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Friday, October 24, 2014

Inter-Ac Interacts Through Leadership

Middle School Leads, a middle school leadership conference, took place on October 7th on GA’s campus. The conference revolved around leadership, focusing on different aspects of what makes someone a great leader. Mr. Jay Wright, MS Health and Wellness Department Head, put this whole conference together. He recently came from teaching at the Haverford School and brought with him this idea of the leadership conference, which he collaborated with Mr. Brady, his former co-worker, about. When Mr. Wright asked me to be a part of this conference, I was undoubtedly very honored to be one of the 7 senior girls asked to participate from GA. Being given the opportunity to work with 5 senior girls from Baldwin, 12 senior boys from Haverford, and middle school students from within the Inter-Ac doesn’t happen every day. Mr. Wright and Mr. Brady briefed us beforehand, telling us the schedule of the day and our role in this conference. They stressed the purpose of being facilitators; we were to encourage every member of the group to speak up and make sure that everyone was heard. The 7 GA girls enjoyed the opportunity to work with our co-group leaders from Haverford. It really opened up my eyes to all the amazing different people that each and every school has to offer.

The schedule was as follows: Mr. Jeswald, the Interim Head of the Middle School, welcomed everyone, as we then broke off into our groups. A Haverford boy was paired with either a GA girl or a Baldwin girl, and these two senior leaders had roughly 8 to 10 kids in their group. Half the groups started with a Self-Awareness workshop lead by Ms. Wujcik from the Baldwin School, in which the students wrote their name on different posters around the room with different categories like Sibling or Artist or Athlete. This activity allowed the students to dig deep into the activities they were involved in and begin to understand and recognize their strengths because once you become aware of your strengths its important to try to use them in a beneficial way. The other half of the groups started with a Communication workshop led by Mr. Wright. This session created an interactive atmosphere where the students went to three different parts of the room based on what they thought the most important quality of leadership was; these three options were listening, nonverbal communication, and communicating with consistency. The students had the task of persuading those in the other two groups to join theirs, opening up the floor for a healthy debate that did encourage some movement from group to group. In the end, we came to the consensus that all three skills are important to being a successful and well-rounded leader.

Middle and Upper School students from across the Inter-Ac converged on GA as part of the leadership conference. Here, they engage in group activities around the Quad.

After these two workshops, Mr. Brady from the Haverford School led the teamwork sessions. The first activity was a ball activity where all members of the group had to pass the ball to the person next to them and say their name as fast as they could. My group started out standing in a circle and performing the task, getting a time of 9 seconds. But after discussion and reasoning, my group decided upon a ‘waterfall’ type of technique that eventually got our group to 2.8 seconds. The next activity was difficult for several of the groups, including mine; the students were asked to create the tallest structure they could out of spaghetti and tape, with a marshmallow at the top of the creation. These two activities challenged these kids who had never met before that day to work together in a productive way in order to accomplish their common goal.
The last workshop of the day prompted the students with a letter from their heads or deans, giving them a real issue from their individual school for which they were asked to come up with a solution. It allowed the students to rally with their school and utilize their strengths to form a probable solution. After this planning, a few representatives from each group presented their ideas to everyone.

This type of learning environment is exactly what I wish I got to experience in Middle School. I’m glad that I was able to be a part of this day and I hope that it will continue so that others can have the same opportunity. I was personally very impressed with the amount of passion and enthusiasm that these students had. They were fully engaged in every workshop and you could tell that they truly wanted to be there. It was inspiring for me, as a high school student who is only a few years older than these Middle School students, to see them so devoted that it gave me great hope for our future within the GA community and globally.
~ Kaela G. '15

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reflections on the End of a Career

With the onset of 12th grade, the beginning of my fourteenth and final year at the Academy, I find that I’m caught in a whirlwind of nostalgia: the last first day, the last Pep Rally, the last time that I’ll have to twist my neck in contortionist angles for a school photograph. It’s often difficult to live in the moment, though, when I’m so focused on college, on looking back in order to look forward to the future. This year is an exciting time, nevertheless. I’m about to launch into the real world, and 12th grade gives me the chance to tie a bow on what’s been a memorable childhood.

Senior year brings with it immense freedom. A science geek, I’ve been able to tailor my schedule to fit my interests, continuing courses in studio art and social sciences while enrolling in both Physics and Chemistry. These advanced science classes offer new challenges. Although often discomforting, the act of puzzling over difficult problems, often for hours, has immensely enriched my studies and enhanced my understandings overall – and I welcome the demands of these courses. There’s nothing more rewarding than when, after a night of erasing and reworking a Physics solution, my fragmented ideas come together and I grasp the notion of tension. GA recognizes and contributes to our new freedom as seniors, trusting us to maintain our new Senior Lounge, which, even after just a month, looks weathered and lived in. We all gather there often, listening to music or chatting about weekend football games.

As a student who’s been at GA since age four, it’s odd now to be top dog. I love to work with underclassmen and learn from them, and I’ve relished thus far mentoring (on social, emotional, and academic levels) freshman girls on the cross-country team.
Claudia and her fellow senior runners.
I’ve recruited a few of my younger teammates to write for The Edition, our student-run newspaper, which I head with a few other seniors. It’s been great to get them involved with a club that I’m so invested in. In fact, we’ve re-imagined The Edition altogether, integrating into it more international news stories and revitalizing its online twin, a blog called The Second Edition. I approach my work in this and other clubs keenly aware of both my seminal early-on experiences with them (in 9th and 10th grade) and opportunities for impactful change.

