Interview with Hawthorn School Alum, Jane Zuchelkowski
- University (major)
University of Toronto (Music - Piano Specialist)
Jane graduated from Hawthorn School in 2018 after attending for her high school years. She feels the school is community-oriented and fosters family-like relationships, with a focus on mentorship. Hawthorn School’s small community ensured that teachers could focus on students’ individual needs, and provide them with plenty of opportunities. She is grateful they supported her in taking risks and provided her with time-management skills. Jane came out of Hawthorn School a very confident, open-minded, hard worker, who doesn’t only focus on academics, but on the people around her. She believes the school encourages students to be conscientious people who love volunteering in the community. She felt that Hawthorn School gave her the confidence to apply to any university and be sure that she would be accepted. Jane now attends the University of Toronto for piano.
Highlights from the interview
Choosing the University of Toronto was partially due to proximity. It's close to where I live, but the University of Toronto school also has a very good reputation. When I went to see the music program there, I saw that they put a lot of care into the students, and there were a lot of opportunities that would be open for me if I went there. At Hawthorn School, they didn't tend to push a specific post-secondary school, but they gave me confidence in my grades and my abilities to apply anywhere, and I felt that I would be accepted to whatever school or whatever program I wanted to. I actually did apply not only to music, but to business and to science, and I was accepted in all of those areas, but I ended up going with music because that was my passion.
Anyone who goes to Hawthorn School has a very long list of extracurriculars they participated in, achievements, and experiences, just because the community is so small, and there are a lot of opportunities. Since the high school, in particular, is smaller, you do have that opportunity to join whatever clubs you want to, just because there aren't as many people to fill the spots, which can be seen as a pro or a con. I definitely took that opportunity to join everything. I was part of the school newspaper, ‘Veritas,’ which means truth in Latin, and we would put out monthly articles. The front page featured an art piece by one of our students, and the student body wrote the articles. I also briefly was in the yearr-book club, where I worked with technology to try and produce the best yearbook possible in the time we had. I was also a part of a lot of sports teams.
Hawthorn School is known best for its volleyball club. By the end, everyone graduates with a newfound love for volleyball, if it wasn't there in the first place.
The Hawthorn School sports community helps students grow in many different ways. It is healthy for your physical body, and mentally it helps to deal with certain stresses that school might pose, or to just become better friends with your classmates.
Hawthorn School has a big sister little sister program, where high school students are partnered with a younger student from JK to Grade 7. Once a month, we would have assemblies to do activities with our little sisters. Most of the time, it was just to make sure that they felt comfortable in the school. If they're too shy to talk to their teachers about things that might concern them, they would look up to their big sisters. They build that trust, so that if there was something that they wanted to talk about, or even if it was just something fun to share, they felt comfortable doing so. It gave the little sisters encouragement to grow up and be like the people in the upper school.
I started at Hawthorn School in Grade 9. I was 14 years old, and my parents decided for me to go there. I went to another school until Grade 8, and it was co-ed. The thought of going to an all-girls school wasn't something I was excited about. I was not very happy at first, but now I think that's one of the reasons that Hawthorn School is a really good school. At first, I did not want to be there, then after graduating, and even before then I realized how much Hawthorn School had given me in terms of opportunities and character growth. I’m grateful to all of the teachers and all the staff, and even my classmates for helping build my confidence so that I was able to take risks that before, I would have been too timid to.
Going from a co-ed School to an all-girls school is different because half the population is gone. I thought I wouldn't like it, but in the end, I really did. Another difference was probably the size. Hawthorn School is much smaller, which I really grew to love in the end, because with such a small community, the teachers could focus on each individual and their needs. If there was something that you were struggling with or even if you had a club idea that you really wanted to start, they were always very supportive of those kinds of things just because they could be since they could focus on you more.
Hawthorn School in general is very family-oriented, so they try to foster a family-like relationship within the school. Students can be comfortable to be who they are at Hawthorn School, and really figure out what their likes and dislikes are in a comfortable environment. The environment at Hawthorn School is very conducive to learning as well.
