State of the School from the Head
D ear Ethel Walker Family and Friends,
The fall of 2011 has been nothing short of extraordinary. On October 1, over 1200
alumnae, parents and friends gathered under the tent for our Centennial Chapel. The
program included Sigourney Weaver ’67 with a keynote address, our students’
account of the School through the decades, and a wonderful intergenerational choir.
That evening the tent was transformed for our SunDial Celebration Dinner enjoyed
by 700 guests. Look for details and photos of Centennial weekend in our
commemorative issue of the SunDial magazine and the Centennial section of our
website. Centennial was truly a watershed moment for The Ethel Walker School. I
have enclosed a Centennial keepsake with several remarkable speeches.
Three short weeks later, Simsbury endured a record-breaking storm with 14 inches of snow and high winds on leaf-
laden trees resulting in 10 days without power. Luckily the campus did not sustain any structural damage; however,
Beaver Brook was the only campus facility with a generator, and became a haven to faculty families and students who
were unable to get home. The National Guard was deployed for several days, service crews arrived from around the
country, and the clean up will take months. I have never been more proud of my team; they worked tirelessly to ensure
the safety and operation of the School.
2011-12 INSTITUTIONAL GOALS
As we continue to manage to our Strategic Plan, we have committed to the following 2011-12 institutional goals:
• We will continue to pursue academic and ethical excellence through innovation and collaboration
• We will empower our students to explore peace initiatives and global awareness, with a focus on China, by
participating in opportunities that foster global understanding
• We will celebrate our past and ensure our future by enlisting the talents and support of our constituencies to
launch a Centennial Campaign.
Admission to and success at competitive colleges continues to be at the forefront of our mission. Our seniors are busy
applying to colleges, the culmination of a proactive college counseling program that begins well before senior year. 66%
of the senior class (of 41 students) has submitted an early decision or early action college application. We offer 19 AP
and 22 honors courses, as part of an innovative curriculum that focuses on 21st century skills. Electives include
Anatomy & Physiology, Astronomy, AP Economics, Caribbean Studies, Equine Science, English 12: “Love, Power, and
Revenge,” Mandarin Chinese, Middle East and Beyond, and Social and Political Philosophy, to name just a few. At the
core of our academic excellence is the passion and talent of our faculty. Our artistic and athletic strengths continue to
promote our school in many positive ways; tournament champions and regional finalist are among our fall
accomplishments. In addition to existing exchange programs in Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia, we are exploring
additional opportunities in South Africa and China.
Continued on next page
CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO SERVICE AND ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
Walker’s is fast becoming a leader among schools with our commitment to environmental stewardship. We hosted a
national Environmental Symposium last June entitled Food for Thought, with speakers Frances Beinecke Elston ’67 and
Bill McKibben, a climate change activist. We continue our commitment to public purpose as we partner with worthy
local organizations, including Grace Academy, an all-girls school in Hartford. Walker’s is exploring an affiliation with
Middlebury College's Center for Social Entrepreneurship; our role will focus on the role of girls and women in social
entrepreneurship, specifically around peace initiatives.
WALKER’S FISCAL HEALTH
With the teamwork of a strong Finance Committee and disciplined fiscal management internally, Walker’s achieved a
surplus budget for FY 2011. We are committed to the goal of fiscal prudence ensuring a sustainable model and a
promising future for The School. We exceeded our Annual Fund goal of $1.5 million last year, thanks to the terrific
loyalty of alumnae, parents, trustees, and friends. Walker’s long-term financial strength has never looked more
ADMISSIONS AND ENROLLMENT
Walker’s has 238 students with a 66% boarding population, representing 18 countries and 18 states plus Puerto Rico.
We have put into place an Enrollment Management Task Force to revolutionize admissions that will feature a robust
social media presence. We have targeted our travel to include more full pay markets, including recent travel to Bermuda
and Saudi Arabia, and events at feeder schools throughout the country.
