A JK-12 pluralistic school that engages students in an exemplary and inspiring general and Jewish education.

Lena Lerner reflects on her 13 years at CESJDS

Lena Lerner, Class of 2018

I have been a student at JDS since August of 2005. It’s pretty surreal to think back on the 13 years I have spent here and all this school has given me. Most recently, my JDS experiences lead to a lot of material in my college application essays. When confronted with an essay question about what I would most miss about my community when I left for college my head and heart immediately jumped to JDS. Being in a grade with 31 other students who have been by my side since I was 4 years old, shared experiences are inevitable and beyond cherished.

When I’ve walked into the school building each day, the way students and teachers immediately know how I’m feeling has provided comfort, security, and a sense of home. That same comfort level built for over a decade will be impossible to duplicate as I head to Emory University next fall. I will never find a place quite like JDS, but I am confident that the skills I’ve learned here in creating relationships, understanding others’ differences, and reaching out to anyone who needs it will carry with me wherever I go.

Anyone who knows me, knows being involved in my grade and in the school has been so important to me. I have loved interacting with different parts of the school, whether it was in the publications room working as an editor-in-chief of the yearbook, participating in the leadership of my grade as a co-vice president, or even as a reading buddy and patrol back in 6th grade. The way I have learned to communicate with others is something I owe to this school.

Going off to Emory to join a new community and find new ways to get involved excites me, but still feels a little way away. Before I travel south for college, I get to experience another part of JDS: the Israel Capstone Trip. No words can describe my excitement for this trip. The senior Israel trip has always been set in my mind as a far-off event that the older kids got to do. I watched as my brother traveled with his grade after graduating in 2016, and I still couldn’t imagine it being my turn. It is unreal to think about my classmates and I being in an airport together, traveling for hours, and arriving in the country we have studied for so many years together. I don't know if it will truly sink in that my turn has finally arrived until I am on my way to the airport, but I am so ready for it to happen.

I approach leaving JDS with extremely bittersweet feelings. These halls have been my home since my earliest memories and leaving will be one of the hardest things to do. However, leaving also feels right. It does feel like after 13 years here, it is time to take everything I have learned academically, socially, and mentally, and take those lessons with me onto both Israel and life beyond.