A day in the life of the mind: Class of 2027 admitted students visit school


Amira Dossani

Naomi Yaeger, Staff Writer

Last week, 60 students admitted to the Class of 2027 visited the school for a taste of what being a student at the school is like.

Every admissions cycle, the school receives between 350 and 500 applications to the ninth grade, Assistant Director of Admissions Emily Cohen said. Out of the 40 to 60 students they choose to admit, they expect 60% to 69% will accept their offers, adding 35 to 40 new ninth graders to the grade.

After getting accepted to the school, admitted students are invited to spend half a day sitting in on classes. “When students get their ‘Congratulations! Welcome to Horace Mann’ admitted letter, they are given information on how to sign up for revisit days,” Cohen said. On revisit days, they learn about the culture of the school to help them decide if they want to attend.

Last Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, around 15 to 20 admitted students visited the school each day. Upon arrival, they split up into groups of four, each with a unique schedule and student ambassador guide. The 10 student ambassador leaders took turns touring the students. After D period, the visitors ate lunch with current eighth graders. They ended the day with a presentation from the Art and Athletics Department chairs, and a Q&A with student ambassador leaders.

Student ambassador leader Malcolm Furman (12) led two groups of students on Monday and Wednesday. After each period, Furman asked his group how the class went. “They seemed genuine in their interest in the school,” he said.

Some of the students can be intimidated by the seniors around them, student ambassador Ana Aguilar (12) said. “In those first few moments, it was more about making them feel comfortable and making sure that they feel like they can ask questions,” she said.

Many of the students in student ambassador Sari Sladkus’ (12) groups had questions about Project X. “It was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “It was a really good conversation starter with the students, and all my co-ambassador leaders were talking about how they had their students help them and be on the lookout for their target.” Sladkus convinced her visiting students to surround her as she walked them between classes.

When taking students around, Furman had to consider how to best describe the school, he said. “My goal was to present the school in the best way possible while also being true to the school’s community and culture,” he said. “They deserve to have a real understanding of what the school’s like, and if it’s not the right fit for them, then it’s not the right fit and they should see that upfront.”

To Sladkus, there was less pressure to “sell the school” to students during the revisiting process than during the tours for prospective students, she said. “In the Fall, we show visiting students the unique features of Horace Mann — like the steel drums room room,” she said. “This week was more to show them what a normal day at the school is like.

When placing visiting students into their groups, the Admissions Department asked them what type of courses they wanted to see to tailor their experience to those interests, Cohen said. “We tell students at the beginning of the day, you might be in a class where it goes totally over your head, and that’s okay! We just want to have you get a feel of what a classroom dynamic feels like,” she said. Students were encouraged to participate in these classes in any way they feel comfortable, whether that be through answering questions or through listening to the discussions happening around them, Cohen said.

Some of the students fit right in, Furman said. “There was one student that participated in a Precalculus Honors class and got the answer [to a question] right, despite most people in the class not being able to,” he said. “All the ambassadors were impressed that an eighth grader could do that.”

Others were excited to learn more about the topics presented in the class, student ambassador Steve Yang (12) said. “I took them to Art History, and they had this really lively discussion afterward about the Roman deity Bacchus compared to his Greek counterpart Dionysus,” he said. “The students are really intuitive and excited about the class,” he said.

Christian Brown, a newly admitted student, attended Global Environmental History, Environmental Science, Algebra II, and English 10. Sitting in the classes was a little shocking at first for Brown, he said. “The classrooms I usually see have rows of desks, but when I walked into these, there was a large, round, hardwood table,” he said. “The students were really focused in each class, reading carefully and discussing the material.”

Brown particularly enjoyed Global Environmental History. “We were learning a lot about certain solutions to climate change, which was pretty cool because that’s actually something I could provide my input on,” he said. Using his prior knowledge on environmental history, Brown was able to engage in the discussion, and ask questions about the class’ reading on solar geoengineering, he said.

Antoni Sawicki, who visited last Friday, took part in Biology, Atlantic World History, Algebra II & Trigonometry Honors, and 12th grade English elective What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. “In all of my classes, the students seemed both focused and interested. The teachers seemed really passionate about what they teach,” he said. “I didn’t understand all of the material, but the parts of it that I did understand, I enjoyed.”

The revisit process is one of the first times that admitted students can get a sense of what being a student at the school is like, Cohen said. During their tours, students meet a few faculty members for their interview, but no one else, she said. “We tell students, ‘it is so important that when you leave at the end of this day, you really feel like you have a sense of what Horace Mann is.”

The visit was a great way to learn about the day-to-day experience at the school, Sawicki said. “I really wanted to see what the students at Horace Mann were like. Since each class had different students, I think that I accomplished this.”

After his visit, Brown changed his mind about the school’s culture, he said. “At first, I thought that this school was good, but it also might be really, really difficult,” he said. “Now I see that there’s a wide-variety of students with a wide-variety of interests. When I got to interact with them and to talk to them, I began to feel less nervous about possibly attending the school.”