Student Voice

The Wuersten Award is presented to the sixth grade student who has written the most insightful composition on the subject “What The John Thomas Dye School Means to Me.” The compositions are written at school by any sixth grader who would like the opportunity to reflect on their years at JTD. They are presented anonymously to the faculty who read and vote on their favorite. The award is presented at graduation and the essay is read as part of the ceremony.

Dr. Helmut Wuersten, whose son, Eric, attended JTD, established the award many years ago. During a severe rainstorm, Eric and a group of eighth grade boys (before JTD was K-6) worked all day to save the front driveway which was in danger of being washed away. Dr. Wuersten saw this act as a true expression of the deep feelings these students had for their school.

Winner of the Wuersten Award for the Class of 2020

Aidan Romain '20

What does the John Thomas Dye School mean to me?
When asked this question, I realize that I have a rather unique perspective. Most of my classmates have been here for seven years, a handful for five years, a few for two, and then me, just one, for one year…sixth grade. My journey at JTD began nine short months ago, and yet, I have already experienced JTD’s philosophy of the 5Cs, what JTD stands for, and what its community strives to be. And although my chapter has been shorter than most, it is a chapter that has reshaped my story, and that I will reflect on always.
Speaking of stories, my year at The John Thomas Dye School reminds me of my favorite book, The Island of Dr. Libris, by Chris Grabenstein. I first read this book in first grade, while I was stuck at home with the flu, but I still find myself referencing it often, comparing its themes to the books I am reading now and imagining what adventures I would have if I were the main character. The Island of Dr. Libris is about a boy named Billy who expects to have a boring summer while traveling far from home and visiting a secluded, lake-side cabin. As Billy reads the books in Dr. Libris’ library, the literary characters come alive on a secret island in the middle of a lake that only he can see and travel to. Like Billy, I began this school year in completely new surroundings—a new coast, a new house, a new school. And like Billy when he first stepped into the enchanted library, I began my story at JTD greeted with new and wonderful sights, sounds, and traditions passed down from Cathryn and John Dye. It was exciting and overwhelming, but I could tell that all of the adults in my life wanted me to feel comfortable and that I belonged. My mom and dad listened to all of my stories about my days and gave me pep talks on the drive to school. My new teachers and principal checked in with me often to make sure that I was comfortable with my new schedule and learning the rules. My classmates helped me to find my locker and explained the significance of JTD’s different traditions. Lucky for me, my favorite tradition happened every single day: the Salutation of the Dawn. Because I came from a Friends school on the East Coast, I have learned to value moments of silence and reflection, often in small groups. But JTD’s beautiful and awe-inspiring tradition of taking the time every morning, as an entire school community, to reflect on such wise words allowed me to start each day with a sense of calm, connection, and confidence.
In The Island of Dr. Libris, during a particularly frustrating time away from all that he knows, Billy’s mom says, “Just relax, sweetheart. Lighten up. Go with the flow.” I think this is the hope that JTD has for its students as they go through their days. Life is filled with so many things that we have no control over.  At JTD, I learned that not only does it take kindness, hard work, and self-control to manage the day-to-day—like homework, relationships and sports—but that those same basic concepts will help us to manage the bigger challenges in our lives. Coincidentally, right now everyone around the world is battling the medical, financial and social challenges of a global pandemic.  And what are the things that are helping us as citizens of the world to get through, but kindness, hard work, and self-control? Kindness: nation to nation, person to person, to share food and scientific information to battle COVID-19. Hard work: as doctors, businesses, politicians, parents, and teachers try to figure out how we can come together again and share spaces in our neighborhoods. And self-control: this is a time when we have to check in with ourselves and make sure that we are not just healthy on the outside, but on the inside, so that we can be our best selves and manage the stress and pressure that comes with this situation. And so, as Billy’s mom advised, we should “relax” and appreciate the blessing of being ALIVE to “Look to this Day.” We should “lighten up” and shed the burden of all of the things distracting us from what is most important in our lives, and we should see the wisdom in sometimes “going with the flow.” Instead of growing tired fighting the river’s current, let’s use its strength to power the causes that we know can benefit humankind.
Back to my journey here at JTD. After the first few weeks of school, as I woke each day and put on my JTD uniform, I could feel myself transitioning from a new student to a full-on JTD kid. I had grown more comfortable with my surroundings, classes, and JTD’s philosophies, and now it gave me time to concentrate on other things. I began to focus less on the academic and social experience that JTD could offer me and more on how I could contribute to JTD. How could my being a JTD student benefit the JTD community? Having attended four different schools in four years, I knew that there were so many different dynamics. There would be people who like me and people who don’t. People who find my height an advantage in sports and people who would find it intimidating. People who would find my jokes funny and people who would find me annoying. People who would assume that I was smart because I got in and people who thought I got in because I am “different.”
In The Island of Dr. Libris, Billy also has to figure out where he fits into the mystery of the island. Who are his real friends? Who should he take advice from? What power does he possess? And do his actions influence the other characters? Just like me, Billy was wondering how he fits into the story. Despite the apparent limitations of his situation, his mother gives him the best advice! “Some people refuse to accept the limits given to them by others.” By writing myself into the story of JTD and its traditions, I began to appreciate my own value and the power that I possess. I began to connect more and more with my science teachers as we shared an overwhelming enthusiasm about the universe and thinking about questions that we don’t even have the answers to yet.
In Global Greyhounds, I learned the importance of being able to discuss sensitive topics in a safe space, to learn as much as I can about many different people’s experiences and perspectives before I form an opinion, and how to share my experiences with others.
In P.E., I learned that even though I have spent years doing water sports, there are many sports that I am not (and never will be) very good in, but what is most important on a team is to play fair, do your best, and support your teammates.
In F.A.T.E., I found comfort in having a different type of teacher who cares only about what I am feeling on the inside, reminds me that all of my feelings are normal, and that it is okay to not have all of life figured out yet.
In Debate, my JTD coaches supported me, as I learned that not all winning arguments are good arguments and that how you win is more important than winning itself. I learned that I possess a power and how I use it influences those around me.
And in school, I met a student who probably doesn’t even realize how much she meant to me. She is only 12, just like me, and she showed me that I don’t have to be embarrassed to be me and that I don’t have to hide or pretend I don’t exist or that I am not different in order to make other people feel comfortable.  She taught me that sometimes it can just take one kid to see something that needs to change and to step out and do something, and that even if no one else follows behind you, it still matters that you did what you knew was right.
And now here I am. It has been only 9 months since I started at JTD and now I am preparing to leave. My chapter at JTD is coming to a close and I must reflect on the moral of my story. What will I take with me? What should be left behind? What will I remember and what is best forgotten? And perhaps most importantly, what will people remember about me? As Billy’s adventure on the island is coming to a close, he suddenly becomes nervous in the next step of his journey. What type of character has he developed into? Where will he decide to go? What does he consider the greatest reward in his journey? These are questions that I must answer and commit to not just as I graduate from JTD, but every day for the rest of my life. Will I decide to be the villain or a hero? Will I stay close to the familiar and what is comfortable, or will I explore new places and lean into discomfort? What is the great reward that I will work toward each day? Money? Happiness? Power? Integrity? Love? To help answer these questions, Billy gets the best advice from the two characters he is closest to, and I believe that this advice reflects the seeds that John Thomas Dye has planted within me to nurture as I grow older: “Each of us can choose who or what we shall be. We write our own stories… We write them each and every day… And if you write it boldly enough others will write about you, too.”
Thank you, JTD, for being such a wonderful chapter in my story.

Wuersten Award Archive

List of 19 items.

  • Reina Hewes '19

    Reina Hewes '19

    The moment I stepped out of my mom’s car onto the green lawn, I was scared. That first day
    of Kindergarten, the day that my journey began, I kept on asking myself the same two questions.
    “Will I make friends? Will I fit in even though I can’t speak English that well since it is my second
    language?” I got my answers a few weeks later. Soon, I had made many friends, and I fit in to the
    cordial community in which the John thomas Dye School belongs in.

