Our third assembly of the Middle School Alumni Speaker Series was hosted virtually last Thursday, January 28. As with our first two assemblies, our Alumni Office connected with four alumni from varying careers and diverse backgrounds to host this collaborative virtual assembly for our Middle School students. The topic for this virtual assembly was Alumni in the Arts and featured presentations by Lesley Wolff '89, Stephen Skeel '13, Victoria Walls '12, and Robert Hass '16.
The first speaker, Lesley Wolff, was a lifer and graduated from Springside School in 1989. She is an actress, casting director, executive producer, and comedian. Lesley founded Fresh Faces Stand Up Comedy Workshop where she now teaches comedy classes virtually. During her presentation, Lesley offered some helpful advice: "A lot people say pick one thing, and focus on that one thing, and be good at that one thing. I don't ascribe to that philosophy. I really believe that taking a little bite out of a million different things creates a palate of success creatively and emotionally in your life."
Stephen Skeel, our second panelist, graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy in 2013 and went on to study film production at New York University (NYU). During his second year at NYU, he formally started his award-winning video production company, 7 Wonders Cinema, where he is currently the executive producer. Stephen shared the power of passion with our Middle Schoolers, saying: "It really comes down to the storytelling...art can take so many different forms and, to me, that's what is so powerful about film...just making people feel wow'd."
Next up, Victoria Walls graduated from Springside School in 2012 and moved on to study at George Washington University. After spending two years working a corporate job in DC, Victoria knew her true passion was to be a performer and moved to Los Angeles. Since then, her impressive credits have included music videos, commercials, and live performances—including a performance with Lizzo at the Grammy's! During her presentation, Victoria shared a few pearls of wisdom: "Performing arts...is a lot of rejection before you get a 'yes' or an 'I've made it' or a 'big break type of moment'...so I encourage anyone interested in entertainment or performing arts to develop thick skin...If you have a passion, don't be afraid to do it."
Our final panelist, Robert Hass, graduated from SCH in 2016 and attended the University of Southern California. He currently works as a video producer in California, dabbling in sound work, projects for YouTube, and collaborations with USC and SCH Academy peers. In his presentation, Robert spoke about how his experience as an LGBTQ+ individual at SCH—especially within his Players and New Media circles—helped him to become who he is today: "Being a gay kid at SCH, of course there are always ups and downs that every queer person has to go through especially in Middle School and up trying to figure things out, but I just felt very accepted in the artistic scene. Especially in Players...using these mediums as a cipher to tell your story without explicitly having to expose yourself [was important]."
Thank you to our accomplished alumni for their time and words of wisdom! And, as this was our last alumni series assembly for the year, a huge thank you to Dean of Programming and Academic Support Charlotte Bader and Director of Alumni Relations Melissa Brown for organizing these events for our Middle Schoolers.