Elm Tree Press: Who You Are

by Veronica Saldanha  ’20

As stated by its mission statement:

Lawrence Academy recognizes you for who you are and inspires you to take responsibility for who you want to become…

Personally, over the last several years at Lawrence Academy, I have come to realize that being who you are is a big part of being a student at LA.

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 3.42.13 PMAs an international student, when I first moved onto Lawrence Academy’s campus, I was shocked by the learning environment.

It just seemed to be hands-on and very interactive.

I remember freshman year in Global Cultures class, we were learning about the Harlem Renaissance and the teacher, Mrs. Huggins, decided that we were going to do a project that would involve pretending we were characters from the Harlem Renaissance.

With the mission statement in my head, I decided that I would try singing in front of my peers.

At that time, I really thought to myself that it was either going to lead to something good or just be a big embarrassment, as I had only really sung in my room. However, I still decided to go for it.

When the time came, I sang in front of 16 of my peers and the response was pretty good. But something that really stuck with me was the fact that I started singing because of history class, because of the support that was given to me from my teacher and peers.

I could’ve just stayed silent and done nothing, but instead, I decided to step out of my comfort zone.

I was then introduced to the Music Department who helped me build my confidence to perform in front of a whole audience in the auditorium. Ever since then, I have been part of the LA singers and the annual school musical.

I would have never started singing if it wasn’t for my teacher and peers at LA. When I first came here, I never realized that I would find something that I love, let alone find confidence in a history classroom. I became invested in singers and now it is one of the things on campus that I love the most. It has become an important part of my life and I will always thank LA for the support.

Whether it is sports or music, LA has always been supportive and is a great community to discover yourself.

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Elm Tree Press: Winterim at LA

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by Matt Noel ’19

LA offers each student an immense amount of opportunity. Personally, I have experienced this through Winterim.

Winterim is a two-week program at the end of the winter term that focuses on learning outside of the classroom – that could mean learning how to play chess with a professional chess player, watching musicals and writing reviews on them, or, in my case, traveling around the world doing service projects.

 

During my sophomore year at LA, I was lucky enough to travel to the Dominican Republic for Winterim on a trip called “Coffee, Kids, and Community.”

For ten days, fifteen other students, two teachers and I split our time between working at a local coffee farm in the mountains of the Dominican Republic and teaching math and English to kindergarteners in the area. When I first found out that I would be going to the Dominican Republic for Winterim, I was beyond excited.

However, I’m not going to lie, I was also really nervous. I wasn’t close friends with anyone on my trip, I was one of the only underclassmen on the trip, the only time I had left the US before was to go to Canada for a night with my family, and I wasn’t allowed to bring my phone on the trip. All traveling Winterims collect the students’ phones at the beginning of the journey so there will be no distractions.

When I got to the Dominican Republic, I forgot about all of my worries.

Most of the people on my trip were in the same situation as me and didn’t have any close friends on the trip, so we all bonded really quickly. The guides and teachers were so friendly and energetic and made all of us feel really comfortable and ready to start working.

For the first five days of the ten-day program, we worked at the coffee farm. I had initially imagined the farm we would be working at as one that you would find in the US: a flat field that extends for miles, tractors, machinery, etc., so I was surprised to see the farm consist of rolling hills splotched with coffee plants and hand-built buildings.

The staff on the farm used no heavy machinery or tractors and relied solely on their hands and the help of others, so they were pleased to have our support. We started right away helping them clear what seemed like miles of paths through the woods, building bridges over streams and small rivers, and creating a pulley system to carry materials from the bottom of the hill to the top. We did all of this by hand learning little tricks from the farm staff throughout the days we spent there.

Not only was I awed by how welcoming the farm staff was and how willing they were to teach us, but also by how impactful the help of sixteen people was. I think everyone in my group, including the guides and the teachers, realized how a small amount of assistance can go a long way.

