Secret Santa at Knight House

Every year in Knight House we do Secret Santa! Everyone gathers around the common room Christmas tree. Presents wrapped in notebook paper or in shopping bag rest under the fake pine. Fabio, the dorm cat, follows suit. I turn on the holiday indie music and the gift-giving commences. We all sit with our eggnog and colored mini cupcakes. Everyone receives their present and has to guess who got it for them. I got my friend Ian 90 degree glasses so he can lay down and read at the same time. I received a teddy bear and chocolates from a new lower in our dorm, Gordon from Hong Kong. He noticed I liked his llama plush, and so he got me something just like it. It’s a great time for the dorm – the only thing missing is the fire.

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Why I Chose Exeter: The Harkness Method

My favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald quote says this: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind and still retain the ability to function.”
Before move in day of my lower year (keep in mind I was a new lower), I had never seen Exeter’s campus. Everything I knew about the school was based off the website and the admissions pamphlet. There had never been a student from my town at Exeter, and very few from my home state of Louisiana. At home, boarding schools were where the bad kids went, or rather, where bad kids were shipped off to by disgruntled parents. I found Exeter, and a few other schools, on the Internet and figured an application wouldn’t hurt anyone… but then I got in. Faced with a tough choice, my parents and I figured “why not?” so we packed all my stuff and made our way up to a strange prep school in New Hampshire. I knew a bit about the Harkness method, but not much. A bunch of kids sit around a table and talk… seemed pretty simple, right? Moral of the story is: Harkness wasn’t the reason I chose Exeter, I don’t even know why I chose to go here (luck maybe), but Harkness is one of the biggest reasons why I love Exeter.
In 1930, Edward Harkness made a sizable donation, $5.8 million to be exact, to our very own Phillips Exeter Academy. However, with this gift came some restrictions. Classes would be limited to 12 students, and all would share a common table with the teacher, the “Harkness Table.” He envisioned a new, revolutionary style of teaching where each student was both a teacher and a student to “his” peers. (Exeter was still an all boys school at the time of the Harkness gift.) Today, every classroom has a Harkness table and uses the Harkness Method, even math and science. Schools across the world have mimicked this rather strange method of teaching.
Everyone sits around the table, usually having done a reading the night before, and waits for class to begin. My favorite way for a teacher to start class is simply by saying, “Where do you all want to begin?” From there, the discussion takes off. Students will be making points, asking questions, building off of each other, agreeing, disagreeing, and sometimes sitting in silence while they take a moment to process. A good Harkness discussion is a beautiful thing. It is truly amazing to watch it flow, and turn, and change. Students come alive at the table. Harkness improves skills in history by completely immersing students in the information. In math, everyone works through the problems together, offering alternative ideas and solutions. Science brings the students together at the table and lab benches alike for a genuine hands on experience. English provides students with the opportunity to completely dive into the text and “flesh out” every possible route. It provides students with viewpoints different from their own in an effort to see the complete picture. The Harkness Method is an incredible thing that I am so lucky to be a part of.
Harkness has benefitted me in more ways than academics. I have learned to speak up and hold true to my opinion when appropriate, but I have also learned how to understand when I am wrong and acknowledge my mistakes. Harkness teaches you to hold yourself accountable. Harkness teaches you to listen. The common rule at Exeter is speak once, listen three times, and I use this even outside of the classroom. Harkness teaches eye contact. When a peer is speaking, look up so they know you are listening. Harkness teaches responsibility. If you are wrong, recognize it and move on. No one will hold it against you. Harkness teaches confidence. This, above all is my favorite attribute of the oval tables. The Harkness Method has taught me to be confident in every way, whether it in the classroom, with my friends, or when talking to adults. Harkness prepares you for life. It instills in its students character, responsibility, fortitude, and courage. I am confident that without Harkness, I would not be the person that I am today.
So, I highly recommend that you give the weird oval table a try.

Congratulations to all the newly accepted students! Welcome to Phillips Exeter Academy!

