ANNIE WRIGHT UPPER SCHOOL
ANNIE WRIGHT UPPER SCHOOL
Inkwell APRIL 2017
827 North Tacoma Avenue Tacoma, WA 98403 email@example.com | 253-272-2216 Issue 3 | Volume 54
Editor in chief, print
Contents The first director THE BOYS THE BOARD CHAIR ALUMNAE ACTION GROUP A HISTORY OF BOYS @ AWS
Lexy Sullivan Editor in chief, online
Katie Erickson Managing editor
5 10 14 16 18
Allison Fitz Student Life editor
Nina Doody Features & Arts editor
Abby Givens News editor
Faye Prekeges Inkwell aims to provide the Annie Wright community with dependable and engaging coverage of school, commuity and global topics. Timely articles of all genres are published weekly at anniewrightinkwell.org. In addition, four themed news magazines are published during the school year and distributed around campus. Submissions of articles and photographs, correction requests and signed letters to the editor are most welcome. Please email the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org. All published submissions will receive credits and bylines. Find us online: anniewrightinkwell.org
Annie Wright to Launch new Upper School for Boys
by Nina Doody, Katie Erickson and Allison Fitz Annie Wright Upper School for Boys, a new division of Annie Wright Schools, will launch this fall for the 2017-18 school year. Although boys have been in the Lower and Middle Schools for several decades, this is the first time Annie Wright will educate high school boys. The current Upper School will be known as Annie Wright Upper School for Girls. The boys’ school will start in the current building, but 2 1/2 days per week the boys will have classes in an off-campus location in downtown Tacoma. Within the next two years, they will move into a separate two-story-building between the Great Hall and the road.
The school is starting with just 9th grade, and each year a new grade will be added. Next year, the school will have 10-18 9th grade boys. When it is full, the school will grow to a maximum of 160 boys. “We have done an amazing job with our girls, and for years and years families have asked to have a similar experience for their boys,” said Sullivan. At the same time, he emphasized that we are maintaining an all-girls environment. “A girl that wants to come to our school and have a single gender experience will still be able to have it,” he said. Mrs. Bauska, formerly the Director of the Upper School (for Girls) and
currently Assistant Head of the whole school, will serve as the inaugural director of the Upper School for Boys. Current Upper School math and science teacher Jeremy Stubbs will be the new boys’ Dean of Students, and new teachers will also be hired. Academic classes and sports will be separate. Some activities, including most arts, will to be combined. “We think there are going to be some opportunities for girls that they wouldn’t have previously had; for example, a new class is going to be woodshop, which is going to be available to both boys and girls,” said Sullivan. Many traditions, including tie colors, will be extended to the boys.
The administration initially explored the possibility of a separate, nearby location for the boys’ school, but ultimately determined to build the facility for the boys on campus. “We explored a number of locations and discovered there were no viable options for the new school within a reasonable distance," said Head of Schools Christian Sullivan. “We even looked at the Weyerhaeuser property [a historic estate three miles west of Annie Wright], but an extensive feasibility study determined that it would not fit our needs.”
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This rendering by the Seattle architecture firm Mithun shows their proposed design for the new building for the Upper School for Boys to the right of the main building.
The boys will have separate P.E., and initially all boys will be in fencing. The team sports will start as basketball and ultimate, and golf will be offered for individuals. As enrollment increases, the school will offer more sports based on interest, such as soccer and flag football. If any boys are interested in playing a team sport not offered at Annie Wright, they can play at their local public high school (as the girls can). Some programs and classes will only be offered in one division. The business program is still only for girls. The course “Architecture, Design, and Government: A Case Study” will be offered only to boys, who will have the opportunity to help design their new building, learning everything from architecture to security to zoning to design. The boys who board are going to live in their own separate hall in our current dorm and eventually on the renovated 4th floor. Boys and girls in the dorms will most likely eat breakfast and dinner together. Sullivan said that starting the Upper School for Boys this fall was the unanimous decision of the Board of Trustees.
The decision-making process for the boys’ school included the input of the student body: “Student surveying was carried out as well as multiple students meetings. The survey was important and it clearly indicated that the majority of our girls that come to our Upper School do not come because it is single gender; in fact they come despite the fact that it is single gender. That is illustrated by the fact that it is really difficult to get local girls to come to the Upper School who are not already in our eighth grade,” said Sullivan.
