Leela R. ’21 came to Porter’s from the Oliver Scholars program, which prepares Black and Latinx students from underserved communities in New York City for success at top independent schools “…so they can realize their full potential and ultimately give back to the city, the nation, and the world.”
In seventh grade, she was nominated for the program by her school counselor. She attended an open house for the program and, there, was introduced to the idea of independent schools. Previously, Leela had only been considering a specialized public high school in the city — the idea of boarding school was completely new to her! Over the course of her seventh grade year, she applied to the Oliver Scholars program and was one of 60 to be selected out of about 1,000 applicants.
What followed was a five-week summer program which rigorously prepared her for the SSATs and for the academic year in general. In the fall of eighth grade, Leela visited Porter’s for an open house and fell in love with the school. She noticed that people were saying “hi” to each other around campus and were very friendly. She also admired how poised and sophisticated many of the students seemed to be. When Leela found out in the spring of eighth grade that she had been admitted, she was ecstatic.
At Porter’s, Leela has tried sports — volleyball and squash — for the first time! She has also gotten involved in several clubs, such as one called “News-Decoder.” This is Leela’s second year as a student ambassador for the organization and she is looking forward to putting on their second annual webinar, as well as writing articles and curating photo essays. She is excited that there is a bigger group this year that is involved in the program – as reporters, production editors, and more. Leela has grown a lot through her involvement in News-Decoder, because public speaking was a major struggle for her before, even in a small classroom setting. Though it’s still difficult, she has now confronted this fear several times and has improved her skills. Leela truly appreciates every opportunity to grow.
Leela has also stayed involved with the Oliver Scholars program, as a way to give back to a program that gave so much to her. This past summer, she served as a math tutor for middle school students. She really enjoyed her experience. Most of the other tutors are at other boarding schools, and some had even just graduated and were about to start college. It was amazing to connect with all of these fellow Oliver Scholars. Leela was mainly tutoring rising 8th graders in geometry and algebra 2, but there was also a class on the independent school process in which she gave a presentation and answered questions for families about attending a boarding school, particularly an all-girls boarding school. She talked about everything that she’s getting out of the all-girls experience and shared pictures from her freshman year.
Leela’s favorite tradition at Porter’s is Little Meeting. She says, “It’s a fun time to come together as a community. Maybe you didn’t know that someone in your math class can sing and then they’re up there belting out a song and they’re amazing — I really enjoy that. It’s a fun time!”