Recent Schreiber graduates impart their knowledge on a panel

Madeline Fagen, Assistant News Editor

On Jan 9, over 50 Port Washington parents, students, and teachers gathered in Weber Middle School’s library for an informative panel discussion with recent Schreiber graduates Hannah Fagen, Drew Feldman, Minah Kim, and Michael Krellenstein.

“Every year, this event is my favorite of the entire AGATE calendar,” said Schreiber parent, Judy Epstein.  “It’s where I learn, as a parent and as an advocate, what really matters to our ultimate customers, the kids.”

This event, held by AGATE (Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education), was meant to council parents and students on successfully navigating through Schreiber academically and beyond from a student perspective.  Additionally, AGATE hoped parents would become more informed on common areas of concern and eventually address these issues for future students.

“We figure that this is a unique opportunity for graduates to share their experiences and opinions in a wide range of topics, from their academic experiences at Schreiber, to their most enjoyable books or curricula activities, to their level of preparedness for college,” said AGATE Co-President Lynn Steinberg.

Graduates who achieved excellent academic records and demonstrate the pursuit of an interest or talent were asked to be a part of the panel.  Before the event, they were advised on the topics that would be discussed, including their level of preparedness for college, time management skills, AP courses, and extracurricular activities among others.

During the event, Steinberg moderated by asking the panel members specific questions in each of these areas.  Once answers were given, further questioning was opened up to the audience.

”I thought the homogeneity of the panel would make the discussion one-sided and boring,” said Kim.  “Despite these worries, the panel ended up being very informative and enlightening as well.  I actually had a lot of fun reflecting upon my experience at high school.”

This success was owed to the panel members’ informative advice in varying areas and their willingness to answer specific questions from the audience

“The questions left a lot of room for us to discuss our experiences at Schreiber, and to give advice to the attending parents and students where we saw fit,” said Fagen.  “We discussed academics, extracurriculars, and strategies for making the most of the high school experience.”

One major area of discussion was the necessity of self-advocacy in Schreiber.  They advised students to take time to build relationships with their teachers and visit department resource rooms on their off periods in order to receive extra help.

“The recent grads spoke of a supportive faculty — even from teachers other than their own — and a supportive peer group,” said Weber parent Marlene Ruskin.  “I was pleased to hear the students speaking so positively about their high school experience.”

Panel members recommended that students ask their teachers to edit drafts of their essays and improve their writing, for this is an important skill in college.

The importance of advanced courses and extra curricular activities were also among the major topics of discussion. Panelists agreed that AP courses were very worthwhile to take in high school due to the more relaxed environment and reassuring teachers.

“I also came away with at least one parenting ‘tip,’ like the fact that it doesn’t pay for a kid to pad their resume with lots of activities, so go ahead and let them just follow their interests (they’re going to, anyway),” said Epstein.

Panel members suggested that instead of trying to simply build a resume, students should take classes and join clubs that really intrigue them.

Additionally, panelists hoped to advise students and parents on balancing time commitments and managing stress.

“When a student doesn’t have an older sibling or someone else to discuss Schreiber with, the choices he or she is presented with in high school can be overwhelming,” said Fagen.  “I hope that the information and opinions that the other panelists and I shared will help make high school easier to navigate for some future Schreiber students.”

According to Steinberg, parents and students were  enthusiastic about the event, and amazed by the achievements and advice given by the panelists.

“I thought it went well and that the attendees learned a lot,” said Feldman.  “It’s a rare opportunity for parents to get advice from recent graduates and for the people more active in the district to hear what parents are concerned about.”