The Ninth Grade Year

We have spent a good amount of time talking about the ninth grade experience at Dublin School. The transition from middle school to a boarding high school is a big and exciting one and we want to make the most of the experience for our new students. While we will release more information about the Residential Life Program, the Ninth Grade Seminar, the Ninth Grade Trip, and the Academic Program, I wanted to share the assignment we have given the incoming ninth grade for their summer work. They are also reading two books for their English class. Here is the letter I sent to the ninth graders today--please join us in the assignment!

Dear Class of 2019,

Welcome to Dublin School! I am excited to welcome you in person on Opening Day, but for now I hope you are having a great summer. All of us here on campus can’t wait to start working with you this fall. I hope by now you have received a draft of your schedule and some information about the start of your high school experience.

When I met with the faculty in June I asked them to choose a theme for your ninth grade year. After a fun discussion we settled on the theme of “exploration.” We believe the first year at Dublin should be a year of exploration as you explore new ideas in your academic courses, explore new sports and artistic offerings, and explore new relationships and experiences on campus. I think you will find that Dublin will be what you make of it. We have many wonderful adults and older students ready to support you during this time of exploration.

Building on this theme I asked the faculty to come up with some short readings, podcasts, musical offerings, videos and suggested books for you to explore during the month of August as you prepare for your start at Dublin. A few of us will refer to these assignments during the Ninth Grade Seminar this fall (members of the administration will meet with your class on Wednesday’s before lunch to go over topics related to first year students). We know you have assigned readings for English so this assignment will hopefully not take too long, however, you will find that you can go as far as you wish with the assignment (I am guessing that this project will take at least five hours to complete).

My contribution to the theme of exploration is tied to one of my favorite pieces of music, a symphony by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. In 1892 Dvorak moved to the United States and embarked on a mission of exploring American musical themes. His exploration found its expression in his Symphony #9, From the New World, which is popularly known as the New World Symphony. I picked this piece not only due its theme of exploration, but also because it captures the experience of someone joining a new community and finding the balance between sharing their own customs and beliefs and embracing the new and different beliefs and customs they encounter in their new community. I hope it helps you reflect on the experiences you will soon have at Dublin.


Here are the required aspects of this project with some optional readings at the end. We look forward to discussing your reactions and thoughts to these assignments this fall.


1. From Head of School Brad Bates

    -Research Dvorak’s New World Symphony and then listen to it as least once. You can find the symphony on Youtube or it can be downloaded through a number of services. Lastly, I ask that you teach a friend or a member of your family about the Symphony and have them listen to one of the four movements. Now that you are high school students we ask that you go beyond research on Wikipedia.


2. From Academic Dean Sarah Doenmez

    -Freya Stark was a famous British explorer. Please read the following two articles about her, and as you read, look for and highlight quotes from each article that seem to capture the explorer spirit of Dame Stark. Then write a short letter to her. Ask her questions, tell her about a place you would like to explore, or explain how you are affected by the stories she tells. We will collect the letters in English class during the first week of school.


East is West


A Talk with Freya Stark


3. From Dean of Students Simon McFall

    -Watch the following TED Talk by Victor Frankl


We will have a conversation in the Ninth Grade Seminar about setting expectations for yourself and how integrity, authenticity, responsibility, resilience, courage and vulnerability are essential for propelling yourself forward.


4. From Math Department Chair Jonathan Weis

    -After his retirement from Dublin School, the founder of the school, Paul W. Lehmann, wrote a book of recollections of the school. We ask that you read the attached opening chapter of the book to get a sense of the history of the school and Paul and Nancy Lehmann’s exciting exploration as they started their very own boarding school.


5. From Ninth Grade English Teacher Nicole Sintetos

    -Listen to at least the opening episode of the of the popular podcast called Serial,  

We will connect this investigative journalistic exploration to a couple of our Humanities Series Speakers this fall. The Humanities Speaker Series  takes place on a handful of Friday evenings during the year.



For those of you who love to read, two of our faculty members recommended the following books tied to the theme of exploration. These books are not required reading and are entirely optional. If you do happen to read any of these books, please write an email to the recommenders with your reactions:


From Learning Skills Tutor Sophie Luxmoore

    -A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

    -On the Road by Jack Kerouac

    -I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angleou

    -The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore


From Writer in Residence Henry Walters

    -Two Years Before The Mast by William Henry Dana

    -Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    -A book by William Least Heat-Moon

    -Books about Cabeza De Vaca, Ernest Shackleton, and Lewis and Clark


Happy Exploring!