    First grade and second grade flew by like the wind. The enjoyment of bouncing the ball on
    the handball wall at recess, carving pumpkins during Halloween, going whale watching, and
    performing in front of the school was what made up the first two years. I learned many life lessons,
    and also became knowledgeable in many subjects.

    My experience with the loving teachers in third grade and fourth grade were memorable just
    like the first two years. I loved the soft, fertile soil on my hands as I gardened in the fourth grade
    garden. I loved learning new subjects, and being introduced to many books in third grade.

    As I moved into the Mac building in fifth grade, I accustomed myself to a new schedule. The
    load of homework that increased in fifth grade prepared me for years ahead of me. I loved going on
    the retreat with my friends and being able to look up to the sixth graders. Now it is my last year,
    and I will miss all the memorable moments. I will miss this school that has become a home for the
    past seven years.

    The three words that I have worn on my uniform for the past seven years that is on the
    emblem of our school is love, beauty, and truth.

    Love. At the John Thomas Dye school, I have learned to love in many ways. I have learned to
    love my teachers who have taught me important life lessons and guided me on my journey. I have
    learned to love my friends who have always been there for me. I have learned to love the birds that
    chirp while we recite the Salutation of the Dawn. I have learned to love the first day of school that
    energizes me every time. I have learned to love this school for it has done so much for me in the
    seven years I have been here.

    Beauty. The John Thomas Dye school has a beautiful campus overlooking the city. I love the
    bright green grass in front of our sacred hall that gives me a warm feeling every time I walk by it.
    Although the campus of the John Thomas Dye school is beautiful, the real beauty lies in the heart of
    the traditions and the community. I have loved the beauty of seeing everybody kind to each other. I
    have loved the beauty of the ways we come together in the traditions.

    Truth. At the John Thomas Dye school I have learned to not be afraid to speak the truth. As
    I have been wrapped in the safe community, I have gone further than where I am most comfortable.
    Being the shy person I am, I have learned to speak out my thoughts.

    When I leave, I will remember all the memories that flow through my veins. I will remember
    that the John Thomas Dye school has lit a fire inside me that will make me burn bright in the
    journey that is yet to come.
  • Wyeth Renwick '18

    I have fallen in love.

    It is not the epic love that poets write long ballads about but the even stronger type, the type that runs through my blood and comes out in my every move, the type that will warm my heart even when I am eighty and my hair is turning silver. Unlike most others’, my heart will never shatter over my first love because my adoration will never die. For even if the bricks that make up JTD are torn to shreds, nobody can ever erase the spirit of it. 

    There is not one way to describe my school, for it is physically impossible for a single sentence to capture the true, wonderful essence of the school which is so much more than a school to me. JTD is too many things- from the lessons that have been learned here to the laughs that still echo through the corridors- to be depicted in a singular manner. The only way to paint a realistic portrait of JTD is by illustrating the many little things that become one beautiful piece of art.

    One of my favorite things that I will miss the most when I leave is the first day of school. Even though I have experienced the thrilling sensation seven times, the feeling of walking into the school for the first time after summer break never ceases to electrify every nerve in my body. Excitement is in the air and the hearts of each and every student. Old friends greet each other as girls hug in the hallways and boys high-five. Like a cool sip of water after a long run, the first day of school is always refreshing.

    Eventually, the exhilaration is replaced by a new emotion, comfort. Students settle into a nice, orderly routine, and soon, school melds into our lives until the two are inseparable. The only way to describe the change is that we all return to our true home, JTD. Home can sometimes become so commonplace that it slips to the back of your mind to be grateful for it, but it is always there, always supporting you, always giving you a place to return to. JTD is that place for me, and one thing that I know for certain is that I feel the absolute safest when I am in its welcoming arms. I know that my friends and teachers will support me no matter what, and whenever I am here, all of my fear for the future evaporates.

    An interesting thing about home though is that it’s different for everybody. To each student and teacher here, JTD is a bubble filled with hope, joy, and protection. However, its core is different to everybody because it is made up of all of the different memories we each have here.

    To me, JTD is looking up at my sixth-grade buddy and knowing that I wanted to have rainbow braces just like her. To me, JTD is cold water splashing against my cheeks as I fall into the dunk tank. To me, JTD is the vibrant, loud, and busy bustling in the hallways between class periods. To me, JTD is joking with my friends as we wait in the long line for lunch-on-the-lawn cheeseburgers. Because JTD is the setting for most of my younger memories and it has been such an integral part of my childhood, the big, scary leave for secondary school is like jumping off a cliff: completely terrifying. However, if there’s one thing that I know, it’s that I’ll have to close my eyes and leap eventually, but I will always have somebody waiting to catch me here at JTD.

    I can not say that I have discovered the meaning of life at JTD. I’m still working on that. However, I can say because of JTD I have found teachers that will guide me in my quest to figure it out, friends to laugh and cry with about the winding journey there, and a refuge to take cover in when the quest becomes too stressful or life’s storms too harsh.

    I love you, JTD, and even though I may never enter your classrooms as a student ever again, the lessons you have taught me will always, always be in my heart.
  • Margaret Morris '17

    “Most of the really exciting things we do in our lives scare us to death.” “They wouldn’t be exciting if they didn’t.” -Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.

    Beginning my life here at John Thomas Dye was one of the most frightening and exhilarating experiences of my life. Being the kind of child I was, I couldn’t stand the spotlight. Anything that challenged me to use my voice was out of the question. One would sooner spot pigs flying through a rainbow then watch me call attention to myself. The only quote in my dialogue was, “As long as I’m not the only new kid.” How would I survive the first day of school, let alone the entire year? Since I came from a public school, the world and atmosphere I was used to was completely different. Even raising my hand was a fear that seemed like a mountain I had to climb. And trust me, I was not the athletic type. That was the part that scared me to death. The exciting part was that I knew the outcome of my years here would alter the course of my life, and leave me a changed person.
    How does the new kid make friends on the first day? Easy! Introduce themselves. If someone had told me that during recess, I would have laughed. I didn’t need any more friends, I had my book and a tree to sit under. Who needs handball when you have a new book at your fingertips. I would have sat under that tree and read my book until the end of my life if a special teacher hadn’t told me it was time to make friends. I was confused, but she enforced the new law. I could jump into the pages of my favorite book for two days of the week. The other three, I had to socialize. During those three days, I would ponder my options, and wait for someone to invite me into the handball court. Finally, I could wait no more. I gathered my courage and strutted right up to the handball court. Of course, the children welcomed me with open arms. Although I couldn’t call myself a professional, I thought getting hit with the ball only ten times was a good start. I laughed more in that day than I think I had in my entire life. Love and friendship surrounded me and I promised myself that I would never let that go. Gradually, the intense book reading at recess declined, but I was still very quiet. As I began gaining more friends, my life at JTD began feeling more like a close family, and less like a crazy rollercoaster ride. I have to thank my fourth grade teacher for that.