It made complete sense that high school aged girls would like separate laundry facilities. This is one example of the students’ knowledge of the building and facilities, and we want to address their needs.”
When asked about the future of Annie Wright and the possibility of a co-ed upper school, Sullivan said, “This board of trustees and I have no interest in the school being coed. I think it will be successful and a fabulous addition to Tacoma. When that happens people will see the beauty of this model and there will Following the announcement of the be no discussion of co-ed.” Upper School for Boys, there have been mixed reactions. Some have “I’m passionate about Annie Wright been very outspoken about their and what it has done for boys and disdain for this new model. “We girls through eighth grade and are handling these reactions civilly for young women in the Upper and respectfully, but it is really up School, and I will continue to be to the board of trustees to handle passionate about this school when because it is their decision and we it has an Upper School for Boys,” operate as their functionaries,” said said Sullivan, “and I will be proud Sullivan. of being a part of something that improves opportunities for the In addition to this pushback, people of the South Sound.” there has also been constructive feedback from some constituents. While the new building is under “We’ve had some great feedback construction, the boys will have some from students when we’re getting classes downtown, most likely in the Kress down to the nitty gritty,” said building, the former site of the Children's Sullivan. “For example the girls Museum in downtown Tacoma. The space talked about how they can’t will have new flooring and modular, have boys in their laundry room. adaptable furniture.
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Upper School girls by the Inkwell team
Inkwell asked girls from every class the following question: “What is your opinion about the plan for the new Upper School for Boys to open this fall?” Answers varied widely. Some were negative, for example “I don’t like the idea that boys are on the same campus” and “I really like the school now and don’t want it to change.” Others were positive, for example “Raising young men to be respectful people just as you raise young women to be is really beneficial to the community” and “I think it’s a step toward progress and inevitable.” The majority of the girls interviewed, however, expressed some ambivalence and shared both enthusiasm and misgivings. Here are some of their comments:
“I actually feel okay about the boys’ school. I think it’s good for the long-term development of the school. On the other hand, it may break the all girls’ school tradition.”
“Educating boys is a very important thing, and I love the idea that our school is trying to do that, but I have hesitations about the fact that it’s on the same campus.”
“I’m excited for the boys to get the experience that we have here, but I’m worried that we’re going to lose the traditions and what the Annie Wright Upper School for Girls has stood for.”
“I think it’s fine for boys to come to Annie Wright as long as the school remembers that it was founded on the idea that women are being empowered for the future.”
“There are negative and positive impacts. Sometimes we can be kind of isolated because we’re an all girls school.”
“Mrs. Bauska has created a task force to help the student voices be heard, and I encourage everyone to keep their voices up and to keep their favorite parts of our school in the front lines of the administration’s decisions.”
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The first director by Allison Fitz
Susan Bauska has been a part of the Annie Wright community since 1990. She began as an English teacher, then transitioned to college counselor and English teacher the next year. In 2000, Bauska became the Director of Upper School, and 14 years later in 2014 she became Assistant Head of Schools, still continuing to teach English. According to Bauska, teaching “has remained the most satisfying job.” Next year, Bauska will begin a role new to her and to Annie Wright Schools, Director of Upper School for Boys. Plans for the new school have been controversial among some current Annie Wright students and alumnae. Read below for the hard facts and what the Director of the Upper School for Boys has to say about the future.
classes Periods 1, 2 and 3, which are tentatively going to be held on the current Annie Wright campus, will be acquired language (Spanish 1 + 2 and ESL), intro to physics and flipped math. Because honors and non-honors students will be in one class, the boys will take intro to physics together as one group, regardless of their math classes. This plan is intended to build community and break down the academic hierarchy among students.
Shared and Separate Programs There will be mixed gender opportunities in after-school art activities but not academic classes. Activities are enrolled by student choice, so just because there is an opportunity for mixed genders does not necessarily mean that the activity will be mixed. Art activities include theater, visual art, choir and orchestra.
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Space For the next two years, the boys will spend 2 1/2 days on campus in a current space near the Upper School art room that is currently not in use on Monday mornings, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 2 1/2 days in a rented space in downtown Tacoma. The boys will move into their own new building on campus in 2019.
“We already know that we will be teaching boys who exhibit a variety of learning styles. Part of building a community ensures that all different kinds of students are respected, valued, and can all learn where their strengths and weaknesses lie...There can be a hierarchy based on academic success, and it is not always kind,” Bauska observed. “So, by starting with everybody together, I’m hoping that is something we are going to address head on, right from the beginning. Everything in life involves honoring and using the different gifts we each bring to the mix.”