Our Centennial Campaign, Chaired by Sarah Gates Colley ’75, with co-chairs Margot Campbell Bogert ’60, Debby
Williams MacKenzie ’55 and Lisa Pagliaro Selz ’69, is being planned with several transformational components,
ensuring Walker’s success for the next century. We are delighted that over $17 million has been raised towards the
$50 million goal. You will be hearing more about important components of the campaign to ensure Walker’s continues
to attract a competitive and dynamic student body for years to come.
A VISION FOR WALKER’S NEXT CENTURY — IT IS TIME TO BELIEVE
Now is the time for Walker’s. People are watching us closely at this extraordinary Centennial moment and it is within
this window that we, together, have the power to transform the destiny of the School, once and for all. This will require
all of us to believe strongly in Walker’s today. Our mission of educating the minds and hearts of young women is among
the most noble of missions, and critical to the world.
It continues to be a privilege to be Head of The Ethel Walker School in this auspicious moment; we have a talented and
passionate Board of Trustees, a loyal and committed team of faculty and administrators, and a Strategic Plan that continues to
stretch us to be our best. I welcome your questions and ideas and thank you for the commitment of your resources and gift of
your time. I ask you to continue to stretch, to believe, and I promise…you will see that Walker’s stands tall at this
transformational Centennial moment!
Elizabeth C. Speers
CENTENNIAL CHAPEL KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Sigourney Weaver ’67
Good morning everyone! How wonderful it is to be creative woman I might become. Miss Hunt taught me
back at our beautiful School even on this soggy fall day. English for three years. We worked hard for her, as hard as
Girls, you did a lovely job. It’s amazing to think that I’ve ever worked in my life. I ended up as one of her two
Walker’s was founded before women had the vote! Miss AP English students with Jessica Ferguson. Such an honor.
Walker was ahead of her time. She encouraged my particular weird take on things, my
It’s great to see such a big turn out, including so sense of story, style, character, my love of all of it.
many husbands and partners. After all those awful dances I went on to Stanford and then was accepted at the
things really did work out. Go Suns and Dials, but Yale Drama School. I was so excited and proud and
especially Suns! immediately wrote Miss Hunt and asked if we could have
It’s amazing to me to think the school is only 100 tea. I wanted to thank her. I was too late. Miss Hunt had
years old. It feels like it has been here much much longer, passed away, much too young.
like Stonehenge. But what an incredible feat Walker’s has So girls…what I suggest to you today is — find
accomplished over the last decades — your Miss Hunt and be open to her or him
maintaining its commitment to single sex finding you. Because this is where it all
women’s education in the face of so much starts, right here at this School. The
pressure, and not only weathering these greatest gift you will ever have is an EWS
last years but transforming and surviving education. It is such a powerful thing for a
and thriving. I think the tide is finally woman to have a great education in this
turning in Walker’s direction as more and world, for a woman to be able to read and
more young women are choosing to study write and communicate with confidence
and lead within their own communities. and joy and power. You will be
In any case, I want to salute Bessie unstoppable. All of my success in
Speers for her dynamic leadership of EWS, Hollywood is really because I know how
to acknowledge all the teachers here for to analyze a script and make a story work.
their invaluable contribution to women’s I know which movies are going to work.
education, and to greet with great affection all of my dear All those days and months and years on grammar and
alumnae sisters. I meet women all the time that went to structure and Thomas Hardy are still paying off for me.
Walker’s and no matter when we were here, it is such a I promise you, no matter where you go in life and
joyous and enduring bond for all of us. We were so damn whatever you do — your education will allow you to
lucky, weren’t we? soar, to contribute in a profound and lasting way, and to
But it’s you girls I really want to say hey to. You have fun with your work. But you have to work hard.
are carrying inside you something so rare, so powerful. You have to engage in your education, to make the most
It’s an EWS education. of every day here. Be here and drink it up. Education is a
But I was so fortunate…there was a teacher here magic elixir that will nourish you every day for the rest of
named Florence Hunt who was the head of the English your life, and it is this woman’s not so secret weapon. I
department. Miss Hunt — in our dear Academic Dean was never just a pretty face.
