaved ice topped with syrup. Afterwards, we came back to Rafaela’s, and had a delicious dinner of gallo pinto, plantains, beans, and cheese.

The next day was our first day properly working at La Nicaraguita. In the morning, after a breakfast of pancakes and tortillas, we were met by one of the classes. They each took our hands and walked us over to the school. First off, we were presented with another set of performances, this time from the lower grades. There was some traditional dances, a poem, an extremely well-performed song, and another dance. After these, I did my own “acto,” a rendition of “Classical Gas” on the acoustic guitar. After the performances, we separated and went off to our respective classes. We were in school during two classes this morning, and in my case, that was a science class, and an English class. I was able to help out, by taking attendance and helping grade assignments. I made several friends in the classroom. With one student I repeatedly played tic tac toe at his behest, until I finally had to go. After assisting in our classes, we went to our own dance class, along with the 7th grade. Suffice to say, the class was interesting. We did a variety of dances, and by the end—due to both the heat and strenuous dancing—everyone was covered with sweat. After dance class, we walked back to Rafaela’s, and had a lunch of empanadas de maduro (ripe plantains), and rice, followed by some time to relax.

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March 3

After our wake-up call at 2:15 a.m., smooth flights at 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and a warm reception at the Managua airport where the 11th grade class met us with their teachers, we drove to the school accompanied by the students. A late lunch of chicken, salad, rice, and fries was awaiting us. Everyone ate well! Soon after, we were entertained by dancers and a poetry reading as we took in the whole scene. Such excitement! The students in pairs went into the older students’ classrooms and helped the teachers with their lessons. By 6:00 p.m., one by one, families came by to pick up their GS student. It was lovely to see them meet. We hope you like the photos!

Starting tomorrow, the students will write the blog entries. They are doing fine; their Spanish is really quite impressive as they dive into their first evening of immersion. We’re heading to bed now and hope that they are too. Tomorrow, we will visit Managua.

Tom and Cheri

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The Opposite of Hazing

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Photo by Jim Inverso

by Amanda Acutt, school counselor and Paul Weiss, athletics director

Last spring Amanda and I presented a concept during assembly that we described as “the opposite of hazing.”  Our intent was to challenge the community to engage in purposeful behaviors that we called “Friending.”  Essentially, we asked the community to embrace the concept of engaging in pro-social, empathetic, and sometimes uncomfortable, leadership behavior. We were trying to communicate the behaviors and feelings that underpin being in a safe, supportive, and mindful community of Friends.

Most people are generally familiar with the definition of hazing. Traditionally the term is applied to ritual abuse used as an initiation rite in fraternities, sororities, military settings, sports, or clubs.  The actual definition of hazing has recently expanded to include “any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment, alienation, or ridicule, and risks emotional and/or physical harm to an individual, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”*

Many institutions provide community education and resources focused on identifying, reporting, and preventing hazing, and we believe this is an important part of culture creation.  However, our intent is to address culture creation in a different way.  We would like to start a dialog about an intentional approach to creating a safe, mutually supportive, and empathetic school culture or as we like to call it, the opposite of hazing.

This proactive approach to culture creation is consistent with many of the fundamental elements of a Friends community. The George School Mission (found HERE) says the following: “Students learn about the tension between the individual and community, that fairness and justice are inherently tied to each other.  They learn to express themselves without trampling others…” and “…in what seems a fitting fulfillment of our mission, George School students joyously go out in the world comfortable in their self-awareness and confident that they can make the world a better, kinder place.”

Our mission is not simply to educate academically, it is to perpetuate the values inherent in a Friends community, and for George School graduates to carry these values with them. When we ask if there is hazing in our community, we are asking the wrong question.  Instead, we should ask interconnected questions like:

  • What does it mean to intervene, to be a hero, to champion someone else, to be empathetic?
  • How aware are you of how others feel, of whether someone feels excluded, unheard, unseen, or uncomfortable?
  • What can you do, individually and collectively, to take responsibility for each other?

One of the things that is lost when we talk explicitly about hazing is the proactive ways in which we can do more for each other and our community.  The higher-level expectation is to seek out opportunities to connect with each other, particularly individuals and groups in the community who are most likely to feel different, disconnected, alienated, misunderstood, or invisible.

There are many examples of George School students exhibiting behaviors that embody the opposite of hazing. Here are just a few.

  • The student who sees a new student in the dining hall looking around nervously and calls out “come sit with us!”
  • The student who stops another student in class who is disrespecting a first year teacher.
  • The student who sees another student is upset and walks them over to the Student Health and Wellness Center, stays with them, and offers to let that student join her group of friends so they feel less alone and more connected.
  • A student who sets up a meeting with the school counselor to ask for tips on how to help a friend through a difficult time.