Meals During the days on campus, Upper School lunches will be completely separated by gender. Tentatively, the boys will be in PE class while the girls eat lunch. As far as boarding, the plans are less clear, but Bauska said, "We are actively exploring how we can create a dining experience for boarders that can be comfortable and natural for both boys and girls."
Residential Program With the residential program in general, many specifics are not yet worked out. “It’s worthwhile for all of us to really think about the dorms. With the day school, it’s pretty cut and dried, and it’s pretty clear how we can do this. With the dorms it’s less clear, and we need to really get it as right as we can.”
Possibilities remain open that she might return to teach in the Upper School for Girls in a few years, but in the first year of the Upper School for Boys, the administration believes it is important for the faculty to be separate. “It is important for the boys to have their people and the girls to have their people, and we don’t want people straddling,” said Bauska, “respecting that if you are teaching girls you want to really focus on the girls’ space, and if you’re teaching boys, you want to focus on boys’ space.”
Boys' leadership opportunities There will be a leadership structure in the Upper School for Boys, but Bauska does not initially plan to establish an Associate Student Body. She wants “to experiment with the ways leadership can look” within the school.
A possible alternative leadership structure might be a council where Initially, there will be approximately the boys can communicate with three core faculty, including Mrs. the administration. Bauska, to teach the boys. There will be some part-time people, and that all depends on what people The boys' social can teach. Some might teach two subjects, such as History and dynamics Spanish. These students are the pioneers Jeremy Stubbs, current Upper for the Upper School for Boys. The School math, physics, computer first class is set to have a maximum science and robotics teacher, will of 18 students: 12 day and 6 become Dean of Students for the boarders. The eventual goal is to Upper School for Boys. grow to an entire student body of 160 for both the boys and girls Mrs. Bauska will not continue her divisions. Currently, the Upper role teaching one of the senior English classes in the Upper School School for Girls averages about 47 girls per grade level. Stadium High for Girls. When asked about her class, Bauska said, “It’s going to be School, the public high school in the same district as Annie Wright, interesting and it’s going to be a averages about 421 students per change, and I’m really sad to give grade level. Conversation has up a class that I love a lot.”
stirred about the limited class size in beginning years of the Upper School for Boys. “I see the fact that they don’t have people on either end of them affecting the dynamics of their class...They don’t have 10th graders in front of them. They are taking a risk to do this,” said Bauska, “and I honor them for taking this risk, especially for the boys coming out of our Middle School.” “When you go through the [Annie Wright] Middle School...you don’t interact to a great extent with kids of other grade levels,” she continued. “But when you get to the Upper School that all evaporates and you have friends who are seniors and friends who are freshmen. Some of your best friends may or may not be from the same grade level as you, and so that will happen with these boys, but not in the first year.”
StudentAdministration communication Bauska made it clear that the decision has been made to start the Upper School for Boys this fall; that will not change. There are, however, many opportunities to collaboratively make decisions about the process of how the school is created and how the Upper School for Boys will take shape. “We are going down this path together. I hope that a lot of girls feel that my door is always open,” Bauska said. “You can come in here and say, 'Mrs. Bauska, I don’t really like what happened here.'"
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“We haven’t done this before, and we need to get it right," she continued. "It’ll probably be more right the second year than the first year. It will probably become more right when we have done it wrong. Things get better with time and you have to be patient.”
Conserving Girl Power Many students and alumnae in particular have openly voiced their concerns as to how the boys could damage the feminine culture that has been affiliated with Annie Wright. As a current teacher in all-girls classrooms and as she transitions to teaching in all-boys classrooms, Bauska has strong feelings about this. “It’s not like I’m going to turn off my feminism because I’m going over to teach boys. My class is an unabashedly feminist class, and it’s all about understanding power in the world, which is more than just male power - it is also nationalistic
power, racial power - it’s all kinds of ways that power went wrong in the 20th century. So...they are going to get a real feminist teacher in me. And I believe, even more strongly since the last election, that we need to raise boys – smart boys – who are not just willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with young women, but who expect women to be leaders, who see that as the norm, not as something to fight against or something unusual.” Bauska also noted that for the first three years, the boys’ residential prefects, who are always older students, will be women. She continued, “But I believe in seeing strong women, seeing the institution empowering women, and for boys to respect that and expect that. That’s two different things...I want men who are powerfully equipped to stand up for that.”