    As I entered my later years at John Thomas Dye, I continued to grow and mature. This time, though, I wasn’t a loner. I started having more and more things to talk about on the way home from school. One day, the flyers for the debate club were passed out. I took one look at them and immediately knew that I wanted to try. Just the year before, I would never even dream of speaking publicly. Finally, that was different. I still remember the look on my parents face when I told them about it. They still remember me exclaiming, “It’s like sports for your brain!” Again, not exactly the athletic type. I had found my passion, and I was proud. Never was I the best debater, I was never really even close. Still, I got better at it, and I learned what it was like to speak for what I believed in. The support I felt every day while in the room pushed me even further. On the day of the first debate, I was probably the definition of a nervous wreck. Then, I started speaking. The thought that I was supporting my school while debating drove me to speak as passionately as possible, even if there was a mistake and the other team was arguing the same topic. I remember leaving that debate knowing that I wasn’t the same ten-year-old kid who walked into the fourth grade classroom on the first day. I was changed for the better and I knew that the school I loved had transformed me.
    Even the little things, the things we do or say here every day matter to me more than I can put into words. In the morning, when all of our voices combine into the voice of the JTD school while we are reciting the Salutation of the Dawn is magical. After sports games, we all congratulate each other even when we have lost. Those are the things that I will take with me as I continue on my path. As I watched a young girl sing the song of John Thomas Dye at Mr. Michaud’s memorial, I understood what his legacy meant to this school. I always knew what the 5 C’s were, but I don’t think I truly appreciated what they meant until I found my way into the family of JTD. This school will forever be in my heart. I simply cannot say how much I love everyone here and how much I will miss them. I feel like this school is my home, and these people are my family. Now, I am moving on. Moving on scares me to death. But it wouldn’t be exciting if it didn’t. 
  • Jane Hamilton '16

    As we twisted up the hill, I felt a mix of fear and exhilaration. "Kindergarten" was a place for big kids, and now it was for me. When I stepped foot on the John Thomas Dye School campus, I felt completely at home. I could hear the exuberant laughter of kids ringing in my ears, and I could tell that there was a sense of family here like no other. It was the John Thomas Dye School that I have come to know and love. It was a place where I would learn and grow. Not only would I learn to read, write, and do arithmetic, but it would shape me into a better person with strong core values, just like the school, itself, had. Ever since my Kindergarten teachers taught me the 5 Cs, they have been permanently imprinted into my brain as a compass to navigate through life.

    The next few years are filled with beautiful memories of spending the night in the beloved John Thomas Dye hall while laughing and sharing the best times with my friends and teachers at the First Grade Sleepover, performing in my first Music for Lunch Bunch, and decorating cookies on Halloween and gingerbread houses in the winter. Some of the most special memories I have had are those that come from the heart and incorporate the true values of John Thomas Dye School by giving back to others and achieve a success that is beyond ourselves. One of my first memories of this was in first grade when we raised money for The Center for The Partially Sighted. When we got the opportunity to take a field trip to the center and meet some of the people whose lives we were impacting, I felt so honored that the school gave me the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life, and give back to our community. My teachers have taught me that this sort of kindness can be achieved in smaller ways, too. Whether it's inviting a classmate to come sit with you at lunch or giving them a shoulder to lean on when they are feeling down, it is this sort of kindness that I will never forget being touched by and feel proud to have touched others with.

    Like the drive up the hill, my journey at the John Thomas Dye School has not been a straight path. There have been several bumps and turns along the way. In fourth grade I had to overcome a tremendous amount of adversity, but my friends and teachers believed that I could do it when I didn't even believe in myself, and that is what pushed me to persevere through it all. No matter how many times I fell, they were always right there to pick me back up, and without them, I don't know where I would be today.

    The work in fifth grade got much harder than in previous years, but I felt prepared for it. My teachers had set me up for success and not only had they taught me the material that was a vital part of my curriculum but also how to learn it, too. I worked to my fullest potential to learn key concepts that were being taught, but I was no longer afraid to go to my teachers for help.

    Sixth grade has been full of lasts, my last Candle Lighting Ceremony, my last Holiday Carols, and my last time celebrating John Thomas Dye School's birthday. On a recent honor I had to raise our flag, I looked out at the beautiful view we are so fortunate to have as I was reciting the Salutation of the Dawn. I could see so many different perspectives of the world, and it reminded me of a valuable lesson that I have learned at the John Thomas Dye School. There are so many perspectives in life, and the school has taught me that everything isn't one-dimensional. There are endless ways to look at things, and I now know how.

    As I am cherishing my last few weeks at this beloved school I always feel reminded of a particular quote from The Salutation of the Dawn, "But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope". When I look back on my experiences here, each day I have at John Thomas Dye feels like such a beautiful dream that has given me hope for my future. I am not sure what it will hold, but I am sure that this school has prepared me for all of the challenges that I will face and obstacles that I will have to overcome.

    I proved to myself that I could fly, but the John Thomas Dye School gave me wings and showed me how.
  • Sydney Lichtenstein '15

    When I first came to the John Thomas Dye School in kindergarten, I was scared. I wasn't sure what to expect from my peers, teachers, and academic lessons. I didn't identify JTD as the beautiful, nurturing environment I think of it as today, but as a tall, looming mountain that I was afraid to climb.

    On my first day of kindergarten, butterflies swarmed my stomach as I walked onto campus. Only knowing a few people, I worried if I would make any friends. I couldn't even imagine reaching the mountain's peak, standing at an incredibly tall height. But, slowly, I became accustomed to the classroom routines, and although still quite shy, I made many new friends.

    As my hike to the summit continued, I was given the right tools and training to make it to the top. I gained knowledge every day and became familiar with the path I had to climb. I learned about arithmetic, reading, science, and grammar, and priceless life lessons and good values were also stressed. Now, each and every one of the 5C's will be forever ingrained in my mind.

    My teachers and friends also gave me the support and confidence that was needed to make my ascent. At the beginning of my JTD experience, I was terrified of public speaking. Just the thought of putting my ideas out into the world made me uncomfortable because of the judgment I thought was sure to follow. I was, of course, completely wrong- my fellow classmates were always kind, polite, and 5C's.
    Over the years I have gradually gained self-confidence and respect for myself, which I learned is more important than what others think of me, and because of this, I have readily given speeches and performed in skits and plays many times at school. I'll never forget the sense of pride and accomplishment that came over me when I faced my fears.

    Knowing that others had successfully climbed the mountain at JTD also made me feel more comfortable reaching amazing heights. All of the traditions at the school helped me feel more at home, some of them had even existed since the school had started. Customs such as the candle lighting ceremony, Kidnap Breakfast, and even The Salutation of the Dawn have JTD feel more like a home rather than a school, and my fellow students were like family.

    Although I was taught many life skills on my climb up the mountain, one of them in particular stood out to me the most. I learned to not be afraid to fall. On my journey there were, as there always are, steep areas on the trail, and sometimes I did fall down. But, when I did, I had support from my friends and teachers to help me get back up, and I was emboldened because of this. I not only learned how to get pick myself up on my own, but I also was given the confidence to keep trying.

    As I get closer to the mountain's peak, approaching the final days at my school, I look back on all of my experiences at JTD. All of the problems I had to face, ones that I worriedly stressed over, seem so small. I can see everything and reflect on my memories above the clouds, it's as if I'm on top of the world. When graduation day arrives, I will be ready to face the world. JTD has properly equipped me to face any challenge that life brings me, any mountain that I have to climb. I have grown so much, mentally and physically, since my first day of kindergarten. I have no idea what the next mountain in my life has in store for me, but I know I'll be ready. The John Thomas Dye School has taught me that I can do anything.
  • Amelie Zilber '14

    Love, Beauty, and Truth

    Six years ago, I nervously stepped out of my mom’s car and embarked on my journey at a new school. I asked myself, “will I fit in, will I make friends?” And how on earth will I ever learn the “Salutation of the dawn?” I secretly held a copy of the poem in my hands those first few mornings for reassurance. But, time passed quickly. I made friends, I fit in, and I finally left the piece of paper at home. I was a part of the John Thomas Dye community. 

    Second and third grades are filled with hazy fragmented memories of carefree days playing handball, squirrel family at recess, huddling for story time on the worn blue rug in the library, decorating pumpkins on Halloween, and gingerbread houses at Christmas. I felt warm and safe, a part of a large wonderful family. 

