With hearts of joy, sing we a song, Woodward to thee
For worthy are thou of acclaaaaaaaaim...
Woodward is an all female, college-preparatory day school in Quincy, Massachusetts. It is nondenominational and run completely on funds from alumnae local contributions and tuition. The school itself dates back to when H.G. Wells was publishing novels and Ebenezer Woodward, a wealthy Quincy entrepreneur, lamented that there was no secondary school available for local young women. He set aside a trust and the school opened in 1894 to "Quincy-born girls." In later years, the school opened its doors to girls from all across the South Shore of Massachusetts, while still retaining a significant tuition discount for Quincy natives. The school still operates in its original building, looking like a big blue house (color protected by the Quincy Historical Society) Quincy residents call it "Wood'ard," which the students and staff hate, and "Woodward School for Wayward Girls" which the staff hates, but the girls think is pretty funny.
Woodward offers classes from 6th through 12th grade, with the designations "Lower School"(grades 6-8) and "Upper School"(grades 9-12). The school likes to have girls stay all 7 years, and makes a big hoopla of a "Stepping Up Ceremony" when they graduate from 8th to 9th grade.
The school considers itself college-prep, and aims to graduate well-rounded, self-sufficient and well-educated young women. They offer AP classes to juniors and seniors in all the major subjects that one would desire to test out of in freshman year. The math and science department is full of passionate and bright teachers, but languages, English and foreign, as well as social studies and history are where the majority students seem most comfortable upon graduation. I got through engineering school just fine, but this is not really the most popular option for our grads.
The skinny is this: This is prep specifically for a private liberal arts school, where you will find the often praised “college experience.” The self-motivated ambitious student will find herself surrounded by enthusiastic teachers with a lot of knowledge, and enough time to give “extra help” or “enrichment” after class hours. The teachers put a lot into the school, extra hours, tutoring, organizing prom, creating specialized course-work for students who want an extra challenge.
My mother was my French teacher for four years, and continues to teach there. Because of small class sizes and few teachers, there is a tremendous sense of intimacy at Woodward. Every class is assigned a teacher(or teachers- a mentor group should be less than 10 students) who becomes their mentor. The mentor groups meets for homeroom in the morning, and one short period in the middle of the day. During this time, the mentor is in charge of making sure the students are keeping up in class, delivering messages from the administration, and generally doing well. It is anywhere from an extended lunch period, free study in the middle of the day, an opportunity to get extra help or fresh air when it’s fair weather. During most of high school, I checked in, got the announcements and headed straight to the art room to work on my latest project.
During my high school years at Woodward, between 1996 and 2000, the school went through some heavy shakeups. I entered the 9th grade, raising the number in our class to 35, the largest class in Woodward history. The total number of students in the school during that year was between 100 and 110. When I left, there were more students that our legal building capacity of 155. My class changed a lot over the years, but by the time we were seniors, we were firmly bonded with one another. During my time, we mourned the passing of Robert L Johnston, headmaster and Susan Hayes, History teacher and Dean of Students. Both of these people deserve their own nodes, for their work in and out of the classroom, and when I feel I can do them justice, they will have them.
Points of interested throughout the year include:
- Spirit Week, which changes from year to year, mostly a chance to drum up support for the soccer and basketball teams. Encouraged are costumes, wearing of school colors, knowing ancient Woodward history.
- Thanksgiving Feast. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, students have classes for half the day, and at 11:30 they celebrate the feast. Students bring in food to share for the pot-luck meal and sit at tables according to class. The governor’s proclamation is read by a friend of the school(and parent) from the office of the governor. After this, traditionally, each class performs a skit, song or short play. Once all 7 classes have presented, the Headmaster, and sometimes other deans and teachers, will give a speech. Then, finally the students are allowed to eat. The afternoon is usually rounded out by everybody singing the school song.
- FloatEvery Sunday-after-Thanksgiving, the Town of Quincy has a Christmas parade. Woodward had a nice strip of trophies for "Best Float" until the art teacher let me run iwth my The Nightmare before Christmas theme. The Town of Quincy didn't like my float very much...
- Winter Solstice Okay, since the school is non-sectarian, they had to pick a “winter holiday” that wasn’t used by any religion. I guess they forgot about the pagans. I’m told that it is now called “Winter Festival” or something, to amend this. This is mostly a low-key concert, based on the small orchestra, the chorus, and sometimes short plays from the drama club.
- Semiformal This is the sophomores’ dance, often abbreviated to “the Semi.” All upper-school students are invited to attend a sit-down dinner/dance with a DJ or band. Usually this is held in the auditorium.
Prom This is the seniors’ dance, only juniors and seniors may attend. Sometimes it is held in the school, but more often, it is held in a local hotel ballroom.
Science Fair Students up to 10th grade must participate in the science fair, making a presentation with a poster. Older students may view the fair, and some are invited to judge the entries. This event takes place on Founder’s Day. Juniors are allowed to skip science fair, because Founder’s Day is the day that their largest research paper to date, will be judged, and awards presented. It is also the day that new National Honor Society candidates are inducted. Seniors are exempted with the assumption that they are working on getting themselves graduated. Classes are held in the morning for all students, Science Fair happens in the afternoon, and early evening so that parents can visit the displays before the ceremonies.
- Art Fair/Spring Concert Art from over the course of the year is displayed all over the school, which gets opened up in the early evening for judging, and parental admiration. Awards are presented at a brief ceremony, followed by a choral concert.
- Commencement Girls on the stage, pretty white gowns. Boring speeches, everyone walks across the stage, Hats in the air. Applause.
Fall: Soccer. Track. Lacrosse.
Winter: Basketball. Volleyball.
Spring: Softball. Disc. Track.
Art club, Dance team (this should probably be considered a sport as well, it operates through the school-year), Chorus, Orchestra, Chess club, Prom Committee, Yearbook committee, Horseback riding club, Ski club. These change year to year, as clubs only form when there is enough interest to sustain them.
Long may you live to guide us
In wisdom's path so true,
We sing the highest praises, dear Woodward, to you!