Nettie Webb believes Episcopal High School helped her get to where she is today. As a senior, she relished in the school’s History of the South class, taught by Mike Reynolds, which sparked her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Today, she is advancing her interest at the University of Virginia and is thriving in the process. Webb was recently awarded the first ever Undergraduate Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award by her university’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
This was no small feat. Webb had orchestrated the History of Enslaved African American Laborers (HEAAL) Tour with a group of classmates to honour and acknowledge the enslaved workers — made possible thanks to her high school experience.
“Episcopal definitely shaped and influenced the work I’m doing now,” she says. “If I hadn’t done the Voices of Integration work for Episcopal’s 50 Years of Integration celebration, I would have never thought that something outside of engineering was even in the realm of possibility for me.”
Such inspiring stories are typical for those who choose Episcopal High School as their launchpad to success. This private 130-acre boarding school — for boys and girls in grades nine through 12 — in Alexandria, Virginia, is guided by its founding principles of honour, academic distinction, spiritual growth, and community. The combination was set in place to ensure every young person here is equipped with the intellectual and moral courage to pursue ethical leadership and service as active citizens of an increasingly connected world.
Everyone is welcome to put their newfound skills on display — evident through the fact that this year, three students of colour were simultaneously elected by their peers to top leadership positions. More recently, faculty members Jeff Streed and Alex DiMeglio’s Latin students across all levels won big in the National Latin Exam and the Classical Association of Virginia 2022 Latin Tournament.
A driving force behind these accomplishments is Episcopal High School’s signature approach to academics, which encourages close connections between students and teachers. In small classes, ideas are voiced, and opinions are heard — educators here believe this is the only way students will be able to pursue knowledge and develop the skills needed to truly leverage wisdom.
Showered with care and support, they customise their journeys to academic excellence by choosing from over 40 Honours and Advanced courses in English, math, social studies, science, languages, electives, and interdisciplinary studies. Academic rigour ensures discussions are not only passionate, but productive as well among Episcopal High School’s fully-residential community.
Living and learning here means gaining the exposure and skills needed to live independently — a competency that is crucial for students keen on taking university life by storm. Of course, there’s always room for fun. Tour some of the School’s eight dorms — four each for boys and girls — and witness camaraderie at its finest as birthdays are celebrated, games are played, meaningful conversations are had, and enduring friendships are forged.
Choosing Episcopal High School as a second home also translates to participating in the School’s unique Washington Programme. The daily schedule features a 2.5-hour mid-day block during which faculty can lead immersive Washington excursions. With this flexibility as well as evening “pop up” classes and guest talks, students engage directly with the people and institutions that make the city run and learn to navigate the world as flexible, capable, confident citizens.
Through the 40-year-old Senior Externship, qualified seniors in the final month of their academic year take on exciting opportunities with organisations located in the greater Washington, D.C. area — which is known to boast diverse resources. The Class of 2022 prepared for their futures in the fields of medicine, politics, marketing, athletics, and more.
Pempem Dorji was one of them. She was one of the three seniors who got to extern at Neighbourhood Health — a company focused on improving health and advancing health equity in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax. For her, the opportunity meant sitting in on procedures such as mammograms and pap smears.
“It was amazing following the doctors around and getting to see all these different patients,” Dorji says. “I plan to go into the medical field, so this externship was perfect for me. At the end of seeing every patient, the doctors would ask me: ‘Do you have any questions?’. Episcopal High School prepared me for that by always expanding my curiosity and not being afraid to ask even the weirdest questions.”
And ask, she will — at Yale University this fall, where Dorji will continue flexing her Episcopal High School skills while working toward her dream career.