Senior Spotlight: Kate Polatsek Delacorte
1. How long have you been at WDS?
I have been at WDS for two amazing years.
2. What did you learn at WDS that you feel prepared you for this next step?
WDS has prepared me for so much. One of the most important things I feel WDS has taught me is how to advocate for myself. You definitely are met with a ton of support from teachers and peers, but somewhere along the way, you learn that in order for people to help you, you have to allow them to by letting them know what your needs are. I think everyone leaves WDS with skills in this department, which I have a feeling will be so helpful not only in college but just in life in general. WDS also taught me the beauty of one on one relationships with teachers. It is so nice when a teacher is able to recommend a book or even a song to you because they know you so well! At WDS, you also learn the importance of cheering your classmates on. You really do grow to love every one of your peers, and you learn just how special this is. Most importantly, you really discover who you are at WDS. You’re forced to try things you might not be the best at, which is sometimes really scary, but also (surprisingly) so cool!! I’ll always remember the debate class I took with teacher Jeff Beals, and the competition my entire class competed in. I was so scared to essentially argue with people I’d never spoken a word to. But I felt so accomplished by the end for doing something I was so scared to do. I may not have been the best at it, but I also wasn’t as bad at it as I’d thought I’d be, and now I could actually do it again in the future! I’d overcome my crippling fear!
3. Why did you choose your particular school/gap year/job?
Because of the current crisis, I am not entirely sure about where I will be next year. The two schools I am most excited about right now are Smith College and Mount Holyoke College. I was one of a handful of students to receive a merit scholarship from Mount Holyoke which I am so grateful for, and which I think was in part because of the work I have done at WDS through my senior project. I am very excited to continue the work I did at WDS in college and to be part of one of the first communities to be on the forefront fighting for social justice issues including equal access and opportunities for all womxn. Part of the reason I made this decision was because of a conversation I had with Amy Shapiro. We were talking about her experience at Barnard, and how amazing it was. Something about that conversation really swayed me towards my decision to apply to four womxn’s schools. My senior project which relates to how sexism manifests itself in the classroom environment, also really inspired me to attend an all womxn’s school. It seems like an incredibly empowering experience.
4. Please share a particularly fond memory of your time at WDS.
I’ll always remember the menstrual pad making workshop that I organized. It was so empowering to realize I could organize something like this on my own. I think it really paved the way for the work I did this year, and just made me a lot more confident in my abilities overall. Amy Shapiro was so helpful in organizing this project. She really believed in me and she never suggested that I was aiming too high, and I think that was just what I needed. I can’t imagine my WDS experience without Amy, she was just such a big part of it. With that project and also the project I pursued this year, I was just met with such incredible support from so many people that I can’t even begin to list everyone.
5. Any advice for the Class of 2021?
Senior year is such a hard year, but it is also such an exciting one. I feel like senior year was a roller coaster of emotions for me and a lot of my peers, because it feels like everything is happening all at once and there is so much change taking place throughout your last year of high school. I know this might seem like a leap of faith of sorts, but you kind of just have to trust that not only are you going to get through this year, but you are going to come out of it with a new sense of strength, resilience, and self awareness that you lacked before. Remember that it is okay to feel ready to give up at times; it is okay to feel overwhelmed and ready to be done with high school. Don’t resist these feelings, or ever feel guilt for feeling them – every senior goes through this at some point in the school year! Cry and laugh with your friends about it, they’re most likely feeling the same way you are, and they will be the ones who get you through all the craziness. Let your friends and teachers know just how much you appreciate them; you will miss them so much, even if it doesn’t feel like it now. It may sound cliche, but try to appreciate the little things in your everyday routine at school: your favorite spot on campus, the conversations with your teachers and friends, things like that. It’s gonna be weird when it’s gone. You don’t have to be overly nostalgic about everything, just enjoy the moment in front of you. Remember: regardless of where you are right now, you’re doing just great. One last thing, take advantage of the senior project. Pursue the thing that you would want to do outside of school, even if it’s something completely new for you (you will very likely find completely new interests you decide to pursue in college and beyond). You’ll love the experience! Good luck with everything, you’ve got this whether you know it or not!