Barrie began the evening by highlighting the important role that parents play in the life of their teens. “I believe that adolescence should be very hard. Because life is harder. In fact, I believe that adolescence should be a series of miserable moments punctuated by points of joy. Because of this, I believe that parents are the star quarterbacks on WSA’s team,” she stated. Following that, nine students, one staff member, and a parent joined Barrie on the stage. She gave each of these volunteers a box that was labeled a different month. As Barrie went through the different months, the participant with the corresponding boxes pulled out objects that related to the events Barrie was describing. For example, while Barrie was advertising for the school auction, which takes place in November and brings in financial aid for 45% of the student body, the students pulled out a chain of paper dolls where one in five had scholarship certificates glued onto their chests.
The boxes were then turned around one by one to reveal the many steps a parent can take to be involved at WSA, beginning with “Enroll Student” and ending with becoming a “Host Family.” Barrie introduced the staff to the parents and then released the parents to experience their student’s Monday classes in seven-minute slots. Student volunteers helped by directing parents around the campus. Parent Kara Swanson described the teachers as “enthusiastic” and added, “This year felt much more like the teachers were designing their programs towards the cohesive goal of IB, and even more importantly, the skills and strategies needed to be successful in a program like IB. I heard several connections made between classes that actually worked in tandem academically. This I appreciated. It felt like a serious academic coursework that was organized and purposeful.”