Symposium Week 2020: The Courage to Be Your Authentic Self

The Penguin Hall community came together for its annual Symposium Week 2020, with this year’s theme — the Courage to be Your Authentic Self — woven into master classes, service treks, and guest speakers. The events began with a musical performance by The Ruby Slippers, followed by our Keynote Address Speaker, Ms. Sherry Cook. A former APH Faculty, Cook shared her story of mental toughness and physical endurance hiking the 2,192-mile Appalachian Trail. At 56-years-old, Ms. Cook had some hiking experience, but knew she had to experience life and all its tests before she challenged her mental resolve to accomplish the trail. She spoke of her “tramily” (trail family); reminded students that acts of kindness matter and to perform them whenever possible; and encouraged students to approach situations that intimidate them with courage, and to draw on the strength of those that went before you, in any of life’s endeavors.” 

Leda Elliot, a Tai Chi Master, Reiki Master and owner of A Thousand Cranes Studio, spoke to our school about the mind-body connection. She shared research on endorphins, the chemicals that affect the brain and body, and reminded attendees that “Our brain is also our body, and the goal is harmony between the two.” To demonstrate how we can start to train our bodies to affect our mind, she led students and faculty through multiple Tai Chi-inspired exercises. These short and simple breathing and movement exercises can be used to help manage anxiety, fear, and promote positive awareness.

Guest Speaker Leda Elliot, “Your Brain is not in Charge”

APH Faculty and staff welcomed Holocaust survivor Rita Kaplan as a Guest Speaker for Penguin Hall’s annual Symposium Week. As part of senior Jennifer B.’s “Capturing Oral History” class, Jenn invited Kaplan to the school to share her incredible story of personal tragedy and survival during the Holocaust. Having moved many in the audience to tears more than once, Kaplan’s story is truly inspiring. To read more information about Jenn B.’s Capturing Oral History project, or to learn more about Ms. Kaplan’s incredible survival story, please read this article recently featured in Hamilton-Wenham Patch.

Service Opportunities for All

Students participated in a variety of Service Treks during Symposium Week. Service Treks are opportunities for students to volunteer their time to assist community partners with projects, as well as discover more about their missions and community members they support. This year, students visited Windrush Farm, where they helped clean tack and learned more about their therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities.

Students volunteering at MA Coalition for the Homeless in Lynn

Students also visited A Bed for Every Child, where they helped assemble bed-making kits, and Coalition for the Homeless, where they organized and bagged up winter jackets for distribution to those in need. Students also assisted Pathways for Children in Beverly and Salem, where they read stories to children, and provided support services to staff. For those who volunteered their time at My Brother’s Table, The Accord Food Pantry and The Open Door Food Pantry, students helped stock and organize food, cleaned the kitchens, and much more.

Students in Acid Sketching and Print Making master class

Engaging Master Classes

During Symposium Week, students attend a selection of “Master Classes,” taught by both faculty and students. Master Classes are designed to help students gain exposure to new, interesting and diverse topics; and also to help girls understand why intellectual curiosity and passion for life-long learning are important qualities to maintain throughout their lives. From Acid-Etching and Printmaking, to participating in a musical drum circle, to understanding the qualities that make a good leader, there was a Master Class for every student.

Read the full descriptions for 2020 Master Classes and Service Treks.