All posts by lhhighlights

The Lauralton Loyalty Appeal: A Timeline of the Financial Crisis

by Zahra Chaudhry, Senior Editor ‘18

On November 20, 2017, Lauralton Hall’s Board of Trustees sent an email to current and past parents, alumnae, and friends of the School, alerting them that LH was in need of $2.25 million to make it to July 1, 2018—“a near-term cash crisis.” The money was needed to pay outstanding bills, compensate faculty and staff, and, more generally, run the basic operations of the School; this need arouse from the fact that the vast majority of the 2017-2018 tuition deposits had been used, by prior administration, before the beginning of the intended school year.

These financial troubles were revealed after an audit review of the fiscal year 2016-2017. The community was made aware that while prior administration did, allegedly, mismanage funds through premature use of tuition, there was no evidence of wrongdoing—that is, no reason to suspect embezzlement or similar crimes.

President and Head of School Elizabeth Miller sent out several emails pledging that serious steps were being taken to efficiently cut costs without impacting the quality of the girls’ education.  Moving forward, the School asked its community to help in this time of need. President Miller held sessions to answer questions from parents and students alike. Shortly thereafter, students, faculty, administration, and volunteers phoned potential donors.

There was, understandably, some confusion and panic among the student body and their families, both about the origins of this issue and the future of Lauralton. However, all were assured that this problem, while serious, was surmountable. Students were encouraged to advocate for the strength of their School on social media, such that onlookers would not equate Lauralton’s financial rough patch to overall weakness.

As of April 5, 2018, over $2,175,000 has been raised. Below is a timeline of the fund-raising process.

Nov. 20, 2017—Parents and alumnae receive word from the Board of Trustees, via email, that Lauralton Hall is in need of $2.25 million; the Lauralton Loyalty Appeal is launched.

Nov. 21, 2017—Student body is called into the auditorium, where President and Head of School Mrs. Elizabeth Miller answers questions; students are encouraged to “use their voices” and advocate for Lauralton on social media.

Lauralton administration, trustees, faculty, and volunteers phone alumnae and other “friends of the school” to ask for their support. 

Dec. 1, 2017

           Amount Raised: $1 million

          Total to date: $1 million

Dec. 5, 2017

          Additional amount Raised: $66, 286

          Total to date: $1,066,286

Dec. 15, 2017

         Additional amount Raised: $620,406

         Total to date: $1,686,692

Jan. 5, 2018

          Additional amount Raised: $313, 308

          Total to date: $2 million

Mar. 16, 2018

          Additional amount raised: $148,968

          Total: 2,148,968

Remaining: $101,032

Goal: $2,250,000

Given what we know from the last update on the Appeal, which was roughly two weeks ago, there’s still about $101,032 left to raise. It’s hard to predict when this goal will be met, given that Lauralton’s initial fundraising momentum has, evidently, slowed down over past several weeks—in the first 1.5 weeks of the Appeal, $1 million were raised; in the past 2.5 months, $148k was raised. Perhaps Lauralton was more efficiently able to tap into its supporters early on, during the fright and uncertainty that came with the initial announcement of trouble.

The School’s Denim and Diamonds gala and overall cost-cutting have alleviated the crisis. Miller continues to thank Lauralton’s community and “looks forward to our new fiscal year on July 1, when the School is poised to enter a new era of fiscal strength.”

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Humans of LH: Mrs. Fracker

Maureen Morris ’18 sat down with LH guidance counselor, Mrs. Fracker, on February 14th, 2018 to discuss her path to Lauralton, student stress levels, and the college application process of the 2017-2018 school year.

What exactly is your job title and description?

Fracker: My job title is college counselor, and that encompasses lots of varied responsibilities. I teach seminars to juniors and seniors, so I kind of help them navigate the college process. I also see students on an individual basis, I run Career Day. I’m always available for crises, or just general talks, visits, and chats. Lots of fun things! Never the same thing… always different day to day.

How long have you been working at Lauralton?

Fracker: I’ve been working at Lauralton since 2001, so I’m going on my 17th year here.

How did you end up here? What drew you to Lauralton?

Fracker: So, I was in graduate school at Fairfield University, and I was coming to the end, ready to graduate, and they announced that Lauralton Hall in Milford, Connecticut was looking for a counselor. I took the name and number and came to interview. When I drove up to campus, I was blown away by the beauty; I had never been to Lauralton even though I lived not far from here. I was drawn by the beauty of the campus and the buildings. I came in and loved Mrs. Pratson immediately. She was the one who interviewed me. You probably don’t remember her, because she retired a few years back.

No I don’t.

Fracker: I met with Ann Pratson, who was the Principal at the time, and I just felt that this was a very kind and gentle place. They offered me the job, and I knew I wanted to come here. I had been interviewing at other places, but I just got that feeling that this was the right fit.