Caroline Walker’s words — was “a splendid teacher, So I want to thank my dear friend and teacher
admirable in every respect — who taught us literature, a Florence Hunt for all she gave me and all she gave all the
command of language, excellent abilities in writing.” Miss students at this school. I want to thank you, Bessie, and
Hunt first drilled us in grammar, and after that we the teachers here now. Nothing is more important than
luxuriated in Thomas Hardy, Paradise Lost, Shakespeare, what you are doing. And girls — ladies — sisters, study
and “poitry” as Miss Hunt called it. As another alumna hard and then go out and take this world by storm. We
wrote, “ you were proud to be in her class”. need your passion and your weirdness and your
Miss Hunt saw something in me that no one else leadership — every single one of you.
thought was there, least of all me. She saw and tended Thank you.
this little glimmer, this ember of the confident, capable
SELECTED STUDENT REMARKS ON
T E N D E C A D E S O F WA L K E R ’ S H I S T O R Y
Kayla Monroe ’12 commenced, and the advisor system was hostages in Iran • the Challenger disaster • the
“During the first decade of the school’s instituted. The School’s Alumnae Association tearing down of the Berlin Wall.
history, the world witnessed: was also formed.
Three faculty houses were moved by truck
World War I • the devastating flu epidemic • Today, a diverse student body is considered
onto campus. The Natalie Galbraith Chair in the
the sinking of the Titanic • and the women’s critical to a student’s experience at Walker’s.
suffrage movement Humanities was endowed. The Constance
Morning meetings are a vibrant part of life at
Lavino Bell Library was dedicated. Abra
The Ethel Walker School opened its doors in the school and each student’s relationship with
Prentice Wilkin donated the funds for an
the fall of 1911 with seven teachers and ten her advisor is one of the most important
updated kitchen and dining area. In 1986 and
students. These girls were among the first in aspects of her daily life in our community.”
again in 1988 the Ethel Walker softball team
their generation to attend a boarding school won the Founder’s League Championship.
whose focus was college preparation. Nellie Speers ’16
Riding and dance have been part of the
Today we have 42 teachers and 238 “The 1950s evoke memories of:
athletic experience for 100 years. Today,
The Korean War • McCarthyism & the Cold War
students from 18 countries and 18 states!” students excel in a wide variety of sports.
• Brown v. Board of Education • Rosa Parks •
Television • Elvis, Chuck Berry, and rock ’n roll • Walker’s continues to compete in the
Jess Chang ’13 Sputnik and the Space Race • and The Catcher prestigious Founder’s League.”
“The roaring 20s saw: in the Rye was banned around the country.
Women get the vote • Prohibition • the Isabel Beeman ’16
Charleston • Model Ts • Radio broadcasting • Smith dormitory (originally designed for “The 1990s brought us:
Lucky Lindbergh • and the stockmarket crash faculty housing) and the chapel were completed. An explosion in technology • the World Wide
The Caroline Walker Honor Society was formed. Web • the Gulf War • Oklahoma City bombing
Walker’s had three strong women as Heads The Catcher in the Rye is now required • The first woman secretary of state • Y2K
of School who guided their students with very reading in the 9th grade! The Caroline Walker panic • and the Women’s World Cup in soccer
strict rules. Girls were rarely allowed to leave Honor Society remains one of the most
campus under their watch. In 1990 The Ethel Walker Middle School
prestigious character prizes to this day.”
The tradition of strong visionary heads has opened with thirteen 7th and 8th grade
continued through the decades. Now we students. The first all-girls’ team built and raced
Sajia Darwish ’14
encourage our girls to go out in the community a solar car. Beaver Brook Academic Center and
“The 1960s was:
— indeed, to be citizens of the world through The high tide of the Civil Rights Movement • Symington Science Center opened to rave
Junior/Senior projects, service learning, and Beatlemania • Motown • Woodstock • The reviews. New science labs, classrooms and art
international exchange programs.” Vietnam War • The Cuban Missile Crisis • The studios replaced dorm rooms.
