Bela Tinaj was the only girl in her grade at ARS from kindergarten through fifth grade. Every spring, before re-enrolling, her parents made sure that she wanted to remain at ARS. “It seemed normal to me,” she explained, adding that ARS gave her a strong base both academically and emotionally. “ARS had a big role in molding me into who I am.”
The result? A “seamless” transition in sixth grade to 150 students per grade at Horace Mann, where people were surprised at her confidence! Her biggest adjustment was to the physical environment, including changing classes, but she embraced the expanded range of activities. Bela is a leader in the debate club and participates in volleyball and She’s the First, a club that works to promote STEM education in countries where the majority of girls lack access to school. She writes for a science publication and a humanitarian collective that is organizing a Women in STEM conference this fall with girls from around the world.
Bela was happy and ready to return to in-person school this month. “It was very tiring being in front of a computer all day,” after Horace Mann went online from one day to the next. “Everyone was frazzled, confused and tired,” but remote learning was manageable thanks to her school’s amazing support. “It made all the difference, and we realized that many people were going through so much worse.” She compared the high level of support favorably to what she observed at ARS, where her brother Luka just entered second grade.
“I think Luka and I are at the safest two schools in New York!” she said, having compared both school’s reopening plans and found that they’ve done similar rollouts. She had a ready answer for what she would say to NYC Schools Chancellor Carranza if given the opportunity: “If you would not put your child in one of the schools, don’t expect parents to do so either. Stay remote until all schools can follow the CDC guidelines for safe reopening.”
The high school sophomore is gravitating towards a future science career, perhaps in medicine, engineering or research, following in her mother’s footsteps, a biochemist and biophysicist who currently works on Covid-19.
Bela stays in touch with her former ARS classmates and would welcome the chance to reconnect at a young alumni gathering as soon as it is safe to do so! Thanks for sharing your story, Bela!
FRANS KOSTER, 1991 TO 1995
Oliver Rathbone, 3rd grade
When Frans recently moved from the suburbs to New York City with his son Oliver his instincts were to return to familiar territory, which included enrolling Oliver at ARS. The main changes he notes at school are logistical (the classroom layout) and cosmetic (library renovation) but, most important, the school retains its moral compass. “It remains a special place.”
After two months in his new school Oliver said, “I love it here!” The biggest difference from his Westchester County School? There was no ethics class, and he studied Spanish instead of French and Mandarin. “What I really love is that we have one hour in the library,” he said.
When asked if Frans kept in touch with other alumni he pulled out a recent photo with four ARS classmates, one of whom he sees once a month, another twice a week!
Welcome Oliver, and welcome back Frans!