Author Archives: noellavallee

A Tale in Tweets, Posts and Photos.

September 28, 2011:


Good luck to #volleyball as they take on Cheshire Academy & good luck to #soccer as they take on Miss Halls School! Bring back a win girls!

We lost to Miss Halls and our record was 0-2-0. Luckily, it was early in the season so we had plenty of time to improve.

October 5, 2011:


#Games today against @WatkinsonSchool, @aactweet and Eagle Hill School. Good luck girls! #highschoolathletics

October 6, 2011:


Congratulations to V. Soccer in their 8-0 win against Eagle Hill and to J.V. Soccer in their 1-0 win against @aactweet!

We went on to win our game against Eagle Hill and our record became 1-2-0. After taking on Four Rivers Charter School and Forman School we were at 3-2-0. We took on Watkinson School a few days later and tied and our record became 3-2-1.

October 12, 2011:


Good luck to JV Soccer against @BementSchool, Varsity Soccer as they take on @DarrowSchool and Varsity Volleyball against @thewinchschool!

October 13, 2011:


Congrats to V. Soccer in their win against @DarrowSchool yesterday! Great job girls, keep it up!

Congratulations to the varsity soccer team on their win against Darrow School yesterday. Keep it up girls!

Our record continued to improve with a win over Darrow School and we took the lead in the league. With only a few more weeks of games, our record stood at 4-2-1.

 October 19, 2011:


Good luck to JV Soccer vs. @NMHSchool and to V. Soccer vs. @aactweet today! Bring home a win girls! #athletics

 Our winning streak continued and we beat the Academy at Charlemont 5-2 and Buxton School 6-1. The girls were fired up and their announcements became more enthusiastic with each win. The varsity soccer team held a record of 6-2-1 with only a few games left.

October 26, 2011:


Games today vs. @lawrenceacademy, @Dublin_Wildcats and @aactweet. Good luck, girls!

 October 27, 2011:

Congratulations to our Varsity Soccer team in their 5-0 win against Dublin School yesterday. They play Putney at home at 2 p.m. on Saturday for the league championship. Come cheer them on!

 Our win against Dublin gave us a record of 7-2-1 and the girls were ready to take on Putney for the league championship. They had high hopes of winning the game and (hopefully) the subsequent tournament and ending the season as league champions and tournament champions.

November 3, 2011:

Congratulations to the Varsity Soccer team for winning their last game against Putney School (5-2) in the snow and becoming the RVAL regular season champs! Check out the video!

 The win against Putney in the freak October Nor’Easter gave SBS the title of league champions. The girls were ready for the tournament and couldn’t wait to play.

November 4, 2011:


Congrats to V. Soccer team who will advance to RVAL semi-finals after 6-0 win against @buxtonschool today. Keep it up, girls! #athletics

Congratulations to our Varsity Soccer team on their 6-0 win against Buxton today. They advance to the RVAL semi-finals which will be played Monday at 3 p.m. Come cheer them on!

 November 8, 2011:

Varsity Soccer has done it again! Congratulations to the team on their 3-1 win vs. Charlemont in the RVAL semi-finals yesterday. They play for the RVAL championship vs. Putney School on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Go OWLS!

Going into the final tournament game of the 2011 season, varsity soccer boasted a record of 10-2-1. Spirits were high and the girls were ready for a fight.

 November 9, 2011:


Final tournament game for v. soccer today at 2:30 p.m. and v. volleyball hosts @MacDuffieSchool at 3 p.m. Come cheer us on! #goodluckgirls


RVAL championship is starting NOW!!


Stoneleigh is first on the board! 1-0!


And just like that, it’s tied.


Still tied with @PutneySchool in the RVAL Championship soccer game. 1-1




Still tied!!


We’re going into overtime with @PutneySchool varsity soccer in the RVAL Championship game!


Into the second 5 minute overtime! Still 1-1!


End of 2nd 5-minute overtime! Still 1-1!


Wow…we’re heading into a shootout!


Congrats to @PutneySchool who are RVAL champs after the overtime shootout.

In the end, it was a tough loss for the Owls against Putney School. In spite of it, they had a winning season and finished as league champions. Perhaps the most heartening moment of the season came after the game had ended. As the students and guests from Putney School celebrated their win, our own fans, proud of their team and their school, ran across the field to support and encourage their peers. In spite of the loss, our fans were there to celebrate everything the team accomplished this season. Regardless of the final outcome of the game, they were proud of their friends and classmates. This is what Stoneleigh-Burnham is all about.

