On Saturday May 2, the Academic Office will host Academic Program Day for newly enrolled students. Before that, the Academic Office will email you with more details about this event and ask you to complete a placement questionnaire. Basically, the goal for May 2 is to learn more about you as a student and give you a chance to learn more about the academic program at Dana. You will take placement tests, which are one of the tools department heads use to figure out the best course placements. You won’t need to study or prepare for the tests! Dana’s philosophy is to build a schedule that will stretch and challenge you, but not break you. You will also have the chance to meet individually with Ms. Keimowitz, Director of the Upper School; Ms. Welch, Assistant Director of the Upper School; or Ms. Jacobs, Academic Dean, in order to select your elective courses for next year and have all of your questions answered about Dana’s curriculum. If you can’t make it to campus on May 2, don’t worry! The Academic Office will be in touch with you by email so that you don’t miss anything.
Using iPads allows us to think differently and organize our materials better, but we still use computers sometimes. Some students bring their own laptops to class in addition to their iPads, and use computers at home or in their dorms. Dana Hall has desktops and laptops for us to use at school as well. The iPad is required because you will use it to create projects with apps like Book Creator and iMovie. Dana Hall uses Schoology as its learning management system, which works on all devices. Our teachers post their course syllabi, resources and assignments in Schoology, and we submit all of our work through Schoology. It’s so great to be able to communicate with our teachers through Schoology and to have a consistent place to turn to for current information about our classes.
Dana Hall teachers are passionate, creative, approachable, committed and knowledgeable! They love teaching girls and know how to bring out the best in us. They challenge us — expecting us to dive deeply, think critically and creatively, and seek out inspiring challenges. When a student takes initiative and seeks help, Dana teachers respond and offer their support. They believe in us and want to see us succeed. They see us for the individuals that we are and they make us feel like our opinions matter.
Dana Hall participates in exchange programs with three international girls’ schools: Ruyton School in Melbourne, Australia, the Tokyo Jogakkan School in Tokyo, Japan, and the Sansueña School in Zaragoza Spain. In addition, Dana Hall sponsors trips abroad that are guided by faculty and typically take place during Spring Break. This Spring Break we have a large group of students and faculty going to South Africa, and in past years trips have gone to Italy, Greece, France, and China. Dana Hall is also a member school of School Year Abroad, School for Ethics and Global Leadership, and High Mountain Institute.
Every new student is assigned a faculty or staff member who serves as her individual advisor. We meet with our advisors regularly, both with a small group of other students and one-on-one, to talk about all aspects of school life; they also help us plan our academic program. After 9th grade, we provide input about our ideal advisor, and we are matched with a new advisor in 10th grade. We usually stay with this advisor through graduation. Though 9th and 10th graders (and their families) can check in with the college counselors as needed, the college process really begins for students at the beginning of the second trimester of the junior year, when all juniors start meeting weekly in small classes with one of the college counselors. They cover topics ranging from college research and putting together a list, to the ins and outs of campus visits, to brainstorming essay topics, to financial aid and scholarships. In December, juniors are assigned to a college counselor, and they meet one-on-one at least three times before the end of May.
Officially, three hours of homework per week are expected for each major course (one that meets 4-5 a week). AP and Honors Classes may have additional work. Minor courses (meeting 1-3 times a week) may have up to one and a half hours of homework per week. Of course these times are averages, and the time it takes to finish assignments will vary for different students. We also have a decent amount of time during the day when we can get started on our homework and ask our teachers questions, so not all homework has to be done “at home.”
Our teachers and college counselors really care about what comes next for students after we leave Dana Hall. The college counselors support students from the beginning to the end of the process. They advocate for us with representatives from the colleges that we apply to and they do their best to minimize the anxiety and pressure that many of us (and our families!) feel during junior and senior year. The goal isn't to send every student to one type of college or university, but instead to help each girl discover the right school for her.
Playing a team sport is a natural and easy way to meet new friends and build connections. Many student-athletes actually say that they are more productive and manage their time better when they are in season. While many of our athletes go on to compete in college, you don’t have to be an expert to play sports at Dana. We have different levels of teams that allow students to try a new sport. Though students are encouraged to be active in athletics, sometimes rosters may be capped in order to ensure a balance across the athletic program. Of course, there are alternatives to playing a team sport. You might decide to try a team sport one or two seasons and opt to take a fitness elective or participate in the play or musical in other seasons.
There are so many opportunities to be a part of all aspects of the performing arts at Dana! You might decide to explore the contributions of women throughout history to music in our Women in Music class; try countless types of dance in our Dance classes; or participate in the Upper School Chorus. You might enjoy our acting, playwriting and directing class called To Hold The Mirror Up to Nature. If you want to be a choreographer, you can audition for our Dance Repertory Group and contribute to our big dance concert. If you play an instrument, you can explore the chamber ensemble possibilities through our School of Music. We also believe that Dana girls will be the next generation of stage managers, scenic and lighting designers and producers. You can take our Tech Theater class and build scenery and program our light board for the shows we do!
