Annie Wright Schools - Review #1

Annie Wright Schools
5

About the Author:

College Enrolled Grinnell College
Home Town, State (Country) Renton, WA
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School I participated in basketball, golf, Destination Imagination, technical theater, the writing center, and student government. Junior year I was a dorm proctor (now called a prefect) and a member of the Dorm Honor Council. Senior year I was student body president.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Annie Wright combines many different teaching styles and personalities into one exceptional faculty. Teachers are incredibly dedicated and with the new IB program just getting started they have more materials than ever to creating interesting and relevant lessons. The main building houses the Lower, Middle, and Upper schools as well as the dorm, creating a really unique community environment.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I can't even begin to list all of the good things! I remember being very loud with my friends in the dorm once and an RA came in and I thought we were going to be in trouble, but then she gave us fudgesicles. I remember trying to edge our way into the best seats at chapel on Wednesday so we would be able to exit quickly because Wednesday was chicken strip day at lunch. I remember studying for exams in the dining room because there was an unlimited supply of juice. I grew as a person unimaginably in high school. I became confident in ways that I couldn't even begin to describe and I gained an incredible appreciation for how people can work together. I learned how to speak and be heard and how to manage my time. I learned how to make plans and stick to them and how to confess that I needed help. Annie Wright is, in more ways than one, incredibly supportive of individuals. Teachers, staff, and dorm parents all are dedicated to helping each girl become a strong, educated young woman.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
In retrospect, I would be less afraid to just dive in! I was very intimidated by other students and teachers and I was afraid to ask older students for help when I was confused. What I realized later as a senior is that we LOVED being asked silly questions by freshmen because it made us feel older and respected. So, that is my biggest piece of advice: don't be afraid to feel stupid and to ask questions. Everyone has been there, and people are much more likely to be flattered by being asked for help than they are to laugh at you.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Annie Wright is extremely dedicated to maintaining traditions. Every year the outgoing senior class hides The Spade (a literal spade, like, a little shovel) somewhere in the school. There are few rules, so the hunt usually involves a series of elaborate clues (sometimes requiring math problems or translation). When the seniors find the spade they are eligible to request senior privileges like dorm refrigerators and certain uniform exemptions. Finding the spade senior year was one of the highlights of my time at Annie Wright. We also wear colored ties with the uniform that change according to class year (i.e. the class of 2008 and the class of 2012 are both blue ties). Traditions like that create an incredible cohesive bond between alumnae and former students, and that feeling of belonging to something was certainly one of the best things about AWS.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
A couple of dorm rooms have their own bathrooms, so shoot for a good room draw number! Get to know lower school and middle school teachers if you can: volunteer to help in their classrooms or after school. Ask ASB for money to start a club (maybe resurrect the Annie Wright Croquet Society!). If they turn you down, start a club anyway. Above all else, explore the campus! The AWS building is very old and the Lower, Middle, and Upper schools are all under one roof (along with the dorm). There are tons of little nooks and secret rooms full of old furniture that you can find. Use all of the staircases at least once and go into the scary attic above the chapel (but don't tell them I told you to, I'm pretty sure it's off limits). Have fun!

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Coming from my position now as a rising college senior, I can say that the academics at AWS were truly outstanding. Class discussion is encouraged not merely as a way to fill time, but as a legitimate forum for advancing lessons. Questions and dissenting opinions were always encouraged. Teachers vary in style, but are universally dedicated to their jobs and their students. Both the standard high school academics (Geometry, Biology, US history) and the more eclectic electives (Consumerism, Marriage and Family in US Culture, Islam, Latin American Literature, Non-Novel Literature) were challenging and taught with the primary goal of preparing students for bigger things. We were encouraged to be more curious, to read more, to ask more questions, but we also had to know the material at hand. To this day, I know the difference between the words "quote" and "quotation" and I can recite the definition of "mercantilism". We also had the option as Seniors to sit down with English and Social Studies faculty and discuss what electives we would like to see offered; demonstrating a respect for us as thinkers that I have not seen anywhere else. Workloads were heavy at times and lighter at others, but teachers and academic help centers are always readily available. Students also are quick to help each other, and it was not uncommon for girls to go to the student lounge during lunch to find classmates who could help them with specific subjects.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
My involvement with the athletic program was minimal, but the two seasons that I played competitive sports were valuable. I played basketball my freshman year, primarily because I am tall, and luckily my total lack of talent was not too much of a problem. Such a small student body ensures that everyone receives playing time either on varsity or JV. Golf, which I played during my senior year was also a good experience. On both teams, the coaches were encouraging and skilled. The volleyball team was very good during my junior and senior years and were a great source of pride.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I worked in technical theater in high school, developing the skills required to operate lighting and sound equipment. These skills allowed me to operate tech for numerous school plays, talent shows and recitals. I also had the opportunity to work running sound for a local ballet company on several occasions. Theater productions at AWS are a fun affair and everyone who wants to help in some way is usually accommodated. In addition to the Upper and All-School plays, AWS stages the International Talent Show and the Lip Sync, both highly anticipated events. Visual arts and music are also well represented in the curriculum. The orchestra and chorus perform regularly at chapel and all-school events, and there are frequent displays of visual are. Most students, at some point in their high school careers, are involved in at least one artistic endeavor.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Activity periods were built in to the academic day, meaning clubs were only required to meet after school if they were preparing for a tournament or other competition. My senior year, our Destination Imagination team went to the Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee and we were fully supported by the school (with funding coming from both the drama and athletic departments, among others). I was really touched at how willing the school was to help us raise the funds to participate in this incredible opportunity. There are many different activities and the schedule allows students to try a few and really explore their interests. The student newspaper (The Inkwell) has received several awards and the debate team is also highly accomplished. I was also very active in Student Government, which is responsible for throwing dances and liaising between students, staff, and faculty among many other duties. We worked to prepare reports on various issues that we identified throughout the school and presented them to teachers and administration. Student Government is heavily involved in student life and all students are welcome to attend meetings. Extra-Curriculars at Annie Wright are a wonderful extension of academic life and a great way to get to know a broader range of teachers and students.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The dorm at Annie Wright is connected to the main academic building, an interesting and unique set-up. I could go from my room to breakfast in under a minute. Dorm students are a mix of domestic students and international students from all over the world (primarily from Taiwan, South Korea, and China). The rooms are big and have recently been renovated. Freshmen and Sophomores generally have roommates; most Juniors and all Seniors are eligible for singles. Some Residence Advisers (now called Dorm Parents) were also teachers and were all highly involved in student life. "Runs" to a local Target and the mall were heavily anticipated on weekends and on Wednesday nights, and sometimes if you knew just how and who to ask we could get an RA to make an impromptu run to Cold Stone or to get bubble tea. The gains in maturity and independence that come from going to boarding school cannot be overstated. Yes, there is a supervised study hall, but it is still up to you to budget your time and get your work done. No one is going to check to make sure you have clean shirts for tomorrow. Disputes with roommates and others must be settled quickly and rationally. The Annie Wright dorm, because of the incredible sense of community and involvement of some truly inspiring adults, is a wonderful place to acquire that independence.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The food at AWS is fine. Certainly there were times when we just NEEDED to go out and eat other things but for the most part the food is good. You are not permitted to take plates etc. out of the dining room, but food on paper plates can be eaten elsewhere during lunch. There is no assigned seating, but on Monday nights boarders eat with their dorm groups. Salad is always available and the kitchen staff is really nice. We baked quite a few birthday cakes in the big kitchen!

