Juliette “JJ” A.
Class of 2025
As the temps continue to dip, we’re dreaming of starry summer nights in the Adirondacks with Juliette “JJ” A. ’25, a 10th grade boarder from Wallingford, CT. Read on to learn more about JJ’s trouble loving cats, the fun in celebrating the seasons, and the beauty of finding your voice.
My hometown is Wallingford, CT, USA, a nice little town between New Haven and Hartford. It’s probably most well known for the big private school in the area, Choate Rosemary Hall, which happens to be where my mom teaches French! Whenever I go home for the weekend, I love listening to 80s music with my dad during the long drive home. My twin brother, Henry, has always been at least half an inch taller than me all my life, to my dismay. My little brother, Chris, always loves to play fighter video games with me whenever I go home. We make quite the player 1 and 2 combo! We also have two trouble loving cats, Pebble and Whispers, one who is an aspiring escape artist with how many times he’s booked it out the back door the second my back was turned, and the other who claims as many laps as possible as his own for sitting on.
I first learned about Emma from my grandmother, Sylvia Van Sinderen ’69, and from my parents, who got married here in the year 2000. For the majority of my early childhood, I wanted to go to high school where my mom taught, as I knew the area and people like the back of my hand. As high school drew nearer, however, I realized that Choate wasn’t the best match for me education-wise. So, instead of being stuck on staying in the place I’d grown up, I took a leap into a legend I’d heard about from my grandma for ages, and boy, was it worth it.
Stepping onto Emma campus for the very first time was amazing, and I knew then and there that I wanted to be a student here. What I didn’t know, though, was that being away from home for the first time in my life would be tough, and during those first six months I thought of quitting and going back home a lot. Events like Fall Fest where I officially befriended Anna W. ’25, wearer of many hats, made it better. Choir with Dr. Spiro-Allen helped me lose my shyness about my voice, whether musically or in class. And my freshman advisory with Ms. McGivern, where I bonded with Kaeya H. ’25 over a love of D&D, finally convinced me to at least stick around until Revels. Once the candle pages set foot into the manor house, those thoughts never came back.
There’s a sense of community here—I know it gets said a lot, but it’s true. Like, even when you feel alone, someone’s holding your hand in spirit. Like the moment you said the words, “I need help,” 360 students and many more faculty and teachers would listen, and do just that. Like that song and dance about history would last eternally. That’s what convinced me to stay, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made before or since.
On Finding Peace in the Adirondacks…
Every summer, around July or August, my family takes a week-long trip to a cabin in the Adirondack mountains, where we sit by the lake sipping hot cocoa, run through the woods playing tag, or sit down after a long day to play a good old game of Balderdash or Mastermind. The area’s surrounded by mountains, so we don’t have any cell service or Wi-Fi. It’s almost like a forced break from life’s shenanigans to get to finally make some of your own. The Adirondacks has to be my all-time favorite on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve learned how to light and care for a campfire, and string up mosquito nets. I’ve learned how to canoe and kayak, to swim through frigid mountain spring brooks, and gained the endurance to hike for hours on end without complaint. I’ve even learned how to just sit still.
Something I’d still like to learn, though, is carpentry. I want to learn how to build something as simple as a birdhouse or as grand as a treetop fortress. I’ve been spending the night in lean-tos under the stars for a week every year of my life, and it would be so cool if I could build them with just an idea, some wood, a bunch of tools, and the knowledge to use them.
On Fiber Arts…
Recently, I took up crocheting thanks to my wonderful and vibrant roommate, Sadie O. ’24. I don’t know much about it, but discovering one of many fiber arts made me very curious about all the others, and there are so many! Knitting, sewing, felting, braiding or plaiting, macramé, embroidery, and literally SO MANY others, it’s kind of insane. I also recently got a literal lyre for a holiday present. Your eyes do not deceive you, I mean an actual, freaking, lyre. Like the instrument Apollo plays, that lyre. I am 110% looking forward to learning how to play that bad boy with my awesome roomie!
On May Day Celebrations…
You wound me, how could I ever possibly choose just one? Revels might be the most obvious option, but in all honesty, May Day is probably my number one choice. I got to perform in the maypole dance last year with The Snappletar, and everyone’s favorite wizard, Annabethius W. Kneecaps. Code names, aren’t they wonderful? Anyway, it’s a day to celebrate how funky nature is and dance around a colorful stick, who wouldn’t love it?
Thank you, JJ, for sharing your experience at Emma Willard School! We look forward to seeing the impact you will have as you serve and shape our world!