Westover School - Review #2

Westover School
5

About the Author:

College Enrolled Boston College
Home Town, State (Country) Cheshire, CT
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School After dancing my freshman year, I decided to try team sports. Since then I have played on the JV soccer, JV tennis, varsity swimming, varsity cross country, and varsity tennis teams. I was also a member of the Women in Science and Engineering Program and was a member of the Robotics Team. Outside of academics and athletics, I participated in the handbell choir. I was involved with Dialtones, a group that makes calls to our strong group of Westover alumnae. I have a strong passion for community service and thus was elected the senior class community service representative my senior year. For the senior class community service projects, our small class of forty-four girls sent twenty care packages to servicemen and raised $750 for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Also through my community service at Westover, I was able to travel to Biloxi, Mississippi my sophomore year to rebuild homes after the hurricane. Lastly, I was a tour guide and hostess for the Westover Admissions Office and gained leadership positions through that department.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Westover School is unique, for one, because it is an all-girls school. Being one of the few remaining all-girls schools in the surrounding area, Westover strives to instill in students qualities of independence and confidence. One example of how confidence is established within students is through the Women and Science and Engineering Program. Through the program, students are given the basic knowledge and skills to continue on into the male-dominated field of engineering. The comfortable atmosphere, the openness between students and faculty, and the willingness of students to participate in class and extracurricular activities all exist, in part, because of the same gender learning environment. Westover students are becoming leaders, athletes, and highly achieving academic scholars. As mentioned, another unique aspect to Westover is the close interaction among students and faculty. Teachers at Westover are required to post a conference schedule for each day. Because students readily use this opportunity to review class material or go over a paper, strong bonds grow between the students and teachers, making the level of comfort between them optimal for the learning environment.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me at boarding school was making friends with so many genuinely good people. I have forged friendships with girls from all over the world. By the end of senior year, my class of forty-four girls realized what a special connection we had with one another. In the weeks approaching graduation we gathered a few times to share memories and the things that we love about one another. The sisterhood at Westover seems as though it would be hard to find at another boarding school. When two hundred girls stand side by side in chapel each week, all listening to the same meaningful, relatable message, it is hard to imagine oneself in a closer community. One achievement that I am proud of is having been chosen, by the faculty, as the convocation speaker. I am thankful to have given a speech about the importance of taking advantage of opportunities. I spoke about how we learn the most from our peers and teachers. A missed conversation is a missed opportunity to learn.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Having been quite shy and reserved when I came to Westover, I wish that I had become friends with some people earlier on. Looking back, I could have become more involved in extracurricular activities at Westover earlier on in my career. My advice to incoming freshman would be to not let anything hold you back. Take a challenging class. Converse with your teachers as they are your best resources. Make friends with an upperclassman. Because of Westover's single sex, comfortable, non-judgemental environment, nothing should inhibit you from trying new things and putting yourself out there.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
One thing that I loved about Westover was the overall feeling. The lack of separation between day students and boarders made my experience enjoyable because I did not live at Westover. I would describe the members of Westover's community as non-judgemental, kind, motivated, and willing to learn. The combination of students' acceptance for each other and their willingness to learn is what makes Westover a place that I enjoyed being at day after day. I must also add how remarkable Westover's English department is. I am now confident in my writing, whether it be a paper or a quick email. Beginning from freshman year, the faculty drills correct grammar, diction, and writing technique. In addition to being able to present oneself well, writing is a crucial skill to have when continuing on to college and the workplace after high school. Westover's dedication to poetry is a unique aspect of an English department. Students are able to have the work entered in "The Lantern", the Westover literary publication. I cannot say enough about the teachers at Westover to them justice. They are so passionate about their field of study that it rubs off on the students. They are willing to help students who struggle with a subject. The advising program at Westover is also important to mention. Students forge connections with their advisers so that no matter what, they have someone to turn to for guidance.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Definitely try the milkshakes from the student center! My advice, again, would be to make use of all the opportunities given at Westover. Try things out that you would never have tried because you're only in high school once. Four years goes by in the blink of an eye. You may find a passion for something or a true talent that you never thought you had. Take lots of pictures of the beautiful traditions and go crazy at rallying!