These examples are real. These students did not know they were being observed, and had no motive other than their belief that their behavior was the right thing to do.

Perpetuating a culture of treating each other as Friends is not limited to students interacting with each other.  This is one of the reasons we call everyone by his or her first name; we try to foster an environment in which every individual has intrinsic value, and making sure we see, hear, recognize, and care for each other is the shared thread in the fabric of our community.

The call to action is simple: strive to be intentional, externally aware, and empathetic.  Thinking about what behaviors not to do is a start, but leadership and positive culture creation is a deliberate process.

When the intent to do the “opposite of hazing” is shared by many, the effect is powerful.

*paraphrased from www.hazingprevention.org

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The Things I Learned in the Silence

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by Shanti Lerner ’15

This post originally appeared here and was shared with permission.

The things I learned in the silence.

The attack on OSU last Monday definitely reiterated the idea that silence is important. During the event of the attack, I was sitting in a dance room that was under lockdown at the North Recreation Center with 50 other students. No one in the room was speaking to each other but I knew we were all experiencing the same emotions. Everyone was quiet, curious, and afraid. When the shelter was lifted I felt a sudden wave of emotions hit me. I realized that although I was not directly affected, I was definitely affected emotionally. I’ve seen stuff like this happen all the time on TV, but I never imagined I would be part of something like it in real life.  Days after the event, I was expecting many of the people I knew to be talking about it, however, I have yet to hear anything. I still wonder why it seems like the issue has been swept under the rug. Perhaps people are in shock, maybe they don’t have time to think about it, or they simply just want to move on from it. But I know that just because no one is discussing it doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking about it, which reminds me of the first place I learned about the value of silence.

Not so long ago, I was at a place called George School. For three years of my high school career, I attended a Quaker boarding school in Newtown, Pennsylvania. No, Quaker is not the same as Amish. The Quakers or the “Society of Friends” are historically members of the Christian religious sect but have more liberal understandings of Christianity. The Society of Friends is united in the belief that there is that of God in every person. Quakers don’t attend church, don’t read bibles, they avoid creeds, and hierarchical structures. However, they do attend meeting for worship.

Meeting for worship entails people coming together in a meeting house or any space and sitting in silence from 40 minutes to an hour. Usually, meeting for worship is set up in such a way that all people are facing the center of the room. During meeting for worship, if a person feels moved by the silence then one can share their feelings or thoughts to the people in the meeting house. I had to attend meeting for worship twice a week for three years. I wasn’t allowed to look at my phone, speak to the person next to me, or even fall asleep. It was just me and my thoughts. It’s almost like meditating except if someone in the room speaks and I resonate, there’s chance I can speak and share.

In my three years at George School I probably only spoke in meeting a countable number of times and every time I did it felt scary.  It was frightening to stand up and share my feelings, my thoughts, and my opinion on issues. But when my heart was beating fast and I was getting nervous I knew that’s when I had to speak. I had to break my silence and have the courage to set whatever it was that was in my head FREE. Once I did, it always felt amazing. I never felt judged because I knew for a fact that everyone was experiencing the same thing as me, people had feelings, problems, they were thinking, imagining, but were also frightened by the idea of standing up to speak in a vulnerable state.

I will admit that there were days where I dreaded going and it wasn’t until after high school that I realized the value of that silence. In my busy school schedule now, how I wish I had that chance to be able to go to meeting for worship and just relax and think to myself without any distractions. 40 minutes of silence may seem hard in this day and age but I think being able to just take a step back from whatever is going on in our lives is an important practice to maintain. It’s good for calming yourself, thinking, breathing, and forming an opinion. With all the technology and the constant interaction with people, we tend to forget to be holistically present with ourselves and our environment. While I was patiently waiting for the shelter to be lifted I felt like I was in meeting for worship again. The silence took me a step back from what was going on and it allowed me to realize that I was affected by this attack too and everyone I was with at the time.

Often times, people tend not to voice out their opinions on serious events to avoid conflict. Although I’ve been feeling bothered by the fact that a lot of people aren’t voicing out the magnitude of what happened or simply how they are feeling, I know all of this is happening in the silence. Which I realized is not a bad thing. Just like how it felt to speak in meeting for worship, its hard to voice out about an event like the attack that had just happened. But at the same time, its OKAY to just be silent and think about it and how its affecting you, your friends, and the greater community. Sometimes we need silence to be able to realize some things. But, if by chance your heart starts pounding fast, you get a little nervous, and you get the courage to speak out loud, go ahead. Breaking the silence might give you a feeling of relief.

Shanti invites readers to connect with her via email.

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