American Hebrew Academy - Review #6

Read more details about American Hebrew Academy on their 2018-19 profile page.
American Hebrew Academy
5

About the Author:

College EnrolledBrandeis University
Home Town, State Arlington, MA
Years Attended Boarding School3
Activities During Boarding SchoolI was head of the Diversity Alliance and a techie for the theater productions. I also took Swing Dance with the LeWinters, which is still the only dance I know how to do.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
AHA is completely embedded within Judaism. While we had a whole Judaic studies tract in school, the culture of the school was also deeply Jewish, from Shabbat meals to conversations with classmates. AHA is the only pluralistic Jewish boarding school, and they take pluralism seriously. While I was there I learned to navigate through religious services in Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism and I felt comfortable enough to switch between them. I didn't feel out of place in a movement that was not the one I grew up in.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
AHA cemented my identity as a Jew. My parents were not religious and I'd only had sporadic Sunday school education before AHA, so most of what I know now came from AHA. I will say that I'm a bit of a mixed-up, no-place-fits Jew now, as my practices and beliefs fit no specific movement, but I think I am a better person for it.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have kept in better contact with my friends from home. You'll meet all new people at AHA and make new friendships, but try to value your previous friendships, too. Don't let those fade away.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
AHA felt like home. Whenever I came back, it was coming home. It's where I developed as a Jew and as a person, and I wouldn't change my time there for the world.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Definitely get ice cream at Coldstone.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
At AHA I really learned how to learn and do research. While the library was small, we had access to online databases such as JSTOR and wrote real research papers for our classes. When I arrived at college, I was able to ace a class where I was the only freshman and everyone else was either an upperclassman or a graduate student. I was well equipped to utilize my college library's research materials and develop my thoughts into well written papers. I know that no public school would have prepared me for that.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked that I didn't have to participate in athletics! I did learn how to use a weight room sophomore year, which helped me feel more comfortable going to a gym as an adult. Swing dance counted for my PE credits, which meant I didn't have to be the worst person on a sports team just because I needed the credits.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I only participated in the theatre program, and only as a stage manager. I liked learning about the behind the scenes of theater productions and not having to be in front of people in order to get my performing arts credits. (I have a bad case of stage fright!) While I was there we had a student-run production that I participated in as well as the three school-sponsored plays every year.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Clubs at AHA fluctuated while I was there based on student interest. There was a knitting club the first year, but not the following years. We started up a Diversity Alliance that first year, which I think has turned into a GSA. While I wished we had been able to have a GSA while I was there, having a Diversity Alliance forced us to look at all aspects of ourselves. While most of the students were white, as American Jews tend to be, we were able to focus on our differences as well. We even led a couple of school assemblies.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Rooms at AHA are spacious. Each house has a kitchenette and an upstairs lounge room. When I was there, each class had its own two houses, one for the boys and one for the girls. We could request roommates, but the administration assigned them. We had an odd number of girls in my class, so I got a single for two years.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The food at AHA is pretty good. I was particularly fond of the grits. There was nothing particularly memorable about the meals during the regular week, but for Shabbat Friday night was always a hot meal and Saturday lunch was always cold cuts, with Saturday night being leftovers. There was always plenty of challah, too!

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
AHA is across the street from a Reform synagogue, where AHA students are welcome. I swear they have the best Reform Saturday morning services I have ever been to, complete with a whole lot of singing. On Sundays there is a van that takes students to the local outdoor mall and to the grocery store. I spent most of that time at Barnes & Noble or Coldstone - the best ice cream in Greensboro.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
I didn't really have a social life. I was that awkward kid. I still am.
Read more details about American Hebrew Academy on their 2018-19 profile page.

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