We Are Westridge
A community blog featuring Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor, the Westridge Leadership Team, our esteemed faculty members and occasional special guests
“She’s Such a Westridge Girl”… and Other Thoughts from a Westridge Parent
There’s a feeling I get when I walk on the Westridge campus that is difficult to describe. I felt it when we visited campus as a prospective family seven years ago, and I still feel it today.
The feeling comes in part from experiencing the physical space. The combination of historic architecture and new, state-of-the-art buildings sitting among beautiful gardens reflects a respect for beauty and the importance of one’s surroundings. But of course, it is what’s happening amidst this beauty that really creates the feeling.
Walking across campus on my way to a morning parent association meeting, I share this space with girls arriving to begin their day. They are walking in pairs or small groups, some holding hands or arms around each other. Others are sitting alone reading or finishing homework. The Lower School girls, talking and giggling, have the uncomplicated demeanor they should have at that age. The older girls are more focused, concerning themselves with the academic tasks at hand, while still making time to check in with each other as the day begins.
I pass student musicians, perched on the edge of the quad playing for everyone’s enjoyment-- a lovely way to begin the day and a reminder of the importance of the arts at Westridge.
One of the benefits of being on campus is watching the girls in their own environment. They enjoy a sort of controlled freedom here that is such a welcome compliment to the challenges of parenting today, where freedom and risk taking opportunities can be hard to find.
As a prospective family, I remember hearing people say “She’s such a Westridge girl.” I discounted the meaning of that statement as a sort of throw-away tag line. Now, seven years later, I know that being a Westridge girl is much more than the khaki skirt and tossled hair. It is a quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) confidence born from thinking deeply, speaking clearly and truly being heard. It is a literal strength that shows itself in written and spoken expression, in actions and in how these girls treat themselves and each other.
At Westridge, the girls take responsibility for themselves and you can see that in everything happening on the campus. Westridge girls are learning at every turn to think about, speak about and advocate for themselves.This will serve them well when they are off to college and have the skills to cope and to care for themselves.
For Westridge girls, this exceptional environment, encouraging freedom of expression and featuring girls talking to, leading and listening to each other, is normal. But as adults we know that it is neither common nor normal. The girls don’t know how lucky they are, and that’s ok.They will realize it later.
As we prepare to welcome prospective families to the Admissions Open House on January 10th, I will struggle to convey this feeling I get at Westridge. It is so much more than a feeling. It’s about being a Westridge girl and it’s the greatest gift I can give to my daughter.Laura Olinski
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