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Jump Right In and Be Yourself or The Top Ten Things New Students Should Know

This week on our Facebook  page we asked students, alums, and fans of Stoneleigh-Burnham School to weigh in and let us know what advice they would offer to new students. We received answers from Owls as far away as Brazil and as close as our own back yard. We’ve compiled the responses into a list of the top ten things new SBS girls should know. Let us know if you have other advice for new students!

10. Don’t let it pass you by, embrace it all, enjoy school.

9. Go out and try new sports, new foods, new activities.  The things you learn, opportunities you have, and the people you meet will be a bigger part of making you the woman you will become than you could ever imagine they would.

8. Participate in activities during the week and on weekends…even if you’re a day student!

7. Be nice to your RA…and keep your room clean!

6. Study hard and learn to write very, very well (it is school after all).

5. Keep a journal and take lots of pictures. You will want to remember every moment.

4. Talk to as many new people as you can…and get to know the shy, quiet kid. As one alum put it, they may end up being your best friend for life.

3. Believe in yourself and allow yourself the chance to become an assertive, self-assured woman.

2. Take advantage of every opportunity. Go on school trips, take risks, and don’t be afraid to jump right in and be yourself.

1. Have fun. From current students to alumnae from the class of 1988, everyone agrees that it is important to have fun and enjoy your time at SBS. It will be over before you know it!

We know there will be lots more advice to come…”like” our Facebook page and join the conversation!

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On the Importance of Having Fun

I know that Stoneleigh-Burnham School is an academic institution and the girls are here first and foremost to learn. However, I (and perhaps this has to do with my relatively young age and still vivid memories of my own time at Stoneleigh-Burnham) think that having fun, and taking time to enjoy the people around you will teach you lessons that are nearly as important as the ones you will learn in the classroom.

I am a firm believer in the importance of having fun.

I’m lucky enough to work with our middle school girls which means that we find excuses to have fun all the time. Sometimes it’s organized, like our second annual Midnight Madness this past Saturday, and sometimes, the middle school girls find ways to surprise even me.

Take Monday night for example. I, along with most of our middle school students were in the Meeting Room for evening study hall (the rest of the middle school girls were in the computer lab down the hall). They were a bit rowdy, which is normal for them, but at one point they reached a new level of distraction and I told them they needed to quiet down and focus. My tone must have been sharper than usual because the whole room got very quiet and the girls all looked over at me to see how serious I was. Suddenly, with a deadpan expression, one of our 8th grade students yelled out:

“Who let the dogs out?”

And the entire room began to bark.

I laughed so hard that I cried…and I was struck by two things, first that the Baha Men apparently have international acclaim (students from China, Mexico and Ghana knew what the appropriate response was) and by the fact that the girls had once again reminded me of something I already so firmly believe in, that it’s always important to be having a little fun.

-Laura Lavallee ’04, Associate Director of Admissions

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At Stoneleigh-Burnham School we talk about community all the time. In Admissions, we talk about how close knit our community is and how vital it is to the function of our school. We talk about the strong relationships we foster between our faculty and students, and about the fact that everyone, even the Head of School, will know you by name.

As a school, we talk about the importance of taking care of our community, of being careful with each others feelings and being respectful. The mission statement of Stoneleigh-Burnham School describes creating a community that “inspires girls to pursue meaningful lives based on honor, respect and intellectual curiosity.  Each student is challenged to discover her best self and graduate with the confidence to think independently and act ethically, secure in the knowledge that her voice will be heard.”  The Honor Code further encourages and expects our students to be guided by the following: “Respect for others in all my words, expressions and actions.  I will be kind and polite and will refrain from hurtful remarks about appearance, race, religion, family, intelligence and sexuality.”

During the opening of each school year every member of the community signs the SBS Honor Code which hangs in the Capen Room as a daily reminder of the commitment we have made to ourselves, our community and our school.

The mission statement and the honor code are part of the fabric of who we are as a school. They help to guide students, faculty and staff in the decisions they make each and every day. However, in light of the recent acts of bullying across the nation, Massachusetts has passed an anti-bullying law which requires schools to write and uphold a policy which specifically addresses bullying.

Yesterday, during Housemeeting, Head of School Sally Mixsell presented “Stoneleigh-Burnham School’s Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan” to the student body. The presentation detailed the steps which will be taken should someone report something that has occurred. The plan is intended to (1) prevent bullying and cyber-bullying among our community members, (2) to encourage community members to have confidence in the School’s procedures and to come forward promptly whenever a student is subject to conduct that is prohibited by this or any other School policy; and (3) to implement appropriate discipline and other corrective measures when they are found to be warranted.

