Wuersten Award Detail

Amelie Zilber '14

Love, Beauty, and Truth

Six years ago, I nervously stepped out of my mom’s car and embarked on my journey at a new school. I asked myself, “will I fit in, will I make friends?” And how on earth will I ever learn the “Salutation of the dawn?” I secretly held a copy of the poem in my hands those first few mornings for reassurance. But, time passed quickly. I made friends, I fit in, and I finally left the piece of paper at home. I was a part of the John Thomas Dye community. 
Second and third grades are filled with hazy fragmented memories of carefree days playing handball, squirrel family at recess, huddling for story time on the worn blue rug in the library, decorating pumpkins on Halloween, and gingerbread houses at Christmas. I felt warm and safe, a part of a large wonderful family. 

In fourth grade, I fell in love with gardening, being outside, sharing my plot with a friend, and eating the fruits of our labor. I was inspired to plant a garden of my own at home, which I still enjoy to this day. To be honest, it took me a while to get used to the idea of working hard in school. I chatted a little too much, giggled a little too freely, and left the hard work for later. Later came in fifth grade. The homework load doubled, tests got harder, and giggling in class was no longer an option. The pressure to do well mounted and I felt overwhelmed, but as I adjusted, I noticed the nurturing care and guidance of the teachers. I started taking notes in class, practiced my math at home, and actually studied in study hall. I learned to speak up in class, go to my teachers with a problem, and communicate. I understood what it took to do well, a lesson I will carry with me for the rest of my days. 

But the true spirit of John Thomas Dye, and what I love about the school is represented on its crest. Spaced apart in the inner circle are the three words, love, beauty, and truth. 

I learned so much about love at school. I learned to love my teachers who loved me enough to support me when I struggled. I learned to love historical fiction, the challenge of a math meet, and getting my hands dirty dissecting a cow's eyeball. I learned selfless love on the playing field, how to console a teammate after dropping the game winning ball, or run to aid a friend when they’ve fallen. I learned the deep love of friendships I will cherish for the rest of my life. The feeling of being understood and valued for who I am, I will keep with me as I navigate new friendships in the future.

The second word on the crest is beauty. The beauty of the school is undeniable with its vast open views, beautiful green lawns, and rich wooden hall. But, the real beauty of John Thomas Dye lies in its traditions and values. I learned the beauty of giving with the canned food drives, make-a-lunches, playing with the Westside children, and clothing donations. I helped change the life of someone in need. And that is beautiful.

Finally comes truth. John Thomas Dye gave me a place safe enough to speak my truth. I learned to feel safe expressing my self and comfortable communicating my feelings. These are lessons you can’t learn in a textbook, but only through experience.

Whenever I’m asked my favorite tradition at John Thomas Dye, I always reply with the Candle Lighting Ceremony, and not just because it ends with the consumption of a fluffy marshmallow. I look down at the soft flickering flame of the candle, and think of myself, one flame amongst many. The fire of my imagination, my education, and my character has been fanned at John Thomas Dye. As I step, as I did in first grade, into my new school next year, wondering, will I fit in, will I make friends, I know I will, because my flame burns bright. I thank John Thomas Dye for lighting the fire in me.

The John Thomas Dye School

11414 Chalon Road
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 476-2811
The John Thomas Dye School admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.

Located In Los Angeles, CA, John Thomas Dye is an independent school for grades K-6. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.