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The Westminster Bi-Line

The Westminster Bi-Line

Open house welcomes future students

Although Westminster is widely known for its academic excellence, it is often difficult to truly understand the dynamics of the school without actively experiencing it. Westminster open houses serve as a way to genuinely and effectively present the school to prospective students and families while allowing them to get a feel for the school. This year, the high school hosted its annual open house on Saturday, Dec. 3.

“I turn it over to the ambassadors because the goal is for people to really get a chance to see the school in its authenticity. The students are the best people to help them understand that.”

The open house is always held on a Saturday afternoon to ensure that visitors have a chance to thoroughly get a feel for the campus and to have as many of their questions answered as possible. This year, approximately 160 people attended. The open house began with an orchestral piece, performed by senior cellist Scott Peters, senior violinist Debbie Shim, junior violinist Timothy Shu, and sophomore violist Katherine Hur. Next, president Bill Clarkson opened with a prayer, which was followed by principal Ross Peters’s quick overview of the afternoon. In addition, each of the ambassadors discussed some of the activities in which they participate to help applicants learn about the types of activities that are available and might interest them at Westminster. Four ambassadors shared more insight about their experiences at Westminster through stories, expressing what the school means to them on a more personal level. Lastly, the visitors were sent on campus tours led by ambassadors. Again, students were the leaders and guided the tours while answering any questions that came up.

“The main goals during the tour are to talk about the philosophy of the school and to let people have experiences with the students who are the ambassadors,” said senior ambassador Caroline James. “It’s important to not only see the facilities but also to interact with the students to see how those facilities are used, and what kinds of activities the students do.”

The students visiting usually respond well to the open houses because they are provided with a clearer picture of all that the school might offer them and the activities in which they might be able to involve themselves.

“The Westminster open house made me see all the wonderful opportunities this school offers, and encouraged me to strive for this excellent school,” said sophomore Kendall Parks, who is new to Westminster this year.

The campus tours and one-on-one time with student ambassadors are designed to make applicants feel as comfortable as possible on campus and in the admissions process.

“The other main goal is to make people feel comfortable,” said James. “We all went through the admissions process and know how important it is to have good experiences the few times that you are on campus visiting. When you come in, you want to feel welcome, you want to feel like it’s home, and that it’s the right place to be.”

Mitchell stresses the importance of creating a comfortable atmosphere and exhibiting the school accurately at each open house.

“Our hope is that the visitors have an authentic experience, meaning they get to see the school exactly how it is,” said Mitchell. “High school should be the best four years of your life, and if you don’t end up in a place where you are able to fit in and enjoy some activities, you’re pretty much going to be lonely, and that’s awful. We want to make sure people have a chance to talk to our students to see if we would be of interest to them.”

Each year, visitors are always interested and enthusiastic.

“We have to beg people to leave because they are having such a good time!” said Mitchell. “So far, we have had five or six e-mails saying that it was wonderful and incredible and that we have the best students.”

The event also proves to be a worthwhile experience for the ambassadors. James has served as an admissions ambassador for each of her four years in high school.

“I tend to feel more proud of Westminster, and I think that all Westminster students, faculty, and administration have every right to be proud of [the school],” said James. “So many people here are so smart, so we have a really intellectually engaging environment. We also have people that are really incredible, not just intellectually—people who are doing amazing things, or are really good at sports, or just making a difference in the world.”

Since James is also involved in the interview process, she has met a diverse range of enthusiastic people. When meeting the potential students, she loves seeing the passion that shines through them as they speak about their goals for the future.

“I always come out of interviews thinking, ‘Wow, we’re going to be really lucky to have these kids,’” said James. “They have dreams, and it’s really fun to see what they want to do—and [know] that Westminster can help them get there.”

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