Independent Preschool-8th Grade


Clara '17 shared her Swain experience - here are her own (un-edited) words, written as an 8th grader

I came to The Swain School when I was three years old, and at the time my parents were only looking for a Preschool for me. But when it was time to start 

Kindergarten, they couldn’t imagine me anywhere else. I continued to return each year for 11 years and now I'm in eighth grade, looking ahead to my graduation in June.

I can't believe all the different opportunities and activities I've had here at Swain, inside and outside the classrooms. My classmates and I have had so many trips and experiences. Whether it's spending five days on a sailboat, enjoying ice cream after an undefeated field hockey season, or putting together a musical, we're always ready for a new challenge. 
Of course you don't have to be a "Lifer" (student who attends Swain from Preschool - 8th grade) to have all of these great experiences. And, each one of us can pick and choose the ones that interest us. Sometimes we even try something unfamiliar, and we find out we really like it! That's what's great about Swain - it’s a safe place to try new things.

The arts at Swain are special because of the projects that take place every year. Students look up to the eighth graders who spend all year carefully reproducing fine art on painted chairs. Throughout the years I've created multiple ceramic pieces, worked on self-portraits, and even taken field trips off campus to paint flowers at places like Longwood Gardens. Having theatre class every week definitely pays off when it's time to work on fall or spring productions. Although it's a long process full of hard work, the spring musical is a rewarding experience for all who participate. Over the years in music class I've played the recorder, xylophone, ukulele, guitar, and African drums. It's also fun to participate in singing ensembles and to perform in concerts. The band program also never fails to impress an audience.

In the early years at Swain, gym class got us outside or running around having fun in multiple games. As my classmates and I got older we began playing sports after school. I played field hockey for four years, and I was proud to be part of an undefeated team in seventh grade. I danced at Swain for four years and loved performing in a showcase at the end of each season. My friends love participating in other sports whether it's the thrill of winning or growing as an athlete. Some of the sports are competitive like soccer, basketball, and even archery. Others are more about personal achievement like CrossFit and cross training.

In lower school I always participated in SASS (Swain After School Specials). Some favorites for me were cheerleading and dance, but there are arts and crafts, sports and games, too. During the summer I've taken photography and played the World Peace Game. There are even more extra opportunities, such as theatre and sports camps.

There are countless field trips that my friends and I have enjoyed over the years. They are both fun and educational. In fourth grade every student learns how to swim and goes on the white water rafting field trip at the end of the year. They also learn about immigration and visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Fifth graders look forward to the Chinatown trip to New York, and I'll never forget eating warm soup dumplings on the sidewalk on a crisp November day.

As I got older the field trips became more complex and began to include overnight stays. They were still fun and educational, but there was an added focus on leadership and personal development. I went on a boat trip for five days on the Chesapeake Bay. Sleeping on the skipjack deck under the stars was peaceful and unforgettable. These leadership retreats were the first times I spent time away from home, and doing it with my friends made it less scary. The eighth graders get to plan their three-day class trip, and this year we've decided to go to Rehoboth Beach. Planning the trip is up to us, including finding a place to stay, coming up with fun and educational activities, and budgeting both time and money.

Swain has made me a leader. I've been involved in safety patrol, buddy programs, and eighth grade committees. When I was on safety patrol in fifth grade, I brought little kids into the building from their cars at morning drop-off. All of the members formed special bonds with the kids and it was a great way to start the morning. I still remember who my buddies were every year, even after 11 years. In eighth grade I started participating in eighth grade committees, including the Admissions committee. I help give tours and answer questions at open houses and I enjoy showing off my school for prospective families. I’m also on the yearbook committee and I am enjoying taking photos and creating a book that will serve a great reminder of my last year at Swain.

Next year, I’ll be going to a new school. The experience of deciding where to go after Swain has been an exciting one, as I searched for the school that seems to be just the right fit for me. My friends will each be going to the schools that are just right for them, but I know we will keep in touch and come back to visit, as we’ve seen so many other alumni do in the past. Swain has given me the foundation of leadership, academics, arts, and athletics that I know will help me as I move on to my next school. Every day is something new, and next year I'll definitely miss the moments I’m sure I currently take for granted at Swain.