Amelia '18 shared her Swain experience - here are her own words, written as a new graduate.
On my shadow day at Swain I was introduced to so many people, and some of them have grown to become my closest friends. I was welcomed with wide open arms and when I returned in September, everyone I met remembered me and said hello. The overwhelming sense of community that lives here at Swain is something that has never faltered in my five years of attending the school.
Since Swain is on the smaller side, almost every student knows each other, and we all get to interact in some pretty magnificent ways. An example of this is our buddy program. In each grade, our classes are paired up with either an older or younger grade’s class. When I was in fourth grade we were with kindergartners and this year we were paired with third graders. We do all sorts of different activities with our buddies, from scavenger hunts to making Wordles and everything in between.
Of course, the feeling of a loving community does not thrive just between grades, but within grades as well. Over the years, I have become so close to the other 24 students in my grade, and they feel like family to me. We have been through a lot of ups and downs, but we were there for each other the entire time, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
While my favorite part about Swain was the closeness within the school, another thing that stands out was the plethora of field trips we were given the opportunity to take part in. They varied in subject but they were always so incredible, and truly added to what we were learning in our classroom. While my peers and I always enjoyed learning within the building, relating it to a more hands-on experience helped us to understand the subject even better. Our teachers always gave us time to discuss the trip after we returned and we were able to reflect back on what we had learned. Each year we went on a team-building trip, and eventually those trips turned into overnights.
These trips meant a lot to us, but there were other trips that felt even more special. In fourth grade we went to New York City and saw the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Tenement Museum. In fifth grade we went back to New York and spent the whole day in Chinatown (we studied Asia that year). In eighth grade we went to Brigantine Beach for our class trip, which was planned almost entirely by the students.
Of all the trips I went on at Swain, my favorite one was in the summer before seventh grade. Nine of my classmates and I drove down to Maryland to spend five days canoeing on the Chester River and camping right off of it. It was a time at Swain where I felt like nothing else mattered in the world except being with my friends, and it was such a beautiful experience that a few of us decided to go again this summer.
While that canoe trip was my favorite, I will always hold my eighth grade class trip close to my heart. It was our last week of school, so it felt extra special, and it obviously helped that we planned it ourselves. This is just one example of leadership that the eighth graders have at Swain. We are given the opportunity to participate in so many committees to plan events for the middle school and intermediate school. We have the yearbook committee, class trip committee, events committee, and so many others.
Swain also harbors a fantastic balance of athletics and arts, with the chance to partake in both at the same time. We all take music, art, and drama classes each week, and are required to participate in at least two sports every year. Swain offers a variety of sports, including field hockey, dance, archery, ski club, lacrosse, and cross fit, as well as many other sports. I have always felt comfortable trying out new things at Swain, but I enjoyed a few sports so much that I stuck with them for four years.
As for the arts, Swain’s music program is truly wonderful. Every grade takes music class, and in sixth through eighth grade you get to choose which music class you take. We were given four options: chorus, world drumming, guitar, or band. Each class is taught by a great teacher, and at the end of the year every music class performs at the spring concert, often collaborating.
In our art classes we create so many things every year, including a mosaic in fourth grade, a self portrait in seventh grade, and our 8th grade chair project. This is one of my favorite traditions at Swain - each 8th grader finds a chair over the summer, and spends the entire school year preparing it and replicating a painting of our choice. There are other artistic traditions at Swain, but this one is very popular.
I have always been drawn to theater. Every year there are two drama productions that Swain offers, the fall play and the spring musical. Each production is so unique, but so incredible. While I loved participating in the musical each year, the fall play felt particularly special, because the students got to write the scenes themselves.
Swain has truly made itself a second home for me, and when I leave I know I will look back on my time here fondly. I have met so many influential people, learned so many things, and made so many memories. I’ve built rockets and hot air balloons and memorized monologues and songs and enjoyed every minute of it. I will miss going to school at Swain so much, but I know it is time for me to move forward. However, going into high school, I know I will keep with me all of the lessons I learned from the community at Swain, and that those people will always be in my heart.