The final half of the trip was dedicated to working at a local school building if you could even call it that – the “building” was a two-room edifice with holes in the walls, only enough desks for half the students, and textbooks that were falling apart. Coming from a private school in Groton, Massachusetts, I was shocked to see the conditions the students in the Dominican Republic were expected to learn in…

It is one thing to hear about life in developing countries on the news and from other people, but it’s another thing to actually see it and experience it firsthand. Despite the conditions of the school, the kids were all so positive, happy, and eager to learn. The students and the teachers alike seemed extremely grateful that we were there to help them, and I felt the same in return.

Not every high school student has the opportunity to travel to a foreign country for a service trip, let alone be in a place where every student and teacher strives to do just that; so, the uniqueness of the Winterim program to LA has made it a considerable part of the culture of the school, and I can confidently say that Winterim has had a positive impact on almost every student that has participated in it.

As a senior, I still am amazed by the opportunity each student at LA has largely in part to Winterim – it indeed is something special to have a school that cares so much about the betterment of the world and the encouragement of the student body to be good people.

Elm Tree Press: The College Process

by Maggie Eames ’19

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Maggie performing during the 2018 Spring Dance performances in the Black Box Theatre.

During freshman year of high school—or in my case, both of my freshman years of high school—teachers, friends, and relatives told me that senior year would be here before I knew it. I laughed at the notion, considering it would take me four years to get there; how could four years possibly go by that quickly? And yet, as I sat in the front row of chairs on the back of the quad at graduation this past June, watching the last of my older friends walk down the aisle to receive their diplomas, I understood the accuracy of what everyone had been telling me. I am now a senior applying to college, and it is finally our turn to graduate.

Evidently, the college process is stressful. I watched many family members and friends of mine in varying states of distress from the day the Common Application opened to the time their applications were due. On the one hand, I wanted to finally be a senior, but I didn’t want the weight of “What’s next?” bearing down on my back, either. Thankfully, I am here to tell you that the college process has not been near as taxing as I assumed it would be, thanks to our College Counseling office.

At Lawrence Academy, the college process begins well before the Common App opens on August 1st. In December of junior year, students meet with the college office during a free block to choose who their counselor will be; they write down their first two choices (out of four admissions counselors) and are guaranteed to be placed with one of them. Upon return from winter break in January, College Counseling Classes begin. Juniors meet during one free block a month up until the end of the year to go over every aspect of the process from navigating Naviance, understanding what you want in a college or university, to what makes a good college essay. By the end of junior year, students will have a comprehensive list of schools that they are interested in applying to and at least one completed draft of their college essay. In addition to college classes during that occur during the academic day, there are two required weekend events for juniors: Junior College Day in February and an essay writing workshop in April. During the Junior College Day, four representatives from different colleges and universities come to campus for a panel on the admissions process. They do not come to represent their schools, but rather to provide insight as to what it is like to apply to schools ranging from small liberal arts colleges to large research institutions. As for the essay writing workshop, students meet in their English classes with either a teacher in the English department or one of the college counselors to create a list with a myriad of ideas as to what their essay topic will be.

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 11.53.51 AM.png Learn more about Lawrence Academy, the Elm Tree Society, and Maggie at www.lawrenceacademy.info.

One of the most significant events the college office offers to students is the Summer College Bootcamp: a free, four-day workshop held in August. Students meet for four hours a day to go over the admissions process/the essay, supplemental essays, the Common Application, and the interview process. I could not possibly recommend this boot camp more highly if I wanted to. I was able to complete my essay, fill out every part of the Common App, draft two of my supplemental essays, and have a mock interview. While it certainly does not feel like it will go by quickly in the moment, senior fall goes by fast and applications will be due before any of us realize it. Having this much work completed before classes began eased some of the stress, and the college office is committed to preparing and informing students and families throughout the entire process.

While I cannot guarantee the process will be stress-free, considering by nature I am stressed out about almost everything, I can promise that if you work with your college counselor and get everything in on time, it will not be overbearing. I have worked closely with my college counselor, Mr. Sheehan, and am confident that I will be happy at any of the schools I intend on applying to. I am happy with my essay, how my mock interview went, and am extremely grateful for how accessible all of our college counselors are for extra help and answering the arsenal of questions I always seem to have. It is finally our turn to graduate, and even though I am telling myself that I am ready to receive my diploma, it is going to come faster than any of us want it to.