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Flourishing: The Upper School Experience

The Steward School
Endless possibilities
Academics, extracurriculars, athletics, the arts, service to others … at The Steward School, Upper School students can do it all. Our teachers and coaches serve as mentors, encouraging students to explore their interests and delve into new opportunities. Beyond the classroom, students can join an athletic team, join or create a club, and act in drama or musical productions. Watch this video about Upper School opportunities, and you’ll see that there’s no limit to what Spartans can explore!  

We caught up with some Upper School students to find out what they enjoy most about life as a Spartan. 

Emma Herzog ’24
A collaborative perspective 

“The best thing about Steward’s size is that you are able to make connections with others in whatever activities you explore,” said Emma Herzog ’24. “The School community is so supportive!”

Emma, who serves as class president, thrives on collaborating with her teachers and classmates. 

“I’m able to make a difference in my class’s School experience when leading things like hallway decorating, fundraising, and prom planning,” she said. “I get to know everyone in the senior class, which helps me to include all perspectives in our plans.” 

Emma has developed her communication skills throughout the years, thanks in part to her involvement in Steward’s Model UN Club. At a Model UN conference, students take on the roles of delegates and team up to create solutions to complex world problems.

“We also host our own conference at Steward, which I chaired during my sophomore and junior years,” she said. “As a member of the leadership team for one of Steward’s Model UN conferences, I made it my goal to give the delegates an experience as memorable as mine.” 

Natalia Jimenez ’26
A sense of belonging

As the 2022 recipient of Steward’s Debbie Robson Merit Scholarship, Natalia Jimenez ’26 joined the School community as a freshman. 

“At Steward, there are so many opportunities,” said Natalia, who serves as vice president of the Hispanic Honor Society and chats with prospective families during tours in her role as a student ambassador. Reflecting on her own tour as a prospective student, Natalia said, “My parents and I felt such a sense of belonging. Because of that experience, I love to meet with families who are considering Steward. I want to make them feel the same way I did when I visited the School for the first time.” 

A member of the Leadership Program, Natalia is part of a cohort that engages in hands-on activities as they sharpen their leadership skills. In addition, her participation in the Entrepreneurship Program gives her opportunities to meet successful entrepreneurs and “pitch” ideas to local businesses. Natalia also serves on the Student Life Committee and yearbook staff and is a member of the volleyball team. 

“Being on the volleyball team has taught me the values of hard work, responsibility, and sportsmanship,” she noted. “Plus, I’ve made lots of friends!” 
Upper Schoolers can choose to participate in a wide variety of clubs (54 this year!); they can also start their own clubs. Natalia and some of her classmates created the Helping Hands Initiative, a club whose goal is to benefit communities in need through service projects such as holiday toy drives. 
“Steward is a great place to explore the unknown,” said Natalia. “My advice to new students is to try everything. And don’t forget to enjoy it along the way!”
Zak Qureshi ’24
The joy of self-discovery

When Zak Qureshi ’24 stepped out of his comfort zone during his sophomore year, he discovered things about himself that changed his way of seeing the world … and his place in it. 

“I started taking pictures of students delivering their senior speeches,” recalled Zak. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I kept at it.” After lots of hard work, Zak applied for a role as a practicum photography student in Steward’s Marketing and Communications office, gaining experience and learning new skills. Since then, he has captured countless photos of Steward happenings, many of which have been featured on the School’s social media pages. Along the way, he learned that delving into new territory can reap tremendous rewards. 

“If I hadn’t tried photography, I would not have found a new passion,” he said. “While it may seem scary or nerve-racking, trying new things will often lead to something you didn't even know you could do.”

Zak is also a member of the Special Olympics Club and the Chess Club, and he serves as co-president of the Student Life Committee. As a starter for the lacrosse team, he has built important relationships, learned the value of teamwork, and developed self-confidence. 

“I have grown closer to teammates,” he said, noting that activities such as team dinners bring athletes and coaches together in a fun, off-the-field way. 

“Getting involved at Steward is important because it allows students to branch out and make new friends,” said Zak. “There are so many opportunities here!” 

Braylan Rice ’25
Making his mark

Varsity cross country, varsity tennis, theatre, community service … ask Braylan Rice ’25 what he’s involved in at Steward, and the list is seemingly endless. Braylan, who started at Steward in eighth grade after attending public school, is exuberant when he talks about all that Steward offers.

“The close-knit community is so different from my public school experience,” he said. “Steward celebrates exploration and a creative mindset. Here, I can be in cross country and perform in a musical!” 

For the past few years, Braylan has served as a camp counselor in Steward’s Summer Experience program, logging service hours and honing important leadership and communication skills. He is also a member of the Leadership Program; serves as co-president of the Philanthropic Tea and Hot Beverage Society (which last year raised money to benefit Feed More); shares his School pride as a member of the spirit squad; writes for Steward Ink, a student-run publication; and is a member of the Women’s Empowerment Club and Model UN

With the help of Steward’s College Counseling office, Braylan has started preparing for the college application process. Last year he was one of 1,500 students (out of 9,000 applicants) accepted into a pre-college neuroscience program at Harvard Medical School. “The College Counseling team helped me improve my writing so that my application essay reflected my best self,” said Braylan, who is setting his sights on a career in medicine. In the introductory neuroscience course that he took at Harvard, Braylan learned about the roles that hormone development and neurotransmission play in habits and behaviors. 

“I enjoy being part of everything at Steward,” said Braylan. “The clubs I belong to spark creative energy; I’ve learned leadership skills; and I am able to give back to the community through volunteering.”

Maya Trepp ’25
A friendly face 

“Spartans can get involved in so many things on and off campus,” said Maya Trepp ’25 when asked what advice she’d give to prospective students. “At Steward, you’ll find the right ‘fit’ … you’re always going to be seen and heard.”

Maya, a proud Steward ‘lifer” (a student who has been at the School since junior kindergarten or kindergarten) is the president of the Women’s Empowerment Club, which she and three of her friends founded in their freshman year. The club partners with women-owned organizations, with the goal of empowering young girls. 

“We’ve grown to more than 40 members!” said Maya, who is also a member of the Black Student Alliance and the Diversity Club and helps livestream athletic events.

Maya, whose siblings Meg ’16, Jack ’15, and Sam ’15 are Steward alumni, is also a member of the varsity volleyball team. “It’s a big part of my Steward experience,” she said. “I’ve been playing varsity volleyball since eighth grade, and I just love it. I’m hoping to organize the team to partner with Special Olympics and hold some volleyball clinics on campus.”

A Spartan through and through, Maya says she “always welcomes new students with open arms. I try my best to be there for them and ask if they have questions. I try to be a friendly face.”  

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