    In fourth grade, I fell in love with gardening, being outside, sharing my plot with a friend, and eating the fruits of our labor. I was inspired to plant a garden of my own at home, which I still enjoy to this day. To be honest, it took me a while to get used to the idea of working hard in school. I chatted a little too much, giggled a little too freely, and left the hard work for later. Later came in fifth grade. The homework load doubled, tests got harder, and giggling in class was no longer an option. The pressure to do well mounted and I felt overwhelmed, but as I adjusted, I noticed the nurturing care and guidance of the teachers. I started taking notes in class, practiced my math at home, and actually studied in study hall. I learned to speak up in class, go to my teachers with a problem, and communicate. I understood what it took to do well, a lesson I will carry with me for the rest of my days. 

    But the true spirit of John Thomas Dye, and what I love about the school is represented on its crest. Spaced apart in the inner circle are the three words, love, beauty, and truth. 

    I learned so much about love at school. I learned to love my teachers who loved me enough to support me when I struggled. I learned to love historical fiction, the challenge of a math meet, and getting my hands dirty dissecting a cow's eyeball. I learned selfless love on the playing field, how to console a teammate after dropping the game winning ball, or run to aid a friend when they’ve fallen. I learned the deep love of friendships I will cherish for the rest of my life. The feeling of being understood and valued for who I am, I will keep with me as I navigate new friendships in the future.

    The second word on the crest is beauty. The beauty of the school is undeniable with its vast open views, beautiful green lawns, and rich wooden hall. But, the real beauty of John Thomas Dye lies in its traditions and values. I learned the beauty of giving with the canned food drives, make-a-lunches, playing with the Westside children, and clothing donations. I helped change the life of someone in need. And that is beautiful.

    Finally comes truth. John Thomas Dye gave me a place safe enough to speak my truth. I learned to feel safe expressing my self and comfortable communicating my feelings. These are lessons you can’t learn in a textbook, but only through experience.

    Whenever I’m asked my favorite tradition at John Thomas Dye, I always reply with the Candle Lighting Ceremony, and not just because it ends with the consumption of a fluffy marshmallow. I look down at the soft flickering flame of the candle, and think of myself, one flame amongst many. The fire of my imagination, my education, and my character has been fanned at John Thomas Dye. As I step, as I did in first grade, into my new school next year, wondering, will I fit in, will I make friends, I know I will, because my flame burns bright. I thank John Thomas Dye for lighting the fire in me.
  • Kevin Chen '13

    A long time ago, in a memory lost to the infinite trek of time, I remember someone saying to me, “It matters not when you start or where you end. What mattes is the journey in between.” I was in Kindergarten when I first heard that saying, and I was probably too young to be thinking such deep and philosophical thoughts. Now, however, I can fully grasp the concept of the statement: to enjoy life to the fullest. There were many roads to take at John Thomas Dye, but, quoting Robert Frost, “I took the one less traveled by.”
    John Thomas Dye had been the best seven years of my life. It is a nurturing center where I learned to write, to read, and even to tie my shoes without using bunny ears. To many, John Thomas Dye is home; to others, it is a place where they can relax and chat, but to me, JTD is an unforgettable journey. It is an adventure where I learned many valuable lessons that one could not learn by paper and pen but only by personal experience.
    In Kindergarten, when I first came to this school, I did not have many friends because I was a shy and timid child. I had two best guy friends and one best girl friend, but besides that, I did not socialize much with other kids. I spent my days building sand castles in the sand pit alone and occasionally playing freeze tag with some other kids, but I never asked anybody to come over to my house; I was far too insecure and scared of rejection to do so. A year later in first grade, I had made a few more friends due to being the king of the handball court, but whenever the kids played football, I always felt left out. I would sit by a large, shady tree and observe the other boys, once again too scared of asking for fear of being rejected. My interest in the arts increased when I made a few comics about frogs with my friends, but I never showed the comics to anyone due to fear of them disliking what I produced.
    However, everything changed.
    On a cold, dark day in second grade, I was sitting in my usual, lonely spot underneath a tall and majestic tree. There were thunderclouds in the sky, black and menacing, and they looked as if they would start raining any minute. Oblivious to the weather, I sat there, watching the other boys in my grade play football, and I, still too shy to ask to join, remained content with watching. The boys playing football were big and loud, and I was small of stature and quiet of voice. I never thought that they would want to play football with me, but that day, someone, whose name I dare not mention, proved me wrong. A child with bright blonde hair and a happy smile walked over to me, extending a hand. At first I stared at it, trying to fathom what this possibly meant, when he smiled breezily and asked me to play football with him and to be on his team. Without hesitation, since I had been waiting for this moment, I nodded profusely. The grin on the boy’s face nearly cracked his face in two, and I believe that I was smiling like a kid who got what he wanted for Christmas. Even though rain started cascading from the sky minutes later, I knew that from now on, my journey at John Thomas Dye had changed. One boy’s innocent kindness, to me, had made all the difference in the world.
    It was in the third grade when I noticed how much I changed. The constant hesitation and doubts gnawing at the back of my mind slowly ebbed away, and I started making more and more friends; none with girls, however, I believed that they had cooties back then. Gone was the boy with the small stature, enter a new kid, one with a booming voice and large size. I gained more self-confidence by the day and realized that I did not need to be ashamed of who I am. I thrived in the intricate and beautifully woven community of John Thomas Dye, and I realized that it was unnecessary to hide who I am. I learned to never be ashamed of who you are. My social life took a turn for the better, with me becoming less and less shy and more and more open. However, doubt still lingered in my mind. I played an instrument and I played it well, as everybody told me, so people started requesting that I do Music for Lunch Bunch. With the exception of one time, I never had the guts to do so, and I never participated in track events either. I knew that I was not an athletic kid, so why bother?
    My friends always told me, “Why don’t you try doing an event for track? I mean, it can’t hurt, can it? If you don’t win, at least you can say that you tried.”
    That was, admittedly, probably the most important thing that any of my friends told me. So, listening to my friends, I decided to try running an event in fourth grade. I won it, surprising the socks off of every kid in the grade. That day I learned that you could never succeed if you never try. It changed my perspective upon life and my way of completing tasks. I started pumping maximum effort into everything that I did and tried new things, such as new sports and activities. I found that I had talent in some areas that I never knew I had, but the beginning of my new experiences was just about to start. Just as I was starting to become confident in my abilities as a sports player, I suffered an utterly crushing and humiliating defeat. In no time I gained my confidence back, bouncing back from the defeat with a type of resilience that I never knew I possessed. I learned that you can’t always succeed the first time you try something new, and more importantly, how to bounce back from defeat. I learned how to handle stressful situations with aplomb, such as making the game ending flag pull or swinging the game winning hit, which I later applied to my real life. My sports journey at John Thomas Dye had taught me a litany of important lessons that remains unrivaled to as of today, but the most important thing it gave me was confidence.
    When I was in fifth grade, I was one of those big and loud kids playing football on the new turf field. No longer was I small of stature and quiet of voice; that phase of me disappeared in third grade. Now I was one of the loudest and biggest kids in the grade, easily able to shout across the entire field without a problem. But one day, I saw a kid in my grade, looking eerily similar to how I was in second grade, sitting alone underneath the shade of a tree. Without a single doubt in my mind, I ran over to him, offering him a flag and a place on my team. Just like me all those years ago, he said “yes” with a bright smile, and I could feel my eyes crinkle with how wide my grin was, because in his yes, I knew that it had made all the difference in the world for him. Now, looking back on it, I clearly remember what I learned that day: acts of kindness, no matter how large or small, can make all the difference in the world.
    A year later in sixth grade, I can only remember how close of a family the grade has become. Everybody knows each other intimately, and everybody is friends with one another. I recall a particular experience where I had, without being too specific, fractured a part of my body and seriously hampered my own ability to do everyday tasks. When I arrived at school on the first day, I was scared that I was going to have to brave the storm all by myself, but my friends proved me wrong. They helped me carry my books, copy down homework assignments, and even kept me company during recess since I couldn’t engage in physical activities. The sheer number of volunteers and people willing to use their time to help me often made me shield my eyes and blink back tears that I never knew were there. That is how wonderful and close-knit the community at John Thomas Dye is; we are family in all but name. They will always be there for me when I fall, offering me a hand to help me get back up. They will always be there for me when I am going through rough seas, doing everything and anything they can to help me through. Every time I walk down the hallways, I see people who I’ve shared dozens upon dozens, scores upon scores of memories with. A girl high-fives me so hard that I scream in half pain, half laughter, watching one of my best friends roll her eyes at me, only making me laugh harder. Then another one of my friends pick me up, offering a corny joke that makes me smile every single time. That’s the beauty of John Thomas Dye in a nutshell, and I learned that no matter what, your friends and family will always be there to support you.
    John Thomas Dye was a magnificent journey, one that gave me memories to cherish and priceless lessons to remember. I cannot help but think that the road I had taken at John Thomas Dye was the one less traveled, but, at the bottom of my heart, I have come to realize that every single one of us had taken our own unique roads, our own roads less taken. Now, at my graduation, I can only smile sadly at my friends who I have come to regard as family. Some of us are parting paths; some of us are going together onto the next big journey that is secondary school.
    I arrived at JTD a shy and timid child, unsure about everything. Then, during my journey at John Thomas Dye, I learned to never be ashamed of whom I am, and that no matter where I started, as long as I tried my very best, I could achieve anything I desired. But when defeat came upon me, I learned how to bounce back from it and turn the defeat into victory by learning from it. I learned that kindness could be used in abundance to people, and I knew that a tiny bit of kindness could very well make all the difference in the world. Most importantly, however, I learned that I would always be able to rely upon my friends and family. Those lessons I learned along the journey shaped me and molded me into the person that I am today, at the end of my long expedition. Now, at the end of everything, I realize that this is not the end; no, it is the opposite. This is but the beginning of my journey in life.
    To me, John Thomas Dye was a grand adventure, one where I started small and ended big. And, needless to say, I enjoyed every step of it.
  • Alexa Frandzel '12

