Westover School - Review #8
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2002-2006|
|Sports and Activities:||Varsity Basketball (Captain) Varsity Cross Country (Captain) Varsity Lacrosse, the Outdoor Team, “West Spirit Team” (2nd Head), Environmental Action Committee, Drummer as needed for the Glee Club, Musical Productions (Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, Cinderella, Improv. Etc). Student Officer (3rd head of School), Tour Guide.|
|College Enrolled:||Swarthmore College|
|Home Town, State:||Middlebury, CT|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The West and Over teams are the hallmark of Westover tradition. Upon entering as new girls, we elect to become part of either the ‘West’ or ‘Over’ spirit team. Once decided, we ‘Rah! Rah!’ and sing-song our way through four years of the sometimes high energy, sometimes sentimental traditions that fill me with a certain warmth to recall. I was a West, as marked with many others by etching on the inside of my freshmen year closet.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me at Westover was meeting the people I did. Recently I brought my friend home from college and he met many of my classmates. As we were driving home he told me, “You are all so different, but really seem to fit.” The way I describe my friendship with Ann is through a realization I had when doing college interviews. As I looked of a sheet of ‘warm-up’ question from Corky, our college counselor, I noticed her note at the bottom, “BE YOURSELF!” Of course, that opens up to the huge question of who am I? However, I was surprised at how quickly I answered that with ‘be who you are when you are with Ann.’ Part of the inexpressible value of our friendship is founded on our allowing each other to be fully ourselves. Furthermore, though I cannot pinpoint a particular experience, I think maturing at Westover was also the best thing that happened to me. Through trials and tribulations, not always lighthearted and at times quite difficult, we all did a great amount of, well, growing up during our Westover years. Yet, it is being surrounded by strong people, peers, teachers, or a faculty members alike, that allowed us to extract resolution and understanding from our challenges.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I let myself go when I first started at Westover. What I mean by that is that I put my guard down and really invested my thoughts in those around me. I was having so much fun and being so impressed by my classmates that I was worry-free with my own place in the mix; instead, I settled in naturally. I would advise girls to do the same: be at ease, be brave, and step by step you will find that you have learned quite a bit about yourself without that conscious intention. Also, this is important to do, because, I believe, that the greatest happiness and fulfillment to be gained from Westover or any boarding school is achieved when you have truly engaged with others.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
What did I like most about Westover? Westover! I loved it all. Although, I suppose I recognized my love for Westover quite consciously at the weekly Chapel period. Chapel was time of beauty and reflection. The forty-minute time was filled with a songs and a speaker. The talks included faculty anecdotes, teacher’s reflections on topics such as regret, famous actors’ speaking on industry, but all sort of pointing us towards an appreciation and celebration of life. As we ended with a recessional hymn, I would sometimes picture the girls now transformed into the girls in the 20’s and 30’s doing the same thing and I would be filled with faith that Westover is home. After all, home is where the heart is.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Ask about the traditions if you visit!