So why would this prompt me to write about our community? What makes Stoneleigh-Burnham School different than other schools in Massachusetts? The policy itself is similar in nature to those policies being presented at public and private schools across Massachusetts. The difference for Stoneleigh-Burnham is in our community.

I see small acts of kindness and joy here every day.

The day our students left for break I walked down the hallway and found a basket of handmade treats with a note. I picked up the note, written in the early morning hours by Monica, a member of our facilities staff, and it read

“Thank you all for helping me keep UMB clean. Have a great vacation. Please enjoy a pop and candy cane.”

Not only did this bring a smile to my face, it reminded me why I love this school. The little things we do for each other that help to brighten each others day.

Things like John, our security guard who comes in a bit early each evening to shuttle our riders from the barn to the main building at the end of the day.

Or Elizabeth and Allie, two of our 9th grade students who diligently cut out snowflakes for each and every office, dorm room and classroom door one weekend and spent the better part of their free time writing notes on each one and hanging them up as a surprise for the students, faculty and staff on Monday morning.

Or the way each time I take a group of students ice skating they make sure no one is left behind. They link arms and hold hands and encourage those who are still learning to skate. I’ve yet to see a single girl left behind to skate on her own…even if she’s never been on the ice before.

It’s things like walking onto the middle school hallway to see “I love you” scrawled anonymously on the white boards of every room on the hall, or hearing the last two students arrive, at 9:35 on Monday evening from their winter break and having the entire hallway flood downstairs to help carry their bags and welcome them back.

These are the reasons our bullying prevention plan will be different than those at other schools. The written words, discussed in further detail in our Head of School’s post on the topic here, will be the same as those written at schools across the state. For us, it’s the community behind those words that makes the difference.

– Laura Lavallee, Associate Director of Admissions

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Remembering 2010


December 15 – 5 Minutes

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

(Author: Patti Digh)

Confession, I cheated on this post. I gave myself more than 5 minutes…but the initial brainstorming, when I made the list of things I wanted to include…that I only gave myself five minutes for.

If the schools collective memory for the 2009-2010 school year was going to disappear (and thankfully it’s not!), there are a few things I think the alumnae, students, faculty and staff would like to remember.

1. The All School Sleepover.

The night before Spearth Day last year found all 120 of our students (international and domestic) together in Geissler Gallery playing games, eating yummy food and watching movies. The sense of community was indescribable – I have never seen our students so connected and excited. It was a wonderful, albeit exhausting, experience for each and every one of our students and one I know they are looking forward to repeating this year.

2. The Gymkhana.

It’s not every day you see students running with carrots…with horses in hot pursuit. The gymkhana is a fun way for all our riders, competitive and not, to spend an afternoon “horsing around” with the animals they love. Every rider attends…even if they don’t participate and it’s a great time to head down to the barn and watch the antics…even if you don’t know anything about horses, it still promises to be a fun time!

3. The Middle School Overnight.

I will always treasure the memories from the Middle School overnights I have attended. It’s an amazing time when the girls get to know each other…and the adults who will be most involved in their life. From the late night chats to the early morning breakfast…the middle school overnight is a rewarding experience. The best part of the whole two days? The look of confidence and triumph on the girls faces when they conquer the high ropes courses. There is nothing like it!

4. Vespers.

A bittersweet occasion, vespers is our seniors chance to say goodbye to the school and the community. It is poignant and refreshing to hear the girls talk about all the things that are most important to them. Each year the community gathers together the night before graduation to honor the exceptional members of our senior class and help them say farewell. It is touching, heartfelt and usually, there are at least a few laughs.

5. The Night After the Storm.

Last spring Stoneleigh-Burnham, and the greater part of Western Massachusetts was hit with a terrible thunder storm. The school was without power for many hours and the fields and woods our girls call home were devastated with downed trees. During this time of crisis the community banded together and students, faculty and staff worked to help clean up the campus and return it to its usual beauty. To read more about the storm, check out the post here.

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Beautifully Different.

There is an annual event and online initiative, started in 2009, called #reverb10 that challenges bloggers (new and old) to reflect on the year and consider what’s next. Each day they provide bloggers with a prompt to help keep the creative juices flowing. While I have not been actively participating (we’re already on December 10th and although I’ve known about the project for awhile, I’m just starting now) I have been watching the site for inspiration and ideas.

