A Porter’s senior thinks back to making her high school decision

Christina T., a current senior, was opening speaker at Miss Porter’s School’s Revisit Day, held April 5. Read on for her remarks.

As I think back on the process of my ending up at Porter’s, it’s hard to imagine that I am the same girl who arrived here on campus nearly three years ago. I was a new sophomore who had spent nearly all of my weekends and breaks in eighth and ninth grade touring boarding schools. It was the norm for kids in my town graduating from K-9 schools, and the process was exhausting.

I had very high expectations for myself of who I was supposed to be in high school. My twin brother, Nick, and I, were going through the boarding school process together, yet I remember feeling strange when I discovered our opposite tastes in schools. I recall walking through Andover’s campus in particular, his top choice school, and bursting into tears in front of the student tour guide as I realized, no matter how impressive Andover was on paper, it simply wasn’t for me. The countless brochures and meet-ups with other students could not convince me that Andover was what I wanted, and it made me feel crazy. Why didn’t I like it? What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I want exactly what my brother did?

Thankfully, then came Porter’s. On a rather rainy Revisit Day in 2015, I showed up here completely unprepared for the level of friendliness and kindness that greeted me as I walked into the Noni. Despite the dreary weather outside and the anxiety I felt bubbling in my brain, I was instantly put at ease by the smiling students and admissions representatives. The feeling of comfort I felt that day wasn’t like the one I had to force while I was touring other schools. It came naturally, and I realized that day one of the many things that makes Porter’s so special: you don’t have to force it to be your home. It just is. On the car ride back to New Canaan, however, I promptly burst into tears again. All my life I had been selling myself a certain image of what my high school was supposed to be like, and an all-girls’ boarding school hadn’t been what I had in mind. Yet I knew deep down that this was the place I was meant to be. It had felt so much like home, even after only a few hours on campus. I had loved the energy of the girls I sat through classes with. I loved the chattering in the dining hall and the way the students joked around with their teachers. I loved the dorms that looked like colonial houses and the large glass windows in the art studio. I knew then that Porter’s was what I needed, and that I had to do what was right for me, not my brother.

So after letting myself sit with the decision for a few weeks and avoiding my mom’s nagging to finally pick a school, I made the final decision as I sat in my ninth grade biology class looking through the Porter’s website during one of our labs. I took a deep breath and texted my mom a picture of a daisy, to which she responded in all caps, “HOORAY!”

Porter’s is what I needed. I believe that standing here today as much as I did freshman year in biology class. Being here has allowed me to grow confident, strong, and, most importantly, kind. I became a leader in ways I never expected myself to. I was a Junior Advisor to the girls in my dorm and not only ran but actually was elected to the Nova Nine, which is our group of nine senior leaders. I became Head of Main, in charge of student arts programs and creating posters for the walkway in Main. I organize and lead sit-down dinners on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I even get up on stage here every Friday to run morning meeting in front of the whole school, which was something that would have made me pass out from stage fright as a freshman.

In academics, too, I have been transformed. At my previous school, I struggled through all of my math classes and became cross-eyed at the slightest mention of algebra. Sophomore year, however, with the help of my patient math teacher, Ms. Webb, I found that math was a subject I could easily tackle when I stopped doubting myself. Through meetings with her and tireless study sessions, I was able to bump myself up to Honors Algebra II, and finished the class with an A on the final. I found history classes that mesmerized me, and discussions in English class that I actually wanted to participate in. My desire to understand and learn things expanded throughout my time at Porter’s, making me a student who actually enjoyed the academic material I was faced with.

I can understand better than anyone how emotional this process can be. The number of times I left my tours or interviews crying in the car home is, frankly, sort of embarrassing. It didn’t help, either, that I had a twin to compare all of my decisions to. But the process brought me here, to my home away from home, and that made all of the tears worth it. So for those of you sitting in the audience, more confused than ever, I get it. These decisions are tough. However, once you take a deep breath and wipe away your tears, I hope you are able to realize just how special this place is. Porter’s cares about our own like family, whether they are teachers, students, or alumnae. We love each other like sisters, and it is here that I have found the people I am certain I will be friends with for the rest of my life. Trust me when I say you could not be joining a more loving, challenging, intelligent, and caring community, and I hope you all will consider becoming part of our family. Thank you.

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