Passion Meets Purpose at All Things Wellington

Passion Meets Purpose at All Things Wellington

The 13th annual All Things Wellington celebrated the bold, innovative work of faculty and students on campus and beyond. Through firsthand exploration of the classes and clubs that challenge and empower children of all ages, followed by a live program of teacher and student-led presentations, visitors were given an illuminating view into the dynamic world of Wellington.

Read on for recap of the night and check out additional photo and video coverage: 

Opening the event were breakout sessions designed for parents to engage in the emerging themes, technologies, and opportunities that lay the foundation for student success. There were deep dives into the world of lower school science, including building natural water filters, and middle school cyber safety. Upper school Latin students shared their work as translators of Pre-Civil War slavery documents for the “Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconcilliation Project.” Audio recordings of letters written by upper school students to Holocaust survivors were available for listening. Members of the club A Foot in 2 Places facilitated a conversation about providing a safe space for students of two or more identities to feel comfortable sharing their experiences. 

Upper school art students hosted an open studio revealing the concepts and media they used to develop their portfolios, and musical performances by the Wellington Blue Notes, 5th grade choir, as well as young pianists, showcased the myriad of talents Jaguars have.

During the second half of the evening, a program in the Blanchard Performing Arts Center featured inspirational stories from faculty and students, as well as alumna Christie Currie ‘15, about the power of the Wellington experience. Video introductions of The Wellington Initiative and Wonderlab unveiled the exciting plans and programs on the horizon for the school community.

In his opening remarks, Head of School Dr. Jeff Terwin said, “These varied opportunities also highlight that we value student growth in all directions. There is not a Wellington type. There is no box each student needs to fit into, and we work very hard to create a unique curriculum to help students discover new passions and purpose.

“I am so pleased that tonight we highlight elements of diversity that help our students gain a more comprehensive view of the world around them. We challenge students to put a new lens on hard history and take multiple perspectives on any issue. It is not about always being comfortable. It is about listening and learning. It is about growth.”

In “Connecting Empathy and Learning” Gina Spicer P ‘24 ‘26, lower and middle school art teacher, and Campbell Owens ‘28 explained the valuable lessons to be learned when students are active, informed participants in service learning projects like the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Victoria Pang, middle school social studies teacher, described how her own passion for exploring the many voices of the past led her to introduce hard history, an account of a painful past for which it is difficult to comprehend the inhumanity, to 7th graders when examining the colonial and revolutionary periods. 

“At Wellington, we study hard history from many different perspectives so the students and teachers don’t have a biased view of history,” fellow presenter Isabel Shihab ‘25 said, “and can use all parts of the hard history to shape the world for the better.”

Chris Robbins P ‘17 ‘22, upper school English teacher, and Amer Abdelbaki ‘22 talked about a class project that asked students to think about whose voices have been left out of the narrative when learning American history and then create an artistic rendering, as well as a piece of writing, to delve into their new character’s view of the world. “By considering the voices of others, Wellington students gain valuable insight by putting themselves in another person’s shoes,” Robbins said,” and seeing things from a different perspective.”

In “The Value of Risks and Resets,” Becky Fuller P ‘08 ‘11 ‘16, lower school physical education teacher, gave parents the perfect cure for alarming statistics around children’s pervasive sedentary lifestyle and abundance of screen time: getting outside. Outdoor activities, like becoming confident bike riders, can combat rising rates of stress, obesity, and symptoms of ADHD. Me-chelle Burkhalter P ‘22, middle school math and science teacher, with students Katherine Armitage ‘25 and Cameron Petitt ‘25, talked about the benefit of skinned knees, moments when students take calculated risks and push themselves, in the learning process. 

Burkhalter explained, “I believe the search for opportunities to stretch limits in safe zone means putting students in situations that require hard work or real world situations that have challenges so they can build confidence, resilience, and grit, no matter the challenge.”

Helen McConaghy, middle school tech integration specialist, and Annie Shen ‘26, in “The Secret Language of Math,” put a spotlight on the increasingly relevant topic of cybersecurity and how middle schoolers are learning to be leaders and experts in an industry that has nearly 300,000 job openings in the United States alone. The mysteries of Cryptography were decoded by Michelle Neely, upper school math teacher, and Gabe Corridore ‘20. Corridore designed his own website, writing all of the code himself, capable of decrypting every cipher he had learned in class.

Perhaps the most powerful moment of the evening came when alumna Christie Currie ‘15 told her deeply personal journey from Wellington student to college graduate and founder of a tech startup. Currie credited the time she spent at Wellington, during which she battled a rare form of cancer, with giving her the confidence and compassion to start her own company, Zandaland, a holistic digital platform that helps children learn about their illnesses in a sensitive, developmentally-appropriate way, while also giving clinicians access to data relevant to the patient’s mental state in real time. 

“Kids leave Wellington trailblazing their own path,” Currie said. “They use empathy to inspire others around shared visions, move forward with purpose even if they do not always know what is ahead, and constantly pursue new knowledge to propel them into their next chapters.”

After bravely sharing her life-changing experience at Wellington, Currie received a standing ovation from the audience. It was a testament to the profound power of connectedness at the heart of our school, from which all students, in a safe and supportive environment, can reach for the extraordinary when their passions meet purpose.

“Student ownership, strong partnership with adults in our community, and a greater understanding of diversity and empathy, positions each of our students for success beyond our walls,” Dr. Terwin said. “I am so proud of the students and the teachers in this community. It is an awesome time to be a Wellington Jaguar.”