Had you known about Lauralton before hearing that they were looking for counselors?

Fracker: I knew Lauralton Hall was in Milford, but I was not familiar with Lauralton much beyond that. 

Have you found that the general issues of the student body have changed as you’ve spent time here, or have they mostly remained consistent?

Fracker: I think the issues of today, the issues of yesterday, the issues of tomorrow – past, present, future – are all fundamentally the same, but perhaps, with the advent of all this technology…

That’s what I was thinking…

Fracker: Yeah, it has kind of put a spin on certain situations. You know, a student applying to college 17 years ago was applying via pen and paper, and now they’re all electronic. In that respect, things have changed, but ultimately, we’re still always searching for the right fit. So, it kind of all goes back to that.

Generally, what is the most common worry or problem that students will come to you with? Is there any one that is the most popular?

Fracker: I do get students that come stressed out about tests or papers or projects, or college certainly. [However], because I do college counseling with juniors and seniors, I think they have navigated much of the homework and test situation. They kind of know at this point. It’s more of a maturity process as well. So I think the #1 stress I see is related to college: college visits, finding the right college, college applications, college essays, and all of that fun stuff. That’s what I tend to see the most.

And is there an average number of students you’ll see daily, or does it vary?

Fracker: *Laughing* I see students all day long. And I love it!

Did you work as a counselor at any other high schools before coming to Lauralton?

Fracker:  Prior to grad school, I worked at a publishing company, which is totally different stuff. Then, I started working at Fairfield University, in one of their departments, and I taught classes, and that’s when and where I went back to grad school. After that, I did a little bit of substitute teaching for a few years, followed by an internship at a middle school. So, my first foray, if you will, into college counseling was at Lauralton.

Did you substitute in any high schools?

Fracker: I did substitute teach at high schools. I substitute taught from kindergarten through high school. So that was fun!

Was the high school you taught at co-ed?

Fracker: Yes.

Did you find that it was much different from working with only girls, or no?

Fracker: I don’t think so. I think definitely having boys around lent a different atmosphere. I like the all girls. I like that female empowerment thing, but ultimately it was pretty much the same.

Are there any changes you think Lauralton should make to decrease students’ stress levels?

Fracker: I think we made a big change and a really good change when we went to that block schedule. We have seen in this department that the stress level went way down. So, I think that was an awesome change that we made. I also think a lot of it is in the course advising, in terms of how much challenge you’re taking on, how many activities you have outside of school, and balancing your life. So, changes can be made on an individual basis, as well as overall.

Has this year’s college application process been different in any way?

Fracker: Every year it can change. A college can come back and say, “Our applications have gone up by 20%.” I’ll never forget when Villanova won the big basketball championship. We knew that was going to throw the application process for a little loop, but I also think that every year we see demonstrated interest becoming more and more important, and we saw that this year too.

So, there were no odd changes?

Fracker: Nothing out of the absolute ordinary.

Is there any one school that a large amount of seniors applied to?

Fracker: This year in particular, or every year?

Every year, I guess.

Fracker: Well, we always send our fair share to the University of Connecticut. We have those favorite LH draws, and it wasn’t any different this year than in the past. Those are the Villanovas, the Providences, the Fordhams of the world. I like when certain schools come on students’ radars more that are farther away–you know, Furman or Miami Ohio. As students branch out and reach out, I think it opens other people up to expanding their visits.

Are there any new schools you see every year, or is it generally the same ones?

Fracker: I think more and more students will come in and ask me about California schools.

Yeah I’ve noticed a lot of that!

Fracker: Yeah, so that’s becoming common. It used to be more surprising to me, now it’s not. Students will say “I want to see Pepperdine, I want to see Santa Clara, I want to see USC.” It could be because of all of the technology, and how it’s easy to go out and travel and still stay connected to people back home.

Absolutely. So what is your favorite part of being a guidance counselor?

Fracker: Well, I do love the college and career piece. I love visiting colleges and coming back to share my thoughts on them. When you visit these schools, you kind of get the tone and the beat, and I love using that to help my students find the right fit for the next phase of their life. I love getting to know my juniors and seniors, and I love when my they go out, go to college, and come back to visit me. I still keep in touch with alumnae that graduated years ago, and so, to me, that is a very wonderful thing. I might go to Starbucks and have coffee with someone who graduated in 2005 to catch up on their life. That is a very important piece of what I do. Also, every other year, we do Career Day, and we bring in 40 to 50 women from various professional careers. I love when a student will say to me, “I decided my major or my career path based on a session that I attended,” or “Mrs. Fracker, I just secured an internship with a woman who came to Career Day.” So, for me, that’s very meaningful.

Thank you! That’s all I’ve got.

Fracker: Thanks, that was fun!