 Now with GA/PC Day on the horizon, I anticipate an unforgettable year ahead!

~ Claudia M. ‘15

Friday, October 17, 2014

Middle School's Digital Detox

GA's Middle School students pledged to refrain from their reliance on devices.
The Germantown Academy Middle School recently embarked on a journey to let go of attachments to technology. For three days many students joined the campaign by turning their cell phones off and vowing to use electronic devices for school purposes only. Not only did many teachers join in, but they also conducted activities such as yoga to occupy our minds where our phones aren’t. Many found it difficult to resist the urge to check notifications and social media, but resisting this urge taught most of us that there is more to life than a small screen. Our generation is chained to our always-buzzing phones and to be given the chance have a three day vacation from that is almost like lifting a weight off our shoulders. Then there are those who failed the Detox within three hours of having their phones off.
~Margaret H. '19
Students and faculty were all smiles when the detox was ended.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Girls' Soccer Jells to Lead Inter-Ac

On the first day of preseason this year, I could immediately tell that we would have a great season ahead of us. Seeing multiple new freshmen with great skill assured me that they would be wonderful assets to our team. We started off the season a little rocky, with a loss in our first game, but that is typically expected for teams who have never played together before. As a few games passed, everything began to click and we started playing as a unit.

Emmy is GA's co-leader with 11 goals, including this opening tally against Episcopal.
Our first Inter-Ac game was an 8-2 win against Springside Chestnut Hill which really got us excited for the other league games ahead of us. Our second league game was away against Agnes Irwin at 7:00 under the lights. Agnes Irwin had a very large student section, sparking the nerves of our team but simultaneously getting us pumped up. We came out of that game with a 3-2 win, leaving us with a 2-0 record in the Inter-Ac. Following that game, we picked up two wins against Notre Dame and Baldwin (4-2 and 4-0), making our Inter-Ac record 4-0. This past Thursday, we had an exciting 2-1 victory over Episcopal in overtime, leaving us with a 5-0 record in the Inter-Ac and highly anticipating a game against our rival, Penn Charter, this Tuesday.

-Emmy D. '16
The Patriots celebrate an overtime game winner. Up next is rival Penn Charter.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Senior Welcomes Diversity Into Student Body

Early on a Saturday morning in September, I joined new families of color as they were welcomed to Germantown Academy.  As I walked into the Pavilion, I was met with the smell of delicious breakfast food and great conversation; everyone was eager to learn more about each other and welcome the new families.  As I introduced myself to new students, I couldn’t help but remember what it was like when I first came to GA.  Though I was only six years old, I took notice of what made me different from my peers.  The support that I gained from the community allowed me to thrive at GA, and the network of Black families always made me feel like I was at home.

One of Nichelle's (middle) many roles on campus so far in her senior year has been to help welcome new African American families to GA.

As Trustee and alumni parent Reverend Keith Williams led the program, he asked all of the students in attendance to introduce themselves and share their favorite part about Germantown Academy.   Students from a variety of ages shared stories that spoke about their successes, their challenges, and their excitement for the new school year.  As I sat on a panel of students and faculty, I was amazed to see how many new students of color were entering GA.  Now in my final year at GA, seeing the growth of a diverse community creates such a wonderful feeling.  As the student representative on the Diversity Task Force and President of the Black Student Alliance, diversity is important to me.  It matters that young students of color thrive at great schools like GA because GA provides opportunities.  With more chances to thrive, we create more success stories, creating individuals who are independent in thought, confident in expression, compassionate in spirit, collaborative in action, and honorable in deed.

~ Nichelle H. ‘15

Thursday, October 9, 2014

GA Gear 2.0

Some of the biggest talk this year has been about the new dress code: GA Gear 2.0 (there are many underground names for it but they are forbidden to be disclosed). This is one decision made by the administration that nearly the entire student body does not like. Unfortunately for the student body, the changes made weren’t really that drastic. And I know I have certainly had my own moments of outrage over GA Gear 2.0, but if you really look at them, they aren’t that big a deal.

Gideon "models" GA Gear

Change 1: The color of pants and shorts can either be navy or khaki. The biggest problem with this has been deciding what shades of khaki are okay and which are not. Overall, not a big deal, it just means you can’t wear some of the pants from last year.

Change 2: Sweatshirts or sweaters cannot have any logo on them unless they are for a GA team or club. This is less than ideal, but most of the sweatshirts and sweaters kids wear are for sports teams so it’s not too big of an issue.

Change 3: Pants MUST be loose fitting and skirts and shorts must be appropriate length (below the fingertips). This is more directed towards girls, but I have seen the occasional guy wearing some pretty tight clothing. Anyways, I have no opinion of this change because it does not really affect me but I know some girls are pretty annoyed.

Out of the three big changes, the one that bugs me the most is change regarding the shade of khaki. It just seems like it’s not that big a deal whether some kids’ shorts would be darker than other kids’, but I’m sure that the administration has a good reason for it! Anyhow, I urge everyone to make the best out of the new dress code and if you do have problems with it and have legitimate reasons for wanting to change it, I know Mr. Schellhas is open to talk about it!

~ Gideon S. ‘15