Each year, we have a Play, Musical, Student-Directed Play, and Festival of New Work (written by students in the “Mirror” class). There is also a Choral Tribute Concert to a famous pop artist each year; a touring audition-based group called the Chamber Singers, a Flute Choir, a major Dance concert and two informal showings; a major music concert in the spring; and performances woven into nearly every tradition, assembly, service event, or ceremony we have at Dana.
Dana Hall varsity teams compete in the Eastern Independent League (EIL). Dana Hall teams also play many inter-league games against ISL schools. The EIL's eleven member schools compete in a number of sports in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).
The best athletes at Dana are girls! It’s pretty powerful to play sports at an all-girls school and know that all of the first-class facilities and resources (athletic trainers, weight room, uniforms) go to our female athletes. Our teams don’t have to compete with the boys teams on campus for practice times or access to the weight room. We are the athletes; we are the priority!
We are: Loud. Proud. Fierce. Formidable. Caring. Clever. Kind. Loyal. Fun. And there’s 465 of us on this campus, so when you add that all up, the school spirit can be pretty amazing. (Did we say loud?) We like to support each other and celebrate the important moments and victories big and small, so there’s a lot of cheering, yelling, clapping, high fives and hugs at games, performances, presentations and awards ceremonies. Of course we also know when it’s time to be serious and focus on the main reason we are here — learning.
You will find out who your roommate is and meet her on move-in day, which makes move-in day even more exciting. In the coming months, you will complete a Roommate Questionnaire, which will help the Student Affairs and Admission offices match you with someone they think will be compatible with you. Come with an open mind because sometimes the best roommates are the ones you never imagined for yourself. Even though you will not know your roommate over the summer, you will have your Big Sister reaching out to you. She is a great person for you to ask questions and get advice from as you prepare for school, and she will be there to welcome you during Opening Days.
All dorm rooms have a bed, bureau, desk, chair, bookshelf, closet, room phone and lock box (for securing small valuable items). You can personalize your space, but you may want to meet your roommate before making these choices. There will be time and opportunity during the opening week of school to make a Target or Staples run. Dana provides shuttle rides to Route 9 in Natick, where many retail stores are located and you can buy supplies after you arrive on campus.
Our Student Affairs Office will provide a more detailed packing list in the coming months.
During short holidays when the dorms close, you are free to arrange your own travel plans with your friends and/or family. If students are not able to go home, the School can help arrange for them to stay with a host family. Hostsare current Dana Hall day student and local boarding families. At times, there are Upper School-wide trips offered during those short holidays.
Students are allowed to visit Boston on the weekends if their parent/guardian has granted them permission to do so. We are a 5-10 minute walk to the commuter rail that goes directly to Boston, so that is typically the easiest way to get to the city. The list of things to do there is endless: visit the MFA or another museum, go ice skating in Boston Common, shop around Newbury Street, visit China- or Korea-town, or just grab a meal or treats! Student Affairs also coordinates a variety of Weekend Activities, and many of these trips include traveling to Boston.
Because Dana’s campus is so close to the center of Wellesley, students often take advantage of the amenities in town including the town library, post office, banks and pharmacies. In addition, Wellesley has a college town charm, offering bookstores, cafes, pizza shops, shopping and Truly’s (our spot for fro-yo). Students have the freedom and independence to walk to town when they are free during the week or weekends. They just have to sign out and in each time they go.
Each of the dorms is its own small community, with its own characteristics that may change from year to year, depending on the girls who live there. The four Johnston dorms are mostly comprised of underclassmen, while the house dorm, Wheeler, is typically for juniors and seniors. Several upperclassmen do choose to live in the Johnstons, where they can snag a snazzy single. Each dorm has proctors, who are student leaders who help maintain the rules of the dorm and serve as mentors and friends to younger students. Dorms have shared kitchens, bathrooms and “hang out” places with TVs, books and games. Residents come together for weekly dorm meetings and dorm snacks. Each dorm has two adults living there: a House Director and a House Assistant.
There is a student laundry room located in the basement of the Johnston dorms. Since the Johnstons are all connected, the laundry room is used by the residents of Johnston A, B, C and D. There are multiple washers and dryers, and drying racks. Wheeler also has washers and dryers. No need to bring spare change or purchase a laundry card — laundry facilities are free of charge!
Evening Study Hall differs from grade to grade, but the time is the same for everyone: 7-9 p.m. Ninth graders attend Evening Study Hall in the Lecture Hall and must check in with the Evening Study Hall proctor. All 10th, 11th and 12th grade boarding students have in-room Evening Study Hall in their dorm, and may sign out to the Computer Lab, the Library or Classroom Building (seniors only), as needed. All students can take advantage of extra help in evening Writing, Math and Science Labs. Seniors can study in another room or dorm with other seniors. The dorms are silent during this time.
