A Student’s Perspective

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Today’s post shares a student’s perspective of The Maine Girls’ Academy and her advice for girls from her inspiring speech given to prospective students at our Open House this past weekend…

HI!  My name is Emily Weisser, and I am a Junior here at The Maine Girls’ Academy. The transition from McAuley to MGA has come with many changes. I’m here to share my days with you, to share the ways the transition has added to my high school experience. Looking back, it wasn’t all that long ago that I sat where many of you in the audience, today, are sitting.  Like those of you who are 12 or 13 years old, trying to decide if MGA is for you, this is what I would tell my twelve-year-old self in light of making the decision to put my education in front of my friends as I make my own transition to high school. I am a “legacy.”  My mom graduated from McAuley High School.  McAuley, now MGA, is the place from which I will graduate, for it is the best place to put your education, your future, first.

Dear 12-Year-Old Emily,

These words are coming a little late, but I figure it’s “better late than never.” You are in seventh grade, and you are nowhere near thinking about high school; however, you actually have very little to consider. You already know exactly where you want to go. It’s the place where your mom loved to learn; while she was there, she met her best friend who has become “Aunt Kim” to you. It’s that community that interests you and actually causes you to volunteer to go to your brothers’ basketball games at Deering, just so you can pass the school with its colorful and meaningful flags, representing the International girls who attend.  Don’t forget that beautiful gold dome. It was McAuley, but don’t fear, it has not closed or gone away. In fact, you will go there for your first two years of high school.

On your first day of freshman year, you will be nervous and shy, but don’t worry! Your “big sister” (an upperclasswoman who has been through it all, herself) will help guide you through that first day. You will be welcomed with warm smiles, and immediately you and another girl will become fast friends after bonding over how nervous you both are. You gradually become more comfortable and within the next two weeks you will amaze yourself by handling high school pretty well. From traditions like Welcome Week, to Homecoming Weekend, you will be surprised how quickly this inviting community will feel like “home.”  Remember, freshman and sophomore years are a learning period. Just a tip: Procrastinating only makes things harder, and prioritizing is key. Oh, and buy a lot of sticky notes, you’ll end up covering your room in them because they’re the perfect way to display your lists. Spoiler alert Emily: you are a list enthusiast.

You’ll make so many friends: some will become endeared while others float in and out of the many groups you will belong to, and that’s okay because it’s all part of learning about you. Don’t worry; you’ll end up meeting your best friends and your own kids’ future aunts.  That’s the “sister-factor” at work… Your mom experienced it, and you will.  These girls, these amazingly curious and intelligent girls will become like sisters to you and you to them. Freshman year you’ll be busy balancing soccer, basketball, homework and extracurriculars, but know too that you’re never so busy not to eat dinner with your family; you are learning that time passes quickly and all too soon your older brothers will be off to college, making their futures a reality. In the meantime, you’ll meet teachers who are passionate about the subjects they’re teaching, and you will be inspired as they bring their own stories to your classroom about the work they’ve done in their fields. School work becomes more challenging but don’t worry too much about deadlines. Teachers are flexible and willing to make things work for you. Always, always, always talk to your teachers when you feel stressed about work. It sounds like one of those “easier said than done” scenarios, but I promise it’s not. Your teachers truly want you to succeed and are there to help you learn and excel.

Flash forward four years, and you find you’re a junior in high school. McAuley, now The Maine Girl’s Academy (or MGA) continues to be all that I love it for, and it’s more than I dreamed it would be. My participation on the soccer team and basketball team has taught me collaboration and team-work; I use those skills on the field, on the court and in my classes.  I want you to know MGA remains the school you’ve wanted to go to for what seems like forever. What you didn’t know then, but I’m sure know now is that it is also readying us for more than I could imagine for myself four years ago.  People on the outside will have their opinions, as everyone does, but what only those who attend are fortunate to see is that the changes have been nothing but positive; MGA is better and stronger. More young, inspired girls, like you, have come to MGA to experience the sense of community and support that comes with being an Academy girl. There are so many new opportunities of which to take advantage. Academic standards are as rigorous if not moreso, I know today I will be fully prepared for college, which I know seems far off to a 12 year old, but it’s closer than you think. Teachers bring excitement to the classroom everyday and I am even more enthusiastic about our future.

Emily, you are coming off of a knee injury, and I know you are still hoping to be able to play basketball this season; however, if you find you are unable, you’re still going to support your teammates any way you can.  (Also, if you could avoid that summer basketball game against Gray, that’d be ideal.  Believe me, your knee will thank you later!)  It’s only been a month and a half into junior year, the busiest year yet. From English papers due, to prom committee “To-do” lists, to assisting the soccer team —  your life will seem hectic, but a good kind of hectic. This is what I know:  You, Emily, will be great.  You already possess what you need inside: the desire to attend the best school for girls; a strong work ethic; supportive teachers, coaches and family; a ready sisterhood of friends with whom to share the struggles that arise, and a promising future.  

So, 12-year-old-Emily, I hope I didn’t spoil our future too much for you. You have grown so much as a person, and you’re doing really well at MGA. I can’t wait to see what we do in the future.