    As one enters John Dye Hall, they walk upon a brick path marked with the names of students past and present.  This is not any ordinary path because it leads to John Dye Hall, the heart and soul of JTD.
    While gazing upon the portraits of Aunty Cathryn, Uncle John, and John Thomas Dye III inside of John Dye Hall, I realize that I am part of a family, and this very special family has taught me so much more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic.  I have learned the importance of upholding traditions and honoring our founders' extraordinary visions.  I did not learn to simply memorize the 5C's, but rather, to incorporate them into the manner in which I navigate my way through life.  I learned that the spirit of competition is not about winning, but it is about putting my best foot forward and growing from the lessons that come from my experiences.  I have made mistakes and gone through some difficult and challenging times, but JTD has always given me the guidance and support needed to develop the confidence to hold my head high and feel proud of who I am.  There have been rare moments when I have had the opportunity to be alone in John Dye Hall, and it has been silent enough to hear a pin drop.  During one of those moments earlier this year, I sat listening to the crackling fireplace in the Inglenook while enjoying its warmth and rustic aroma, and I inhaled all that this spiritual moment offered me.  I thought about how unusual it was to be sitting there without the voices and laughter of children surrounding me, so I decided to dream about all of the children of the past who have been and who continue to be members of the JTD family.  In that moment, I realized that JTD is timeless.  Throughout the years, classrooms have been updated, buildings have been built, and technology has changed the world in more ways than we are even aware of today, but JTD has remained timeless because it has a soul.  Aunty Cathryn and Uncle John had a dream and a vision, and the traditions they started and exceptional leadership throughout the years have allowed their legacy to live on.  At JTD we know who we are and what we stand for, and we have known it for a very long time.  I feel both prideful and spiritual that the person I am today is an extension of the Dyes.  I am extremely grateful to have been a part of this incredible family, and I hope that JTD feels the same way about having had me as a member of their family.
    As I am preparing to leave John Dye Hall and walk the brick path as a graduate, I realize that I am not leaving my beloved school and all that it has been for me behind.  Instead I will walk the brick path knowing that I am part of a family whose dreams, visions, values, and morals will be carried along within me for the rest of my life.  I would not be the person I am today without JTD, and John Thomas Dye is forever embedded in my heart and soul.
  • Oliver Friedman '11

    John Thomas Dye. An academic foundation most could only longingly hope and dream for. A family that embraces strong core values and ideals that have subtly embedded themselves in my way of life. A sanctuary that somehow dissipates all feelings of negativity. The friendships that will endure for a lifetime. A precious pearl in our academic and social development. John Thomas Dye is the centrifuge that turns, orders, and readies for the future the children who are lucky enough to enjoy its nurturing grasp.
     How can I possibly describe the three words John Thomas Dye in a single term? JTD encompasses so many wonderful experiences and lessons that I can scarcely describe its many meanings. It is impossible for me to describe the hundreds of indelible influences it has left on my soul. Yet all of these influences and meanings boil down to one significant thing: a sense of family.
     Every day when I drive to school, I look forward to the events that will come in the next seven hours. As fun as these daily events are, the true essence of John Thomas Dye, for me, is the feeling that I am part of something special, something bigger: a community of teachers and students that I feel as if I have known since the beginning of time. I am always welcomed over and over, first by Bobby as I arrive in carpool line, and next as I walk through the heavy, wooden doors of my advisory. Not just any welcome is given, however. It is what I like to call the JTD welcome. I am asked how I feel. I am caught up on recent sports scores. I am invited to play a card game with my friends. Or, if I like, I am allowed the opportunity to experiment with circuits in the Bartel advisory. I honestly feel related to my classmates. They are my sunshine when we are socked in by morning fog (Mr. Michaud’s beautiful marine layer that I have come to love, and even when the barometer registers a threatening 28.80. They are the addends that give me my sum of a successful day.
     My family is an essential part of my life. They keep me going when I can’t keep my head up. John Thomas Dye’s close, tight-knit community represents my family away from home. They extend the good morning that my brothers greet me with. They keep the candle of closeness always kindled bright. For that reason alone, whenever I think of JTD, I immediately associate the school with family.
     Sometimes, it is required that a growing family adds an annex to their home so that they have room to extend their branches. This year, we had a show-stopping new annex to move into. Its pale white face bears the name, The Raymond R. Michaud Academic Center. In it lie spotless new classrooms equipped with new academic tools such as Smart Boards and Elmo overhead projectors. Yet, with our newly discovered gadgets, we have not forgotten our roots. These are embodied in the hand-made watercolor tiles that our students have painted for the restrooms. These illustrate our past and the core values, ideals and ideas that came with our old section of the home. We are still that same academic community that we were while we studied in our previous classrooms.
     As I turn the page to the next chapter in my life, I feel excited but also a little bit sad to be leaving this warm nest. But, as a result of this environment that nourishes children for the coming stages in their lives, I feel prepared to make the transformation from the little duckling that could hardly waddle to the duck that could soar. I am ready to fly south, to chase the unknown, to face the future. The strong moral compass that has been meshed into the infrastructure of my life has readied me for the obstacles that lie ahead.
     So thank you JTD. Your unwavering support of my will to live life to its fullest has greatly enriched my years here. Your embracing community has greatly elevated the quality of my time on this earth. The love, kindness, and academic prowess that I have experienced at this school have made me, truly ready for tomorrow. As George Keiffer once wrote, “This garden where I learned to fly’” is indeed a magical place. This school taught me how to tie my shoes, do addition, write a sentence, and hundreds of other fundamental things. Most of all, it has taught me to live a life of which I can be proud. Adios JTD-yo te voy a extranar-I will miss you.
  • Andrea Muñoz '10

