Student Experience

We invite you to experience OES from our students’ perspective. Click on a question below to explore student life, the academic experience, the boarding program, and our community!

What new experiences will I have at OES?

Science research project (SRP) was very new to me. All the labs I've done before were under teachers' supervisions and instructions. However, the SRP is a completely independent and perhaps an individual project that has to be done by yourself from developing an idea, collecting information, planning the experiment, ordering materials, conducting the experiments, writing a report and presenting it to the judges. It is a hard task but it really helps to develop my independent thinking and ability to overcome challenges. Danni, 12 Boarding, China

As soon as I got into Upper School, I found plenty of new activities to do, both in and out of school. I started playing basketball and track, singing in A Cappella, and competing in Mock Trial. The huge variety of clubs and teams you can join means that everyone can find plenty of awesome new things to try.
Nathan, 12 Day

I have significantly improved my critical thinkingabilities and had a lot of fun with Speech and Debate. The class discussions have also led me to understand the literature we read even more. Vikul, 12 Day

The smaller class size encouraged me to speak up more and it gave me more of a chance to listen to the thoughts of my peers and build upon them in ways that I had not before. Joan Marie, 11 Day

I have made many friends from different countries. Abe, 9 Day

I had lots of experience that I never had before. I went out with every single outdoor activities led by Tom Handel last year, including rock climbing, kayaking, etc. I played basketball for fun before I came, but in OES, I can actually be on the team, play the game and build up team spirit. I attend a few clubs and activities, including Mock Trial, MUN, Student Council, that I never had the experience before. Annie, 10 Boarding, China

Freshman year I played volleyball for the first time. I went to some of the summer practices and ALL of theupperclassmen were so welcomingand very willing to help me if I needed it. I played on JV2 and had a blast! Ashley, 10 Day

The OES Upper School has allowed me to discover my passions and follow my interests. So far in high school, I have founded and run the Youth Ending Slavery club, co-led the environmental club, joined the service learning action committee (SLAC sets up most of the all-school service projects) and became a member of the Girl Up club (which is a section of the UN programs for helping girls in 3rd world countries). OES has such avariety of activities and clubs that it's hard not to be super involved in our community. Lexy, 11 Day

I would say history class was a new experience. Before I came to the OES Upper School, I had rarely spoken my opinions on any history classes. Our history classes here demonstrate the importance of freedom of speech, where people are free to share perspectives, exchange points of view or even debate on a topic. The method really reshapes my way of thinking and sharing.
Jeff, 11 Boarding, China

How will I be challenged?

OES has challenged me to rise to my full potential as a student, an artist, and an open, responsible, and kind person. There are times when I feel like I will not be able to do something or understand something, but I always do and it makes me feel empowered. Ella, 10 Day

OES has challenged me by asking me to do things outside of my comfort zone and giving me the resources to meet these challenges. Elise, 11 Day

OES has challenged me in many ways. Students are expected to advocate for themselves and take responsibility for their academics. At first it seemed rather odd to be meeting with teachers somewhat regularly outside of class. I have since realized and become comfortable with the notion that my teachers are resources who can help me excel in academics. Also, the homework load from 8th to 9th grade was a big jump but was easy to manage once I got into the rhythm of high school. Olivia, 10 Day

OES pushes students to learn time management with homework, sports and other activities. Our school values more than just education, but also encourages social and physical activities. Lexy, 11 Day

OES is an open school. Everyone here is encouraged to be open. As a Chinese student, I was taught to be humble. So I might not be as open and extroverted as other students. But here at OES, I really feel supported. During class, I might express something that contradicts what other have said, and they appreciate my words. Danni, 12 Boarding, China

Academically, it has pushed me to be a better student and work more efficiently and with purpose. OES has given me opportunities to hold leadership positions, stretching myself to figure out how an ideal leader should act.
Rachael, 12 Day

One aspect of OES that has challenged me is English class. The teachers really pay attention to precision and accuracy when it comes to information and citing your sources. Thankfully they also do their best to help you improve in whichever way they can. Oren, 10 Boarding, Jamaica

OES has challenged me to be who I am all the time. Activities like Culture Shock, Identity Retreat, etc, are able to provide students a space to express proudly to everyone who they are. Kylie, 10 Boarding, Hong Kong

The things I've experienced at OES have undermined everything I know. A math-centric self-proclaimed nerd with a deep-seated hatred for anything subjective, it was hard for me to see any other path for myself. But guess what? Math is subjective. Poetry is beautiful. Friends are confusing. You won't be perfect, and you will struggle. The number of "universal truths" I hold has strongly dwindled in the past few years. Chandler, 11 Day

Who will I connect with at OES?

