Advice for the Class of 2018

By Our Faculty and Staff
Solebury School’s faculty and staff share pearls of wisdom for our graduating seniors.


"Three thoughts. First, the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing. Second, take time to reflect on what is your 'main thing'; as your journey unfolds, perhaps your main thing might need to change. Third, live your life's journey as an adventure to be experienced, not a burden to be borne. (Finding humor and reasons to laugh helps here.)" —Tom Wilschutz, Head of School

"Stand for what you believe in while respecting others." —Annette Miller, Dean of Students

“Take life one day at a time. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.” —Jared Levy, Social Studies Dept. Head

"No one will defend your ideas but you. The ability to write a letter that conveys your passions will serve you well; continue to practice this skill." —Brian Pearson, Film Teacher

"Don't miss an opportunity to try something new because you are fearful, this is how you find out who you are. Remember, this is not a rehearsal, it's your life and you want the list of 'I wish I had....' regrets to be as short as possible." —Andre Lutz, Science Teacher

"Register to vote, and then actually vote! Also: Learn to cook, and then actually cook!" —Leila Crooks, School Nurse

"Make a difference, whether by kind work or deed. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. It feeds the soul." —Rebecca Wilschutz, Dance Teacher

"Realize that change is inevitable and will always move you forward. What direction that’s in is entirely up to you. Also, use eye cream before you think you need it." —Julie Laing, School Counselor

“Believe in yourself – never have doubts – and take a chance. You will never know success if you don’t take that chance.” —Jen Morrissey, Director of International Recruitment

“Don't get sucked into tribalism. Include as many people in your philosophy as you can.” —Russ Carrick, Social Studies Teacher

“Find friends who will have your back. When you find yourself in a bad situation, reach out to them, or to your teachers here. Don't be afraid to ask for help.” —Diane Downs, English Teacher, Teach2Serve Director

“When you are speaking to someone, look them in the eye! (They are no better than you).” —Gretchen Faras, Science Teacher

​”Success in college is about balance: a balance between doing what you need to do and doing what you want to do. Find yours.” —Rob Eichem, Director of Athletics

“Step outside of your comfort zone and travel the world as much as you can during your studies. Getting out and seeing the world teaches you more than any class ever will. But also, go to class. You're paying to learn, so take advantage of it!” —Jordan Reed, Admissions Counselor, Dorm Head

“Remember that everything is transitory.” —Jessica Harms, Parent Relations Manager

“College is one of those moments in time where you get to have a fresh start. If you are single, don't worry about finding someone. Instead, enjoy yourself, study abroad, laugh with people that are completely different than you. Say yes more than you say no to opportunities and experiences. Turn off the TV. Be selective with your friends. Find the kind ones, the ones that lift you up. Find the ones that are driven and passionate. Take this time to find out what you truly love to do and then see how to make money doing that. The universe (and all of us) are waiting to see what kinds of gifts you will bring to the world. Congratulations class of 2018!!” —Sherry Goulding, Human Resources Director

“While every age in a person's life brings something significant and good, your college years are the only time in your life where you'll get to be a kid and an adult at the same time. That makes this period of your life incredibly unique and especially wonderful. Enjoy it, treasure it, and spend it well.” —Cathy Block, Music Department Head

“Never underestimate the power of believing in yourself.” —Terri Miller, Track and Cross County Coach

“I’ll defer to the genius of Ron Padgett: Look at that bird over there.” —Zack Arrington, English Teacher

“Sleep, get 8 hours every night. It is diminishing returns when you stay up late to study; it takes more time, and you retain less information when you are tired. Wake up early if you need to finish homework, your brain will work better rested, and it will take half the time. Always ask for help. Be kind to everyone, including the administrative assistants, cleaning and support staff – learn their names, make friends. They are the people who will help you when you need something.” —Erika Fairchild, Visual Arts Department Head

“‘Keep your eye on the ball,’ Francis Coppola said in 1980 when asked for advice from his young, first-time film producer and protégé Doug Claybourne on the first day of shooting of THE ESCAPE ARTIST. You can think about this advice for the next 30 years or more. It's still great advice.” —Doug Claybourne, Film Teacher

“As you embark on this next leg of your journey, don't forget about those who stay behind or travel a separate path. Find brief moments to check in with parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, old friends, and, yes, Solebury School to let them know how you're doing. We're all cheering for you and it makes our day when we know you're thinking of us, too!” —Jenn Burns, Assistant Head of School

“Find a balance between studying, friends, and exercise; moderation must become the key to your life." —Don Kaplan, Learning Skills Teacher

“Always remember to say thank you.” —Heather Gaghan, Annual Fund Manager

Finally, from the guy who introduced you to your Solebury high school experience…

“1. Be careful of things that swallow time like a black hole – TV, video games, parties. All have their place, but there's a tremendous amount of time to do terrific, productive things – your work, being involved in clubs, service projects, internships, research, exercise, intramural sports, etc. Make the most of it!

2. GO ABROAD. There's no good reason not to and a million why you should. Seven semesters at college are plenty. You may never have another chance to spend an extended amount of time in another country (and I'd even push that you do it in a country whose primary language is not English).

3. Be open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and to moments which change your 'plan.' You may discover you love something or have a gift for something you didn't know, and it may cause you to alter your path, change your plan, etc. This is ok.

4. Don't assume you're going to find your people, your best friend for life, etc. on the first day, in the first week, even in the first semester. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to do this, and this is why being involved in things as mentioned above is important – it helps. I think too many people transfer because of this, when the reality is that it isn't a change in school that's needed, it's patience.” —Scott Eckstein, Director of Admission