Noa Reiter, Class of 2018

Noa Reiter, Class of 2018, put on the Ellis kilt for the first time as a grade 9 student. During her four years in the Upper School, Noa has been an active member and co-president of the Model UN club and is also this year’s senior class president. Next year, Noa will head to the greater Boston area to attend Brandeis University where she plans to study politics and government.
How has your Ellis education impacted you? What do you think is special about attending a school like Ellis?
I came to Ellis because I was interested in the education and the way teachers interacted with students, despite it being an all-girls school. Over the years I’ve come to realize that Ellis is the way it is, not despite it being an all-girls school, but because it’s an all-girls school. I’m pretty shy but I’m also outspoken, and I don’t know if I would have been as outspoken in a coed environment. I think Ellis brings out the best in everyone, inside and outside of the classroom.

Is there a teacher or teachers at Ellis who have had a particularly strong influence on your life?
Both Ceil and Sara Sturdevant. In clay, Ms. Sturdevant is super welcoming and doesn’t hold herself on any pedestal. She’s right on your level. She’s also a fantastic artist so she really challenges us to create our best work. In art history, it was really nice to have Ms. Sturdevant teach me something I really enjoyed. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and competent. She’s also my advisor this year and has looked after me. She’s very frank with me and pushes me outside of my comfort zone. Our personalities just blend well together.

What is your favorite Ellis tradition?
Raku, the annual clay firing ceremony at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, it’s pretty fantastic and fun. And I don’t know if I’d say this is a tradition but one of my favorite things about Ellis is the way it’s very easy to be friends with people and have controversial conversations. Every morning I walk into the senior lounge and hear people talking about different things. I went to a summer program with kids from all over Pennsylvania and I was shocked to learn that a lot of them weren’t having the kind of conversations I was having with my friends. It’s just an ingrained part of Ellis. I hear people speaking their mind at the lunch table and in the senior lounge every morning—I really appreciate that.  

What will you miss most about Ellis when you graduate?
The interactions between teachers and students. I’m someone who values the relationships I have with my teachers, because I don’t think I can learn fully from them unless I really know them. I’ve worked really hard to create relationships with my teachers here and I don’t foresee having that in college to the same degree. Even though it’s not our teachers’ duty to help us outside of class, they do. After class, I’ll have teachers emailing me with links referencing things we discussed—for Ellis teachers, it’s not formally in their job description, but to them it’s a very important part of their job.  

How would you describe the Class of 2018?
We’re not rigid in any way. In a couple senses, we’re really goofy and I see that in everyone. Then there’s also the notion that, yes, we all have our small close groups of friends, but we’re always willing to mingle and help each other out. We’re very caring and look out for each other even if we squabble.

Fill in the blank: “I will always remember…”
That learning doesn’t have a set location. It occurs in the halls, in the classrooms, in the auditorium, off campus. There’s no time and place in which you are expected to learn, you are expected to learn and be engaged all of the time, everywhere, at Ellis.

How do you think your Ellis education has prepared you for your next chapter?
I think it’s taught me to never take things at face value. To realize that there are always implications that are not obvious, always little caveats to explore. It’s taught me that you’re the only person responsible for your education and getting yourself where you want to go. Ellis has also taught me that your peers are not your competitors, they’re people who are here to help you, and if they’re not there to help you, there’s no reason to interact with them.

What are you involved with outside of Ellis?
I teach gymnastics at Gymkhana. I was involved in the sport for a really long time, but when I started at Ellis, I realized it was too much of a time commitment. I teach all levels, from 2 ½ year olds to 18 year olds.

What advice would you offer to future seniors?
It’s your last year, but that’s a whole year so don’t check out on day one. Stay involved in your classes and definitely be open to talking to people and teachers you haven’t talked to or interacted with before. I’ve had the most fun this year because my friend group has expanded and I’m taking new classes. It’s refreshing to learn something completely foreign to you, and nice to step aside from some of the things I’m more interested and find a challenge in something else.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Empathetic. Curious. Introspective.
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