I connect with so many of my teachers. Teachers are my friends and supporters, and I always feel that I can be honest with them. I also connect with many students at OES, there is a wide variety of personalities and cultures engrained in the Upper School student body. Ella, 10 Day

Over four years I've built many connections, but the strongest is definitely my advisor. I don't know if I could have finished OES as strongly as I have without her there helping me. She has been there to help me through tough classes, illness, injuries, and anything else I need.
Nathan, 12 Day

I've really connected with our counselor. When I walk into her office, I know I'm safe, and that I can really confide in her. I think our support system at OES is very well integrated into our community. Hannah, 9 Day

I feel like I have connected the most with my soccer team. I was really worried about coming into OES as a new student, but by participating in a fall sport that begins in late August, I was able to meet many new people. I am now good friends with almost everyone on the team, and there was a great sense of camaraderie. Rachel, 9 Day

Since I live in the dorms, I have become really close to the people that I live with over time and I love the feeling of camaraderie with my dorm-mates. I have also had the privilege to connect with my teachers and know them on a more personal level. Jessica, 12 Boarding, USA

Tons of people - especially teachers - the teachers have truly made my experience magical by stretching my bounds while letting me know that there's someone there for me. My classmates make a fantastic set of friends, and they have stood up for me and strengthened me in the hardest of times. Chandler, 11 Day

I feel like I have been closely connected to the dorm community where I live every day. The dorm parents, prefect team and dining hall crew are great people whom I am really privileged to have a connection with. And I think I am learning many different values and perspectives on the idea of family.
Jeff, 11 Boarding, China

How will I use my power for good?

I use my power for good to be kind to other people. Whether that is holding open the door or picking up some trash at the end of gathering. I try to approach each day with positivity so that it can be a good day for me and can potentially help someone else have a good day. Using my power for good doesn't have to be large acts of community service. It can simply mean being a caring friend, being willing to listen, or having a positive attitude that will hopefully impact others in a positive way. Olivia, 10 Day

I use my power for good to reach beyond the topics we discuss at OES, and figure out ways to apply them outside of our community. OES gives us a format to use the things we learn, and to do good things, and I think it's up to us to apply it to things outside of our community, and that's when we start really learning. Isabele, 10 Day

Initiated by the requirement of service learning hours in OES, I have been involved in many kinds of volunteer experience so far. And I found that I know the community and understand people better now. Annie, 10 Boarding, China

I do service learning, not as a requirement, but I do it to enjoy using my power for a good cause and learning about the society and other communities. I enjoy helping people with whatever I can. Nahida, 10 Boarding, Afghanistan

Being on Community Board, I have really been given the opportunity to make a difference in the Upper School, but really OES in its entirety. Every day, I commit to being the most positive, open minded version of myself that I can, in class, but outside of it too. Hannah, 9 Day

I make use of my voice in the community of OES as well as the wider Portland, US, and world communities. I participate in discourses on issues that I hear about. I also helped organize a voter registration drive for juniors and seniors because political apathy is one of the greatest challenges of our nation.
Aaron, 12 Day

As a boarding student, what will I do for fun on the weekends?

DORM ACTIVITIES ARE THE BEST!!! I have been participating in almost every single dorm activity since Freshman Year.
Jennifer, 12 Boarding, China

On the weekend, I mainly hang out with my friends. After the school week, I like to unwind and chill out in the dorms, but occasionally we will go out to the mall, downtown Portland, or a good restaurant. Jessica, 12 Boarding, USA

Exploring Portland and find out what the area is like. We have an awesome prefect group that comes up with fabulous ideas for dormies to explore American life. Students are very engaged and appreciative of the hard work from the program. Kelly, 11 Boarding, Taiwan

During the weekends, I usually spend time with my friends and their families at times. I go downtown and visit shops, restaurants, and I occasionally go to the movies. I have also participated in lots of the dorm activities to the movies, go-carting, kayaking, and the occasional trip to Red Lobster. Haggling the dorm parents every hour or so on boring weekends also tends to happen. Ian, 10 Boarding, USA

I'm a very outgoing person to say the least so I like to go out and explore the city on weekends. Oren, 10 Boarding, Jamaica

Going to the movies and dinner with a big group of people. Nahida, 10 Boarding, Afghanistan

Sleep in without interruptions. Play basketball or play on my xbox. Go out to the movies. Go out to eat with day students or dormies.
Simon, 11 Boarding, USA

Watching movies and plays, joining some random activities: laser tag, bowling, arcade, or else. (for me) I also enjoy the weekend breakfast.
Supawit, 12 Boarding, Thailand

I like to participate in dorm activities such as going to movies, karaoke or simply just going to a nice restaurant for dinner. Those are all fun.
Kylie, 10 Boarding, Hong Kong

There is a variety of activities on the weekends, such as food, movies, sports etc. My favorite ones are food activities. Jeff, 11 Boarding, China