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Being a rigorous academic environment currently, I am in full appreciation of the foundation Westover helped me establish regarding my capacity as a writer, reader, worker, and thinker. I believe these skills were developed by the combination of stimulating courses, supportive and intelligent peers, and, well, phenomenal teachers. I cannot speak to Westover’s particular strengths because each academic department deserves a clap of praise for its own reasons. As a testament to both the rigor of the courses and the giftedness so the teachers, I’d like to speak of my Chemistry professor Ms. Burbank. Once I told a group of visitors to Westover that Ms. Burbank was “the best teacher,” and they wanted to know why. To shed some understanding on the claim, I told them that despite her course being notoriously and justly known as “the hardest class ever” I had never heard a single complaint about her. I would guess that this love for Ms. Burbank comes from getting to know her as a woman of intelligence and integrity while working with her late into the afternoon on the latest homework problems.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Athletics at Westover were a large part of my experience. In particular I believe that the Cross Country team captured the ‘Spirit of Westover’ as Coach Sara would say. The team started up my sophomore year with about ten girls and zero running experience. However, with support of the Athletic Director, Head of School, and the enthusiasm of dorm parent and new Coach Sara, we girls were able to pull of a Championship season. The winning was great, but the learning was even more rewarding. From the season my teammate and I learned together that through running together perseverance, good health, especially friendship could be gained.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Although I was more of a dabbler in the arts, my peers made up quite the troop of dancers, singers, actresses, painters, and sculptors. From their experiences I found that when they had ideas for exploring their own creativity, the Westover made it possible. As a result, my friends became choreographers, composers, and directors. I believe this an indicator not only of the strength and flexibility of arts at Westover, but also of receptive, comfortable environment.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
The volunteering opportunities were plentiful at Westover. The required four hours of service were often well surpassed by most girls. My favorite experience was my freshmen year when as a class we helped out at the Special Olympics. Other extra-curricular activities were also quite numerous. I participated in the Environmental Action Committee and Model United Nations clubs. Some of our projects included working the local nature center and the proposing and promoting Westover’s investment in energy-saving light bulbs. Model UN truly supplemented my experience at Westover. I represented South Korea my senior year at the Yale conference. Much of my research included lengthy discussions with my South Korean classmates. From this I learned a great amount of information, and moreover, how to discuss weighty topics with a certain degree of intelligence and confidence.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Being a day student, I have to say my favorite part of dorm life was being so much a part of it. Reflecting now, I realize how fortunate we were to have dorm parents who kept their door, kitchen, and ears open late into the night. The dorm parents along with student proctors make praiseworthy effort to keep up a comfortable, mirthful atmosphere. They do this through study break including everything from movie nights to finger painting to ice cream sundae marathons.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Many of the great memories that I have of Westover took place in the dining hall: Friday senior-dj-ed lunches, elaborate jokes with Robert the baker, and free-style rapping about the latest pasta dish. The dining hall served three meals a day along with a mid-morning snack. Most of these meals are buffet style; however, a few nights a week there is ‘sit down’ dinner, a more formal, family-style dinner. The round tables of the dining hall promote very open conversations. Sit down dinner with a faculty member at your table often means getting quite a bit more than a good meal out of dinner. The food at Westover is definitely above par. A few old classmates and I recently had a Thanksgiving break gathering. Served at it were a couple of dishes whose recipes we learned from the Westover cooks.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
I actually lived in Middlebury, Connecticut, the town where Westover is located, so I know it quite well. I think Middlebury is best described as quaint and small. Although not a commercial town, the handful of Italian pizzerias provide a nice walking-distance get away off campus. Westover is included in town activities such as parades and Christmas tree and Menorah lightings. The public library is also right down the road for off campus studying or a volunteering activity. In this, Middlebury provides a sense of inclusion in the larger world, beyond Westover, but is not overwhelming
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Social life at Westover was phenomenal. It is almost inexplicable how a comparably small school can have girls with so many different personalities and yet at the same time foster so many strong friendships. Being a small group is advantageous in that one has to get to known her peers. I think in getting to know one another’s backgrounds and personal standings leads to an ability to function with respect for others. Once this is gained, fun begins. At large, social life was simply just hanging out with the girls. ‘Hanging out’ includes a great amount of talking, but also trips to the local ice cream hot-spot, bringing boarders to my house for my mother’s famous pizza, making a music video, and all sorts of home-made fun. Westover, however, also provides many opportunities for socializing within and beyond Westover. Headed by a faculty member, there is a committee of social life that includes student representatives from each class year. This committee puts together everything from shopping trips, tot trips to Amusements parks, sports games and movie theaters, and weekly dances held at various boarding schools.
|8:00 AM||US History|
|10:00 AM||Break! Snacks from the dining hall.|
|10:30 AM||Art History|
|11:15 AM||English (Dante, Dostoevsky, etc. electives)|
|2:00 PM||Library time.|
|3:30 PM||Sports until 5:15.|
|6:00 PM||Dinner and work for the night.|
|10:00 AM||Possibly art class. (Photo, painting, sculpting)|
|1:00 PM||Sports Games|
|7:00 PM||Social time- Hang out with friends.|
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