Congratulations Class of 2022!

Senior Profiles

Violet Hoppe

What are your post-graduation plans?

It’s gotten a little complicated with Covid. I’m going to hopefully go to FIT for Fine Arts. I was supposed to go to Cambodia to work in a Waldorf-inspired school that my sister and brother-in-law are involved with, but that’s looking like a very low possibility because of the Covid situation there.

What inspired you to pursue further education in the arts?

I’ve always been surrounded by art. I have three older siblings who also came to Hawthorne Valley, and they were always creating beautiful things and made me want to do the same. Being at a Waldorf school was also helpful since it’s so centered around art, and I was able to pursue being artistic and creating nice things with teachers to guide me. It made me feel like I could do more.

When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

My time spent with Mr. Kilb was so influential. I was only with the class in first and second grade and then seventh and eighth. At the 8th grade graduation, I don’t think we realized how much we would miss him. He was the perfect person for us at that time of our lives. I remember lots of walks in the woods and playing in the woods. It made it feel like such a magical place here.

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How do you feel Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

I wasn’t always the quickest student, especially with tests we had to take, and I used to be overwhelmed at the idea of speaking in front of people. I feel I’ve gained confidence in myself because of the time teachers gave me. There was less pressure, and it helped me build my social skills.

What do you hope you and your generation will contribute to the world as you step out on this next phase of your journey?

I think we all bring an open-mindedness when we interact with our parents’ generation, and can bring new ideas to the table.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say about your time at HVS that I haven’t asked you about?

Hawthorne Valley is such a great place to grow up, and I think that’s because of the community. It’s not such a big school with hundreds and hundreds of students so you can really get to know everyone. A lot of teachers know us individually because we’re able to spend so much time with them.

Gaetano Hamiltion

What are you post-graduation plans?

I will be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, dual-majoring in Design, Innovation, and Society, along with Mechanical Engineering.

What’s led you to that path?

I’ve always enjoyed making things, and I’m interested in the intersection of art, science, and technology.

What do you hope you and your generation will contribute to the world as you step out on this next phase of your life’s journey?

Well, I’m especially excited about the Design, Innovation, and Society program at RPI because of its socially conscious aspect. I am hoping that I will be able to use design to positively impact the world.

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How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

In my case, learning different ways of crafting—sewing a doll in kindergarten, learning to knit, stone carving, forging, and woodworking—contributed to my interest and skills in designing and making things.

When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

Playing John Adams in the 8th grade class play was a memorable experience for me. It was a much larger part than I was hoping for (that’s what happens when you’re absent on the day Mr. Kilb gives out parts), but it ended up being a great experience.

Ayaka Suesada

What are you post-graduation plans?

After graduating I plan on attending college (I have not decided where quite yet) where I intend on studying kinesiology/exercise science and business, but I am also very open to different areas of studies and would like to try taking many different classes.

What’s led you to that path?

Growing up I have always enjoyed being active, and eventually I began working out. At first it was with a toxic mindset of fixing my “imperfections,” and I was not exercising effectively, but over time I have learned to value myself, exercising properly (still have much to learn) and now use exercise as an outlet for myself. I want to study kinesiology/exercise science to help people truly understand how to understand the movements of the body, and help people find confidence.

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What do you hope you and your generation will contribute to the world as you step out on this next phase of your life’s journey?

I think our generation is very aware, both in a negative and positive way, but I think because our generation is hyperaware, we notice many things, and we begin to notice the real problems in our world. Additionally, I think global connectivity is something that is extremely prevalent in today’s society especially with things like social media. It is very easy for people to get information, and being able to connect with people all over the globe is huge and was not something that was accessible 100 years ago. I think things like social media can be very dangerous, but I also think a lot of good has come from it (as well as a lot of bad), but I truly hope our generation will enact the change to heal our world.

How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

I think Waldorf education is very special because it provides a close-knit community where people learn to love and respect each other. It has taught me unique ways to approach problems and navigate situations. My favorite things about Waldorf education is how it really prioritizes you and takes into account the human mind and body, which is something I don’t think you get at other schools.

When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

The events that jump out to me are things like all the fairs, concerts, assemblies, and Rose Ceremonies when everyone was together. I personally love when everyone comes together, and I think that stems from my upbringing in a Camphill community. Additionally, our 8th grade trip to Canada where we canoed, portaged, and camped in the Canadian wilderness with our class teacher Mr. Kilb—that was truly an adventure.

Ingrid Pilgrim

What are you post-graduation plans?

After I graduate, I plan to attend Skidmore College to mostly study studio arts. The first semester this fall, I am going to London with a group of 36 students who are also in their first semester.

