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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Helen Heuer ’23 takes notes in AS Bio class.
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Helen Heuer ’23

Helen Heuer ’23 gave this talk on academics at St. Andrew's during Awards Night 2023

When people consider culture and community at St. Andrew's, nine out of ten times the Front Lawn or the dorms spring to mind. And while these places are undeniably integral settings for the outstanding culture of uplifting others that we enjoy at this school, the first place that comes to my mind is the classroom.

Each class has presented new challenges (some harder than others) and even newer ways of looking at the world, from freshman-year Biology and our fateful expeditions around the pond, to daunting Research Seminar peer-edit sessions. Cumulatively, they have shaped me into the scholar I am proud to be. But at the heart of the academics here lies a foundational understanding that transcends the transaction of knowledge we come to expect in the classroom. 

Recently, as I read Robert Klam’s short story titled “The Other Party” for Mr. Torrey’s small but mighty tutorial (Get it: tu-TORRY-al?), I found myself pausing on a line that I think describes the SAS academic philosophy at its core. As the narrator reflects on his life and its purpose, he recalls his neighbor’s words: “We are in this moment together, and that’s all there actually is”. This idea is, I think, what drives my classmates and teachers to engage so fully in each class, and what makes St. Andrews academics so profoundly beneficial in the development of exceptional community members as well as scholars. 

The way my peers and teachers throw themselves into their interactions within each class so meaningfully is often baked into the everyday routine. We are too deeply immersed in our collaborations and conversations to realize it. Nonetheless, it was these small moments stretching across countless periods that we spent chipping away together at Mr. Olana’s million-step calculus problems, restating Mr. Daly’s words for each other as we frantically transcribed his chem lessons, and passionately debated Toni Morrison’s Beloved on our way out of English class, that are responsible for our growth as communicators, leaders, and friends who uplift each other in our individual academic pursuits. 

This is an impressive feat that requires passionate learners whose drive for knowledge and academic success is matched by an equally strong dedication to the community they find themselves in. After all, it is one thing to approach a class with the utmost determination to succeed—to put one’s head down and study and sweat until finally, the semester ends and one is (hopefully) awarded one’s good grade. 

But it is quite another thing to do this same hard work with an intentional commitment to the present. To recognize the sanctity in the simple fact “that we are in this moment together”, and treat each class as a time of community gathering just as much as a chance for personal advancement. With this, we lift each other up and make the most of our privileged time in the classroom. 

I am especially grateful for this unique aspect of St. Andrew's academics as my time here comes to a close. When I look back on the countless hours I spent sitting in front of a whiteboard or around a big wooden table, I am confident that I learned far more from my interactions with my classmates than I would have with my independent efforts alone. I feel so lucky to have spent the last four years in such a community-oriented learning space, and I urge all of you returning students to make the very most of it in the coming years. 

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