The Impact of our Volunteers

As we head into the final days of preparation for our first ever virtual auction gala, I am incredibly impressed by the way this event has come together, in part due to the creativity and dedication of the Auction Committee and co-chairs. Our volunteers play a critical role in the life of the community, and we are deeply grateful for the contributions of your time and talents. 

The role that volunteers play have changed considerably this year with all of the regulations in place due to the pandemic. However, through inspiration and hard work, you have still found a way to make a substantial impact on the school. This year, you created and hosted virtual socials for both new and existing parents; prepared delicious snack carts for our very appreciative faculty; organized fundraising activities; taught as special guests via Zoom; and so much more. You have helped keep our community together at a time when we cannot gather in one space. And you created many of these roles through initiative and ingenuity – first you saw a need and then you stepped in to give a hand.  

Volunteering is critical because it both creates a pathway to build new relationships with others in the community, and also models the importance of service to our Dragons, inspiring them to give to others as well. 

Your enthusiasm for WES and continual support of our students has helped make this school year successful. Thank you for your contributions; we are all deeply grateful. 

Danny Vogelman

Head of School

Grade 8 Students Find New Communities for Next Year

One of the joys of my job is watching our students grow up, from the time they are an Early Childhood Dragon to their day of graduation. They change so much during these formative years and really begin to develop a strong sense of identity.

Part of this process is helping them arrive at the next step of their journey. Although it’s bittersweet, because it means their time at WES is drawing to a close, our team works diligently to support each student through the high school admissions process. Our Middle School faculty begin providing personalized school recommendations at the end of Grade 7, and Division Director Kristin Cuddihy and I meet with each family individually over the summer to discuss their options. We focus on helping each student and family discover the community that aligns with their values and in which their student will thrive. 

Next, our admissions team conducts practice interviews with our students to ensure they put their best foot forward when they meet with potential schools. After our students have applied, Kristin and I meet with every school to discuss our students’ strengths and what they would offer their new communities. 

Although the competition was stiff for independent schools this admissions season, our Dragons were once again accepted to excellent high schools. Next year, our Dragons will be attending:

  • St. John’s College High School (3)
  • Georgetown Prep (2)
  • Madeira (2)
  • Maret (2)
  • St. Albans (2)
  • St. Andrews Episcopal School (2)
  • Walt Whitman High School (2)
  • Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
  • Bishop Ireton
  • DeMatha Catholic High School
  • Duke Ellington School of the Arts
  • Georgetown Day School
  • St. John’s College High School (Scholars)
  • National Cathedral School
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel (Xavieran Scholars)
  • Sandy Spring Friends School
  • St. Anselm’s Abbey

Every class of Dragons is special in its own way; the Class of 2021 may be one our most unique classes yet. Incredibly gifted, they count a number of athletes, artists, and writers among them. They are kind, loyal, and independent, as well. They possess the confidence to blaze their own trails, which they often do, but also hold one another in the highest regard, as family. They have faced the challenges of COVID with good grace and humor, displaying resilience and maturity beyond their years. Their new communities are lucky to have them, and we can’t wait to see how they will continue to grow and hear about the many contributions they will make to their new schools. 

Danny Vogelman

Head of School

Learning About Teamwork, Perseverance, and Confidence through the Grade 6 Musical

We recently held a student panel for our newly admitted families. When one prospective parent asked our students about their most memorable WES experience, the response was enthusiastic: the Grade 6 musical.

Every year, both the reserved and the gregarious of our Grade 6 students have a chance to take to the stage and perform in a full-fledged musical, and our Middle School team was not about to let COVID stop our students from the benefits of this landmark experience. Through collaboration and creativity, our performing arts team has put together a “jukebox musical,” which is a presentation featuring the songs of popular acts. The production will celebrate themes such as hope, hard work, and resilience through a medley of popular songs from Hamilton, The Greatest Showman on Earth,  Moana, Wicked, and Glee, among others. The songs are woven together through an original script.

In order to ensure our students’ safety, the students will be filmed in small groups and their performances will be edited into a complete show that will premiere on YouTube in May. This unusual format allows our at-home learners the opportunity to perform as well!

While there is much to be said for the sheer pure joy of this experience, our students learn a number of valuable life lessons through this annual production.

  • Teamwork. Probably the number one skill they acquire is the ability to work with many different types of people to produce something great. Accountability is inherent because nobody wants to let their fellow cast members down.
  • Perseverance. So much work goes on behind the scenes to produce these high-level productions. Students have to learn lines and songs, practice their blocking, remember their cues, and perfect the choreography. They persist, especially when it’s hard, and it all pays off in the end.
  • Confidence. All of our students get the opportunity to build their public-speaking and presentation skills through this performance. Yet some of the biggest growth occurs in those who might not normally volunteer to star in a musical. Some of our quieter students are often cast in leading roles, and all of our students are determined to bring their best selves. Our students’ confidence grows exponentially when they find success in a new experience.

This year’s production will be different, but it will also be exceptional like every other Grade 6 musical our students have done. I invite you all to join me online in May!

Danny Vogelman

Head of School