Continuing the Annie Wright legacy and traditions Bauska understands the uniqueness and beauty of Annie Wright, and her own experiences with the school will still have a large influence on the development of the Upper School for Boys. May Day will not be touched. “I love the fact that people have a 4-year experience here, or a 14year experience here, and that it is meaningful and unique and special, and I don’t want to mess with that at all," she said. "But I’ve had a 26-year experience here, so it matters to me too. I sent my daughter through here. There is no place quite like this. We want to minimize the loss and capitalize on potential and promise, and that means the more good minds applied to this new endeavor, the stronger Annie Wright Schools will be for everyone.”
Bauska collaborates with future Upper School for Boys students Parker Briggs, Chai Kwa, and Carter Nelson.
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by Allison Fitz and Faye Prekeges
The Annie Wright Upper School for Boys will open its doors to five boys from the current Middle School. Two of their mothers, Patricia Briggs and Pamela Kwa, spoke to Inkwell about their decision-making process.
The Briggs family Son: Parker Briggs Parker began at Annie Wright in 2009 as a first grader in Ms. Maxwell’s class. The family did a lot of “school shopping” to find the right place. They had a gut feeling as soon as they walked into the building that Annie Wright School was a match for Parker.
The Kwa family Son: Chai Kwa Chai started AWS in 2006 as a preschool student at three years old. They moved to the area a couple of years prior and did not have a deep history with the area or schools. The one connection that they had was that Chai's Grandmother graduated from Punahou, a similar school to AWS, and had a friend who attended Annie Wright many years prior.
Inkwell: Why do you want to send your son to the new Upper School for Boys? Briggs: We chose to send Parker to the Upper School for Boys based on the expectation of an excellent academic program. For the last eight years, we have treasured our boys’ experience at Annie Wright. We like the small classes and the Annie Wright community.
Kwa: Not only do we know that it will provide him an educational option (IB) in which he has been educated to date and has thrived in, but also his excitement to continue on in "his school" will provide the energy that will be necessary to draw from as the academic challenge of Upper School progresses. Inkwell: What outside pressures did you feel in making this decision?
Briggs: There were no outside pressures factored into our decision. Kwa: Not really any "outside pressure." Chai made the decision as soon as it was a viable option. For him it was clearly a natural progression. The AWS boys' Upper School is new, yes. But his AWS education has been well established, currently in his 11th year.
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has been educated in five different countries from elementary through post-graduate education and believes that there are many ways to learn; it is the student who needs to feel the strength of his roots to reach for the stars. Our son lives in a global community in which he feels quite rooted, yet has the ability and courage to reach beyond and spread his wings in the literal global community, the very essence of the "from strength to strength" philosophy on which AWS was built and he has been educated. Inkwell: Do you have any reservations about enrolling your son in the new program?
Inkwell: How did your family and friends react to your decision? Briggs: Our friends and family have been interested and excited, as they have seen the boys thrive so far at AWS. Kwa: They were excited to hear that the option to continue in Upper School has arrived. It is a logical progression, building on the style of education in which he has thrived. Inkwell: What were your major motivations to send your son?
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Briggs: We have no specific reservations; we are confident that the teachers and staff will address any issues that may arise with the same integrity and positive approach as always. Kwa: Yes and no. We know what AWS is and the education it offers. Any new program may have challenges to overcome. He the Briggs family will not have built-in full athletic opportunities found in larger systems; however he still has Briggs: The teachers are top-notch opportunities. They will not have a and have made efforts to really "physical" permanent building right know our kids; they have worked at the start; however they have with us on several occasions to help already had the unique opportunity Parker get the best out of his time to have a hand in design of the at school. Also, we are now able physical building moving forward. to keep both our children at the Overall, we believe that the same school, which is important to opportunity provided far outweighs us. We have faith that the Upper what he might be missing. Also, it School for Boys will be as rewarding is clear there are some in the AWS as it has proven to be for the girls. community who feel the Upper School should not allow boys. The Kwa: He goes to school with a girls' division will continue on. It is smile on his face, and has every day appropriate and time for the boys, since he was three, which speaks especially those whom have grown for itself. Our family is a global up in the AWS community, to have family, like many other families in the option of continuing on and the AWS community. His father having an IB option.