It seems like it would feel strange and different, but what’s different is how comfortable and natural you feel — you can talk about anything with peers and teachers in an all-girls environment. Going to an all-girls school gives you a sense of freedom and relief that you can be yourself and be proud of who you are. You don’t have to work hard to get to know your classmates and girls from other grades; the whole school feels like a family. It is so much easier to speak up in class because you’re not worried about being judged. Your daily routine is less about impressing others and more about learning. Your self-esteem and confidence will skyrocket and you can use this confidence when you find yourself in co-ed spaces. Dana teachers celebrate girls; they believe we’re smart and that we will play a critical role in our world’s future — and that’s pretty cool. Not only do you feel support from your teachers, but also from all of the students. The girls at Dana want you to succeed and everyone is willing to help. It is truly an environment that cultivates positive thinking, hard work and passion. We challenge one another in a good way. And as cliche as it sounds, there is a real sisterhood here, which means less drama and more opportunity to fully focus on yourself and your schoolwork.
Nearly every girl who applies to Dana wonders what it will feel like to go to a single-sex school. In your day-to-day school life, you honestly won’t see many boys, but that’s the point, right? Outside of the school day, however, there are plenty of boys in the Dana world — acting in school plays, joining community service projects, engaging in health and wellness programming, competing on the co-ed fencing team, cheering athletes on the field, and attending dances, trivia events and movie nights. Though Dana students find a way to meet boys on their own just fine, Dana has great relationships with other independent day and boarding schools in the Boston area. It’s common for Dana to get invited to a dance at another school, in which case, the dance becomes one of the weekend activities. Students can then sign up to attend the dance and Dana provides transportation and a chaperone.
Dana Hall’s Community Service Program focuses on the development of empathy, respect and responsibility. We get involved with people beyond our community, which helps us develop an awareness of a broad range of local and global issues. There are school-wide events — contributing to a local food pantry for Thanksgiving meals, day of service, various drives and fundraisers — and then there are individual service placements. Dana girls have served at a variety of organizations, including: hospitals, women’s shelters, youth programs, animal shelters, food pantries and environmental organizations. Examples of weekly school-sponsored trips — both after school and on weekend — include sorting and packaging donations for children in need, assisting with therapeutic riding for children with special needs, and mentoring young students at a nearby elementary school. Tenth grade students are required to complete a total of 20 hours of community service by the end of their sophomore year.
First, you should know that all weekend opportunities are open to day and boarding students. Members of the Student Activities Club help plan weekend activities, which consists of both structured and unstructured opportunities for students to mingle, relax, recharge, socialize and learn. Weekend activities often include movie/mall trips, community service trips, restaurant and museum trips, and fun cultural experiences. Recent activities have included a trip to the Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, public skating at Babson College, participation in Blueprint-- a weekend-long learnathon and hackathon for local high school students held at MIT's campus, lunch in Koreatown, volunteer work at the Red Cross Food Pantry, and skiing at Mount Sunapee.
We join, lead and love clubs. There are several staples that continue from year to year, but the list changes to reflect student interest, so yes, if you have an idea for a new club, you can form one, with the approval of Student Council and the Deans. Some of the biggest clubs are Model UN, the International Students Association, SHADES (multicultural alliance) and Blue Key (Admission tour guides).
If you are wondering how boarding and day students engage with one another, read what current day student Jocelyn and current boarding student Rachael have to say about our unique community.
"As a day student at Dana Hall, I have become really close with students from all different backgrounds and cultures. We are a tight-knit community, and some of my best friends are boarders. You can find me hanging out in their rooms, having dinner with them in the Dining Center, and going off campus on a number of different weekend activities. I often choose to stay for Evening Study Hall so I can study with my friends, who are both boarding and day students. I have formed meaningful connections with so many classmates and gained invaluable perspective. It's so much fun to be in an environment where we can eat, learn, and live together." (Jocelyn '20, a day student from Concord, MA)
“As an international student, Dana Hall was a whole new world for me. Once I got to know a lot of the day students I realized why I liked having them around. A friend, a day student who lives in Sudbury, took me apple picking. I had never been or heard of apple picking; we don't have it in Jamaica. It was a really cool experience to have and it gave me a glimpse into a new culture. Having day students as friends is nice because it gives you the chance to get away from school and experience new things.” (Rachael ’21, a boarding student from Kingston, Jamaica)
We love our traditions, which are unique to Dana Hall, even though they are sometimes hard to explain if you haven't been through it yourself. Every class in the Upper School has at least one, so it is pretty amazing to see a whole class work together to figure out logistics and group dynamics. Talk about a sisterhood! These traditions connect us to each other, but also to all the Dana alumnae who have come before us. So, yes, when you participate in Revels as a Junior, it’s the same Revels play that has been performed since 1921. Isn’t that cool?