OP-ED: Cheerleading: A Bonding Experience Like No Other

By Hannah Williams ’18

Cheerleading is more than simply memorizing routines, reciting cheers, or supporting basketball players at their games. The countless hours that are spent practicing the necessary skills to do well in the sport are also spent creating friendships and memories with your teammates. These friendships and memories are things I will cherish forever. You build ties with these people after spending hours with each year, bonding over your love and dedication to the sport. This is not comparable to anything. It is the type of sport where you are so up close and personal that you are almost forced to make relationships with the people around you. As you can guess, it is a very close knit sport, and it is where I found my second family.

I can remember that before I joined the team, I was quite shy, and I was extremely nervous to venture out and make new friends. However, after making the team I met many new people, people who were not afraid to introduce themselves and welcome me onto the team with open arms. Before I knew it, I made many new friends. From then on, more memories have been made with my teammates than I can count. These memories include making silly jokes and dancing like crazy people at practice to crying tears of joy after winning first place at our states competition last year.

There is nothing like the rush of placing your feet on the floor of the blue mats with your teammates and hitting the routine you have all worked so hard on. The huge smiles and big hugs we give each other as we walk off the mat are a comforting reassurance needed at the end of the tiring routine. The bonds between cheerleaders is close both personally and physically, and they are relationships I would not trade for the world.

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The Importance of Local Politics

By: Anastasia Meltzer ’20

For many of our seniors, this will not only be the year they head off to college, it will also be the first year they are eligible to vote. Voting is one of our constitutional rights, but it is also a responsibility. Women were granted the vote less than a century ago, and it is difficult to imagine now the era in which women had so little political say. Voting is the foundation of the political process, and therefore, can contribute greatly to affecting necessary economic, cultural, and social changes on the local level as well as the state and national levels. Voting is what keeps democracy alive.

Many Americans pay little attention to, or even entirely disregard, local politics. This is a serious mistake. Local politics are anything but insignificant. The officials who manage our towns impact citizens’ day-to-day lives. For example, if a candidate is elected and does not use available funds wisely to meet the actual needs of the community, vital services could be negatively impacted — education, public safety, sanitation, etc–that is, the quality of schools, the efficiency of police and fire departments, the cleanliness of streets and sidewalks, and the timeliness of snow removal. 

A strong, dedicated, and effective town leader with a vision can have a positive influence on the other citizens simply through the cumulative effect  of many small scale choices and decisions. This is why it is important that residents take the time to vote. However, before casting their ballot, there are a few things they should take into consideration. 

1. Is this candidate informed about the issues at hand?

If a candidate is unable to intelligently answer questions posed by the audience or opponents at debates, that should be a red flag. A candidate should not only be able to speak to an issue, they should be able to propose possible resolutions.

2. Does this candidate have prior relevant experience?

Even if the candidate has never run for office before, they should at least be able to state, with some specificity and detail, why they believe their life experience would benefit the public.

3. If the candidate is an incumbent, why should they be re-elected?

If the previous leadership of a community was disappointing, this would be a good time to argue for something new.

4. Does this candidate value public opinion?

A good leader must be a good listener. A good leader knows when to follow their constituents’ lead.

If elected, will this candidate be flexible enough to sometimes compromise?

A good candidate must be able to work well with others, even those who may not have identical views. They have to compromise in order to enact change and make new policies, because we cannot all get exactly what we want all of the time. 

 

Picture: Milford City Hall, by Courtney Durso ’18

Guatemala Service Trip 2018

By: Sofia Cholewczynski ’20

Over winter break, I went on a service trip to Guatemala with School the World. The mission of this nonprofit is to provide education in remote areas of the world, by building schools, and put in place teachers that will help these schools prosper for years to come.

I was nervous before I went on the trip, because I had no idea what to expect. I was traveling without my family to a country where I didn’t speak the language. However, the trip also sounded appealing to me, because  I love the idea of traveling around the world.This was my first time flying internationally, so it made the whole experience one big adventure. It was a great way for me to get out and see new places.

Guatemala was nothing like I expected. My father had told me it was mountainous, but what I saw out of the airplane window took my breath away. Below me was the rockiest terrain I had ever seen, and it was truly amazing. Although the country is mountainous, it is green, with countless trees and tufts of grass growing on rock.

That’s why I was surprised to hear, later on, that many of the Guatemalan people are famers, despite the fact that the soil is exceptionally rocky. Agriculture is not an easy job there.

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We visited: Antigua, a tourist city, Santa Cruz del Quiché, a smaller urban area, and Chiul, a remote community up in the mountains of Quiche. Chiul was where we conducted our service with School the World. As we drove up to the school community for the first time, the children were ecstatic to see us! They showered us with confetti, took our hands, and lead us to where the celebration was beginning. The welcoming celebration was so much fun, and shortly thereafter, we began to work.