Inkwell interviewed three Annie Wright "lifers," Parker Briggs, Chai Kwa and Carter Nelson , about their decisions to attend the new Upper School for Boys.
by Nina Doody & Abby Givens Briggs: Not really, I mean there were some people that were more excited than others, but not really. Inkwell: What excites you most about being the first class of boys? Briggs: Well, it’s going to be cool because we are going to have many more opportunities than we would because it’s a smaller class, and we get to focus on the things we want to learn about instead of just the things in the textbook.
Inkwell: How did you choose to attend the Upper School for boys? Briggs: Well, I’ve been here since first grade, and for the last eight years I’ve really enjoyed the inquiry-based academic program. So I jumped at the opportunity to continue the program that I’ve experienced, because I’m sure it's going to be just as good. And I’m looking forward to having that opportunity. Inkwell: Who or what impacted your decision most? Briggs: Well it's just Annie Wright, and I’ve had a pretty good experience. There is nobody in particular, but the people who are in charge of this boys' Upper School are experienced and they know what they are doing, so that of course influenced it. Inkwell: Have you gotten any strong reactions from your decision?
Inkwell: Do you have any concerns about being the first class? Briggs: Well, I’m really excited, but of course there are going to be a few things that we are going to have to work out because it’s new and everyone’s still getting the hang of it. Inkwell: Is there anything you hope to pursue in your high school career at Annie Wright? Briggs: Yeah, well, we’re going to be able to design the building and so I think that that’s going to be really good, because we want to make it so it will last and is something that the future classes are going to be able to use too. And of course I just want to make most of the great academic opportunity that this brings. Inkwell: Is there anything else you want to share? Briggs: I’m excited that they’re opening the school, because Annie Wright has played such a large part in the history of Tacoma, and I hope that it plays an equally important part in the future of Tacoma.
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Chai kwa by Allison Fitz & Faye Prekeges
Inkwell: How did you choose to attend Annie Wright Upper School for boys? kwa: Well, mainly it’s because I’ve been here since preschool. Carter and I were in the first preschool class and then we’ve just come all the way through to the eighth grade. We are both in the group of five or six lifers [students who have been at Annie Wright since early childhood] left in the 8th grade, and so the opportunity came in and I was with it from the start. I had Parker and Ian, and I was good with that. Then one day I was just playing on my X-Box with Carter and he told me that he had signed with Annie Wright. I was just really ecstatic at that point. We’ve known each other for so long that we are practically brothers, and then when that happened I was just so much more excited to come to the Upper School.
Inkwell: What excites you most about being the first Upper School class of boys at Annie Wright? kwa: Oh, that’s hard. There’s a lot. We’re getting a 6 foot 3 kid, so that’s pretty cool. We get fencing, and we get to spend half of our school week downtown and do an architecture class, and we get to design the building, so that’s going to be pretty fun. Inkwell: What are some concerns you have about the Upper School for Boys? kwa: I know that this one can’t be changed, but I have to say, I’m really going to miss the fact that it’s not going to be coed. Inkwell: What is something you hope to pursue in your high school career? kwa: Well, we were told that there might actually be a chance that there’s boys’ volleyball. I actually will probably want to do that.
Inkwell: Who or what has most impacted your decision? kwa: My mom and Carter had a big impact on it. It was a lot more friends that impacted my decision than it was family. Inkwell: Was this decision difficult? kwa: It was an easy decision. I don’t really want to leave this school until college. It’s such a great school. Who wouldn’t want to come here? So, I had no problem deciding to stay at all. Inkwell: What type of reactions have you gotten from your decision? kwa: At our first meeting with Mr. Sullivan, there were a couple of boys that right after said it was a really stupid idea. I just kind of sat there and didn’t say anything. Then, afterwards throughout the other meetings, they really started to appreciate it more and more. And some of them that said it was a stupid idea are actually coming here...Carter and I have been trying to get another of our friends, who is also a lifer...to stay as well.
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CARTER NELSON by Allison Fitz & Faye Prekeges
Inkwell: How did you chose to attend Annie Wright Upper School for boys? nelson: Well, I was going to go to Charles Wright, and it was pretty much one hundred percent, and when the first news came out about the Boys’ School, we weren’t really into it at all. Then we had a short talk, without my parents, just with I think it was [Director of Middle School] Mr. Hulseman, and I heard some of the opportunities, and being the first boys’ school, and it sounded cool to me. And my parents talked to them as well and they thought it sounded good, so it just kind of all came together.
