One of my favorite times during the year at Dana Hall School is watching our young graduates cross the stage as they receive their diplomas at commencement. With each student in her white attire and her head adorned with a flowered crown, it is a proud moment not only for the family and friends in the crowd, but also for us Dana Hall employees. As a member of the Admission Office, I particularly enjoy this time to reflect on each student’s story and path during her time here at Dana Hall. For me, the first chapter of that story is often the student’s interview and application to Dana Hall.
One of the reasons that I have worked in the Dana Hall Admission Office for 14 years is that I love hearing applicants’ stories and how different they are from each other. Just in this past week of interviews I have heard anecdotes such as a love of reading in a self-made, cozy bedroom fort; hiking a Tibetan mountain to reach a particularly important monastery; practicing public speaking skills with peers; a passion for and commitment to issues of social justice; the various ways that a piano piece by Chopin are interpreted and taught in different cultures; a sincere love of all things science; and so much more.
As each story is told, or later written about in an application, we in the Admission Office get to imagine how each student will be nurtured, challenged, and encouraged at Dana Hall. The lover of books might become involved in one of our international book clubs with partner schools around the world, or the girl who is passionate about social justice might join one of our many clubs or affinity groups where students use their voices to celebrate their culture, share their ideas, and discuss current events. The student who enjoys public speaking might join our highly regarded Model UN team, and the student who plays Chopin might refine her piano performance in yet another way while taking lessons at Dana Hall’s School of Music. It is a pleasure to work at a school where I am confident that however the story begins, I know that the student will be able to forge a path where she feels challenged, nurtured, supported, and respected. Better yet, the student’s story and path might take her in directions she never knew existed, or help her realize it is time to create a new path.
As students complete their applications in the next few days, I hope they know just how much Dana Hall values their stories. We believe each student has a unique story to tell, and her experiences and interests are not only important to her, but also to this community. I cannot wait to read the stories of this next group of applicants and begin to imagine their walk across the commencement stage.