Assassination of American leaders • and Neil The Anastasia Payne Rooke Chair in Science,
Lila Reynolds ’15 Armstrong walked on the moon. Math and Technology was endowed. Reflecting
“The 1930s was dominated by: the growth in the day student population, Head
To honor the 50th anniversary of the School,
The Depression • FDR and fireside chats • The of Day Students was added to the student
the Board of Trustees began a capital
New Deal • The Dust Bowl • Big Band Music • leadership positions, making the group The Big
Shirley Temple, Gone With the Wind, The campaign to fund new science labs and a
Wizard of Oz, and Disney language lab. A new gymnasium was named
From its humble beginnings on the third
for Natalie Galbraith Mitchell and the Muriel
floor of the annex, the Middle School now has a
On April 11, 1933, life changed dramatically Alvord Memorial Library was completed. The
dedicated wing in Ferguson. We proudly offer
when Beaver Brook burned to the ground. Two new Cluett dormitory was also opened, and the
19 Advanced Placement courses, supported by
days later, the School’s Four Corners dormitory Ferguson Performing Arts Center was dedicated.
our state of the art classrooms and
also caught fire. One hundred sixty-five girls In 1968, the first African American students
moved to the Fishers Island Club house to were enrolled at Walker’s.
finish the school year. Because of the Today, our student body reflects the world
Ellie Bell ’12
Depression, there were many workers available we live in. Students learn that content of
“The beginning of the 21st century is
to rebuild Beaver Brook so the next school year character matters.”
commenced back in Simsbury Sept 11th • the War on Terror • wars in Iraq and
Since then, the campus has been continually Lauren Nicholson ’14 Afghanistan • the First African American
improved with new buildings. We are always “The 1970s saw: president • economic depression • iPods •
striving to enhance our facilities while The Oil Embargo • War protests and Kent State Google • texting! • Facebook • wikipedia •
preserving the beauty of our campus.” • Watergate • the resignation of President and reality TV shows
Nixon • Roe v. Wade • Title IX • Disco • Jaws
• and Microwave Ovens The Margaret Huling Bonz Women of
Chelsea Regan ’13
Distinction Speaker fund was established. The
“The 1940s witnessed: Bucking the trend toward co-education, Simsbury Land Trust and the national Trust for
WW II • Pearl Harbor • Rosie the Riveter • the Walker’s remained true to its mission of an
atom bomb • the GI Bill • penicillin • and Public Land reached an agreement with the
all-girls’ education. During the decade, more School to buy 424 acres of the School’s land.
Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major
faculty began to move onto campus. Now open to town residents, Walker’s Woods is
Today, families continue to choose Walker’s still used for riding, learning, and hiking by
Restrictions on the girls were relaxed during because of the advantages of an all girls’ students and faculty. A new LEED certified
the ’40s. Students were allowed to go into education. Students are encouraged to take on Head’s house was built. A commitment to
town or to Hartford to see a play, and even to leadership roles here at school and in the world service learning and environmental stewardship
receive boys for Sunday afternoon tea. The girls at large.” was incorporated into the School’s mission.
were also expected to volunteer for the Red Today, our curriculum embraces academic
Cross. With the onset of World War II came Faith Ferber ’13 excellence, and ethical and global issues.
rationing. Students had to make do with less, “The 1980s is remembered for: Walker’s graduates are fully prepared to follow
were given household chores, and were The U.S. Hockey Team’s “Miracle on Ice” •
in the footsteps of our alumnae to enter the
mullets, shoulder pads, and leg warmers • John
required to work in the garden. world with courage, confidence, conviction and
Lennon’s murder • Madonna • Michael
Walker’s gradually became more culturally Jackson • MTV and music videos • integrity.
diverse. Weekly meetings in Beaver Brook Reaganomics • computers • American