Inkwell: What are some concerns you have about the Boys Upper School? nelson: The only thing is that maybe it is not the normal high school experience, and then that it is a little small, but compared to the groups we’ve had before...it’s been classes of 13 for my whole life. I think there are nine or ten boys in our 8th grade right now.
Inkwell: Who or what has most impacted your decision? nelson: Well one, Mrs. Bauska because I really like her, she’s a cool person I guess, and then my parents, just their thoughts on it really made me want to come. Inkwell: Was this decision difficult? nelson: Once I got far into it I think it was pretty easy. We took a tour of what it [the school] would be, and I think that night we committed. Inkwell: What type of reactions have you gotten from your decision? nelson: Some people thought it was funny at first; they thought it was a joke. But, as the school became more clear, and as it was actually happening, people started to support it. Inkwell: What excites you most about being the first Upper School class of boys at Annie Wright? nelson: Just being able to make the school, well, not make the school, but we get to choose some of the stuff that is in the school, and we get to organize the main space how we want it.
Inkwell: What is something you hope to pursue in your high school career? nelson: Well, to just be that first class, to set it [the school] in stone, and then just be the role models in the school, just keeping that.
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The counselor Inkwell interviewed Ann Dicks, the Assistant Director of Lower School as well as the Lower and Middle School counselor, to gain an insight into the 8th grade boys’ experience. Ann Dicks has worked at Annie Wright Schools for seven years and during that time has noticed a difference in the 8th grade experience between girls and boys. According to Dicks, 8th grade can be a difficult year emotionally, as the experience these peers have shared is coming to an end, in addition to the toll of deciding what high school to attend. The difference, however, for girls and boys was that the girls had the choice to stay at Annie Wright for
by Nina Doody & Abby Givens
high school, while the boys did not. “For the boys who have had such a rich experience here, for the kids who came in Pre-K, who’ve been here such a long time, it’s hard to leave,” she said. Whether an 8th grade boy wants to attend Annie Wright for high school or has always planned to leave, not having the choice to make the decision can impact their 8th grade experience. Dicks has noticed more heartache in the boys because of this. She hopes that the option of the Upper School for Boys at Annie Wright Schools will make the boys feel more included through their middle school experience and take less of an emotional toll on their 8th grade year.
by Katie Erickson These numbers represent independent, non-parochial schools.
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The Chair of the Board by Lexy Sullivan
Inkwell spoke to John Long, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, who was instrumental in making the decision to go forward with an Upper School for Boys. Inkwell: What is your connection to Annie Wright? Long: In the mid to late 90s one of our sons and one of our daughters went to Annie from age 3 through 8th grade, and they had an unbelievable experience. It shaped them for the rest of their lives. They’ve done really well in life and I attribute it a lot to Annie. Inkwell: Is there any specific reason you chose to be on the Board? Long: I really have a heart for Annie. Our kids had a wonderful experience and it’s a real opportunity for me to give back just a little for all that Annie did for them. I love the mission of Annie and I hope that some of the gifts that I have I can use to help the school thrive.
Inkwell: Can you tell us what exactly the Board is? Long: Truthfully, most people don’t know what the board does. We’re thought to be this invisible group of people that meet and make big decisions. Basically, we have five major responsibilities. The first is that we carry out and protect the mission. The second is that we create and implement a vision for the school and the strategic direction. The third is that we’re responsible for the financial well-being for the school. The fourth is that we set major school policies. And the fifth is that we are ambassadors to the community, wherever our community is. We have 21 members, and we are a very diverse board. We all have communities that we touch, and we are ambassadors to those communities. And here’s what the board doesn’t do: the board is not involved in the operations of the school. That is not our responsibility. We delegate that to Mr. Sullivan and the executive team and faculty. So that’s really the difference in terms of what the board does with governance and then the operations. So if someone wants to meet with the board, the first thing they would do is go to the chief operational person, who is Mr. Sullivan. Inkwell: Where did the idea for the boys’ school come from? When did it start? Long: In September 2015, the board approved the new vision for the school. It was a very expansive decision. A month after that we had an open community forum, in which there were over 100 people. It included faculty, parents, alums, administrators, students and community representatives, all sorts of people. The purpose of the forum
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was to begin to define what would make Annie Wright even better, even greater, in the next 10 years than it is today. There were lots of ideas that came out, but by far the most voiced one was to begin to educate upper school boys. And that’s where the idea began. Inkwell: What were some of the Board’s biggest reservations about opening an Upper School for Boys? Long: Something that I find interesting is the fact that during this process, the entire board was very open. It’s not like everybody was always saying we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it, but we were asking a lot of questions and putting in a lot of thought and contemplation, and a tremendous amount of research. We did not have our minds made up about what we were doing until we saw the final plan. I think the biggest reservation, and this is just me talking, is that we wanted to be absolutely certain that whatever we came up with, we could do an excellent job of educating upper school boys while at the same time not detracting from or compromising the Upper School girls' program. That was the primary driver for us. We firmly believe that this plan will do that.