On our to-do list was: to paint the interior and exterior of the school, paint murals on the walls (three total), dig holes for the different playground sets, and to make and use cement for finishing touches. The painting was tiresome, but it was in the shade, which was welcoming after a long day of digging or mixing cement. Because the soil in Guatemala is so rocky, we had to break through rocks in order to dig holes that were deep enough.

After we all believed that the hard, manual work was over, our instructors told us we were needed to spread gravel over the playground area. We had to shovel the gravel into wheelbarrows and move to all corners of the play area. The play area was not all on one ground–all the sets were located on different heights. This meant that we had to wheelbarrow rocks down hills in order to access certain parts. This became very tedious.

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I know it sounds like all the work was super hard, and it was, but it was also so rewarding. Seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when they saw the new playground and the beautiful murals was amazing. Their overall happiness the whole week really made me appreciate life and the little things. Not once did they complain, so I had no reason to either.

I absolutely loved meeting the children and the families because they were so giving and welcoming. I shadowed a family of one of the students, and that was a really eye-opening experience. They lived in a house without doors, only three rooms, and no indoor plumbing. Their stove was an iron plate on firewood on a cement block. They mostly just ate tortillas, corn, and potatoes for their meals.

I honestly loved every moment being in Guatemala: from the beautiful landscape to the kind and giving people. This is a service trip I definitely recommend. Before I knew it, I had to say goodbye to the children, which brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget this wonderful experience.

Interview with Creators of the Podcast “Olympic Fever”

By Sarah D’Alto ’20

Sarah D’Alto ’20 recaps 2018 PyeongChang Winter games with Jill Jaraz and Alison Brown of the podcast “Olympic Fever”  to discuss everything from “meme-worthy” moments to their favorite sports to watch.

Sarah (S): Jill, you are the host and executive producer of the immensely entertaining podcast, “Olympic Fever,” and Alison you are the co-host. Tell me about when each initially became fascinated by the Olympics, and how it evolved into the creation of your podcast. 

Jill (J):  “My fascination with the Olympics began when I was a kid. Even though I likely watched a few before this, the LA Olympics in 1984 had me glued to the set. I was on a swim team, and I loved watching the swimmers. That just bled into watching other events.

I love talking about the Olympics, and I don’t always have a ton of people who I can geek out with. I also love podcasts, so that seemed like a good idea. Luckily, Alison was game to do it with me, and our adventure began!”

Alison (A): “I first fell in love with the Olympics in 1976 with Nadia Comaneci. [After that, I liked] The Winter Olympics in 1980, which, as far as I remember, were in Lake Placid, New York–that was exciting because it was so close to home. It was something I shared with my family; we all watched it together.”

S: Many people find the Summer Olympics to be far more captivating than that of the Winter Olympics. What do you think makes the Winter Olympics interesting and unique?

J: “The Winter Olympics are interesting and unique, because not everyone has access to snow and ice. It also has a lot of sports that unfortunately we rarely see on TV, so it’s fun to watch sports that you don’t hear about all the time.”

S: Was there anything about the location of PyeongChang that differentiated the ‘18 games from the Winter games back in 2014 in Sochi?

A: “PyeongChang was definitely colder. It seemed to run more smoothly. There was less commentary. There was more praise for the facilities, and the athletes seemed to really enjoy being in Korea. In Sochi, there was a lot of complaints about things not working: bad food [and] travel difficulties. There were no complaints on logistics in Pyeongchang. It seemed like the athletes were better able to focus on their competition, not if their toilet worked.”

S: What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport to watch as a fan and why? How does this differ from your favorite sport to discuss on “Olympic Fever?”

J: “I love to watch biathlon, because it’s so exciting, and you never know who’s going to win a race. Some [crowd] favorites and heavy-hitters could have a bad day on the shooting range, and their race is sunk. Sometimes an athlete will miss a couple of shots and then ski like crazy and place well. I also love watching bobsled and luge–they look like so much fun! And I like figure skating, because it’s beautiful and amazing to watch these athletes defy the laws of physics. Oh, and ski jumping is so cool too! I could go on…..I like watching pretty much any Olympic sport–or at least I will give it a really good try. We do try to talk about every Olympic sport on the podcast, at least a little bit, because we want to give every sport its due.”

A: “My favorite sport to watch is figure skating, because I know a lot about it, and I’ve been watching it a very long time; but I [also] like talking about the sports I don’t know as well, like biathlon and ski jumping, because I learn about them. [Jill] totally has gotten me turned on to biathlon. I did enjoy watching biathlon this time–mostly because I could talk to Jill about it.”

S: What are some of your favorite moments from the 2018 games; any meme worthy moments (i.e. McKayla Maroney’s “I’m not impressed” face from the 2012 London Summer Olympics)?

J: “Ester Ledecka winning the alpine super-G would be meme-worthy. [Also], Pita Taufatoufa at the ceremonies, of course (who doesn’t like a shirtless Tongan?). [And] anything with curler Matt Hamilton’s mustache.”

