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Anna Papakirk ’23


My very first day at Doherty is one of my earliest life memories. I was only 2 ½ -years-old, and I remember, at first, I cried a lot because I didn’t want to leave my parents, but then I remember my preschool teachers, Ms. Brackett and Mrs. Pietroski, being super comforting and making me feel very safe. As a Seven Hills lifer, I have now felt comfortable, safe, and happy here for 16 years.

One of my favorite rituals in Lower School was when two students from the senior class would visit the Doherty Campus and lead a Homecoming pep rally with the younger kids. The seniors would get us all hyped up and tell us about the sports they played. This year, my experience came full-circle when I was asked to be one of those two seniors. I went with my classmate, Will Wiles, and we hula-hooped, jump roped, and danced with the younger kids. We also told them about all of the activities that happen as part of Homecoming weekend. I saw so many of the same teachers I’d had in elementary school. It was a special moment for me, and I think it shows how much continuity there is to the Seven Hills experience.

I’ve loved and really benefited from the smaller size of the school. You have the opportunity to develop real relationships with your teachers. You are able to participate in all these different extracurricular clubs, where anyone who wants to join can — you’re not getting cut or excluded. And I’ve been able to play three sports — soccer, basketball, and lacrosse — which I wouldn’t have at a larger school. These opportunities have definitely made me a more well-rounded person and helped me build character.

My Middle School soccer coach, Hannah Hanley, who was also my PE teacher, had a big impact on me. She always got me fired up for games, and she taught me how to be a good teammate as well as a leader. In seventh grade, we played Mariemont in the semifinals of the tournament. The game went to penalty kicks, I missed my PK, and we ended up losing the game. I was really upset and felt so defeated. A year later, in eighth grade, we played Mariemont again in the semifinals of the tournament, and once again, the game went to penalty kicks. Even though I’d missed my penalty kick in the tournament the year before, Coach Hanley made the decision for me to be one of the kickers again. The fact that she had that faith in me was a big deal to me. This time, I made the penalty kick, and we won the game.

I know I’ve gotten a great education at Seven Hills and that I’m well prepared for college, and I also know that what we are taught is bigger than our GPAs, AP scores, and college acceptances. We’re being taught how to be good citizens and how to connect what we learn in class to current events and to what’s happening in our own lives. For example, in AP U.S. History with Mrs. Driehaus, we studied immigration and how America is this big melting pot. I then got to connect that to how all four of my grandparents immigrated here from Greece. We also talked in class about historical patterns of who has and hasn’t been welcomed in the United States as immigrants, which helped me realize how fortunate my family is that my grandparents were able to come here and build a life.

Besides connecting what I’ve learned to my own life, I have also been able to connect what I’ve learned to global current events. When the war in Ukraine began, the history department offered lunchtime discussions for students to ask questions, follow new developments, and learn a lot about the historical context of Russia and Ukraine to better understand why events were playing out as they were. Those conversations then extended into classes and around our dinner table at night.

The school has always encouraged us to try to make sense of the world around us and then to try and make it better. Commitment to Community is one of the school’s core values and service is part of the education. At Doherty, we would do toiletry drives for Open Door. In Middle School, we had bowl-a-thons to raise money for The Caring Place. In Upper School, we’d do sandwich-making, food drives, and other community service projects. Even when I’m no longer a student, because of my time at Seven Hills, I’ll keep thinking about what it means to be part of a community and how to be of service to the world.

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