By Neha Sangani

Hi! My name is Neha and I reached out to some alumnae teachers of HB to ask how it was different when they went to school here. I emailed Ms.Harlow, Ms.Chapman, Ms. Jackson, Ms. Steinman, and Ms. Van de Motter. Here is what they said!

When did you come to HB?

Ms.Harlow: I came to HB in 6th grade from Coventry Elementary in Cleveland Heights.

Ms.Chapman: I started in 5th grade, I think it was the 1996-1997 school year!

Here is a photo of Ms.Chapman in 5th grade! 

Ms.Jackson: I came to HB in 4th grade (Mrs. Bissell’s class yay)

Ms.Steinman: I came to HB as a freshman in 1999.

Ms.Van De Motter: I came to HB in 6th grade from Orange public school.

Were the same electives offered? Were there any other electives offered?

Ms.Harlow:  We had way fewer electives!  We didn’t have Academy in Middle School, which I think is a really great addition.  And we had SREP and trips abroad and the Writing Center, but the framework of the Centers wasn’t in place yet.  We also didn’t have a Center for Business and Finance or electives offered in those classes.

Ms.Chapman: Some of the electives are the same (and some curricular elements, I did the 5th grade business project, walk through time, World’s Fair, etc.) Thinking of the Fellowships in Applied Studies (Centers) in the Upper School some of the seeds of those existed when I was a student but the entire “solar system” of opportunities didn’t exist. We did have Strand, Science Research, the Writing Center but those all did their own thing and weren’t a part of the big picture. 

Ms.Jackson: There were not even half of the electives offered then…I was very passionate about Dance, Social Justice (which then was just BCA) and Math/Science.  

Ms.Steinman:  Most of the standard electives (art, dance, theatre, etc) were offered but the Centers (Global Scholars, Business and Finance, etc) did not exist.

Ms.Van De Motter: There are many, many more electives offered today. I am not sure there were many electives other than the various arts and honors classes offered back in my day.

Did you play a sport? What was it like? 

Ms.Harlow: I did! I played field hockey all four years (and six, including middle school).  I played basketball until Junior Year, and I played softball until Senior year.  Then as a Senior I decided to play lacrosse in the spring. 

Ms.Chapman: I was a three sport athlete all four years of high school (and 7th and 8th grade). I played Field Hockey and then Volleyball in fall, basketball in the winter and track and field in the spring. Sports really were where I spent my time at HB and have my fondest memories. My basketball team was very close and I really played basketball year round (don’t tell my volleyball and track coaches!) We were competitive but not like that stretch of state champion teams. Ms. Stineman was my teammate!

Ms.Jackson: I tried many sports (softball, track, tennis) and was not good at any of them! lol.  Dance was my thing.

Ms.Steinman: I actually played three sports all four years – soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. While I loved the athletic competition the sports offered, I enjoyed them the most for what they taught and gave me off the field/court. The friendships I gained from them were invaluable – Mrs. Chapman and I first met on the basketball court and are still friends today. I also learned how to become a better team player and leader through my various positions, including captain, on the team. Finally, a skill I still carry with me today is my organization. I had to be organized in order to be able to be successful in the classroom and on the field/court. This skill remains one of my greatest assets.

Ms.Van De Motter: I did play fall and spring sports. Like my teachers, the coaches were tremendous role models for me. This was an area where I learned that great leadership and true teamwork can beat out straight skill often.

What was your favorite lunch HB offered?

Ms.Harlow: Pizza!  We used to get take out from Papa John’s.  And we had buckeye squares for dessert – the best.

Ms.Chapman: My freshman year we still had the old dining hall and then the dining hall as you know it was built after that. I remember making epic sandwiches at the sandwich bar and loving the hummus. We also loved this dessert that was a cinnamon cake, I can’t remember what it was called.

Ms.Jackson: My favorite lunch was chicken pot pie.  I also loved dessert…buckeye squares and apple crisp.

