Seniors Branch Out


Exhausted from a long day at school and hours of trying to make people laugh, senior Caroline Greenblatt lays in her bed, thinking about her performance at the upcoming Coffeehouse with Improv. Despite her previous experience with structured theater and show choir, Greenblatt never thought to venture into a new realm of theater.

As first semester draws to a close, many Upper School seniors lose interest in academics and extracurriculars. But unlike most, some seniors choose to use their last year to explore new interests.

The website runs surveys on a multitude of topics; one asked seniors what they considered their greatest accomplishment in high school. While the top answer focused on college acceptances, 32 percent of all seniors interviewed listed either a new skill learned or a new task that they had taken to a successful conclusion as their top achievement in high school.   

“There is no such thing as too late,” Fine Arts Chair Ed Long said. “There is always an opportunity to learn something new and if you want to do something, nothing should stop you.”

Long is not alone in this opinion. Greenblatt, in an effort to savor her last year and get a “full Hockaday experience,” tried out for Improv.

“I’m so glad I did Improv this year,” Greenblatt said. “It’s so great to be part of such a loving community.”

To her, Improv has provided a new sense of confidence that will continue to serve her throughout college.

Some seniors decided to try a new sport. Three-season varsity athlete Frances Burton suffered multiple injuries, including concussions, over her Upper School athletic career, and is no longer able to play the contact sports she used to participate in such as field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse.

But Burton did not let that stop her from trying something new. She decided to run on the varsity cross country team for the first time this year, even becoming one of the team captains.

I wanted to branch out and get to know an entirely new team, one that was so different from all the teams I had been on in all my previous years,” Burton said.

Although she does not plan to continue running cross country in college, Burton still hopes to use the skills she learned during the season.

“Cross country by nature is a very disciplined and sometimes really painful sport, so participating in the sport this year definitely taught me a lot about pushing myself,” she said.

In addition to clubs and sports, seniors have also chosen music as their avenue to diversify their interest. Senior Elise Gunter, who has played piano for the past five years, took on orchestra since scheduling conflicts prevented her from taking choir. Like Burton, Gunter didn’t let this change this get in the way of her interests. She still decided to pursue music, but in a different way.

“I was hoping to get a new perspective on my music experience,” Gunter said. “I didn’t have a specific outcome in mind.”

According to, “flexing the risk muscle” has many benefits. The most obvious one is overcoming fear of the unknown or the untried. In addition, it also teaches you what you are capable of and what you are good at. Self-esteem gets a boost when one overcomes fear of the unknown and opens up to new experiences.

Greenblatt, Burton and Gunter each decided to expand their horizons. By choosing to navigate previously unchartered territory, they are pushing the limits of their comfort zone to kick-start the life they will be living over the next four years of their college careers.

– Neha Dronamraju – Staff Writer –