more people, we began to realize, yes, we can really do this, and we really should do it. Inkwell: Who are the biggest stakeholders in this? Long: That’s a really good question. It’s our students. They are the most important stakeholders that we can do this for because they are the recipients of this education. We can’t do anything for the boys that had to leave, but we can do this for the boys that are going to come. Equally important, of course, are our girls. We must continue to enhance our girls' program as well.
"We wanted to be absolutely certain that whatever we came up with, we could do an excellent job of educating Upper School boys while at the same time not detracting from or compromising the Upper School girls' program."
Inkwell: What were some of the Board’s biggest motivations for opening an Upper School for Boys?
Inkwell: Is it true that alumnae don’t have access to the Board, and what does this mean?
Long: Just listening to parents and past parents as they lamented the fact that their boys had to leave after 8th grade. Current parents, teacher parents, parents of little kids, they really wanted us to do it. That was a really big motivator, and as we began to talk to more and
Long: There has been a whole lot of communication that has come from the alums to the board, and what we have done is to share every piece of communication that they have sent to every board member. Some don’t believe that we’re listening, but we’re listening,
Inkwell | April 2017
and we’re reading – we’ve read everything. Also, 15 alums met with Christian Sullivan and Susan Bauska in late January, which was their first exposure to the board. Mr. Sullivan is our delegated representative. We did for that meeting with the alums exactly what we would have done with anybody – access to the Board is always the same. Mr. Sullivan is a non-voting member of the Board and our representative. In addition, on March 10th, two representatives of the Alumnae Action Group met with the board and made an in-depth presentation. Inkwell: How has the Board responded to complaints of alumnae? Long: We’re trying to be respectful of every alum. We’re trying to listen to their perspectives. Here is the most important message: we’re really trying to engage those alums who are willing to accept that we have made the decision and will then help us to identify some of those areas that we can improve in the plan and make sure that we protect the Upper School girls' program that they hold so dear. We want to collaborate with those alumnae who want to help us make it the very best it can be. I’m very hopeful that as time goes on there will be a number of alums who will step up to help us. Inkwell: Has their protesting had an impact on the decision? Long: No. Not at all. It is certainly their right to do that, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with school or the education that the kids are getting, then it’s fine. The board has made its decision, and we will not change it.
Alumnae Action Group
ADVOCATES TO KEEP THE UPPER SCHOOL ALL GIRLS
by Faye Prekeges
The Annie Wright Alumnae Action Group formed in the wake of the Board of Trustees’ announcement that the new Annie Wright Upper School for Boys will open this fall. It is a group of women, all of whom attended Annie Wright, and their mission is to “preserve the legacy campus at Annie Wright Schools, maintain a meaningful all-girls' experience in the Upper School that provides development and leadership roles exclusively to girls, seek to work with the AWS board, administration, and all AWS stakeholders to represent the voice of the alumnae, and work to achieve the best possible outcomes for female Upper School students currently enrolled and yet to be enrolled.” Using the hash tag #keepawsallgirls, they sponsored a petition and have created numerous social media platforms to spread their word, including a twitter, instagram, podcast, website, and GoFundMe to provide economic support for their cause. As an entity, the group has worked in the broader scope of Tacoma to further their mission. A member of the group, Kelly Donahue, wrote an opinion piece
Clarification: the forms of the word 'Alum' Alumni: plural for just male, or both male and female
Alumnae: plural for just female (pronounced as alum-nee)
Alumnus: singular for male Alumna: singular for female The word alumnus comes from the Latin word 'alere' which means to nourish
