Harrison Wujek knocks on the front door around noon on a beautiful fall Sunday – arriving before the admissions staff had even unlocked the building for the fall open house. He is the first of many student volunteers to arrive for the event. (Technically speaking, Matthew Breen arrived two hours earlier, but he’s not really a volunteer because his dad has dragged him to open houses since he was 5 years old.) Andrew Amine, Alec Josiatis, Andrew Zinkel and several other seniors are not far behind. Throughout the afternoon, they will lead student panels, present a scene from the fall play and discuss athletic participation with potential students and their families.
Before too long, dozens of other students fill the lobby – all in school dress, all ready to speak to a favorite aspect of our school. Meanwhile, admissions staffers stuff goody bags, peel the cellophane of the cookies and crackers and wheel carts of folding chairs through hall. Soon Nicholas Wu and Andrew Almasy have their robot in motion and Cherron Jackson is welcoming the first of 99 student visitors.
The goal of our information session is to put learning – and our Curriculum for Understanding – on display. To that end, 24 instructors set up presentations from one end of the campus to another. Connie O’Brien arrived early to display what her Pre-K students had learned in a recent unit on germs. That unit had our youngest learners partnering with Upper School biology students and peering through microscopes to see what germs really looked like. Similarly, throughout the Lower School, other teachers discuss Project Based Learning and display the students’ acquisition of knowledge on topics ranging from Monet to dolphins.
The new Middle School sparkles with technology as visitors play detective in Mr. Bandos’ crime scene unit, and learn how technology assists the writing process in Ms. Stevens’ class. Of course, the Upper School is again our busiest division with approximately 150 visitors roaming the halls and learning about the role of research and discovery in our curriculum.
By 3:30, the cookies and crackers are all gone and the teachers have packed up for the day. As the staff wheels the chairs back to the closets, they talk about the real stars of the day: the 50 or 60 student volunteers who gave up a Sunday afternoon to speak about the distinctive qualities of our school. These students are never scripted nor are they paid for their three hours of service – save for the Jimmy John’s sandwiches they will enjoy during lunch today. They are, however, sincere, enthusiastic and eloquent. There is no question they are the true ambassadors of the school. From here, they will head home to tackle homework that awaits.
For most of the visitors, one of the true takeaways from a day like today is a greater understanding of how busy and engaged our students are each and every day of the school year.
By 4 p.m., the last “volunteer” helps his dad lock up. For Matthew, the reward of a seven-hour work day is a prearranged trip to Gilbert’s for a burger and some extra quarters for the grabber machine. From there, it’s home to study for the big science test … all in a day’s work at Liggett.
By Kevin Breen, Director of Admissions