Ms.Steinman: Hands down, cinnamon kuchen! It is a delicious cinnamon cake (I honestly do not even know how it was made) but it was heaven! It was the dessert offering (we had desserts on a much more regular basis) about once a week and on those days I would forgo the actual lunch and just eat that.

Ms.Van De Motter: When I was at school here, the lunchroom was in the basement and the food was all catered by Stouffers. That was very swanky back in the day. I loved lunch at HB and I still do. The meals today are much healthier and more diverse which is a definite improvement. For example, we had dessert every day, and while I am not a big dessert eater, I absolutely loved the apple crisp. 

Did you have any teachers that are still teaching now? 

Ms.Harlow: Yes!  I had Mr. Purpura, Mr. Buescher, Ms. Wilson, Mr. Kallmeyer, Ms. Armstrong, Ms. DeConingh….

Ms.Chapman: Yes! Ms. Day was my history teacher as well as Ms. Heidemann, Mr. Morse taught art but I’m not sure if I had him, Ms. Shah was my 7th grade science teacher, Ms. Wilson taught me in Middle School as well. Mr. Kallmeyer taught me in 6th grade technology class and might have been my advisor! Ms. Homany taught me 9th grade biology and Ms. Armstrong taught me 9th grade English. Mr. Buescher was my math teacher as well. Yikes, that’s a lot!

Ms.Jackson: Yes!  There are a few teachers here who were here when I attended…Ms. Heidemann was my History teacher, Ms. Redmond and Ms. Hughes in the Business Office were still here, and Mr. Churchill.  

Ms.Steinman: Yes – Mme DeConingh, Mr. Buescher, Ms. Day, Mr. Purpura, Ms. Armstrong and Mr. Morse were not only teaching at HB when I was here, but, with the exception of Mr. Morse, were also once my teachers too! It is because of teachers like these that I wanted to come back to HB. They instilled a love for learning in me and an ability to be resilient and learn from my mistakes that I will be forever grateful for.

Ms.Van De Motter: Yes! What a gift to be both a student and a colleague of many of my teachers! Mr. Morse, Ms. Levitan, Ms. Southard, Mr. Southard (BTW, I knew them both before they were married :), Ms. Longley, Mr. Hoffman, and Mr. Pierce were all teaching when I started. Ms. Toth, Ms. Oberholtz, and Mr. Wismar were also at HB when I was a student!

If you were here in middle school, what was the uniform like?

Ms.Harlow: We had the same skirts (plaid and yellow), but we could wear yellow, navy, black, and white shirts.  The biggest change in uniform is that you had to tuck your polo shirt in, so everyone wore oversized shirts.  The only detention I got in Middle School was for having an untucked polo shirt at the end of the day on Friday in 7th grade.  So unfair, Mrs. Grumney!

Ms.Chapman: When we were in middle school it wasn’t too different. We did have to tuck in our shirts and I got a lot of detentions for not doing that. We also wore school shoes, which at the time, were Doc Martens or Steve Madden loafers. The plaid kilt that is worn now was not an option, we had khaki, yellow or this awful wool plaid that was different. I also think the polos were white or navy blue, not black.

Ms.Jackson: The Middle School uniform was pretty similar, brown/yellow skirt or kilt.  We had more restrictions on types of shoes and the colors were only white, yellow or navy, no black.  Our Brown Bag options were much much smaller than they are now!  No cute sweatshirts or leggings.

Ms.Van De Motter: We had a yellow kilt and a tan kilt for fall and spring. In the winter we had a lovely avocado and brown wool plaid kilt along with the option of khaki pants. Polos, button downs, or turtlenecks were the only styles for tops allowed. White, yellow, tan, and I want to say blue (but how could that be) were the only color options. You could wear cardigan, crew neck, or v-neck sweaters in the same color palate as well…no sweatshirts of any kind! Upper school was similar in that we had a dress code; however, we did not get away with anything. However, tight and tiny were not the style back then. It was almost the opposite, the bigger, the better.