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Tacoma is beautiful! The Pacific Northwest is an incredible place to be, although you do have to get used to more than a few wet days. Annie Wright is located in North Tacoma, a historic neighborhood with great access to the waterfront and local businesses. I loved being able to walk down to Starbucks, walk to my friends houses, walk to nearby restaurants etc. The bus system is also pretty good (there is a stop directly outside of AWS) which opens up the greater Seattle/Tacoma area for students to explore.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Without question, I made the best friends of my life in high school. Nowhere before or since have I been surrounded by such genuinely friendly and driven people. Although there are conflicts among students (it is a girls school...), AWS does a great job of fostering an atmosphere of camaraderie and students are quick to resolve disputes and move on. Day students and boarding students easily become friends, and day students are welcome to spend the nights with their dorm friends on weekends. Annie Wright has become known for hosting incredible dances that attract hundreds of students from surrounding schools, so we were never lacking for opportunities to meet other people.

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
7:00 AMWake up! I wake up pretty early, I could easily have done this 45 minutes later.
7:45 AMGo down to breakfast
8:00 AMMorning meeting, start of classes. During the day there are several class periods, chapel or activity period, and lunch.
3:15 PMEnd of academic day. Then sports, theater, hanging out in the RA office, etc.
6:00 PMDinner: annoucements from RAs, announcements about lost things
6:30 PMFor me the after-dinner time mostly revolved around playing cards, but people do have other hobbies.
7:30 AMStudy hall!
9:30 PMEnd of study hall, then possibly more studying or catching up with friends.
11:00 PMLights out! (For me this usually meant reading with a flashlight, butI no you should actually go to sleep)
12:00 PMLights out if you have
Weekend
10:00 AMWake up, play the sims, clean, whatever
12:00 PMLunch
1:00 PMRun to target or the mall
4:00 PMBack to campus, hang out, do homework etc.
6:00 PMDinner
7:00 PMCards/Scrabble for me. A lot of people call their familes around this time
7:30 PMMaybe go to a movie or something, somtimes there are all dorm events (zoo, laser tag, bowling)
10:00 PMContinue either playing cards or doing homework.
12:00 PMWeekends did not have a lights out when I was there, but I think they do now. So, around midnight: go to sleep/talk to friends/read.
1:00 AMContinue sleeping

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Annie Wright Schools Alumni #1
    Class of 2008
    5 Stars   8/17/2011
    Grinnell College
    Annie Wright combines many different teaching styles and personalities into one exceptional faculty. Teachers are incredibly dedicated and with the new IB program just getting started they have more materials than ever to creating interesting. . .
  • Annie Wright Schools Alumni #2
    Class of 2005
    5 Stars   3/22/2005
    St. Olaf College
    The community at Annie Wright makes it such a unique place to spend four years. The international component to the school allows global education to be experienced at a very young age, increasing cultural. . .
  • Annie Wright Schools Alumni #3
    Class of 2005
    5 Stars   11/28/2008
    St. Olaf College
    Annie Wright's small class sizes make it very unique coupled with very interactive, discussion based classes with many international influences.. . .
  • Annie Wright Schools Alumni #4
    Class of 1992
    5 Stars   3/23/2005
    Princeton University
    Annie Wright's most unique characteristic is its all-girls environment. The all-girls experience is truly what makes Annie Wright special. The friends I made there are still some of my best friends today. . .
  • Show more reviews (-1 reviews)
Recent Articles
5 Challenges Parents Face
October 24, 2017
How to handle five basic challenges involved in choosing a boarding school.
Choosing a School: Comparing Schools
September 28, 2017
Use a spreadsheet to develop your initial list of schools. Here's how.
How Can an Educational Consultant Help with a Boarding School Search?
September 28, 2017
Finding the right boarding school for your child is one of the most important and expensive decisions you will ever make.