A: “I didn’t think there were a lot of meme moments, but the mascot itself, Soohorang, was meme-able itself. So cute. He is a cartoon, white tiger with a very sweet smile…and a big head. Cute and cuddly and adorable. I would also say that it was the best dressed Olympics, so the outfits for the medal assistants, and the opening ceremonies were just gorgeous. They were gorgeous, I love them. Matt Hamilton is on the US men’s gold medal winning curling team, and he just has this big ginger mustache.”

S: What do you prefer to talk about on the podcast: the athletes playing the sport or the sport that the athletes are playing? 

J: “I don’t have a preference, to be honest. I like understanding the nuances of a sport better, because I appreciate that. I like talking to athletes because I can learn what it takes to compete at that level.”

A: I like talking to the athletes about their sport, because they can share their excitement and their knowledge.”

S: There were lots of remarkable achievements made by women in this year’s Winter Olympics. What were some that you think are notably commendable, and how do these achievements impact Olympic history?

J: “Favorite moments:

-South Korean Women’s Curling team winning the Semi-Finals

-Ester Ledecka winning 2 gold medals

-Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall winning gold

-Mirai Nagasu landing a triple axel

-Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs winning silver

-U.S. women’s hockey team winning gold

-Anytime a South Korean won in Short Track Speedskating (the crowd went nuts)

Two words: Marit Bjoergen. [She’s] 37 years old, and at Pyeongchang, she became the most decorated Winter Olympic medalist: fifteen medals overall, eight gold. [Of those, she won] four medals, 2 of them gold, just this year. A-maz-ing.

Oh, so many more!”

A: “Bjoergen is now the most decorated Winter Olympian ever; she has won more Olympic medals than any other Winter Olympian- male or female. She is the Michael Phelps of the Winter Olympics. For the U.S., more medals were won by women than men at the Winter Olympics.”

S: Teenagers, like snowboarders Chloe Kim and Red Gerard, won gold medals in Pyeongchang. Do you think these young athletes (or any of the other teenagers that competed in the games) are destined to be super athletes with long-lasting careers, like Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White? 

J: “Totally. A bunch of athletes at Pyeongchang were in their 3rd, 4th, and 5th Games. Chloe and Red could definitely be around for many more, if they stay healthy and have the drive to do so.”

A: “Both women who won the gold and silver in figure skating were also teenagers, and I hope they stick around, because they are both beautiful skaters. As for Chloe Kim and Red Gerard, I think Red Gerard is more likely to have a long lasting career, because he is keeping a lower profile, and is more focused on his sport. Chloe Kim is doing a lot of press and media right now and fashion and ads–she cannot sustain that kind of fame while doing the training that is needed to be a gold medalist.”

[photo credits: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/28/15098364/nbc-tape-delay-winter-olympics-2018-live-broadcast-pyeongchang]

Interview with Bestselling Author Adriana Trigiani

By Maya Welber ’20

I did not know what to expect when I set up my interview with Adriana Trigiani and her publicist said she would be glad to do it. I mean, she’s a highly prolific writer, she’s adapted one of her books into a screenplay and directed it herself; she’s giving back to her hometown through her philanthropic organization, The Origin Project! She can’t be a down-to-earth and relatable former Catholic school girl, can she? Fast forward to the end of the interview and I walked out with a new friend! I have never met anyone more genuine and gracious. Whether she is telling you a story on the page or in person, you are instantly transported into the Northern Alps or to her mother’s bedside during her final moments. Miss Trigiani, you have a lifelong fan here!

I am reading The Shoemaker’s Wife right now and I love it. How long did it take you to write it?

Books take me my whole life to write. I get an idea and I think I always wanted to write that story but I am a dramatist. I write plays and I thought, oh maybe it’s a play or maybe its a movie. What I do with my ideas is, I feel my way through. I think what do the readers need? What do they really like? I told myself it’s time to write this book, so I dug in my heels and just started writing.

Your books are so detailed. I read the shoemaker’s wife was inspired by some of the stories your grandmother told you.

Yes, it was my grandparents’ love story. My grandparents were from a mountain in Northern Italy. They both grew up in the Alps off the same road, but they didn’t meet there. They met in Hoboken and he was going to fight in WWI and she had come over at the age of 18 to make money with her dad to buy a house in Schilpario. I was just there a couple of weeks ago to honor my mother’s baby brother. She used to tell me things and my mother used to tell me things and my grandfather died when he was 39 years old because in WWI they used to use mustard gas and that’s how the immigrant could earn his citizenship at that time. So he went to fight in France and when he came back they told him you will not live to your 40th birthday.

What do you enjoy writing more fiction, or for example collaborating with your sisters on a cookbook?