    John…Thomas...Dye, well isn’t that a hard one. Just saying that one name is like a whole river of feelings flowing into me like a huge waterfall, and it makes it a hundred times harder to put the way I feel about JTD into words. The John Thomas Dye School has given so much to me that it does not feel like a school anymore, but it seems to be much more than that. Although I have only been at JTD for two years the amount of gifts and feelings it has given me is no less than those who have been here for six or eight years. John Thomas Dye has not only given me an education that one can only dream of, but it has given me compassion, desire, love, and most of all, hope.
    Now that I think back to the days when I did not want to come to this school, and rather just stay with all of my friends I always have to call myself a fool. Through this experience I learned that you always have to stop and think what is best for you. If you ask yourself this you can make it through any tough choice because in life everyone has to make a decision that will change the course of their entire life. In my case, I made this decision at the age of ten, and it turned out to be the best decision any ten year old could ever make. When my mind was set and I made my choice of attending the John Thomas Dye School, little did I know that I had just opened the door that led to the room that held my entire future.
    The reason I feel that this is the absolute best decision I have ever made is because it really does set my course of life on an entirely new level. At my old school I felt that I was not being pushed hard enough, and that they did not expect much from us. Here at JTD I have been pushed to the limit where my absolutely marvelous teachers feel I can reach. They have set me up to the point where I now can never settle for less in school, yet only ask for more. Whether it is a math problem, a C.S.I. lab, a book report, or even an essay I show compassion for it and complete it with all my heart. When I get a new challenge I put in one hundred percent, knock it down, and just desire more. And all the while when I am doing this I know that I am doing it with love, and that the people around me love me, and they just want to see me succeed.
    At the end of the day I never want to leave this campus, but there always is a time when it ‘s time to say goodbye to all your friends, have a good day to all the teachers, soak in the last breeze, and take a moment to look at where you are, and wonder how the time flew by. Take a moment to do nothing but think how lucky you are to be at such a school and how you could ever think of leaving it as one of your best childhood memories. While you are stepping onto the bus you think not about the past, but of the future. Inside yourself you have nothing but a huge amount of hope right next to your heart, and you know from here on you will move on to secondary school, then college, then to be a big success in life, and it all came to be because of one school. And that is why the John Thomas Dye School does not feel like just a school, but it feels to be a birthplace where it all began, and that is why it will forever be in my heart as my home.
  • Shira Levin '09

    When I first came to The John Thomas Dye School, I soon realized that life was a race. it was a race, where I thought I had to be the first to finish. Throughout my years at JTD I have come to understand that life is not about the race itself, it is about how you choose to swim it. It is about noticing the little things in life and the small actions that put a smile on your face. It is seeing your friends Monday morning with open arms for you to run into. It is about looking down at the tiny marsh-mellow in your hand during the Candle Lighting Ceremony and seeing that bright little flame, knowing that you have never held anything more delicate and powerful. Or the feeling of apprehension and excitement before receiving back a graded math test, confident you will obtain a high mark. The special feeling of coming to school on your birthday and noticing that your locker has been decorated, knowing that your friends truly love and care about you. The tingly warmth at the pit of your stomach when you look to see where your basketball game will take place and it says home, because it truly is home. On Carols, the toasty way you feel in the arms of your friends standing by the warm flickering fire. It is giggling to yourself as you see the little first grade boy run across the field each morning during the Salutation of the Dawn. I have fallen in love with this school. Everything about it is unbelievable, but a school is not about its outer picture: it is the people in it that make it magnificent.

    Life at JTD is about experiencing new things and learning who I really am as a person. Throughout my years here, I have been looking for my place in this world, doing whatever it takes to be appreciative and cared about. I have learned that my friends here at JTD love me for me, and put aside our differences since being different is what makes you, you. The friends that I have made here have been the most beautiful and amazing people I have ever met. I have laughed with them, cried with them, I have had my heart broken and mended with them. There is just one thing I have never done and will do very soon. I have never left them.
    As we are now counting down the days until graduation, I have become more emotional about JTD then I ever have before. On my first day of school I had this same feeling, losing the comfort of my own home and moving on to a new place. Fortunately, it pays off. For if I had not gotten past my fear seven years ago, I would have never been here, in my home, with my family that loves me. So now I am back up on my diving board, taking my mark to leave. I have not done this for seven years. I have a feeling of nervousness in my stomach. I do not know if the water will be too hot or too cold or maybe, if I am lucky, just right. I do not know which way my life will turn. But I do know that I will be okay because most importantly, The John Thomas Dye School has taught me how to jump.
  • Neidin Hernandez '08

    I can still remember the first day the bold yellow school bus pulled upto the pick up stop. My lips were raw from constant biting and thepalms of my hands were drenched in perspiration. I can vaguely remember my mother wishing me good luck as I numbly made my way to the school. I sat down on the cold gray seats, tilted my head back and closed my eyesin a desperate attempt to calm my nerves. “Why was I so nervous?” Iasked myself. After all, it was only a school.

    I laugh now as I think of my foolishly presumed conclusion. The amount of impact the John Thomas Dye School has had is nearly unfathomable.It’s as if I’ve been looking through a broken and foggy spyglass,trying to make out the long, winding route of life and the intricate pattern of my own thoughts and needs. All of a sudden things that once appeared muted and dim have now come into perfect focus. Things like who I am now, who I am supposed to be, and what I was meant to do in this world, were some amazing feats of discovery I have made at JTD.This change was not abrupt or immediate, but rather a gradual dawning of comprehension that would have been unachievable if not for the vast amount of effort presented by everyone at JTD.

    From the first day of school I sensed a difference in the teachers here. They were unlike any other teachers I have ever met. Over the next few weeks, I was finally able to place my finger on it. I recalled some of the teachers at my previous schools. They sat behind their desks, sipping their extra caffeinated coffee, counting the passing seconds until the weekend. The teachers at John Thomas Dye are far from mediocre. They teach with an enduring passion to enhance the standard lessons and transform them into opportunities for us to fall in love with knowledge. They always have a helping hand at the ready and a genuine love and concern that extends far beyond the classroom walls.Everybody at JTD has such a beautiful heart, all the teachers, staff,and of course, my remarkable classmates.

    One of the great inconveniences of attending four different elementary schools is the unfortunate inability to maintain a stable group of friends. Previous to JTD, friends seemed like an unnecessary luxury,but now I can’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without my vital companions. It is quite amazing that here at the John Thomas Dye School, forty-six eleven and twelve year olds are able to set all their insignificant differences aside and come together as one. My friends are rare gems that will never lose their charm, shine, or ability to put a smile on my face whenever I am down. In twenty years I will look back at my years at John Dye and the friends I have made here, and be reminded that even though I haven’t spoken or seen some of them in many years, I will always have forty-six strings connected to my heart,leading all the way back to them and wherever the course of life has taken them.

    I grin so wide and proud whenever one of my friends mentions the Pilgrim ship or Catalina, as the delicious memories come flooding back into my mind. One of my favorites and most important was the Holiday Carols. I had unpacifiable qualms and doubts as we prepared to sing to every JTD family. I was bound to forget the lyrics, sing highly offkey, or both! But as the music finally began, and everyone took a deep breath, all those fears washed right off me. I cannot even remember seeing the audience, but remember it as a time when one hundred voices mixed, mingled, and finally united into one voice ringing out loud and clear. I’ve never smiled more in my life that I did that night. There have been many occasions when our hearts swell up inside our chests and we are reminded of our enduring love for this school. When we sit huddled together in John Dye Hall, staring into the flickering flame of the candle, when our cocky first grade buddy stumps us with unmatchable and astounding wit, or even when we are eating our lunch on the soft green grass, laughing uncontrollably, we are reminded that we are home.

