Charting the Course for Curiosity

Charting the Course for Curiosity

The world is opening up for Wellington students as they explore leadership, identity, and community in both a local and global context.

On a beautiful September morning, the Class of 2021 was officially inducted into their final year at Wellington during a reception on Roberts Field. Words of wisdom and bits of advice were bestowed on the seniors from school leadership, faculty, and alumni. 

Head of Upper School Rishi Raghunathan P ’27 ’30 told students how thrilled he was to be on this journey with them and asked that they remember to be good to the people around them. Senior Dean and English teacher Drew Eberly P ’35 pointed out that decisions are made by those who show up, so he stressed the importance of being positive and present.

Focusing on the seniors’ leadership role within the school community, Head of School Dr. Jeff Terwin stressed the responsibility that came along with it. Continuing with his sea metaphor for the unprecedented year we have had, Terwin spoke about the importance of depending on each other when riding tough waves. “Rough seas make strong sailors,” he shared as his five words of wisdom. 

Other members from the Wellington community also contributed little lessons for the seniors to take with them, including:

“Turn your memories into royalties.” - Ted Manley P ’21 ’24, board chair 
“Be a magnificent Jaguar leader.” - Aaron Frim P ’20, upper school science teacher & dean of students
“Wellington has prepared you for…” - Laura Cooke ’90 P ’21 ’21 ’24 ’27, alumna

In 3rd grade, students completed their first independent research project of the year when they explored the myriad of landforms that make up the United States. Their work led to discoveries about the vast topography of our country, including geography, plant and animal life, as well as other interesting facts, and also the design and creation of 3D models using materials of their choice. They will next take their newfound knowledge to the study of Native Americans and then the United States later in the year.

College Counseling sponsored a three-part Guest Speaker Series in coordination with the College Counseling Student Ambassadors Club. Representatives from Pennsylvania State, Binghamton University, and Connecticut College, led discussions with upper school students about enhancing their college experience through internships and academic activities, tips for crafting a memorable personal essay, and important things to know about the financial aid process. Students also asked insightful questions about life on campus during COVID-19, various ways of demonstrating interest in a school, and how to transition from a small school like Wellington to a larger college or university.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Penn State Rep Jordan Garrigan told students. “It’s about learning to be an adult and taking the initiative to ask for help when you need it.”

Exploration of identity, both of self and others, is a critical thematic thread found throughout the work of middle school. Recently the English/Language Arts department held a Summer Reading Celebration in which students and teachers discussed books they read from the summer reading list and engaged in fun related activities related to racial, gender, ethnic, and many other forms of identity examined in the texts. 

In 6th grade English, students have been diving into research for “Me, Myself, and I: Exploring Our Names and Identities” with teacher Colleen Paternostro.  

“Students are exploring their personal narratives as individuals, while also appreciating the multitude of cultures and backgrounds of their peers,” Paternostro said. “As our society is learning to embrace the richness of its diversity, it is important for our students to engage in thoughtful conversations of how our community is shaped.”

Guest speaker Emily Pandis, a graduate student at American University, shared with students her personal experience of growing up in a multicultural home, as well as her knowledge of cultural influence, stemming from her undergraduate and graduate studies. Next up, 6th graders will use the topics they’ve been discussing to create an interactive bulletin board in the middle school illustrating their understanding of who they are and who they want to be.

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, or Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, Wellington students recognized and celebrated the vast contributions and influence of Hispanic people around the world. Upper School Advanced Spanish class designed informative pieces about notable Hispanic people to be shared around the school, and middle school Spanish classes created hyperlinked travel brochures for readers to discover more information on recipes, museums, and other fun details. Spanish Principles classes even had a Latin music tournament of different Spanish-speaking countries. Students discussed the lyrics and meaning behind hit songs from the Latin billboard charts, which often had strong messages about self-love, social justice, and racial equality, before voting on their favorite.

In lower school extension reading, students read “Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx” and “Turning Pages: My Life Story.” They discussed how books influenced the Supreme Court Justice's life and examined the books that have influenced their own lives.

One of the most exciting times at Wellington each year is Spirit Week when students find fun and creative ways to show their love for the Jag life. With thematic dress down days ranging from favorite sports teams and holidays to blue & white for school pride, the week culminates in a friendly competition between lower, middle, and upper school for the coveted Spirit Stick. Congratulations to the lower school for busting out their most Jag-riffic moves to claim the prize.