Holland Hall often receives letters from students and families about the impact Holland Hall has made on them. Here are comments from recent graduates, teachers and a past parents.
Holland Hall Class of 2008
This letter may be a letter that could benefit some of the students at Holland Hall, to realize the amazing opportunity they have, and to take advantage of a school as prestigious, intensive, and intellectually stimulating as Holland Hall.
I am a 2008 graduate from Holland Hall, and although no school is perfect (I was part of the “guinea pig” class), Holland Hall, by far, offers one of the best secondary institutions. Currently, I am a student at the University of Arkansas. I am a Spanish/English major, a Latin American Studies minor, with a concentration in education. I did not realize it during my time at Holland Hall, but this school prepared me far more than I realized for college. I will be able to graduate a year and a half early (although I will probably take it easy and graduate a year early), and will continue on my educational route until I have a PhD in Spanish. I know this could not have been possible without Holland Hall’s staff, faculty, and the wonderful classes offered. I entered my first year of college at a second semester, second year student, taking third-year level classes. Holland Hall truly gave me a wonderful gift, not only educationally, but through my experiences at Holland Hall, made me a better person.
I want to give some advice I wish I had known and advice I learned while I attended Holland Hall.
1. Do not take your teachers for granted.
Holland Hall faculty are extremely accessible, whether for help, guidance, or a quick chat, the faculty will do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to help the students. I cannot tell you how many times I went to my teacher’s for homework or essay advice, and that is something that is not always readily available at other institutions. The teachers at Holland Hall are what make the institution such a valuable and precious experience. Without them, Holland Hall would not exist.
2. One mistake is not the end of the world.
This one you can ask any of my teachers, and will probably tell you I am VERY hard on myself, and it took me coming to college and taking Chemical Engineering courses to realize that one bad paper, or one missed answer will not cause doom to yourself or all mankind. Do not slack, but dwelling on one problem will not solve your next one. Learn from the mistake and move on.
3. Take advantage of the extra-curricular activities and classes.
Holland Hall offers its students some of the most widespread classes than any other high school. The more well-rounded of a student you are, the better chance you will enjoy college, enjoy life, and have a better understanding of the world around you. I still continue my photography, my language skills, and my writing., not as part of my classes, but through volunteer work and my extra-curricular activities. I continue to play volleyball, and even coached 5th and 6th grade teams. Take many types of classes, some that will challenge you, and some that you enjoy.
4. DO NOT SLACK!
This should be a no-brainer. Do well in your classes! It will pay off later! Because I did well in my classes (even those I had to struggle to do well in), I am saving $14,670 by graduating early. I was able to receive credit by testing out of classes or because of AP test scores. In college, you are not going to be able to take all the types of classes you enjoy, there will be required courses you will loathe – either because of the subject or the professor. So, learn to do well. Learn to not be afraid and ask questions! Also, this goes for sports as well. You may not be the best athlete on the court, but do the best you can. Slacking gets you no where, except behind the counter at McDonald’s.
Thank you, Mr. Calkins for taking time out of your schedule to read this. I am truly grateful to Holland Hall for all they have done for me, and all the opportunities I have been given through the school.
Holland Hall Class of 2006
Dartmouth Class of 2010
“I cannot thank Holland Hall enough for teaching me how to express my thoughts critically through writing. During my senior year, Ms. Irvine, warned our A.P. English class that we would be writing at least a paper a week and, in some cases, multiple papers. In preparation for this reality, she had us write dozens of shorter analytical papers. At the time, I believed such preparation to be over kill. Now entering my third term at Dartmouth, I am so grateful that I wrote those papers, and for that matter, wrote all the papers for four years of English and History classes at Holland Hall. Even though the standards for a “good paper” at the college level are obviously higher than they were in High School, my strong writing background enabled me to reach these new standards with minimal difficulties. Because I was already used to writing short to mid range papers on a regular basis, I never went through the shock stage that many of my peers did when, for the first time, they were assigned multiple short papers in a week.
Furthermore, the Junior Research project I completed at Holland Hall has helped me more than I ever anticipated. I was assigned a research paper after only three weeks of class. Although this professor did invite a librarian in to class to show us library resources, no one provided any formal instruction of how to research and how to incorporate the thoughts of others into our work. This became a huge hurdle for some of my peers who had either never written a research paper before or had little experience finding research on their own. Because of the Junior Research project, I was able to dive right in, knowing which sources I needed and how to best incorporate these sources into my paper to support my ideas. Having the research skills and being just a step ahead of the majority of students at my school quickly proved to me how much I should value my Holland Hall education.
Besides providing a strong background in writing, the student teacher relationships encouraged at Holland Hall have helped me tremendously at Dartmouth. All through out High School, it was standard practice to go visit teachers in their offices when one needed help. The free time allotted by the modular schedule facilitated this practice. Therefore, I cannot count the hundreds of hours I spent in various teachers’ offices working on a difficult physics problem or reviewing a first draft of a paper. For Holland Hall students, cultivating relationships with our teachers outside of class is just a standard part of the High School experience. Dartmouth being a smaller liberal arts college likes to foster similar student-professor relations. However, unlike Holland Hall, students can choose whether to take the initiative and form these relationships. I was shocked to learn how many of my friends found the concept of visiting a professor during office hours to be a daunting expedition. Because I was used to constantly seeing my teachers at Holland Hall outside of class, I didn’t think twice about regularly attending office hours or scheduling appointments when I needed help. As a result, I have formed relationships with my professors, even with the professors of my larger introductory classes. Because it was simply an expectation at Holland Hall that I engage my teachers outside of class, I never gave myself the chance to become another anonymous freshman whose only interaction with professors is attending class and taking exams.
Overall, I cannot praise my experience at Holland Hall enough. It has given me the tools to succeed and even excel at a program like Dartmouth’s. I wouldn’t trade my High school experience at Holland Hall for the opportunity to have attended any other school. Even though I expect my Dartmouth education to inspire me for the rest of my life, it is my Holland Hall education that has molded my desire to learn for the rest of my life. And for that, I can never give enough thanks.”
Member of the Class of 2006
“I want to thank you for everything. You have no idea how much Holland Hall has meant to me these past four years. The opportunities I have had at Holland Hall are irreplaceable. From running for different offices to playing field hockey for the first time, the memories of this place will live on. I wish the best of luck for the school in the future.”
Parent of Mark Donaldson, Class of 2005
“We feel that the Holland Hall academic experience was especially valuable in preparing Mark for success at a small liberal arts college like Amherst. The small classes, the encouragement of class discussion, and the opportunity to do independent work–all of which are essential features of the Holland Hall experience but are all too rare at larger schools–meant that Mark had a very easy transition. Amherst recruits very selectively, but Mark is confident in his level of preparation, and he had become accustomed to taking advantage of the faculty’s willingness to interact with and challenge students both in and out of the classroom.”