For one hundred and fifty-five new students, hailing from forty-seven countries and seventeen states, the 2019—2020 school year began on Tuesday, August 27 for a newly designed five-day New Student Orientation (NSO)—the first in George School’s history.
“We have redesigned the program to better welcome new students and prepare them for George School life,” said Ben Croucher, NSO director. “Over the week, students learned skills and approaches to help them thrive here.”
NSO included academic, physical, and spiritual components—as well as some time for fun. “We took advantage of our campus with outdoor adventures, ropes courses, and other fun challenges, but also had time in the classroom,” said Ben. “Students explored the HIV/AIDS crisis, and worked across disciplines, to consider how they learn, and ultimately answer the question ‘how is this NSO going to help me shine at George School?’”
As in years past, Head of School Sam Houser greeted new families in Walton Auditorium before a panel discussion with key faculty members and current parents and students. “You are coming to a school that claims to help students ‘Let their lives speak,’” Sam told the crowd. “That is in our mission, and it distinguishes us from other schools. We know and value the fact that all people are different, and we are determined in the Friends’ tradition to honor those differences and help each of our students grow into their best selves. We also want them to be adults who seek and cultivate the best selves in others. Our students graduate with self-knowledge, a sense of self-worth, and also the ability to live in and contribute to the communities of which they are members: to be fully engaged as family members, friends, and citizens.”
One of the most unique aspects of NSO was Introduction to Essentials of a Friends Community (EFC), in the Outdoor William Penn Auditorium—a part of campus traditionally reserved for Commencement. “We selected the Outdoor Auditorium for a few reasons,” said Tom Hoopes ’83 religions department head, who led the program. “The symbolism of students beginning their journey where they will end it, felt very powerful. It is a wonderful space that embodies a few paradoxes that mirror a GS education: contained, yet open. Energized, yet calming. At the edge of campus, yet very much at the heart of campus.”
The programming was handled by EFC faculty, who have traditionally helped orient new students on the first day of school. “For the past decade, our course has played a key role in welcoming students to the Quaker, international, multi-cultural ethos of GS,” said Tom.
“My favorite part of the week was definitely meeting all of the new students during the EFC event,” said Annie Borovskiy ’20. “When I attended as a new student it was optional for new freshmen, and I didn’t meet as many students. It was a great way for everyone to meet.”
The first day of classes, for new and returning students, was held on Monday, September 2.