Feel free to ask me any questions about the Harkness Method or just the school in general! You can reach me at: lfidelak@exeter.edu

Welcome Ms. Lisa MacFarlane!!

Hi All,
 
Maya and Ms  Marfarlane (2)
As you may know, this year is Principal Tom Hassan’s last at Exeter. Next year, Exeter will welcome its 15th Academy principal and only the second female, Professor Lisa MacFarlane! I am really excited! Although she is an alumna of Phillips Academy Andover (it’s okay, we Exonians are a forgiving people), both her children attended Exeter.  She received her PhD from the University of Michigan. Being from Michigan and having a mother who is also a Michigan alumna… I like the principal elect already! Go BLUE!! 
 
Dr. MacFarlane will be visiting Exeter next week to get acquainted with the school,  the students, and faculty! 
 
Best, 
Maya

EXETER/andover

Hey guys,

As you might already know, the annual Exeter/Andover games were last weekend. We have a friendly but intense rivalry with the school with the same name fifty miles to the south, and E/A weekend is always a time for school spirit and bonding, as well as for favorite alumni to return to campus.

When E/A takes place in Andover, Exeter provides buses so that the entire school can come support the teams. There are also tons of traditions associated with E/A – four-year seniors get to wear decorative kilts with school colors, first-year alumni flock back to Exeter in droves to catch up with their friends after their first term of college, and Pep Rally and Pep Assembly the Friday before the games are always memorable occasions. Exeter didn’t fair so well this year, winning in girl’s volleyball, tying a close game in boy’s soccer, and losing a hard fought and well-attended football game by just one point, 13-12, but even in the years when our sports teams don’t do as well as we would hope, the camaraderie fostered by the E/A spirit make sure it’s always a fun time of year. Check me out cheering on the football team last weekend in the picture below – and a special shoutout to head blogger Rachel in the bottom right-hand corner of the picture! I’ll also be uploading some footage of Exeter’s newest club, a blend of fire-dancing, martial arts and gymnastics called Illumninosity and started by my good friend Kenny Berger ’15, so be sure to look out for that.

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See you soon,

Zach

E/A in a week!

Kevins volleyball team pic

Hey guys! The leaves have stopped changing, and have begun to break off bare tree branches, marking the end of a very busy fall term.

Kevins bench in front of library

Halloween just passed, and we had a wonderful costume contest, hosted by the lovely Student Council. Exeter/Andover games are in just a week, and I’m pumped for the girls varsity volleyball game, since I’m the manager. The girls have had a terrific season so far, making it 11-1, losing only to the defending champions Choate by two points. I’m super proud of them, and I can’t wait for them to beat Andover!

Prom!

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This past Thursday was prom! At Exeter, there is only a senior prom which is held at Castleton in Windham, NH. If you’re an underclassmen, the only way to go to prom is to get asked by a senior. I was lucky enough to be invited by one of my senior friends and I had so much fun! The theme was Gatsby, so there was a band who played some 20’s music. They even did renditions of popular songs like Katy Perry’s “Roar” and put a 20’s spin on it. It was so cool! After people finished eating, they started playing dance music. In addition to the dancing, there was a photo booth. There were different items you could use to dress yourself up, like a boa, fedoras, things like that. After your pictures were taken, two photos strips were printed for you and your friend (or many friends, depending on how many people were in the booth).

If you want to check out some more photos, you can click these links here:

http://media.theexonian.com/13-14/Prom-2014/

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Abbot Casino

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As the most anticipated event of the year, Abbot Casino draws the student body to gamble the night away (with fake money, of course) one night each winter term.  The boys of Abbot Hall set up blackjack, roulette, craps, and poker tables in Grainger Auditorium and the students flock there, all in formal dress.  It is really more about dressing up than the card playing itself, and it isn’t unusual for girls to get their dresses over summer break!  It is really the only event on the social calender where it is socially acceptable to wear over-the-top makeup and dress in sequins from head to toe, so we go all out!