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The Darrow School

Written by Eyram ’23

Meita believes that no matter what color you are, if you’re pretty you’re pretty. Nobody should tell you different. She is a pretty dark skin , more on the skinny side of things, Meita Fofana doesn’t agree with society’s views on what’s “pretty” as in being a fair complexion and “Thick”. Though many focus on having the “perfect body”, she thinks everyone is unique. She believes that in this society “being dark and having bumps is terrible.” That doesn’t stop her from knowing that she is beautiful and perfect the way she is.She …


Andy Vadnais, Head of School

As head of the Darrow School in New Lebanon, New York, I find myself wondering about the structures and buildings that make up the fabric of our campus, especially after a student or member of the faculty makes a particularly poignant observation about matters of empathy or social justice.

You see, my school exists now in the buildings and on the hallowed grounds of what was at one time the most successful Utopian community in 19th-century America — the Mount Lebanon Shakers (1785–1932). In fact, before the Shakers here “went out” (as they termed it)…


Written by Samantha 23'

Underserved and unaccepted for the rule-breaker she was, Catherine Stines took her ambition, strength, and negative high school experience to become a successful woman and inspiring role model. Here at The Darrow School, Ms. Stines sets an example for the community with her determination, integrity, passion, approachability, and a little bit of rebellion. Ms. Stines gives all of herself to the world and genuinely motivates the people around her through honest interactions to live their best lives; we could all take a page out of her book.

Catherine Stines is a coach, history teacher, and Director…


For organizations like schools, the answer is critical

by Simon Holzapfel, Head of School, holzapfels@darrowschool.org

As you look at the future of education or business, would you rather be a fox or a hedgehog?

In his quest to understand high-performing organizations, author, consultant, and lecturer Jim Collins has rightly steered a generation of organization builders in the direction of the hedgehog, noting that success comes from knowing one thing very well, as opposed to knowing lots of things, fox style. Isaiah Berlin’s essay (in which he originated the concept) has also been formative for many, although he is more agnostic on which choice is better.

Of course, for…


It’s about legitimacy, acceptance, and boundaries

by Simon Holzapfel, Head of The Darrow School

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Look no further than the Declaration of Independence for clear evidence of America’s abiding belief that the legitimacy of a system of governance hinges on the degree to which its subjects consent to its authority. Consent was explicitly coded into our national DNA, and seemed as self-evident then as it does now.

But what if we take that idea and apply it more broadly, from government to all types of social relationships? Couldn’t we conclude that any…


When you don’t see race, what else don’t you see?

by Simon Holzapfel, Head of School, holzapfels@darrowschool.org

Ask yourself the following question: how often have you heard a person of color say that “they don’t see race/color” when they look at someone? Compare that to the number of white folks who have said the same thing. For me the ratio is very stark: I often hear white people say this and almost never hear it from a person of color. This has had me thinking and I want to share some of what I’ve found.

As we reflect on the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King…


Start by confronting, engaging, and processing

by Simon Holzapfel, Head of School, holzapfels@darrowschool.org

Virtually all of us have some cause for aggrievement — an unresolved feeling of having been wronged or mistreated because of a troubling event that’s gone unprocessed or a relationship we can’t seem to let go of. The feeling may be justified or unjustified, small or big, occasional or frequent.

We clearly live in a time when much of our political and social interactions seem to be driven by aggrievement; when it seems that everyone with an ax to grind is not satisfied with simply making a valid point in an argument or…


by Leah Penniman

Simon Holzapfel is currently visiting Darrow alumni and families in Asia has invited Leah Penniman to be a guest blogger.

Notes: 1. This story is modified from The Brave Little Parrot by Rafe Martin, which appears in The Hungry Tigress: Buddhist Myths, Legends, and Jataka Tales (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, ©1990) and was originally delivered as a speech at The Darrow School on October 6, 2018; 2. Attributes of daring borrowed from Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., “Six Attributes of Courage,” Psychology Today, (August 2012)

I may be one of the least daring people you’ve ever met. I’m not…


The Shaker Tree of Life

Letting go and living with only what is needed

by Kari Wishingrad, The Darrow School Class of 1978

“ ’Tis the Gift to be Simple, ’tis the Gift to be Free…”
— lyrics from the Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts

In June 2018, I attended my high school reunion in New Lebanon, New York, a small town nestled in the serene and beautiful Berkshire Mountains.

The Darrow School campus is on the site of a historic Shaker village that was established by Mother Ann Lee in 1787 as the first Shaker community in America. The community was known for its simplistic, sturdy, and sensible furniture design, architecture, craftsmanship, and vegetable seed industry.

Living in these historical buildings while learning…

The Darrow School

The Darrow School is an independent coed boarding and day school for students in grades 9–12 and PG, located in New Lebanon, NY. www.darrowschool.org

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