Amelia Woodall '17
Published January, 2016
I'm sitting in a 9th grade biology class when suddenly a senior from the AP biology class runs into the classroom and interrupts our lesson.
“We have a problem,” she says. And just like that, our entire class rushes outside to see a staged murder.
The ninth-grade students are learning about DNA forensics, and the AP biology class wants to help us with a lab. The AP students, much like the rest of Woodlawn’s students, are creative and engaged learners. They take the lesson into their hands and guide us. We complete the lab by interviewing “witnesses,” as well as collecting and testing DNA samples, just as a real forensic scientist would.
Academic adventures like this make the Woodlawn School experience unique.
This is my sixth year attending Woodlawn. I’ve experienced more hands-on learning than I could’ve expected. The academics at Woodlawn School challenge the learner beyond just mastering the materials. The teachers here work hard to connect their classes to other classes and to events in the real world.
I’m a junior now, and I’m researching colleges. I’m thinking about studying ecology or environmental biology. This being said, understanding, as well as being in nature, will help me tremendously in preparing for this path. Nature and the outdoors are large parts of Woodlawn’s philosophy, and that’s one of the many reasons why Woodlawn is such a good fit for me. The various ecosystems on Woodlawn’s campus allow teachers to take their classes down to the wetlands or up to the gardens for hands-on learning experiences.
We occasionally have class, like Spanish, outside on the patio. One time, we were learning about informal tú commands, and our Profe made us play “Simón Dice,” the Spanish version of “Simon Says.” She taught us how to form the commands, then we participated in an activity that required us to think while having fun.
I’ve had the opportunity to engage in many extracurricular activities. This is my fifth year playing for Woodlawn’s volleyball team and will be my second year running track for the upper school. I began playing volleyball in seventh grade at Woodlawn. My coaches taught me the fundamentals of the sport, all while encouraging fair play and sportsmanship. During my sophomore volleyball season, we played one entire game only speaking in Spanish, and we won! It challenged us to use some vocabulary we learned in the classroom and to actually speak the language. The athletics and extracurriculars at Woodlawn are more examples of where learning takes place outside of the classroom.
A gym or track may not be the most conventional classroom, but what I’ve learned from all the different sports teams, clubs, and groups has helped me become a contributing member of society. Woodlawn is a friendly environment, and the determination of the teachers will help you achieve your goals. Challenging yourself outside of the classroom helps you learn who you are.
One thing that concerned me initially was the size of Woodlawn’s student body. Yes, Woodlawn is a very small school, but to me, that’s one of its best features. The current junior class has 17 students. I’ve gone to school with many of them my entire time at Woodlawn. I’ve never bonded more with any group of people in my whole life. They’re like my second family.
The teachers at Woodlawn strongly encourage students from all grades to mix. Students participate in events that range from a game of Quidditch to a round of trivia. These events promote a close-knit community.
Woodlawn’s student body is one of the most friendly, diverse, and accepting groups of people that I know. I’m very lucky to go to school where this much interaction takes place, inside and outside of the classroom.
Amelia is currently a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill.