Student Voices
October 15, 2020 | Alicia Qin

Greenwich Academy Lower School

Greenwich Academy Lower School

An Overview of Greenwich Academy

Greenwich Academy (GA) is a PK-12 private school for girls. The four divisions include the preschool, also known as the Cowan Center, the lower school, the middle school, and the upper school. GA isn’t only known for its top-tier academics and excellent athletics, but also for its ability to incorporate a wide range of exciting student programs and community-building activities to give its students the opportunity to enjoy their time there to the fullest while building important life skills. As a student at GA since the 5th grade , I can say with confidence that the school does a great job of fostering a sense of unity and belonging, which effectively enhances the student experience.

Since its founding in 1827, GA’s motto has been “Ad Ingenium Faciendum” - “Toward the Building of Character” - which is properly reflected in the school’s mission to “provide a challenging, comprehensive educational experience grounded in a rigorous liberal arts curriculum within an inclusive, diverse community” in order to “develop girls and young women of exceptional character and achievement who demonstrate independence, resilience, courage, integrity, and compassion.”

The school has many programs, events, and traditions to both improve the students’ educational experience and help build the greater GA community. One of such events is Ingathering, an all-school Thanksgiving tradition where each grade donates different food items that the seniors organize into baskets and deliver to families in need, accompanied by a touching all-school assembly featuring faculty and student voices. Another is Mumming, a cherished holiday tradition beginning with a procession of those who wish to take part, followed by Christmas caroling of a designated song from each grade and closing with readings of verses from the Bible and a corresponding live tableau formed by the senior class. Another truly special GA tradition is its Charter Day in early May. We celebrate with a huge picnic and all-school assembly featuring the Maypole dance performed by the group IV girls, followed by the widely-anticipated annual Charter Day carnival. These are just a few of the spirit- and community-building traditions GA celebrates as a whole school.

Each of the four divisions has its own activities that further build the bonds of the girls within that division. In lower school, children begin to learn not only fundamental academic and athletic skills but also how to be amiable young people. GA does a great job of incorporating all these aspects of learning into their lower school curriculum.

The Lower School

Like the middle school division, the youngest and oldest grades of the lower school take part in the big/little sister program together. 1st graders get assigned a 4th grade big sister to look up to for the whole year. Students say it’s an incredibly impactful experience and that it’s great as a wide-eyed 1st grader to have someone to ask advice from and do bonding activities with. Clare, a student in the class of 2023, shares how she felt about the experience: “I remember thinking how inspiring my big sister was and how cool it was to have an older girl writing us notes and doing holiday activities with us. And when I got to 4th grade, the experience was just as heartwarming. Having a little sister was just as fun as having a big sister because you were helping a young 1st grader find their way through the lower school. The most memorable experience for me was having field day with my little sister. I remember how happy and excited we both were to spend the day together! I still say hi to my little sister from lower school sometimes when I see her around campus!”

As previously noted, perhaps one of the most memorable events GA lower schoolers take part in is the dancing of the maypole by the 4th graders every year on GA’s charter day, or birthday. The girls in that grade practice for months to perfect their dance, in which they each grab a string and weave over and under each other in circles, creating a beautiful lattice pattern of ribbons on the beam, and proudly perform it on the big day.

Another incredibly exciting and heartwarming event for 2nd and 3rd graders is when they get to serve as flower girls for the graduating seniors. On graduation day, each senior pairs up with a group II or III girl and they spend a few hours together before they all line up and the girls walk down the Commencement aisle to give their senior buddy their bouquet. Not only is it fun for the lower schoolers, it’s also very special for the seniors and makes their big day even better.

One of the largest, most anticipated events of the lower school is the Oregon Trail project, where group III girls form teams and complete a variety of tasks and projects over the course of a few months to determine whether or not they would survive the Oregon Trail. This friendly competition was the highlight of many girls’ lower school experience. Sarina, who started attending GA in 2nd grade,  says: “This was one of my favorite projects in all of lower school! It helped us come together and connect as a grade while also learning history. Our challenges included sports games, jeopardy, and even cooking! It was overall such a cool experience and totally took us back to the 1800s.”

Clare, mentioned above, shares that the one of the things that makes the GA lower school experience so unique, especially compared to how she felt at her previous elementary school, was the constant feeling of having “something to look forward to.” She elaborates that, whether it be a play or concert or field trip or something else, there was always something on the horizon that the girls would in the excitement and await the day of expectantly. The GA lower school embodies a large variety of skills and interests and incorporates them into a thorough, inclusive curriculum to contribute to the wholeness of the community.

Author: Alicia Qin

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