A Second Home

I’ve visited Memphis many times for plays at the Orpheum, the zoo, and dinner with my family, among other fun things.  But never before had I thought I’d be living here.  On the news, I heard so much about crime in the city, and it seemed like it could be a scary place.  Not only was I skeptical of the idea of living in Memphis, but loathed the idea of an all-girls school, since I’d been going to a coed school all of my life, where most of the drama came from the girls.  That was until I toured Hutchison.  

When I got accepted into Hutchison, I was overwhelmed with happiness.  It meant a life change for me.  Jonesboro was a good school, but I never had a textbook to bring home the whole time I was there.  During my last year, one of my teachers lent me a book to bring home, which made the difference in having A’s and B’s, and having all A’s for me. That was a good thing too, because eighth grade classes at my old public school were counted on my high school transcript for college.  Unlike at Hutchison, where your high school transcript starts in ninth grade.  Another thing my old public school does not have is lockers.  Which meant that we had to carry all of our binders in our backpacks to every class each day. 

Jonesboro holds an unwelcome and undeserved place in history.  In the Spring of 1998, two middle school boys, ages thirteen and eleven years old, staged the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at the time at a school outside of our city limits.  That was well before I was born, but it haunts my hometown to this day.  One day last year at my old school, we were pulled out of the lunchroom for a search of our backpacks.  None of the staff ever confirmed it to students, but we heard later that a bullet had been found in a classroom I was in for first period.  At Hutchison, we have gates and guards to secure the campus and the chances of something like that happening at a school for girls seems much less.  

The decision to move to a private school ultimately fell upon my parents.  As I signed up for the next year of classes in the Spring of my eighth grade year, there was something on the list that none of us had ever seen before.  Our Junior High was offering Spanish as an optional “virtual class.”  When we asked about it, we were told that students had the “option” of taking either the virtual class with a tv monitor in the room and the class streamed live from the high school or the traditional class with a teacher.  A lot of my friends were excited about not having a teacher (even though there was a proctor in the class for student behavior).  I can’t say that didn’t sound tempting at first, but my parents did not want anything to do with that.  They complained that teachers belong in classrooms, not televisions and monitors, and they were told “this is the way of the future in public education.” By the end of the summer, the “virtual class” had become the only option.  That’s when my parents pulled me and we decided to come to Memphis.

We didn’t know much about the private prep schools in Memphis.  I had always attended a coed school, so my parents assumed that’s what I would want.  The idea of a girls school seemed like a terrible idea because that’s where the drama came from at my old school.  The boys seemed to cause little drama, with the exception of interrupting classes with dumb jokes and pointless questions to get the teacher off-topic for at least five minutes of our 45 minute class.  But the minute I set foot on Hutchison’s campus, I knew this is where I wanted to be.  Hutchison just seemed right from the beginning.  I don’t know if it was the Admissions Director, Maureen Collins, that seemed so welcoming and helpful or the high school administration when we met Mrs. Nair and Dr. Gilmore that my parents loved, but for me, it was the first girls I met that day, Laura Heathcott and Madison Grinder.  They were working in the hallways hanging back-to-school decorations and selling t-shirts in the atrium.  

My old school was the best in our region, but I can safely say, (because I’ve heard it from so many other people) that Hutchison is one of the best private all-girls prep schools in the country.  We had great teachers in Jonesboro too, but here, every teacher is great.  They are challenging, but it’s worth it.  The girls are great too.  Yes, it can be cliquish at times, but overall, everyone is really inclusive.  The college counselling is way beyond anything a public school could offer.  The counselors and teachers are able to keep up with you, and there are so many options for summer programs, volunteering and internships.  Through Hutchison Serves, I’ve had the opportunity to take part in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentoring program and that’s where I met my little brother, Donovan, who is a Kindergartner at Balmoral.  Memphis has made a difference for my family and Hutchison is at the heart of it.