That was fun with my sisters. What I really like, because I come from a big family is to write by myself. I like to go in a room and be alone and figure out what the character wants me to say, to really and truly connect with you. If I feel I am sitting here telling you a story, it is a very simple concept, but to make it seem simple is very difficult. So I like the process of being by myself and whatever the art form is if I can create it alone  I am happy. Once it’s written, it is a collaboration with the publishers and editors and so forth.

Did you have any mentors? Any writers you particularly enjoy?

So many! The first mentors you have as a young girl are the authors that you read and it’s interesting to me, that all my favorites were written by women. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope and Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene and The Wrinkle In time by Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and lastly, Eloise series by Kay Thompson

In life, I looked at my family. My mother and my grandmother… they were both really smart and worked very hard. My mother was a librarian and a college graduate and that was very important in those days because she was a daughter of immigrants.

You adapted one of your books into film, Big Stone Gap. What was that like?

I wrote and directed it. It was a huge privilege and also the hardest thing I ever did in terms of a job, not the direction of the actors or the creative stuff, but the managing, the production aspects and having to get along with people you wouldn’t get along with normally. You navigate it and You figure it out I am really excited to direct another one.

Which one of your books do you think would translate better into film?

I think Kiss Carlo is cinematic. The Shoemaker’s Wife may be made into a play.

That is amazing! Can you describe your writing process for me a little bit?

It’s important to write every day. Carry a notebook, even if it means you are going to take 20 minutes out of your day to just write and observe something.  If you start doing that now, which is what I did because I was a news reporter. How old are you? 15? Oh my God, exactly my daughter’s age.  I think 15 is one of my favorite ages. Its a bridge age. You really are grown up and you have all your ideas. When I was your age, I was a news reporter for WNBA in Norton, Virginia and I got 5 dollars a story and that trained me to be really concise and tell a story. Who, what, when and why and how it happened and then from there I realized I didn’t want to be a journalist. I didn’t want to write nonfiction. I preferred to make up stories because I was better at making up stories. So when I went to college I became a playwright because there was a lot of dialogue in my work. So my process is 7 days a week, a lot of reading and then a lot of sitting in the chair and writing and that means I have a technique. My technique is I outline and I make notes and I do that pretty much throughout my process of writing. I even write scenes. I always keep paper with me in case I want to write a scene but I type into a computer. I am a typist I used to type on a typewriter and now I do it on the computer.

Lauralton does a lot of community service, so I am very interested in the Origin Project! How did you become involved with that?

I am from a place that is called the Appalachians. I am from a place where people struggle. They are in the coal industry. They were coal miners for many years they had jobs that were very good and then they didn’t. I know firsthand what that is. My father was self-employed. He moved down there on the poverty program in the late 60’s so my dad helped me have an inside view on what it means to go without. So I have a natural affinity for those that don’t have things. It’s not that they don’t have purses. It’s that they don’t have the same opportunities that you have. They don’t have the same access to things. So what I do with the Origin Project- there is a wonderful lady named Nancy Bolmeier-Fisher and she grew up in a small town in Montana. She and I got together and we put this project together whereby we go into the classrooms on the first day and hand out journals to 1300 students and ask them to do an in-class project. We ask them to write one family story that year. It can be in whatever form they want and then we publish them at the end of the school year. During the year, we also have projects and field trips and we bring in famous authors.

Any tips for budding writers?

Read, read, read, write, write! Don’t judge what you write. Don’t throw anything out. There could be a two-word phrase that could be the title of a book. Seek out writers, be bold and ask about internships.

Any last message you want to leave us with?

I think it very important when you are a young woman to know yourself and believe in you and not worry about pleasing a boy or impressing a girl. If you have a passion, sometimes it’s very hard to admit it because it may not happen or you might be made fun of. You don’t have to crow about it! You have to quietly and methodically work toward it which is what i did. First ask yourself about how you envision spending your time for the rest of your life and separate love, marriage, relationships for a moment and think about yourself.  If everyone was gone tomorrow what would engage your intellect, your soul and what would fill you up and if you’re really honest you’ll find it. Too often young girls make decisions based on other people’s needs and not their own. We feel bad because we think, for example, our dad couldn’t afford something, I didn’t take piano lessons because I thought they were expensive. When my dad was dying, he said I wish you had taken those piano lessons because they were only a dollar and I thought it was millions of dollars because piano and music were so special to me.  I want you to really think about who you are, what you want to learn, and how you want to learn it.  When you find yourself feeling sorry for yourself, focus on someone else and you will instantly forget what your problem is. It’s magical! There’s a more crude way of saying it.  Don’t take any crap from anybody! Be bold! You can be kind and sweet, but you have to be resolute and strong in your convictions. Pretty much who you are at 15, is who you are at 40 and 50 and 80.