This is a place that encourages girls to get to know themselves and their unique skills and talents, particularly when it comes to leadership. There’s almost always a chance to lead, if you’re willing to step forward. Most leadership positions are shared, such as co-heads or co-presidents. It's an exercise in teamwork, and it also helps to lighten the workload. And at Dana, don't forget that every leadership position is filled by a girl. Every year, leaders are elected or selected for the School’s major clubs and organizations. Beyond these official roles, we find ways to lead in athletics, performing arts, community service, dorms and classroom activities.
The start of each school year is organized around welcoming new students. During orientation, there are special activities for all new Upper School students (including students coming from the Dana Middle School), and each new girl is paired with a Big Sister who can answer questions and help with the transition. After learning the basics of navigating the School, we head out on day-long grade-level retreats: the 9th grade bonds during outdoor team-building activities, the 10th grade works on a service project, and the 11th grade goes whitewater rafting. Once everyone is settled into the community, we embark on one of the most-popular traditions: Harbor Cruise! The entire school boards a boat and cruises about Boston Harbor for a couple of hours. It’s a great way to meet people and make instant memories with new friends. Get ready to dance!
Dana Hall offers breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the whole community — Middle School, Upper School, boarding and day students. The Dining Hall is all-inclusive, which means you don’t need to bring in lunch money. The Dining Hall staff is very sensitive to students with allergies. They label everything, provide gluten-free options, and will work with individual students who have dietary restrictions. Snack is available in the Student Center all day, including yogurt, goldfish, cheese sticks, fruit, pretzels, milk and juice.
The food is healthy and delicious. The Dining Hall staff is always coming up with different combinations and meals. Of course, there are staples, like cereals, breads, fruit, salad bar, steamed rice, sandwich bar, and frozen fruit treats, and then there is a different hot lunch offered every day. The nacho bar, grilled cheese and soup and cobb salad bar are really popular. Students may also choose to make their own waffle or panini. Some community members claim that brunch on weekends is the best meal of the week! Community Dinners happen about once a month. Every month, a dorm is in charge of working with the Dining Hall on creating a festive themed-dinner. Most recently, we feasted on foods inspired by Lunar New Year. Dinner is always a well-balanced meal and often incorporates different flavors and cuisines of our international students’ home countries.
Every day officially starts at 8 a.m., except for Thursdays when we start our day at 8:50 a.m. Thursdays are the best because you can either sleep in, or get to school at the same time and use the extra time to work on homework or have breakfast with your friends. Wednesdays and Fridays are shorter academic days with classes ending at 2:05 p.m., and classes end at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. But, your day is not over when classes end! Typically, students are involved in sports, an afternoon fitness class, or community service from roughly 4-6, but it all depends on what you choose to do. If you are involved in the play or musical, you may have free time after school and rehearsals in the evenings. Because Dana Hall is a boarding and day school, the start and end of the day are fluid. Lots of day students arrive early for breakfast or stay late and have dinner and attend Math, Science or Writing Lab. The campus is always busy!
We have a very detailed electronic device policy in our student handbook, (the updated 2020-21 student/parent handbook will be available in July) but in general terms, yes, we can use cell phones for non-calling purposes during the academic day, while not in an academic commitment, such as classes and study halls. We can make or receive brief phone calls in Common Ground, outside, or in empty classrooms and offices with permission from an adult on campus. No cells phones during classes, study halls, Conference Period or school assemblies. No cell phones in the Dining Hall, and no cell phones while WALKING in the hallways, because OUCH!
We’re pretty “come as you are,” with some guidelines. Like all our rules and expectations, Dana Hall’s dress guidelines are designed to respect the rights of each student to decide how she wants to express herself, while teaching the responsibility of appropriate dress in a school community during the academic day and at school occasions. You can read the specific definition of appropriate dress when you have access to the 2020-21 student/parent handbook this summer, but we generally keep it casual, while showing respect for the “business of school.” There are times during the year when we get to dress up or wear something special, like during spirit week, or before big games, or for a tradition.
The Dragon's Den offers a full array of Dana Hall apparel and gifts. When school is in session, you may visit the Dragon's Den on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The ‘Den’ is located in the Upper School Building between Waldo Auditorium and the Library Science Wing.
"In my Literature Composition I class we did a poetry unit before winter break. Our poetry project was in collaboration with a school in Turkey. We created our own websites to display our works of poetry. The last day of school before winter break we were able to Skype with the kids from the school in Turkey, and it was so much fun to interact with students who were so far away. We were able to learn what their school was like, and how their classes worked."