    Now as we find ourselves in the last days of school, we find ourselves desperately clinging onto this school. We tell ourselves that if we try a little harder, and hold on a little tighter, we can make time stopj ust long enough for us to properly say good bye, yet we know this is an inevitable part of life. In this bittersweet moment, we reminisce about our teachers, dear friends, and precious memories. We are not emotionally prepared to leave John Thomas Dye, our second home, our second family, but we know this school has prepared us to go out and make a difference in this world. This school has become part of us, and we have become part of it, and we will remain like this forever, as one.
  • Katherine Ewell '07

    How to describe John Thomas Dye School? Surely not with words, for words are too small and confining to encircle the multitude of love that is John Thomas Dye. Maybe with pictures or sculpture we may grasp what JTD really means, but for now words must be sufficient.

    I came here in Kindergarten seven wonderful years ago. Kindergarten was a comfortable haven, filled with popsicles and swinging and cooking days and naptime on beach towels. Sam the lion taught me how to read while my teachers taught me how to live, and I will forever remember my breezy Kindergarten days as being filled with joy.

    First grade through Third grade blur into each other so much, I don’t know in my memories where one begins and another ends. Hanging jellybeans, making picture books, pretend snowball fights and that yellow polka dot bikini blend into each other like different flavors of ice cream melting in the same bowl.
    Fourth grade brought to me a world of Zen, Beta fish, greenhouses and finding out who I was. I remember girls rearranging the teacher’s desk, smiling like they had just gotten the best present in the world, and I remember staring down into the little strawberry licorice-like candle stuffed into a pearly marshmallow during the candle-lighting ceremony and thinking, “Yeah, I get this now”. Fourth grade was my time of realization.

    Fifth grade brought me the gain of new friendships and the loss of others. My life at JTD started over then. I was no longer the loner, but the one who was laughing amidst a crowd of rambunctious girls. I finally knew who my friends were, although it was hard to find out.

    But Sixth grade was, and still is, my favorite year. I have formed fast friendships this year; through the exploding vacuum at Catalina, my horrendous yearbook pictures, and my friend’s assurances that I do have singing talent and my endless assurances that I don’t, we have remained best friends. To say I enjoyed myself this year is an understatement; this year, JTD has become my second home.

    For that is what John Thomas Dye is, home. JTD is crisp, cold watermelon on the lawn, performing the Kindergarten rendition of the Rainbow People in the great hall, wearing leis and dancing to Shakira. It is spinning chairs in computer and worn denim smocks in art. It is playing magic ball in the gym and head catch in music; it is debating with the history teacher whether Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones is a better band. It is worn Converse shoes and pigtails and my teacher’s kittens. And when I think how lucky I am to have my faithful friends, my face bursts into a smile that is incomparably happy. I am home.
  • Caitlyn Gold '06

    Thank You JTD

    Skipping across the lawn with my friends, I pause for a moment to take in my surroundings, as a tree soaks up the sun. Before me lies the city, sparkling in the afternoon light. The ocean shines like a gem in the bright light, and the mountains beyond stand strong and proud. The sun’s rays shine down upon the ground as pools of molten gold. A light breeze blows by softly, brushing against my cheek like a caress. The laughter and chatter of my fellow students drifts past me, carried on the wind. The grass sways to and fro, to and fro, as a dancer does, and the trees in the canyon rustle their leaves in accompaniment. Above me, the king of the skies, a red-tailed hawk, soars overhead, a blur of feathers, wheeling, always wheeling. When the day is done, he will make his way to his cozy nest and settle for the night. Unlike him, even when I am not at my house, I am still at home, for you see, John Thomas Dye is my second home, a place where I can relax and be myself, a place where I am me. Life is good. I sigh a sigh of utmost contentment and continue along my meandering path down to the lower field.

    When I moved to Los Angeles, I was ready to tough it out at a new school for a few years. I tried to think over every worst-case scenario so that I would not be surprised by anything. I expected school to be a torture. What I didn’t expect was to go to school every day with a smile on my face…I didn’t expect school to be fun. However, I learned quickly to live life to its utmost limit here at JTD, and I will never forget what I was taught here, by the teachers, and perhaps, more importantly, by the school itself.

    From JTD, I have learned that you are who you are, and you should never be ashamed of that. It takes all sorts of people to make a school, or, for that matter, the world go round. I learned to be comfortable in my own skin, to be proud of who I am. At JTD there are many people from different backgrounds. While I am certainly not the best off at JTD, I find that that no longer matters to me. My whole life I have heard people say that, to be truly beautiful, you have to be pretty inside and out. Until now, I never really understood what that meant, but here, surrounded by many admirable people, I am starting, just beginning, to learn.

    JTD, you also taught me confidence. Instead of teachers who criticized my mistakes, you have teachers who commend the things that I do correctly. Even though at JTD I have received the lowest grades of my life, my self-esteem has never been this high. I have never believed that I can do the impossible more than I do right now. With this knowing that I can reach the sky and past, you have opened up a whole new world for me.

    Another lesson that I was taught here at JTD is how to be a good person. Here I have learned to value my friends and to never let anything get in the way of our friendship. From my friends I have learned how important it is to always tell the truth, whatever the consequences. I have learned how to trust others and how to be trusted. When I was first told of the 5 C’s, I thought that they were just a cheesy motto: I never actually believed that they could become a sort of code to living. Well, as they say, “live and learn”. I most certainly learned my lesson!
  • Tiana Woolridge '05

    What The John Thomas Dye School Means to Me

    Ever since I first arrived at The John Thomas Dye School, it has been more than just a “learnatorium”. It is a place I wake up to every morning looking forward to attending, a place where I feel welcomed, a place like home. After having moved seven times and gone through five schools, John Thomas Dye has definitely become a home to me. Also, when I first came to this school, my mother was going through a very tough divorce. I was always mixed up and confused with what was going on, and sometimes I thought my parents were breaking up because of me. John Thomas Dye was a safe haven for me to escape to on the days when I was feeling sad, confused, and lonely. It also helped me to get past the gnawing pangs of sorrow I sometimes had. On the day I first came to the school, I was whole-heartedly welcomed and immediately guided down a path filled with long-lasting friendships, various adventures, and an education of which most could only dream. All of those aspects make JTD even more like a home.

    Making friends isn’t the easiest thing to do in a big school. John Thomas Dye is a small enough school so that we have the opportunity to talk to and know each other as much as we choose. At least three girls welcomed me and asked if I wanted to sit with them at assembly on my very first day at JTD. From that time on, I have become friends with everyone in my grade, some closer than others, but we are all like siblings and an important part of the big, loving, John Thomas Dye family.

    Not only is the John Thomas Dye family filled with friends, it is also filled with many different adventures, such as community service. Simply making a lunch may seem like a barrel of fun to a seven-year-old, but knowing the recipient of that lunch may not have had a meal in days turns the whole activity into extending a helping hand. The John Thomas Dye family is always trying to help others, just like a real, caring family would. This year, while visiting Westwood Horizons, I found that just singing a song or playing my clarinet to people who may not have anyone to entertain them, might be able to change their whole day.

    The education I have received from The John Thomas Dye School and its amazing teachers has been extraordinary. Not only is the knowledge great, everybody is willing to help out if someone hasn’t completely grasped a concept. Most children around the world, especially minorities, could scarcely dream of having an educational experience like the one I have acquired. Besides that, the expectations of minorities are not very high. JTD has helped me brush aside that stereotype as I continuously stride towards reaching my full potential.

    Even though my skin is dark, I have never felt I have been treated differently than anyone else in the grade, which is also very important in a family. I have always felt like I belong right here. After all, John Thomas Dye is my home away from home.