As I checked out the prompts that have been offered over the last ten days the one from December 8th caught my eye:

December 8 – Beautifully Different

“Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful” (Author: Karen Walrond)

As I think about all the things that make Stoneleigh-Burnham School different I am struck by how true the statement is. It really is our differences that make us “beautiful.” It is the comfort you see on the faces of our girls in the hallway, the fact that we are all girls to begin with, the size of our community and the connections between students, faculty, and staff . These are the things that make us Stoneleigh-Burnham School, these are the things that makes us different and the things that make us beautiful.


We know how to work hard

and when to have fun.

We know when to take ourselves seriously,

and how to foster strong relationships between our students and faculty.

We know the importance of recycling.

We are an international school...and we like it.

We recognize our talents. (Student work: Mikae Sasano '01 "Monkey")

We embrace our traditions. (Stoneleigh-Burnham Sweater Girl)

We are the Owls, we are Stoneleigh-Burnham School, we are beautifully different.

Photos courtesy of Anna ’13 and Bree ’12.

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These are a few of my favorite things.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.

Brown paper packages tied up with string,

these are a few of my favorite things.

(The Sound of Music)

My favorite part of the day is the time I get to spend with our students. I love hearing about their day, learning about the horses they like, the teachers they love, and the way they like their Brussels sprouts cooked. I love asking them questions and watching them ponder the answers. Sometimes the answers are quick, a shouted response from the other side of the dinner table. Sometimes they think deeply, asking if they can come back to me with an answer. The enthusiasm and positivity I see in each of our students on a daily basis never ceases to amaze me. At 18, 15 and even 12 I see wisdom in them that makes me pause and reflect on just how much these girls know about life, love and happiness.

Last night was no exception. I began my evening sitting around a table with a group of girls who range in age from 12 to 15. We were having a rather enthusiastic discussion of the things they love most about SBS. Food made it onto the list more than once, as did teachers, weekend activities, Humanities, Select Chorus and MOCA (the middle school student government).

As the night continued I asked more and more of our middle school students (and their Resident Assistants) about their experiences at SBS. The answers were varied and as unique as the girls who were giving them. The common themes included a greater sense of independence, increased confidence and a willingness to explore and experience more cultures and traditions. I have included the questions and a few of the responses below.

What is the best thing Stoneleigh-Burnham has done for you? What is the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since coming to Stoneleigh-Burnham School?

“I’ve made really good friends here. I’m not as nervous when I give presentations. My Mom and Dad say I’ve become more independent and I manage my time more wisely than I did before.” -8th grader from New Jersey

“SBS has opened me up to socialize with people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. Now I’m more open to different ideas.” -8th grader from New York

“Stoneleigh-Burnham has taught me how to be independent. It taught me how to be around people from different cultures and feel comfortable around everyone. I’m way more organized, I feel better about who I am, I’ve become a better rider and it taught me that anyone can be anyone and be accepted.” -8th grader from Russia

“The best thing is everything. I have made good friends and I have become more organized.” -8th grader from Mexico

“The best things are the classes and the food. My english is better.” -7th grader from China

“I learned to speak English and I have very good friends. Now I am more secure in myself. When I was in Mexico, when I looked at someone I didn’t know I would think they were strange but now I say “Hi!”. I wasn’t shy with people I knew but I was with people I didn’t, now I speak with them.” -8th grader from Mexico

“It has helped me in many ways such as bringing more happiness into my life and helping me develop as an individual and as a student.” -8th grader from China

“Stoneleigh-Burnham has taught me not just about academics but also about cultures, traditions, sports, how to find my voice and much, much more. Now I am much more independent, organized and outgoing.” -8th grader from New York

“Stoneleigh-Burnham has taught me to be an independent girl, thinking creatively and positively, knowing what my dream is and pursuing it constantly. I enjoy getting along with people from all over the world and from different age groups. Being a Stoneleigh girl makes me proud of myself.” -12th grader from China

“It has helped my confidence level just being here and making my own decisions. It makes me feel like a stronger person who can do more things.” -8th grader from Boston

“The best thing SBS did for me was help me make friends. I had friends before but not really close ones. Now I have friends I’ll keep for life.” -8th grader from New York

“Stoneleigh-Burnham made me learn more cultures and different traditions from around the world. I’ve been opened to different routines.” –7th grader from Mexico

“The best thing the school has done for me is show me the importance of being a leader I have become a better rider and I’ve seen possibilities in my future because of Stoneleigh-Burnham.” –11th grader from St. Maarten

“The best thing Stoneleigh-Burnham School has done for me is to provide me with a better education and to grow as a person, learn new cultures and many things that are important. I have become more mature and educated. It has also made me a stronger person.” -12th grader from Columbia

“SBS has made me nicer and more considerate.” -7th grader from Ghana


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