On the last day of Horizons at Ashley Hall, a little rain could not dampen the spirits of 30 exuberant first and second graders from Memminger and Mitchell Elementary Schools as they celebrated six weeks of achievements and well-earned confidence boosts. Having experienced a transformative summer of reading, STEAM classes, music, and swimming, each girl will begin her school year better prepared academically and will return to Ashley Hall’s campus this fall and spring for special Saturday Horizons sessions. For the many faculty, staff, and volunteers who made Horizons at Ashley Hall possible, those special sessions cannot come soon enough. “I had to hug each girl and personally tell her goodbye,” said Shannon Laribo, Class of 2011, who is an Assistant Director of Admission at Ashley Hall and who served as a reading specialist during Horizons. “I can’t wait to see them again and hear how things are going with their school year. ”
As the first South Carolina school and second all-girls’ school in the nation to offer the award-winning, tuition-free Horizons program, Ashley Hall prioritizes academic innovations and meaningful community connections such as Horizons. In addition to faculty and staff working as teachers, the School’s student and alumnae volunteers served as Horizons Assistant Teachers (HATS), a crucial element to establishing a welcoming campus environment for the girls and building meaningful friendships. With a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the resulting program was a playful curriculum augmented by field trips, healthy lunches, and an overall emphasis on family involvement, with parents and students agreeing to return each summer through eighth grade. “Multi-year mentoring and an ongoing commitment by the parents and students are hallmarks of the Horizons program and provide a foundation for its proven success,” said fifth grade science and math teacher Kiki Sweigart, who serves as Horizons at Ashley Hall’s program director and lead teacher.
With the summer nearly over and the start of the school year just a few weeks away, Ashley Hall’s inaugural Horizons students took a few moments to savor everything they had accomplished and to look forward to more happy times on campus with their new friends. “I liked music class and singing best,” said Khloe Conyers, age 6. “I liked my teachers and friends and working together even better.”