Seniors Share their Wisdom

Seniors Share their Wisdom

“First Fridays” are an opportunity for Class 7 and Upper School parents and guardians to learn about many aspects of Chapin’s Upper School (US) through workshops on academic programs and parenting, and topics about which families have expressed they wish to learn more. As part of the May “First Friday” presentation, five terrific seniors* participated an informative panel discussion to share their valuable insight and advice.

“Class 12 students have a unique point of view,” began Head of Upper School (and moderator of this panel) Allison Bishop. “Chapin’s K-12 progression is building to this moment – to Commencement and sending our 12th graders out into the world to do wonderful things and preparing them for that. Today is for celebrating and honoring our seniors but also sharing what’s to come for your children. These students have a range of experiences within the US and will speak authentically to them.”

To begin, each student described the extracurriculars they’re involved in, which included volleyball, basketball, swimming, BLAC affinity group, President of Model UN, Student DEIB president, Heath & Wellness rep (a branch of Chapin’s US Student Government), Dance Club, drama productions and more.

“How have you changed since your first year of Upper School?” asked Ms. Bishop. (Some members of this panel had been at Chapin since Kindergarten, while others joined Chapin in Class 9.)

“I had such a transition in my interests academically,” one student began. “If you had told me that I would double in statistics and calculus my senior year, I would have laughed you out of the room! But now it’s something I really enjoy.”

Another student agreed, “I wasn’t very confident in math and that has changed a lot!”

When asked about their favorite or most memorable academic experience, one student described an English project from just last term. “We had to write a letter to Ms. Bishop, and it brought all my years of US together. It was analytical but I also showed my own voice.”

Another spoke about her senior capstone project, an interdisciplinary paper in which she explores the concept of faith/destiny and philosophy.

The seniors were next asked to share how they felt about attending a single-sex school and what benefits that offers. “There’s a stark difference in the eagerness to learn,” one student shared. “During my visiting day, every person I saw was engaged – not only had they done the work but they came prepared with questions.”

“I’ve been here since Kindergarten, so I haven’t known a co-ed school,” added another. “But my sisters are alums, and they feel much more confident in their college classes. They also still have so much support from Chapin.”

A third said, “There are no distractions in the classroom."

One student stressed the benefit of Chapin’s Peer Leadership Program. Each year, Class 9 is split into groups each led by two Class 12 students. The seniors, who go through a formal application and interview process for the role and undergo leadership training in August, help guide the younger students through US and facilitate meaningful conversations and connections.

“So many of my close friends came from my freshman peer group. It was integral for my integration into Chapin,” she said, noting, too, that she is now a senior Peer Leader and loves every minute of it. “I love my ninth-grade peer group!”

The next question prompted students to discuss opportunities they’ve had to learn outside of the classroom. One described Academic Exploration Days, which happen each term. “Teachers plan outings in NYC to enhance our learning. We’ve been to the Guggenheim and other museums, Yankee Stadium…it’s a great experience.”

Another scholar said that she joined one of Upper School’s myriad club offerings – Investment Club – in ninth grade. “I learned quite a bit! They had out speakers come, and I found it all really interesting.”

Others described some of our FOCUS courses that partner with outside institutions or organizations, like “Introduction to Architecture,” a ten-week course created in partnership with Cooper Union School of Architecture.

Another highly-submitted question from parents was: How do US students balance everything? “Ms. Moy (MS history teacher Lisa Moy) encouraged us to work on time management in Middle School,” one panelist responded. “She said that even if we work for ten minutes a day—you’re working.”

Each senior underscored that teachers are always there to help you and there are a variety of support systems throughout the school.

Another student said she would encourage younger girls not to completely lose themselves in academics. While, of course, still essential, she said, “Balance doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Chapin. The opportunities to come together as a community are so important. Don’t let those get pushed to the back – they’re really special.”

When asked about how the classmates get along, one senior affectionately shared, “I have felt nothing but love and support – we’re all sisters. I never experienced anything like those girls’ school stereotypes.”

Lastly, the seniors were candid with their advice for parents in how they feel they can best support their children. “Let them explore all of their interests,” one stated. "And the colleges they're passionate about."

As the hour came to a close, Ms. Bishop thanked each panelist by saying, “Thank you all for your honesty and for being the wonderful people that you are!”

Reese Gaon
Kiera Hackett
Amber Omoloju
Louisa Suk
Alexandra Wofford