What’s led you to that path?

I have always enjoyed painting and drawing, and going to Hawthorne Valley allowed me to explore that. What led me to Skidmore in the end though, was deciding to apply early decision because of great reviews of it from various people either connected through the school or otherwise.

What do you hope you and your generation will contribute to the world as you step out on this next phase of your life’s journey?

I hope that we can set a good example for the next generation, and I hope we can learn to think for ourselves. The best I can hope for though, is that we do not do too much damage for following generations.

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How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

I think that Waldorf Education has prepared me by educating me but also by educating me about myself. There are variations in classes from math to painting, and I could figure out where I excelled and what I most enjoyed. Main lesson books were always difficult, but I think it taught me what to take away from a class’s material.

When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

Some of the nicest memories were of my classmates because, as a small group, we got the chance to get to know each other really well. But I also had fun in play blocks, which for some reason I remember the clearest.

Violet Middlebrook

What are your post-graduation plans?

I’m going to study art at Pratt in NYC. I applied as a painting major but that could easily change, I want to explore a lot of different majors.

What’s led you to that path?

I’ve always been interested in pursuing art as I’ve been surrounded by it my whole life. Both my parents and grandparents are artists and art has always been an integral part of my education. But I honestly didn’t seriously consider it as a career until lockdown when I had pretty much nothing else to do besides create things. Then I realized it was something I really loved doing, and that I wanted to pursue out of my own volition and not simply because it had been assumed that was what I would do my whole life. This distinction was very important for me.

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What do you hope you and/or your generation will contribute to the world as you step out on this next phase of your life’s journey?

I hope we will contribute kindness and a greater awareness to each other and the beings that surround us. There is some drastic healing that needs to take place, both of our community and environment. I hope that my generation can help with this healing and start to unify these two elements. I believe we need to stop seeing ourselves as separate from nature, that this is the only way forward, without this step we will both perish.

How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

Well to build off the last response it has given me a very deep appreciation for nature and the experience of interacting with it. I have begun to feel like less of an intruder and more of a guest. I feel I know how to exist in a way that occupies minimal space, that allows me to truly observe. I think that is such a valuable skill in general but especially when applied while interacting with nature. The world allows you to see so many beautiful things if you let it, so many intricate patterns and relationships, so many delicate practices.

When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

Probably when we went on our canoe trip in 8th grade, where we spent 10 days canoeing and camping in the Canadian wilderness. It really was such an incredible opportunity that I don’t think I would have had many other places. We took a water plane! It was insane, I felt like a nature photographer with an assignment from National Geographic.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share about your time at HVS?

I think also just seeing such a broad and multifaceted community functioning so well and harmoniously has been really inspiring. The Hawthorne Valley Association is like its own little ecosystem, and it’s very exciting to be a part of that.

Luke Cichowlaz

What are your post-grad plans?

I plan to attend the University of Oregon to get a psychology degree to become a therapist.

What’s led you to that path?

I’m not sure to be entirely honest. I have always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind.

What do you hope you and/or your generation will contribute to the world as you step out on this next phase of your life’s journey?

I hope that our generation will create a safe and sustainable Earth. I hope that we can preserve our time on this planet and repair the damages done.

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How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

With a focus on the arts and a learning style that encourages individual thinking and problem-solving, Waldorf Education has taught me to think both critically and creatively. 

When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

The day that I visited the school was the advent assembly… if that didn’t scare me away nothing would.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share about your time at HVS?

I have been in public schools, private schools, and home school, but Waldorf was by far my favorite. I love the relaxing feeling that the school has cultivated with a mutual respect between students and teachers.

Lila Porcelly

What are your post-graduation plans?

Next year I plan on going to art school and majoring in illustration. I am currently deciding between Massart or FIT.

What’s led you to that path?

I’ve always loved making art and being creative. I especially like illustration because it allows you to tell a story through visual art.

How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

Going to a Waldorf school has definitely given me a strong foundation in the arts. I feel really grateful to have been able to get explore art in many different forms such as stained glass, metal work, jewelry making, and weaving.

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When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

One of the things that stands out to me when I think back at my time at HVS is the time spent in nature. Some of my best memories from early childhood are of exploring the school’s woods. I am also really grateful for the amazing teachers I’ve had.

Sylvie Bergquist

What are your post grad plans?

After I graduate, I will be attending Barnard College in Manhattan.  I still haven’t completely decided what I will be studying, but it will likely be psychology related.  I feel like I don’t have a clear idea yet of all the possibilities that are out there, so I’m very excited to have the opportunity to explore and develop new interests.  

What’s led you to that path?