What was your favorite subject in school and why?

Ms.Harlow: I loved history because it was so interesting and related to current events.  And of course I loved my French and Spanish language classes!

Ms.Chapman: I loved history (and went on to become a history teacher before doing Admissions). I really enjoyed learning about the past and had amazing teachers who made it exciting. I also really liked the research/writing component of history.

Ms.Jackson: My favorite subjects were science, math, and dance.

Ms.Steinman: Oddly, Chemistry was my favorite subject. It came easy to me and made sense. There was a clear answer that I was good at finding. History was actually one I struggled with the most. My brain is not programmed to be good at remembering facts and dates. I am also an extremely slow reader – also not good for being successful in history. However, I always loved the content and I knew that if I ever had any chance of remembering it, I needed to teach it.

Ms.Van De Motter: My favorite subjects were art and English. Mr. Morse was the best, as was Ms. Syed.

What was the most trendy outfit during your time?

Ms.Harlow: I was incredibly preppy (I know, what a surprise) so I had a pretty vast collection of grosgrain hair ribbons and ribbon belts and polo shirts and button downs.

Ms.Chapman: Ha! When I was in Upper School they were fighting us about drawstring pants the way they fight leggings right now. We basically wanted to wear pajamas everyday. Also, low rise pants were in at the time so I have a memory of part of our senior skit being about when everyone bent down to get their backpack that you would need a black censor strip to block the view from behind.

Ms.Jackson: Hmmm..most trendy outfit was Doc Martens, knee socks, mini skirt with buttons down the front, baggy sweater, scrunchies, friendship bracelets and big baggy clothes (sound familiar?)

Ms.Steinman: I would not say this was trendy, but I definitely wore sweatpants with a nice top pretty much every day at school. I came to school dressed well but because I always had a change of clothes for sports with me, I usually changed early on in the day.

Ms.Van De Motter: Preppy was in! Layering collared shirts and button-downs along with turtlenecks were all the rage.

What is the biggest difference between school back then versus now?

Ms.Harlow: Technology, especially each student having a personal device and a phone.  We used to hang out in the hallway or in the Senior rooms and talk during breaks, and now it seems like a lot of students are on their phones or watching Netflix when they’re not in class. I know I sound like a grumpy old person, but it does seem that way to me. 

Ms.Chapman: Opportunities! Wow, do you current students have a lot. I always say in my job that I would not have come back to work at my alma mater if nothing had changed or progressed and it truly has. The foundation of some of these fellowships were in their infancy when I was a student and seeing what you are able to opt into and experience is amazing. I would also say what is the same? The relationships/mentorship from teachers and the sisterhood and camaraderie with your classmates. Also, traditions and the academic challenge and learn for life approach, always providing opportunities for girls to push themselves and prepare for the next adventure!

Ms.Jackson: School is so much more diverse now!  So many more students…my graduating class had 42 girls.  And the options now are endless!!!  

Ms.Steinman: One of the biggest differences is the amount of choice students have over their course load. When I attended, choosing your schedule was a much more simplified process. While it can seem overwhelming at times, the number of courses we now offer allow students to create individualized schedules – each student is able, and encouraged, to pursue their passions and push themselves outside of their comfort zones. Honestly, I wish I could take some of the courses that are now available!

Ms.Van De Motter: The most obvious difference is that the physical space is dramatically different. The Prime was not connected to the Middle School like it is today, and of course, the atrium was not there at all. The entire Middle School and Upper School were in what we now call the Classic Building (which is currently being renovated). Class size and class offerings have greatly increased as well. I graduated with a class size of 40 students and 10 of those were students of color! I was extremely blessed and still am! Both the students I went to school with and the colleagues I have had the pleasure of working with at HB are ridiculously high quality people. It is funny how my life has come full circle in so many ways.

I hope you enjoyed reading about past HB, and wow, it sounds very different!