Written by Kat Whitten, Director of Admissions
“Do we have a visitor today?”
“Is anyone coming to third grade this week?”
“I hope I get to be a buddy!”
These and other positive comments rang out this winter as CRS returned to welcoming prospective students for day-long visits in the classrooms as part of the admissions process. Each morning, our Otters stopped to read the chalkboard in the carpool circle to see who was visiting campus that day. In addition to being an important part of the admissions process for applicants, these visits allow our current students to hone their leadership skills as they welcomed others and practiced kindness.
Because Covid suspended admissions visits in the spring of 2020 and many of our students didn’t remember having classroom visitors, the Admissions Office collaborated with teachers to help our students understand the reason for these visits and to prepare them to be buddies for incoming students. Associate Director of Admissions Hannah Sokol and I went to each classroom to help brainstorm questions applicants might have, aspects of the day that might be confusing, and ways our students could put visitors at ease.
Responses spanned the gamut from practical concerns (where the bathrooms are located, making sure to introduce visitors to specialist teachers) to communicating CRS culture (games at recess, acronyms such as the ECB), to considering the emotions (nervousness, excitement) that visitors would be feeling. With empathy and care, each classroom articulated the way they would want to be treated and students gave thought to how they would act if chosen to be a buddy. Thus, even if a student didn’t have the opportunity to serve as an official host, they still knew the expectations and reflected on the ways they could help make the day a positive one for visitors.
It bears mentioning that some peer schools designate student ambassadors who handle hosting duties and are on tap to answer questions during admissions tours. CRS has chosen to go a different route, in part because we believe it is the responsibility of everyone on campus to create a welcoming atmosphere. Additionally, all of our students are experts in what they are learning and are trusted to speak honestly and authentically about their experiences. By allowing all students to take ownership of the visiting process, our Otters build their leadership and communication skills and recognize the important role they play in creating a welcoming and inclusive community.