against the boys school that was published in The News Tribune, a local newspaper in Tacoma. Members of the group staged a protest in front of the school on the night of Annie Wright’s annual auction, Mary Ann Ball Allen protested in front of the school during a Parents’ Association breakfast with the Head of Schools, and a member of Inkwell saw an Action group member protesting the boys’ school at the Women’s March in Seattle. The group's efforts have included a letter sent to Annie Wright’s neighbors. In the letter, the group warned neighbors of how the construction of the new school could negatively affect them, and urged them to attend a community meeting regarding the boys' school, or write a letter to John Long, the Annie Wright board chair. Many of the alumnae shared their personal reasons with Inkwell to keep Annie Wright all girls. A common thread among the alumnae is their concern that Annie Wright will not foster the same experiences for girls with boys on campus. Sarah Derry, a 2005 yellow tie graduate, said, “This proposed change breaks my heart because it means that other girls like me and my classmates, who really needed a supportive, allgirls environment, will no longer have it. Annie Wright gave me advantages I would not otherwise have had, including the year I spent in London as an ESU Scholar and my attendance at Scripps College.” Other alumnae are against the boys’ school because of plans to implement it on the current campus. Alumnae such as Mary Ann Ball Allen, who has been an advocate for Annie Wright’s all-girls experience, said: “The other thing that I am bothered with is that they are going to be on the legacy campus. I don’t have a problem with the boys’ school. I have a son. I have a husband. I have a brother. I’m not a man-hater. But I do not feel that this is the correct atmosphere for a co-ed education. This is supposed to be someplace where girls feel comfortable, feel healthy, feel safe, and with boys, it changes everything.”
Inkwell | April 2017
Ellen Weiland, a 1995 graduate from Germany who attended Annie Wright during her senior year, echoed the sentiment: “I loved being a boarder at AWS and I treasure my memories and the friends that I made there very much. The decision to put an all-boys upper school on the same campus of the all-girls upper school is unacceptable in many ways and seems very hasty.” The group posed questions to the Annie Wright Board of Trustees on March, 10. Thirty-six questions were presented, including “Is ‘Educating Our Boys’ the Board of Trustees’ highest priority out of the initiatives shared in the Strategic Plan?” “What foundational work have you engaged in to determine that the proposed boys’ program will not diminish the ‘profoundly positive experience’ of the girls?” “Would the Board of Trustees consider working with alumnae to raise funds to purchase and develop a separate campus?” and “Where will the boys eat, sleep, study, and spend their leisure time?” The overarching theme of their questions was centered around the feasibility of the project, whether or not the board has considered possible adverse effects the program would have on the girls’ program, and what research the board has performed to secure the success of the boys’ school and continue the success of the girls’ school. Seven action items were given to the Board of Trustees as well as the questions. The alumnae demanded of the board that, “One third of voting Board of Trustees’ members should be female alumnae of AWS,” “The Board of Trustees should have at least one open meeting or public forum each year that is open to constituents interested in attending to ask questions” and “The Board of Trustees should include the ASB President of the Upper School for Girls as an ex-officio member.” Their action items touched upon their wish for the Board to delay their decision to educate boys at Annie Wright until “all constituents have had the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process.” Several members of the group also shared their impassioned sentiments about the new school on the Annie Wright Alumni Association Facebook page. Their comments range from reminiscences to angry statements and allegations, and the page has become a place for many alumnae to vent their feelings about the boys’ school.
Inkwell | April 2017
Alumnae Action Group member Mary Ann Ball Allen protested in front of the school in February.
Women in the Action Group have opened a line of communication with younger alumnae and current Annie Wright Upper School students by creating a Google document where alumnae can volunteer to share their expertise with younger Annie Wright girls. Scarlett Tucker, a 2008 graduate who created the Google document, shared her thoughts on why she believes Annie Wright should continue to educate only girls and why open communication is needed among former students and current ones: “I’m currently finishing my last year of medical school and about to start a five-year surgery residency. While I can clearly see the gains women have made in medicine thanks to the hard work of my predecessors, it is still very obvious to me that women are still not always considered equal to men. I cannot count the number of times people have asked me what kind of nurse I want to be…The older I get, the more grateful I am to have had the privilege of attending Annie Wright. In the 13 years I spent there, no one ever told me that I couldn’t achieve something because of my gender. No one ever discounted my opinion or told me I was less worthy of something because I was female. That kind of unilateral support is something that still inspires me today. It’s the kind of support I don’t think I would’ve found outside of an institution so committed to its girls and their success.”
Annie Wright Upper School student newspaper