I knew that I wanted to have the experience of living in a city, but also still be somewhere that has a close-knit campus feel.  So, Barnard seemed pretty perfect.  I am also excited about all of the research and science lab opportunities that are available for under grads.  I’m very interested in studying how and why the human mind functions in the way that it does, and to try and better understand mental illness and the different ways that we can work to remedy it.

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 How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

I think that a main way in which Waldorf education has prepared me for the future has been in my problem-solving skills.  It has taught me to approach problems in different ways and to eventually come to a creative and maybe unexpected solution.  I also feel like I have a good basic grasp of many different subjects.  It’s been very beneficial for me to have to continue to work with areas that I was not necessarily immediately good at, and I feel very well-rounded and ready for any new experience that may come my way as a result of this.  

When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

Definitely all of the class trips that we went on over the years really stand out to me, but specifically our 7th grade trip to the Hulbert Center in Fairlee, Vermont.  It was rainy and cold and muddy the whole week, but we had a lot of fun and I feel like we bonded a lot as a class.

Zoe Jansen

What are your post-graduation plans?

I plan to take a gap year, to work and travel and take some time to explore my interests.

What’s led you to that path?

I applied and was accepted to some really great schools that I was very interested in, but ultimately, I felt like taking some time for myself would be the smartest thing to do, personally and financially.

How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

I think Waldorf has prepared me for the future by giving me a very artistic and creative education, providing me with the knowledge and tools needed as well as the space to operate within my artistic sensibilities, and allowing me to develop new skills and passions.

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When you think of your time at HVS, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

The time spent with my class — these people have been near, and incredibly dear, to me for years now. We’ve become such a strong, strange little family, and I’m already feeling very nostalgic for all the time we’ve spent getting to know each other.

Dezjuan Smith

What are your post grad plans?

I’m going to go to SUNY Purchase to get a BFA in Photography.

What’s led you to that path?

I feel like I’ve always had a creative spirit. I love stories and reading and watching movies. I find visual media combined with storytelling really compelling. I was hoping to get more into filmmaking and started with photography as a springboard to that, but I fell into photography and have been working with my camera pretty consistently for the past two years.

What do you hope your generation will contribute to the world as you step out on the next phase of your journey?

It’s hard to say, and I don’t want to give my generation too much praise, but I think it has a lot of sensitivity. That can be good and bad, but I think our ability to be sensitive is very powerful and is starting to shift our current society and expand viewpoints. It’s helping people trust and relate to each other more. It’s like there’s been a reset with Covid and a lot has come up about relationships and intimacy and love, but in a different way from the 60s kind of love. It’s deeper than that related to diversity. My generation has grown up within that energy started by the millennials, and we’re changing things. I’m hopeful it’s for the better, but it’s definitely change.

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How do you feel your time at Hawthorne Valley has prepared you for the future?

I transferred from the Hudson City School District in 10th grade. I grew up in Hudson and hadn’t had any connection to Hawthorne Valley before. One of the first times I was on campus was the first day of school. I’m a creative person but I struggled in class so people said I should try an arts-based school. I’d always been surrounded by my community and never been a minority culture, but here I’m very much so. I had to develop a resistance to that. It made me angry that the way of the world makes it so there aren’t more people like me in these spaces—I’m one of like two Black people in the high school. I also learned a lot about wealth and the access to resources. I now have friends with greater access to wealth and resources than I have, but I’m now benefiting from that in a way that others my community don’t. I have a greater understanding of how wealth works, how comfortability and whiteness moves through a space. I’ve heard about it all my life but now have experienced it, and I know what I want to change, what I want to uplift, and what I want to bring back to my community.

When you think about the two years you’ve spent at Hawthorne Valley, what stands out as a defining memory for you?

I think of spring as it warms up and everything is vibrant and green. We’re chilling outside to eat lunch and seeing all these kids running around so happy. That circles back to what I was saying before about being angry, not in a resentful way or anything like that, but I want to see more students of color here or be a part of active change with the public schools to give all kids access to nature and the sense of playfulness that’s here.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say about your time at HVS that I haven’t asked you about?

I mean, I’ve had a good time here. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and learned a lot about myself through others—that symbiosis. I’ve learned so much about connectivity to other humans, and I want to bring that back to the world.

Quinn Haley

What are your post-graduation plans?

I will be attending St Johns College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

How do you think Waldorf Education has prepared you for the future?

I’m most grateful for the deeply artistic perspective Hawthorne Valley has emphasized in every field we explore. Seeking the intrinsic beauty built into every subject–from astronomy to chemistry to math–has allowed me to feel excited about subjects that usually wouldn’t interest me as much.