Ms. Trigiani was a very inspirational speaker later in the evening during an informal Q & A with the audience. She urged everyone, especially women to share the stories. Women don’t take credit for their stories or are easily silenced because some think their stories are not worth telling. We should take credit for our stories and we should engage our self-conscious. It’s working all the time telling you the story of “you”.

A Look Into Lauralton’s Key Club

By Olivia Dunn ’19

Olivia Dunn shares some of the activities that Key Club has conducted this year for the local community.

  1. Frosted cookies for Beth-El Center: Around October, Key Club frosted Halloween themed cookies to donate to the Beth-El Center, which is located in Milford, not too far from Lauralton.
  2. Blankets: Key Club learned a technique to make blankets with fleece fabric, without having to sow, and then donated them to a shelter.
  3. Non-toxic play-dough: Key Club was given a recipe on how to make non-toxic play-dough, using mainly apple sauce and cornstarch, that would be donated to a facility for patients with dementia. This donation worked out well for two reasons: it gave the patients a form of entertainment, and if they accidentally consumed it, it would not do any harm to their bodies.
  4. Dog toys: The most recent meeting consisted of making dog toys for an animal shelter in Westport. Many different types of toys were made, including a sock filled with a tennis ball and braided strands of fleece blankets to act as a rope toy.
  5. Fundraisers: In order to pay for the supplies used in their donations, Key Club holds a few fundraisers. Around Christmas time, they have the sell and deliver poinsettia flowers. Additionally, all year round the club sells mugs with a picture of Lauralton’s campus on the front.

[photo credit: https://www.keyclub.org/resources/key-club-seal-full-color/]

The Curious Crusader V3

By: Jess Sanchez ’18

Hello! Welcome to the Curious Crusader, the student run advice column that is here to answer all of your typical questions about high school. How can I improve my study skills? Should I join a club or activity? How stressful is senior year? (I can answer that one right now, VERY STRESSFUL). If you have any questions that you need an honest answer for, simply email me at jsanchez18@lauraltonhall.org, and I would be happy to answer them for you!

Is prom everything that the movies make it out to be?

To some, prom is one of the most exciting events in your high school career. What do I wear? How should I style my hair? Who am I going to bring? To others, prom is just like every other dance, except that everyone wears long dresses. Whichever side you are on, prom is a night that you are probably going to remember for the rest of your life. So, why not make it fun? Not only can you dance the night away with all of your best friends, but also wear the dress, or suit, of your dreams. Go out of your comfort zone, and try something that you have never thought of before. Maybe this means rocking a teal blue dress or an up-do that makes your hair practically touch the ceiling. Although you may not be riding in on a horse and carriage with prince (or princess) charming, you can most certainly make this a night to remember if you go out on the dance floor and have a great time with your best friends.

How does being a Lauralton Lady affect your life?

This is a wonderful question, because being a Lauralton Lady is something that profoundly influences all of us, even if we don’t realize it. I believe the most impactful effect of attending Lauralton Hall is the outstanding friendships we make. There is a sisterly bond at LH that simply cannot be replicated anywhere else. The sense of community is so strong that whenever you walk down the halls, you can say hello to more than half of the people you pass by. The bond stretches beyond Lauralton and links current students to alumnae from all over the world, who share the same Core Mercy Values. I’ve noticed that, often, you can be walking down the street in Milford and have someone comment on your Lauralton apparel or class ring. They might share a story or two about their time at LH and how much they enjoyed it, or how they feel that they are  part of the loving community. It is this sisterhood that makes Lauralton Hall so special. Whether you are bonded with members of a team or the cast of a play, you have made friends here that will last you a lifetime. You join generations of educated young women, and you stand with them to represent Mercy Tradition. Being a Lauralton Lady means that you are a vital piece of the puzzle that shapes Lauralton’s beautiful history. 

How can I eat a healthy lunch at Lauralton?

We all love our wonderful caf food, but sometimes we need something that is a little healthier than the delicious chicken nuggets to get us through the day. The caf has great salad options that change frequently, so you will never get bored of the mix of veggies. If you are in the mood for a light snack, choose the crudité platter over the cookies (although the cookies are definitely a staple in a Lauralton Lady’s diet). To eliminate the option for buying something unhealthy in the caf, try bringing lunch from home. You can pack a lunchbox the night before, so that, in the morning, you can just grab it and go. Then, when you get to school, you know you have snacks with you. This might keep you from purchasing a bag of chips or ice-cream from the vending machines, if you get hungry in between classes. Lauralton always has vegetarian and vegan options available at each lunch wave. This accommodates for those of you who have dietary restrictions. Whether you want to have a wholesome and healthy lunch, or have a cheat day and eat cookies and chicken nuggets (we all have those days 99% of the time), you can find everything you need in the wonderful cafeteria.

