When I got accepted to DLSA as an upcoming 7th grader, it was at the 11th hour. I remember that, because it was out of the normal admissions cycle, and it was just Brother Brian and myself in the interview. Though it was a last minute change of plans, I was excited. I knew immediately that DLSA would be a challenge for me, and I was ready to be challenged.
Most of my memories from DLSA revolve around the incredible teachers I had there. In math class, one of my favorites, we had Mr. George. What I enjoyed most about his class was that we were able to learn from each other. It wasn’t a standard lecture. Under Mr. George’s guidance, we worked together to ask the right questions and move forward with our understanding of math. I also loved drama with Ms. Pilz. We did Godspell, and I was so nervous, but she made it fun and gave me the confidence I needed to play my part. On another note, I had a humbling experience in Ms. Saito’s language arts class when I did very poorly in the first marking period. My parents had to come in! After that, I learned to hold myself to a higher standard in her class.
One of the main takeaways from my time at DLSA was that we learned to be comfortable with who we were. I realized that I had earned my spot. You learned to be confident in yourself and your natural abilities, to trust yourself, and to be self-aware. You also learned what your strengths were and how to put them to best use. You got exposed to different things, tried different things. It broadened our horizons beyond what we knew in our everyday lives.
Another part of my DLSA experience that I continue to carry with me is the sense of service that it instilled in us all. One of the core values was that of community – that we nurtured not only ourselves, but took responsibility for each other. This is something I continue to work toward with my own family. For example, each Christmas, we find a new organization and give our time. It is our gift to each other.
What also made the DLSA experience unique was the genuine care. Brother Brian said good morning to each student every morning. He remembered small things about your life and experience and would check in with you about them. He and all the other faculty members worked hard to make real connections with us. They were invested in us, not just as students, but as people. That is invaluable.
This year, I re-engaged with DLSA by joining the Alumni Council. Through my involvement with the Council, I hope to lend my voice and skills to help sustain the legacy of both excellent academics and care from which my classmates and I were able to benefit. When I visited the school recently, I was able to spend some time with the students, and saw that the same culture of individual support and community that impacted the course of my life remains a cornerstone of the DLSA experience.