Students, staff reflects on past year at school


Photo by Gurnoor Kaur

Principal Doug Nelson celebrates with students during a boys’ basketball playoff game this year.

As summer break seems closer than ever, both students and staff are reflecting on the ending school year. This year, the school welcomed new Principal Douglas Nelson, and experienced success both academically and athletically.

A highlight for students has been the successful sports seasons of teams here Senior Anusha Iyer will be competing in the state tournament with junior Naomi Esterowitz for girls’ tennis. “The highlight of my tennis season so far is probably winning regionals and celebrating with the team . . . it was a great way to start the postseason,” Iyer said.
As the year winds down, Nelson remembered some of his favorite moments from his first year here. “There are so many, but some real standouts were welcoming the freshmen, the hot dog eating contest . . . and student-run events like POTH were really enjoyable,” Nelson said.

Being a new principal can come with challenges, even more so when there are new members of administration and leadership, as there was this year. “There were of course challenges because individuals are new and because you have to figure out and learn as you go. Inevitably sometimes you trip, but being new is also a real opportunity because there is a lot to learn and grow,” Nelson said.

New initiatives began this year regarding mental health. Advisory lessons gave students tools to combat stress and the school also welcomed social worker Ms. Alexis Branham. “The ILT team is looking at advisory with mental health and cultural presentations. One very defining program is the Bridge to Wellness and also Ms. Branham, both have been laying a foundation and in their second year, we will really grow those programs,” Nelson said.

This school year was also accompanied by a rise of antisemitism and hate county-wide. At this school, swastikas were found on desks this winter. Nelson continues to respond to all forms of hate when they appear at school. “I can connect this to hate in general. When those instances happen, it is challenging because you have to respond to what has happened, but also have to respond to the adaptive nature of the situation. It has not been easy, but in most challenges, I feel like there are places to grow and places to go. Wootton is a No Place for Hate school next year, and we will continue calling it out,” Nelson said.

Graduation for the class of 2023 is quickly approaching, and Nelson had words of advice as they move forward. “My first piece of advice to them as a whole is don’t lose the energy and spirit you showed up with; the world needs it because there is lots to drag you down. Next piece, don’t lean out, lean in. There is a lot that is tough, and the world really needs to lean in on things we need to change,” Nelson said.

Students are excited for next school year and hope for a continuation of the school spirit experienced this year. “Next year I am looking forward to being more active in spirit weeks,” sophomore Anna Jeyachandran said.