Grandparents reflect on educational changes


This October 10 and 11, grandparents and special friends of KO Upper and Middle school students gathered to see firsthand what a typical KO day is like. While there, some alumni remarked about the many changes in high school, specifically KO, since they graduated.

Esther Van Huystee ’85 was one of the visitors to KO Middle School’s Grandparents’ Day. Ms. Van Huystee came to see her two nieces, both of whom are in the Middle School. “I loved being in a smaller school and being able to take a variety of classes, even being forced to do sports,” Ms. Van Huystee said. She also credits KO with helping her find her love of theatre.

On the subject of changes at KO, Ms. Van Huystee said the school seems the same as when she graduated in 1985. “I’m happy that it feels essentially the same. Even though there are a lot more technological changes and more advanced and upgraded facilities, it still feels like the same school I graduated from,” she said. “I feel that the things that needed to be changed and more modernized have been, and I’m really glad that the core of the school has still stayed the same.”

Overall, Ms. Van Huystee believes that the things she learned at KO are very similar to the things her nieces and other KO students learn now. While the curriculum may have changed and been modernized, the essence of KO’s education has stayed the same. “Of course, I learned reading, writing, arithmetic,” she said, “but more importantly I learned about hard work: being sure to get things done on time and really not being afraid of trying new things.” Ms. Van Huystee is glad that her nieces have the same opportunity she had when she attended KO. “My brother, sister, and I all went here and loved it,” she said, “so when my nieces had the opportunity to come, we all absolutely wanted them to have the same amazing experience that we did.”

Other grandparents also weighed in on what has changed in secondary school since they graduated. “Nobody knew as much then as you do now,” said Jo-Ann Werme, grandmother of junior Emily Karasik. “Back then, you would have to go through an encyclopedia if you needed to do research on something. Now, you can find out in a matter of seconds.” Ron Werme, Emily’s grandfather, spoke about how communication has changed since when he was in school. “People your age have cellphones now, and they can talk with each other even when they’re on opposite sides of town,” he said. “It’s a whole other sphere of communication. If you told me when I was in school, that this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Roland and Ailene Henry, grandparents of junior Emma Henry, spoke about their experiences in a one-room schoolhouse. “I was from Canada and he was from rural Vermont,” Mrs. Henry said, “and we barely had a blackboard. Now look at what you have.” While they believed these technological improvements in the classroom are good for students, they both agreed that teachers are the most important part of a child’s education. “95% of it depends on the teachers,” Mr. Henry said. “And to think, when I was Emma’s age, I hadn’t even decided that I was going to go to college, that’s how much has changed.”

Karen and Tim Dwyer, grandparents of freshman Maggie Dwyer and junior Sydney Dwyer, remarked that the level of learning is much higher now than when they were in school. “When I hear these girls talking about what they’re learning in school, I’m thinking to myself, ‘Wow, this is so much more advanced than when I was their age,’” Mrs. Dwyer said. “I think there are many reasons for that, and obviously there have been many new discoveries in the sciences that are taught now that were not taught then. But even with subjects like English and writing, we weren’t taught as much on how to write a paper; that was more so something you picked up in college. So there certainly is a level of learning that wasn’t there when I was in school.”

While many grandparents and special friends had different experiences while they were in school, one common thing they all mentioned was how excited they were to be at KO and to see the day-to-day lives of their grandchildren and friends.