As I reflect back over the first trimester of this school year, I am struck by the myriad ways girls in the Upper School have demonstrated their strength of character. From engaging in political discussions to responding to the Tree of Life tragedy to building community across divisions, I have seen the students take great interest in learning and developing as people.
This fall, as the country was intently following the appointment of the next Supreme Court Justice, so too were our Upper School students. They engaged in conversation around the Kavanaugh hearings and were silent as they collectively watched the final vote. In an email sent to all students by a peer, anyone who was free was encouraged to participate in this important political moment. Following Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, the Feminist Student Union held an open forum for any interested students and faculty. Our students do not sit idly by as history happens. They ask courageous questions and engage in lively debate as they seek to define their own sense of good.
Similarly, I saw Ellis girls swiftly respond to the Tree of Life tragedy in late October. Less than twenty-four hours after the shooting, the senior class president sent a message to her class imploring them to “come together and continue to support one another.” When we returned to school on Monday morning, Karen Boyer, Ashley Dotson, and I provided a space for students to share their thoughts and feelings on the tragedy. Initially, I had underestimated the number of students who would feel ready to collectively process the weekend’s event with their peers; however, I was humbled to see more than half the Upper School come together in conversation that morning. In an hour filled with wide-ranging emotion, students asked questions about how this could happen, shared ideas on how they could help, and came away with the support of the Upper School community behind them.
On a smaller scale, I am consistently impressed by the ways in which students serve as mentors to each other. Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Upper School Student Council (USSC) independently organized and facilitated an activity for the Middle School students. At each grade level, they led Thanksgiving-themed crafts and games and in doing so were patient and kind role models to our younger community members. The USSC has spent a good amount of their energy this fall on increasing student participation in events and building school spirit. This extends beyond the halls of the Upper School to the other divisions as they make an effort to better connect the Lower, Middle, and Upper School communities.
It is my privilege to spend my days with students who are, simply put, good people. Communities filled with kindness and compassion are increasingly important in today’s world, and I am honored to be a member of the Ellis Upper School.