    What the John Thomas Dye School really means to me, deep in my heart, is a home. One of the many aspects I will always remember John Thomas Dye by is, “Every yesterday is a dream, and every tomorrow is a vision. But today, well-lived, makes every yesterday, a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow, a vision of hope.” Thank you, John Thomas Dye, for the vision and the dream.
  • Annie McCarthy '04

    What John Thomas Dye Has Meant to Me

    After spending nine years here at John Thomas Dye I am finally asked to share what my time here has meant to me. Looking back at what I have accomplished over these years, I feel a surge of pride, and I realize that I am leaving this school a completely different person. Many years ago or at least five, if you had asked me to write this essay I would have laughed and said that I am going to be here forever.  Why would I write about what it has meant to me as I am about to leave? In a sense I was right then. What John Thomas Dye has meant to me will stay with me forever. My time here has taught me that I am confident and I will always belong to the JTD family.

    What John Thomas Dye has meant to me could fill up so many pages, but I don’t want to make the teachers real all those so I will have to share what I feel are the most important examples, like the lesson that I am strong and can accomplish anything I put my mind to. When I was in kindergarten I remember how hard reading was. I would look at the page and the words would swim lazily across it. However, my teachers would not let me give up and so I kept on trying to decipher the mess of words. Thanks to the lesson of determination taught to me that day, I have been able to read many excellent novels I would have missed out on if I had not been taught to never give up at such an early age. Thank you John Thomas Dye.
    If you asked any passerby what John Thomas Dye is they would probably say something like, “I have heard of JTD. It is that excellent school with a beautiful campus and wonderful students.” or “Oh, they’re the best. We could never beat them at soccer.” However if you ask any John Thomas Dye student, alumni, parent, or teacher what John Thomas Dye is they would probably say all these things and something along the lines of, “John Thomas Dye is a home away from home. The school is like one big family.” As I am leaving John Thomas Dye the effect it has had on me was making me feel loved and special and an important part of the JTD family. Over the years I have had many scrapes and tripped many times, but every time a hand has helped me up. Whether it is a hand of my closest friend or the hand of a teacher, it always came. Going off to my secondary school I know a little bit of John Thomas Dye will always be with me. No matter where I go, I will always be a part of the John Thomas Dye family.

    The lasting impact John Thomas Dye has had on me is really more than words can say, but I have given describing my time here a valiant try, like John Thomas Dye has always taught me to do. Now as I leave the comfortable hall, project filled classrooms, peaceful canyon, sweeping lawns, and wonderful friends behind me and move on to my next adventure, I will always remember the lessons JTD has taught me and the good times we have shared. In a sense I am taking a little bit of John Thomas Dye with me wherever I go.
  • Max Ritvo '03

    The John Thomas Dye School is a warm summer breeze. It’s the feeling you get when vanilla ice cream runs down the cone and over your fingers, caressing them in its icy grasp. It’s the sound of dozens of little voices straining to be heard over the rest at the Carols. It is a place where my peers and I can experience life to its fullest. It is where we can relish in the studying of everything, from mathematics to friendship.

    I know not of a place more special than my school. What other facility of such high prestige has a principal willing to jump into the dunk tank or shave his head for the welfare of his student body? Name another place where the headmaster would allow himself to be subjected to the humiliation of having hot fudge and graham crackers ruthlessly hurled at him by the teachers as an incentive to sell raffle tickets. There is not another academy on earth that has a faculty and staff willing to sacrifice so much for their pupils.

    Ever since I walked into my first kindergarten classroom, I was respected and loved. To this day, never have I encountered a student or a teacher who refused to give me a smile and a helping hand. These smiles and helping hands have caused me to form an unbreakable bond, not only with the school, but with John Thomas Dye III himself. Everyday I can feel him watching over us from the starry heavens, guiding us down a path of magnificence and splendor.

    The John Thomas Dye School is honor, compassion, devotion, humility, ambition, and courage all twisted together in a flawlessly beautiful way. It is a living thing that grows with each young child about to blossom into a glorious young adult that will shape the world of tomorrow. The mixture of wonderful feelings I have for JTD is unfathomable and indescribable. So when asked what does John Thomas Dye mean to me, I will simply say, Utopia.
  • Nicholas Cuse '02

    My Second Home

    Every weekday morning I rise out of bed, put on my uniform, munch on a quick breakfast, and then head out to my car. Although it is filled with a myriad of children my age, my vehicle is completely silent, all childish energy subdued by the morning drowsiness. As the car rumbles and pulls out of my driveway, you might think I was leaving home, but for me it's not really like that. For me it's more like going from one home to another, because the place I am going still has familiarity, happiness, friends, and teachers. The place I am going also, like my home, means a lot to me. The place I am going it J.T.D.

    From the welcome cheeriness in preschool to the helpful guidance in sixth grade, J.T.D. has always been like a second home to me. There is nothing I like more than to walk into my classroom after a long vacation and see all my friends and teachers again, their smiles as strong as ever. Sometimes I even sit at home alone and wish that I could be at J.T.D., where I always have a humorous friend to laugh with and a wise teacher to ask advice of.

    Like home, it is not only the place J.T.D. that means so much to me, it is what I come away with from it. When I first came to J.T.D. I was like an uneducated block of stone, but, through the years, my teachers have shaped me into a knowledgeable statue. My J.T.D. experience has been a lot of fun, too. I can sill remember the overflow of joy and pride that came out of my tiny kindergarten body when I read my first sentence and the excitement that pulsed through my veins when I read my first poem to the rest of my class. J.T.D. has given me a sense of self-value that I have never had anywhere else; a golden feeling of contentment that is so completely satisfying.

    Leaving J.T.D. this year is going to be like leaving my home, and I can't say it's something I'm looking forward to. J.T.D. has been part of my everyday life for nine years, and it's hard to imagine what life would be like without it. Yet, even when I move on to a new school, J.T.D. will not be gone. It will always be in my heart and never be forgotten.
  • Greer Feick '01

    What John Thomas Dye Means to Me

    John Thomas Dye is a school where I was just as excited to go every morning in sixth grade as I was on those magical mornings in kindergarten. There was never a day when I didn’t want to go to school. I honestly couldn’t wait for each day to begin. You get to know every nook and cranny so well it’s like a second home. The teachers really know and care about each student. I’m still good friends with my kindergarten teacher. Most of all, I have so many memories of good times at John Thomas Dye. I remember the tree I used to sit on and giggle in in second grade, my hideout in the office next to my third grade classroom, the greenhouse in fourth grade where I grew the only carrots I ever liked eating, because I grew them, the tree I planted next to the art room at environmental club in fifth grade, and finally being the graduating class this year and getting to lead the school in The Salutation of the Dawn and The Pledge of Allegiance. Every time you take the two big steps and shout “I” or “Listen” you think about how much this school means to all of us and how sad we’ll be to leave it. Just thinking that John Thomas Dye won’t be my school anymore makes me sad. It’s not just a school, it’s a place for hugging, laughing, joking with friends, helping others, bouncing balls, learning about Headstart and One Voice and thinking about how I want to make a difference in the world. It’s a place for tromping through the canyon in science class, reporting for the Flare, performing without fear in front of a welcoming audience at Music for Lunch Bunch, outdoing yourself for a Halloween costume, and running a campaign for student council elections. Even when I’m not at John Thomas Dye I’ve seen people who go to our school or have gone and think, “Oh, there’s someone in the family.”

    Since I first started this school I’ve wanted a piece of myself left at John Thomas Dye, not a plaque or a picture, or even a brick, something more. Now I realize I have all my memories. I’ve heard people say that a long time from now you won’t remember a science lab, a book report, a math project, or a history project, or some other fun event, but I think I will. I’ve also heard the saying “time flies when you’re having fun”. This is certainly true of John Thomas Dye. It seems like only a week ago when I started sixth grade. Although I will be sad to leave John Thomas Dye, it will always be a part of me. I feel lucky to have grown up here. I will not forget when I go off to other schools and other places. I will show by the kind of person I am what the John Thomas Dye School really does mean.

The John Thomas Dye School

11414 Chalon Road
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 476-2811

Located In Los Angeles, CA, John Thomas Dye is an independent school for grades K-6. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine arts, competitive athletics,  and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.

The John Thomas Dye School admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.