Sometimes, in other schools, there can be a negative connotation to wanting to succeed or excel at your grades, or you might be looked at as a nerd But at Hawthorn School, there was nothing like that. At Hawthorn School, students and teachers always encouraged students to put their best into everything. They also really focus on the individual. We had ‘monthly virtues’ that we would talk about, and we would also have assemblies based on the virtue of the month, focusing on your personal character growth. When you go into university and into the workforce, you're not only focusing on making the best efforts in terms of work. You also need to work with people, whether it's a coworker, clients, or customers. You need to be able to treat them with respect, and at the same time know who you are, be confident in who you are, and not let people walk over you.
Hawthorn School’s close -knit environment makes you feel cared for, which makes you feel important. Hawthorn School is very loving No matter what you want to do, they're supportive.
I was a little bit nervous when I went from Hawthorn School into university, solely because Hawthorn School is a very tight-knit community, and very family-oriented. Especially going into a University like U of T, which is huge, I was nervous that I wouldn't grow accustomed to it or that I wouldn't fit in well. All of those doubts were resolved very quickly, within the first month of school. The small size of the classes at Hawthorn School helped me to learn how to deal with different personalities. In my class, which was only twelve people, none of us were the same. But by the end of the four years, we all became very good friends, and I'm still friends with them.
In a small class environment like at Hawthorn School, where there were so many different personalities, you were almost forced to get along with your classmates. Getting along with people is very important in university, because you'll be in classes where everyone is from different walks of life and you need to know how to be open-minded and get along with other people.
In terms of academics, Hawthorn School always pushed my classmates and I to be the best we could be. So we would have the mandatory curriculum, but then we would have after-school clubs, which helped us to go a little bit deeper into subjects. When you get involved with all the clubs, academics, and sports, you definitely learn time management skills. Time management skills are very important in university, because you just have to be very self-disciplined, which is something that Hawthorn School helped me with a lot.
Hawthorn School fosters such a positive attitude, without being fake at all, and I think it's a very healthy environment to be in. As a new student, you might be a little bit overwhelmed with how caring everyone is towards you, especially if you're shy.
Any student will learn to love everyone at Hawthorn School; your classmates, your teachers, and the staff. They'll become very good friends to you.
One thing that is super important for a parent when choosing schools is how the staff and the teachers treat them, especially on that first visit. Hawthorn School is very caring and loving. They want to know what the parent’s concerns are, and what they want to get out of their child's school experience. Hawthorn School is very open to working with parents to provide the best opportunity for their child, and they're always listening. If a parent ever gives constructive criticism, I always see Hawthorn School doing their best to improve on whatever they can.
Hawthorn School is really attentive to every student’s and parent’s needs throughout their whole experience, which is very important.
My experience at Hawthorn School was very good, and I grew a lot from it.
Hawthorn School tends to each individual's needs. Whatever you put in, they'll give you double in return, but you have to put in that initial effort and show interest in growing as a student, and as an all-around person, and they'll help you on that journey. You get out of it what you put into it.
Hawthorn School worked on developing me into a very confident and intelligent, bright young woman. Sometimes we can feel a little bit down, and maybe doubt ourselves, but Hawthorn School worked on that with me and showed me all the possibilities that are open to me.
Hawthorn School taught me that I shouldn't ever say no just because I lack confidence or because I'm being timid. It taught me to always go outside of my comfort zone, and try everything, even if I end up not liking it. It's better to go and give my best than to have given up right at the beginning and have never tried it at all.
Hawthorn School shaped me through my experience in the mentorship program, and my relationships with the teachers and my classmates. I had a lot of character growth throughout my time at Hawthorn School.
Upon graduating, I was surprised to see how much I had grown in understanding myself. I developed these skills that Hawthorn School encourages you to develop. I came out of Hawthorn School a very confident, open-minded hard worker, who doesn’t only focus on academics, but on the people around me, and as very conscientious person volunteering in the community.
I think as a person I'm a whole lot better after going through my Hawthorn School experience and I'm really, forever grateful for that.