Michela Halpern ’22, Yearbook Editor-in-Chief, Grew up in the Dwight Community

Senior Michela Halpern – Mimi – is a member of our 13-year Club, which means that she began her Dwight journey in Kindergarten.

Since eighth grade, she has been helping to commemorate the journeys of many fellow students by working tirelessly on our yearbook, The Pride. Serving as Editor-in-Chief for the last four years, Mimi has lent her leadership to the yearbook team, and as they await the finished product to come off the presses, we’re putting Mimi in the spotlight, which she usually shines on others!

Students in the Driver’s Seat
Planning and producing the yearbook is very much a student-driven process. “I enjoy working with everyone to come up with a different theme each year. Together, we put in a significant amount of time and effort after school each week and it’s great to see it blossom before our eyes,” Mimi shares. “I especially enjoy working on the design aspects and have gained quite a number of design skills over the years.”

At the beginning of each year, everyone conducts research about Dwight yearbook themes from previous editions and what other schools are doing. They then receive Dwight-branded font options and color palettes so that they can design their own sample page. Students present their pages, suggestions are made, and when a consensus is reached, they’re off to the races! 

Growing into a Leader
When she first joined the Yearbook Club, Mimi was learning by observing and she enjoyed watching then-Editor-in-Chief Jada Morgan ’18 and Dean Warfield ’19, who designed the cover of the 2018 book, as they worked closely together to finetune the publication. They inspired her, as did Amanda Katagiri, who served as the yearbook’s Faculty Advisor for several years. “Ms. Katagiri has played a key role in supporting me in my work on the yearbook, and also in other ways both inside and outside the classroom. She has been a wonderful mentor and taught me a great deal.”

Ms. Katagiri, who passed the advisor baton to Kelly Fives this year, says, “Mimi has been an integral member of The Pride since she first joined. She immediately stood out for her independence, commitment, and attention to detail. It was a joy for me to watch Mimi grow through the years that followed and to see her develop into a leader. While talented, at first, she spoke quietly. But as an eleventh grader, Mimi presented the opportunity to join the yearbook to students at Morning Meetings and grew as a public speaker and enormously in the role. Although I am very excited about Mimi’s next adventure, she will be missed here at Dwight.”

Last year, another Halpern was working alongside Mimi as Co-Editor-in-Chief: Mimi’s sister, Isabella ’21. They were joined by Sara Piao ’21 as well and together, they spearheaded the extensive process of bringing The Pride to life. “We all collaborated; and as sisters, Bella and I share many of the same ideas and had the same vision, so I couldn’t have asked for a greater Co-Editor,” Mimi explains. That vision called for an extra dose of ingenuity during the first full academic year of the pandemic, as all School events were virtual, athletic competitions and field trips were on hold, and consequently, the yearbook team had a dearth of photographs from which to pull to chronicle the year. The solution was to create a scrapbook theme and invite students to submit their own photos. The result was a resounding success. This year’s theme remains under wraps until The Pride is distributed to seniors at their Graduation rehearsal and then to our entire community! 

When not working on the yearbook in the Spring season, we can find Mimi on the softball field, where she has served as catcher for the Girls Varsity team for the last four years. She and Jane Barbero ’22, who is this year’s Co-Captain, helped to start the tight-knit team and encouraged others to sign up. They finished the 2022 season in fifth place, just missing out on the playoffs, but they had a great run with Mimi tapping into her observation, collaboration, and leadership skills behind the plate.  

In the classroom, French and the two-year IB Sports Exercise and Health course have been Mimi’s favorites. In fact, after taking Sports Exercise and Health, Mimi discovered that she wants to pursue Health Science as a major in college when she begins Drexel University this fall. 

Before that day comes, we asked Mimi to share some advice to others who may be interested in joining The Pride, which she describes as a very welcoming group. Her answer: Don’t be shy to share your ideas! 

Reflecting on her rich yearbook experiences, Mimi tells us, “I grew up in the Dwight community and have known everyone for so long. That’s one of the reasons why working on the yearbook has been so alluring and satisfying for me. I don’t think that my Middle and High School years would have been the same had I not found my place on, and carved my own space through, the yearbook. Nothing has been more influential in helping me to build my organizational, creativity, and leadership skills.”

As Mimi gets ready to graduate, we thank her for her long-term dedication and contributions to The Pride, which is a keepsake for all of us each year, but even more so for seniors, who will look back at it in years to come as a time capsule of their final months and days at Dwight. As one of those graduates, Mimi will be especially proud that she was so instrumental in capturing those special memories for so many.

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