Nothing Held Back

HONEST OPINION Senior Cailyn reflects on her Hockaday experience. Photo by Mary Clare

Senior exit interviews play an important role in shaping Hockaday’s future

Every girl has her Hockaday pet peeves- I want my chicken parm back, what happened to the faculty talent show, too much stress. To address these concerns, every graduating senior has the opportunity to voice her opinions about her time at Hockaday during the annual Senior Interviews.

“I’m excited to vent!” said senior Mackenzie.  “I’m ready to share my opinions and experiences in order to help the school improve in the best way possible.”

As much as students appreciate all that the school has done for them, there is always room for improvement.

“I think there are some things that Hockaday does wonderfully,” Mackenzie said, “but there are also things that can and should be improved.”  According to a Fourcast
survey of the Class of 2012, 60 percent of the girls are most concerned with changing academic policies and improving events with St. Mark’s.

The interview process begins when each senior chooses an adult to interview with. Typically, there are two or three adults in the interview; among them teachers, administrators and members of the Board of Trustees.

In charge of reading all of the interviews, Upper School English teacher Calli Birch is confident that the seniors’ voices are in fact heard. “I compose a detailed summary report that is submitted to administration,” Birch said, “I also deliver a short presentation to the US faculty that highlights the main findings of the report.”

It is up to each senior how she goes about sharing her likes and dislikes. Girls are given a sheet of topic prompts prior the interview. Some girls, however, bring in a list of their own they have been crafting over the years.

“I stuck to the questions on the sheet for the most part,” Katie Wood ‘11 said. “It was really nice that they gave us questions ahead of time because that gave me a chance to make sure I said everything I wanted to say.”

A veteran to the senior interviewing process, Fine Arts Department Chair Ed Long has listened to seniors’ woes and praises since the spring of 1972 when the interviews were first established.

“The interviews are exceedingly helpful,” Long said. “Many aspects of the school have been reexamined because of the interviews.”

After all of the interviews are conducted the notes are typed up and presented to administration. The Board of Trustees reviews the suggestions the seniors have made and issues brought up most frequently are addressed.

Although Hockaday tries hard to make changes, few changes are implemented immediately.

“I haven’t heard of any of the changes I suggested being put into effect,” Wood said. “However, I realize that one summer is not much time to implement a new policy. Nonetheless, I hope some of our ideas will be put into action soon!”

While some improvements are more long term, others have been implemented just hours after being suggested.

“The fastest result was a headmistress who heard that the drinking fountains were too warm and installed new ones within 48 hours,” Long said.

An effort that more directly affected all Upper School girls, the “homework study” conducted last year in response to the feedback of the class of 2011 has changed the way some teachers go about assigning homework.

“Several individual teachers made adjustments to the types of homework they assign,” Birch said, “for example; I stopped assigning contextual vocabulary and made dramatic changes in my approach towards the writer’s notebook.”

Senior Rachel has a different take on the process. “I think the senior interviews would be more beneficial to the seniors if they were conducted earlier,” Rachel said, “that way we could have a chance to see the changes before we graduate.”

While it is difficult to make major curriculum and administrative changes, Hockaday conducts these interviews in hopes to make every girl’s time at Hockaday the best it can be. Sometimes it is the small suggestions that can make all the difference in the day-to-day lives of Hockadaisies.

– Nina