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
While the work load at Westover is often challenging, I would not have wanted any other academic curriculum for my high school career. Now having graduated I am appreciative of how the work load sometimes felt overwhelming. By senior year, I became talented at juggling six classes in addition to athletics and extracurriculars. Westover taught me how to manage my time well so that I could accomplish everything I wanted to. Even though I speak of a challenging academic environment, I must say that Westover is good at accommodating everyone's pace of learning or learning style. When I was struggling with some math material, the teachers were accessible and willing to help. Again, the ability for students to conference with teachers as much as needed is key in developing close connections between students and teachers. In addition, there is minimal pressure put on the students by faculty and peers. Even though students who achieve highly are awarded with publication of a literary work, or an recognition in a certain field of study, students are never thought less of by peers for inadequate work. They are, oppositely, motivated by their peers or given opportunities for tutoring and extra help. Lastly, the broad range of classes available and the structure of the academic curriculum are what make Westover students successful in their studies. By junior year, students are given some freedom in choosing class schedules. While the academic department and college counselor always ensure that students have the appropriate credits for applying to college, students are given some choice in what they want to pursue more in depth. For example, after completing my foreign language requirements, I opted to continue on to AP Physics my senior year instead of pursuing french. The flexibility of course choices in addition to the rigorous work load and motivation amongst students is what makes Westover academics quite strong.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Though there is no physical eduation class at Westover, students are required to participate in three team sports up until junior year. Participation in the dance program always counts as a team sport. Participation in a drama production sometimes fulfills a team sport requirement depending on previous involvement in athletics. Junior and senior year, students can be a part of the community service team as a team sport. Because team sports such as soccer, swimming, and lacrosse are not everyone's forte, Westover offers outdoor team, rock climbing, and fitness and weight training, just to name a few alternatives. Because Westover places a primary emphasis on academics, the degree of competitiveness at Westover is somewhat less than other boarding schools. However, the level of comfort that we are at with each other and the confidence we gain from the all-female environment proves useful on the playing field. Time after time Westover sports teams succeed because the girls work well together. Both the quality of facilities and broad range of sports or activities to participate in is praiseworthy.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the photography program at Westover. While Westover offers classes such as drawing, painting, ceramics, photography, and needle arts, I have taken only photography since my sophomore year. I have been lucky enough to take not only digital photography courses, but color and black and white film courses. The darkroom and photography facilities are impressive and hard to come by in this digital age. One of my favorite things about the visual arts at Westover is the Schumacher Art Gallery. Here, Westover alumnae and visiting artists display their works. These professional artists have inspired some of my own work. The photography program, or any visual arts program at Westover, is successful at giving students the skills to create artwork and giving them guidance in choosing works for final portfolios in the advanced placement courses. Having been a member of the handbell choir for four years, I am always impressed by talent displayed at the various concerts throughout the year. A Capella singing groups, small instrumental groups, and the Glee Club always come together and display great talent for such a small school. Similarly, the drama department puts together three plays of advanced caliber per year. The visual arts, music, and theatre departments show great commitment to the arts by gaining a great deal of participation from the somewhat small student body in these important extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
The extracurricular activities thrive on Westover's diversity. Having girls of all different origins makes for a great deal of participation in most of the clubs and organizations. Students from other countries become involved in foreign language clubs. Students adamant about human rights become involved in Amnesty International. Students with strong alumni connections may be members of Dialtones. Westover clubs and organizations exist because of the broad range of talent girls have and the various backgrounds they come from. Many students become involved in leadership opportunities at Westover. Our seven heads of school, student elected senior representatives, act as liaisons between Westover administration and the student body. Other positions include the spirit team heads, community service fair heads, student academic committee heads, and club heads. Lastly, community service is an important extracurricular to many Westover students. In free time girls often volunteer at various walks, blood drives, or soup kitchen trips. When the soup kitchen sign up sheet goes up around ten in the morning, all of the slots are filled by lunch time.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The dorm at school becomes a second home for most students. On each corridor, there are one or two dorm parents who reside in apartments with their families and provide guidance and nightly snacks for the girls. In addition there are a few student proctors assigned to each corridor. These student elected leaders are helpful in looking out for younger students and providing assistance when an adult does not need to be involved in a problem. Having been a day student at Westover for four years, I can speak to the integration among day students and boarders. There is absolutely no separation between these two types of Westover students. The day student lounges are included on corridor with the boarders and day students are allowed to stay overnight on campus when needed.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
I like how the dining hall at Westover provides certain hours when meals are served. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are each served for about an hour and a half each. While the windows of time sometimes make for long lunch lines, they ensure that many students will be eating around the same time and thus encourage conversation amongst peers. While there is no assigned seating in the dining hall, each class most often sits with their own class. The kitchen staff is instrumental in providing a wide variety of food each day and mixing up the different meals students are provided with each week. One element unique to Westover is the sit-down dinner. Three times in the fall, twice in the winter, and once in the spring, boarding students are required to attend sit-down dinner. Here, students are assigned a table integrated with faculty members and students from every class.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Though the town life at Westover is quite minimal, it is often enough to keep students occupied. There are a couple of pizza places within walking distance and a Dunkin Donuts about a mile away. On weekends, the school provides numerous trips to Target, the mall, the movie theater, or a delicious ice cream spot a couple of towns over. Sometimes the school sponsors trips to Boston or New York City. There are often trips to dances or other events affiliated with nearby boys schools or co-educational schools.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
I like that Westover social life is what you make it. Of course all of the girls develop close bonds with one another. When it comes to guys, you can take them or leave them. There are many dances and activities hosted by other boys schools or co-educational schools that Westover girls take part in. Not your thing? There are two hundred girls right down the hallway to hang out with. I often found myself doing things with my close friends. We would take trips to the movies or out to a nice dinner. I would often invite boarders to my house for a Saturday night. There are plenty of activities to be involved in, and whether or not you want them to involve guys is your choice!

