Volume 2, Issue 1

October 1, 2021

Getting to Know Karen Eshoo

The Mid-Pen Post kicked off its first issue with a feature interview between Managing Editor A.S. and Mid-Pen's Interim Head of School Karen Eshoo. The two met in the school's Enrichment Center for a chat during lunch, where they covered everything from Karen's high school days to our current high-school life during a pandemic.

Favorite movies: "Young Frankenstein, "Spinal Tap," and "The Princess Bride"

Favorite books: The Poisonwood Bible, The Sum of Us

Favorite subject in high school: Karen reflected on her history class in her junior year. “It made me realize that history is not just a ton of dates that you memorized, it was actually an amazing story about humans, and what it means to be human.”

What's a memory you look back on from when you were in high school?

“Our spirit week always culminated in skits… and in my junior year, we won. The funny thing is that we won, and we were excited, but it was one of those times that for the first time ever, we got together and we weren’t cynical or dismissive of everything, we leaned into it and had a great time.”

Your first day as Head of School was the first time that the entire student body and staff have been on campus since spring 2020. What was it like to transition into your role during this time?

“It was exciting for me to be one of the people to hold the community together as we were going through that transition together. It was challenging because I don’t think any two people on campus were going through it the exact same way. I think there were similarities in experiences but this is a highly individual place on purpose, because we know everybody has their own perspective and their own feelings... I think that because that’s such an emphasis here, [and] that’s what made it feel challenging for me because I also didn’t know everybody yet.

Sometimes it feels as Head of School that I’m supposed to be the one who’s got everything down. The reality is that I don’t need to have everything, that’s why I have great colleagues around. I felt a connection to these folks here more intensely than I’ve felt in any other school that I’ve worked at, in some ways, because I knew I could rely on them for the details. It felt like I could be the glue that holds everything together without having to manufacture something entirely by myself. Mid-Pen is that kind of a community… in many other places, the rules come first and the people come second, and here I think it’s the other way around.”

How do you think the community has remained resilient despite the obstacles of the pandemic?

“I’ve heard a lot of stories from people about what this pandemic was like, and the only thing I can say is that I am blown away by how healthy people are. Of course, there are struggles, for some kids here the re-entry has been tough. When I look around and I see kids being together, after what everyone has been through, all I can do is applaud everybody...there's something about this community of people where we at least demonstrate a willingness to trust each other. It doesn’t mean that we always do, but there is a willingness that I am able to see, hear, and feel here on campus, and for many in the community, being back has led us to be able to lean towards some optimism. Nothing is ever 100%, but we have that part of the culture that really emphasizes trust and care and that makes us luckier than most.”

What were your expectations when taking this job? How do they compare to your experience so far?

“So far, my expectations have really aligned with what I’ve found here. I think this is a school whose purpose and priorities are really clear, not just because they are written down somewhere but because they get lived. Of course, we are humans and we do things imperfectly all the time, but what I certainly expected was to find a group of committed colleagues and that is totally true. I expected to find that commitment and I see it every day…I love seeing the way that people go out of their way for each other.”

What are you most anticipating for the rest of the 2021-22 school year?

“First of all, I am anticipating knowing everybody. Every day, I walk out of here knowing at least a few more names that I can put to faces. That’s super important to me. Getting to know the community, getting to know more from people about what they love about the school and what they want to preserve, and what they don’t love about the school, or what could just be improved upon, and where people want to go next. Part of my job this year is hearing where people want to move to next, which is all evolution, not big changes. What I want to do by the end of this year is learn about individual students here, as well as the collective community as a whole.”

Art Review

Jesper Waldersten is a Swedish illustrator and artist born in 1969. He has been an active and lively artist since the early 2000s. Being in Exhibitions, both solo and not, from Berlin to Stockholm. Among being a traditional visual artist he is also an author. One of his most successful books being Profeten or “phropets” in English. Many of the pieces he creates consist of photos, words, oil paintings, and much more. His current exhibition is titled All Over and is currently on display at Lidköping Art Gallery in Sweden. This exhibition includes shadowy figures and landscapes accompanied by text. All Over is on display till October 30th .

Photo by AS

Sports in a World With COVID

The post-Pandemic world Is a turbulent one and constantly changing with new knowledge and statistics. These bleed into the sports we have academically and in our free time. Many schools are now able to return to partially public sports and students are able to do it normally all school year. Here at Mid-Pen, we’re able to host games and practices that can have other schools and teams involved, the difference is the lack of audience. I decided to sit down and ask one on one with some members of Mid-Pen sports teams.

I had interviewed 9th grade Dragon on the Varsity Volleyball team, and this was their response.

Very weird, it’s difficult because I’m very rusty.” - L.R.

After this, I had asked about the game on September 7 against Summit Preparatory. This was a home game and not the most successful one at that.

“I think we tried hard, (and) I think with some practice we can get much better.” - L.R.

I had also been able to speak with another 9th grade Dragon on the Varsity Cross Country runner:

“Small. Feels small...I personally didn’t run, but the people on my team that did were very fast. AND overall a very good cross county meet.” (This was about the first meet on 9/9/21) - D.C.

Why wasn’t there school on September 16?

A Brief Explanation of Yom Kippur

If you’re confused about why we got the day off of school on a seemingly random Thursday, it’s because that was Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Jewish year. Here’s a quick crash course: Yom Kippur (which translates to English as “Day of Atonement”) is a Jewish religious holiday observed on the tenth day of Tishrei, a month on the Hebrew calendar that occurs around September or October on the Gregorian calendar. Yom Kippur makes up the tail end of the Ten Days of Repentance, which begin with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). The central idea of Yom Kippur is one of self-reflection and becoming a better person. Sins are acknowledged and resolutions are made for the coming year. The holiday is traditionally observed by fasting for 24 hours and attending day-long synagogue services. While Yom Kippur is a religious holiday, it is not uncommon for secular Jews to participate.