Exchange Students on their Lauralton Experience

By Rebecca Peng ’20

Many things about Lauralton make it unique, one of which is its Chinese exchange program. Because of this program, the school has several international students, who help to diversify the discussion and the community. It’s important for us to communicate and share culture with our peers of different backgrounds. Thus, Highlights reached out to exchange students to understand what their experience at Lauralton has been like so far. Hannah Liao, Jessica Wu and Tiffany Lai were interviewed.

Q: Can you please introduce yourself briefly and describe where you come from?

Hannah: I am Hannah, or Yihan in Chinese. I used to live in Zhongshan, which is a really small town. I love the “small town life,” because it gives me a sense of relaxation and fulfillment.

Jessica: I am Jessica (Jiaqiao). I come from Shenzhen; it’s a great city located in Southern China. The weather is like the West Coast [of the US]; we do not have winter and snow there.

Tiffany: I’m Tiffany, or Feifei. I lived in Guangzhou, which is actually the same area as Jessica’s city. As you may know, China has “provinces,” which are like the “states” in the U.S. Both of us come from the same province, but different cities. I love GZ so much’ it is the best place in the world.

Q: You all mentioned that you love your country and your hometown. For what reasons did you choose to come abroad, and why did you choose the U.S?

Hannah: Because English is the most popular language in the world, and it was a required course for us back home. It was like taking Spanish for students here. Personally speaking, I did not really think that my English was good at the time, so I came to Lauralton, because the best way to practice a language is to go to somewhere where you will be among native speakers. I chose the U.S just because I really like this country. I travelled here before, and I felt people were friendly here.

Tiffany: Just to practice my poor English, and I am still working on that now. I hate academic writing, however it is the best way accumulate knowledge of a language. My reason for choosing the U.S will sound weird, but it’s because I hate U.K (I do not why, it’s just a feeling), and I do not like the British accent.

Jessica: I am actually really confident with my English speaking skills. I chose to go abroad because I am passionate about being a global citizen, and I want to know more about the globalized world. However, China was kind of limiting my perception of the whole world. Since China has five thousands years of history, the traditional stuff is not only our pride, but also a burden sometimes. As a result, innovative, creative, and new thoughts and ideals are hardly accepted in my family. Therefore, I left to go abroad to the U.S. I love this country; it is passionated, kind and creative! This is what I like! Different from the U.K, which is another [example of a] “traditional country.”

Q: Why Lauralton?
Hannah: I am a transfer student, so before I attended to Lauralton, I got a letter from a Lauralton girl. When I saw the letter, I knew where I was going before I even opened it. It just made my day. I felt lots of sincerity from Lauralton. The letter said:“Even though you did not ultimately choose Lauralton, it was still a pleasure for us that you applied.” This letter showed me how kind and nice Lauralton is, as a school. So, I left my original first choice school for Lauralton.

Tiffany: Honestly, I do not really know. My mom told me that this is a really good and nice school. And I got the offer, so I came.

Jessica: Because there were three really famous women in China who studied abroad at Lauralton when they were young. One of them was the wife of Jiangjieshi, and he was quite famous in Chinese history. This wife of his, Song Meilin, was a really graceful, rational and intelligent lady. She was like a model for all Chinese girls. I want to be a woman like her, so I decided to attend Lauralton.

Q: Why an all girls school?

Hannah: Because of the safety [here]. I am in another country all by myself. My mom feels like nobody can really protect me, but feels safer with me here. Also, I really like this school because of that that letter (described earlier). All girls versus co-ed school does not really matter to me; I do not really care.

Tiffany: Because I only applied to Lauralton; I had no choice.


Jessica: Personally speaking, I wanted to go to a co-­ed school. Nevertheless, each time I remember that the graceful Song sisters graduated from this school, I feel like, I do not care about it being all girls. Lauralton is my gateway to becoming the President’s wife.

Q: List the three words you would use to describe Lauralton when you first arrived here. Do you still feel the same way?

Hannah: Separation, a little bit, homesickness, and confusion. Because I was a transfer student, I guess it was a little bit hard for me to make friends, at first. In addition, my English was not that good at the time, so I was afraid of speaking incorrectly. I avoided talking to other people. However, the words now would be love, friends, and home. Lauralton is like a big family, I found my best friends here, and I moved to live with my new host parents, who treat me so well. I found love here.

Tiffany: Good, nice and friendly. I love Lauralton so much, all the American girls gave me so much help when I was afraid of speaking English.


Jessica: Happiness, friendship, and academic. Maybe it’s because Lauralton is an all­ girls school,  but everyone just focuses on studying. You easily see girls reading their books everywhere, at any given time. It actually encourages me to study harder.

These students explain that Lauralton is a place where foreigners can study abroad in a warm and loving environment. They extend many thanks to the school for gathering them here together, and they are grateful to all of their American peers for their continuous help and support.   

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Photos (in order): Hannah Liao, Jessica Wu

Cover Photo: Lauralton Hall