Daily Schedule:

Weekday
8:00 AMAP Physics
8:45 AMAP Calculus BC
9:30 AMFree period - Homework in the library
10:15 AMEnglish elective - Steinbeck's California
11:00 AMItalian Renaissance Art History
12:00 AMLunch
12:30 AMFree period - Homework in friend's room
1:15 PMHandbells
2:00 PMPhotography Class - Large format
3:30 AMCross country practice
Weekend
9:00 AMPhotography class
10:30 AMHomework in red hall
12:00 PMLunch
12:30 AMCross country meet
4:00 PMGo home and bring a friend or two
5:00 PMDinner
6:00 PMMovies!
12:00 AMBed

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Westover School Alumni #1
    Class of 2016
    5 Stars   12/4/2016
    UMBC
    Westover School is unique because of its community. No other school I have visited or heard of has the atmosphere Westover has. Each of the students have unbreakable bonds with each other and the faculty;. . .
  • Westover School Alumni #2
    Class of 2013
    5 Stars   7/9/2013
    Boston College
    Westover School is unique, for one, because it is an all-girls school. Being one of the few remaining all-girls schools in the surrounding area, Westover strives to instill in students qualities of independence and confidence. . .
  • Westover School Alumni #3
    Class of 2013
    5 Stars   5/30/2013
    University of New Hampshire
    Form the moment you walk into the great yellow walls of Westover, you are greeted with smiles. Westover's community is close-knit and comfortable. We not only support each other, but also push our friends, teammates. . .
  • Westover School Alumni #4
    Class of 2007
    5 Stars   12/17/2007
    Vanderbilt University
    Westover was one of the best places I have ever been in my life so far. Coming from Hong Kong, I came to Westover without visiting the school at the age of sixteen as a. . .
  • Westover School Alumni #5
    Class of 2006
    5 Stars   7/21/2008
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    Westover is definitely a school set apart from most boarding schools. The faculty are unlike most a student may encounter. The school has "conferences" where teachers meet one on one with students to give them. . .
  • Show more reviews (7 reviews)
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