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Alumni Spotlight


Aiden Sottile

What are you up to these days? 
I am a Junior at Penncrest High School and having the time of my life. From academics and extracurriculars, to social hangs and relationships, Walden has prepared me for it all.

What's your most vivid memory from your time at Walden? 
I remember my early years in Walden most vividly, my preschool and kindergarten years were by far the most influential and memorable. Those years of reading, writing, playing, and learning were the best.

Are you still in touch with friends from Walden? 
I stay in touch with so many of my Walden friends. I even stay in touch with some I knew from Pre-K, like Ali, Shannon, and Bella.

What lessons did you learn at Walden that have served you well? 
Walden has taught me so many valuable life lessons, including the importance of respect, trust, honesty, and friendship. I would not be the man that I am today if it were not for all of my unbelievably talented teachers showing me how to not only behave, but how to thrive.

Did you have a "Best Day Ever" at Walden?
My absolute favorite day was when everybody came to school dressed as their favorite character from their favorite book and there was food, games, and all you could hear coming from our 3rd and 4th grade classroom was pure energy and joy.

Any words of advice for current Walden students? 
My only piece of advice for current Walden students is to not stress about the future. Walden prepares you so much more than you would expect.

Final thoughts?
Walden has prepared me across the entire academic spectrum. I personally flourish in my language arts and history classes, for Walden has ingrained the importance of grammar and usage and creativity. I am unbelievably grateful to have been able to attend such an amazing school and have such an unforgettable experience.

Bella S.

What are you up to these days Bella?
Right now, lots of baking, Zooming and playing with my pup, Ruby! When I'm not "quarantined," I'm a junior at Strath Haven High School, and pretty involved in the music and theatre departments. I sing in the travel choir, do the plays and musicals, run cross country, and am on the kick line in the marching band. Go Panthers!

What's your most vivid memory from your time at Walden?
I remember it's when I got to use a knife for the first time (not a sharp one!) for apple work. Also, I remember counting with the Montessori beads and making up cool games at recess. Then we all got totally obsessed with knitting, which of course our teachers let us do as a fundraiser. I also loved our LBI beach day - shoutout to Mrs. Kearney!

Are you still in touch with friends from Walden?
Absolutely! Hi Lucy and Ella :) I still talk to a lot of my classmates, especially Zaina Maqbool, who went with me to Strath Haven. I’m so grateful for the people I met at Walden, because they’re some of my oldest and closest friends. They make Alumni Night really fun!

What lessons did you learn at Walden that have served you well?
Walden definitely gave me a love of reading and writing, which has totally helped in my classes, and will really come in handy on college applications! I also learned to always try to be kind regardless of how some people might treat you, because you don't know their story. That's so important, especially in middle and high school, because kids can be mean, and that's difficult, but you can’t fight fire with fire.

Any words of advice for current Walden students?
I would say cherish the time you have at Walden, because it’s a very unique experience. The individual attention you get there now will give you the confidence to advocate for yourself and get involved in new things later. My life is on a great path because I had the opportunity to start my education at Walden. Don't take it for granted. Oh, and definitely go to Alumni Night - it's hilarious to look through the old yearbook photos with your friends!

Isaiah D.

I'm a senior at The Christian Academy, where I play varsity basketball.

One of the things that stuck with me from Walden was that all the teachers knew me. It felt like a home away from home because of how nice the teachers were. Their friendliness found its way to the other students and made my entire Walden experience very enjoyable. 

I'm still in touch with friends from Walden, and I hang out with Max Cohen, who is a senior at Strath Haven, whenever we get the chance. 

One of the most memorable times I had at Walden was helping with the holiday shop. I remember picking out gifts there for my family when I was younger, and when I got older I was the one setting up and helping the little kids choose gifts. The whole day was fun, we had Christmas music playing in the background and everyone was laughing. It was a great day all around and it's definitely a time I'll always remember. 

One of the most important lessons I learned at Walden was being able to talk out problems and differences. The peace rose and the peace beads were an important part of shaping who I am today and how I problem solve. They are also part of the reason I wear a necklace that says "communication" in Chinese characters with a key on the back. Walden helped me to understand how important communication is in life.

My advice for current Walden students is to worry less about drama and focus on making friends. Middle school goes by quickly and after that high school goes by even faster. I think it's important to focus on school work first and then making friends. It will enhance your experience at Walden and make life more enjoyable outside of school.

I think that because of all the writing and speaking we did at Walden I was prepared for writing essays and giving speeches. I found that I had an easier time speaking in front of people than some of my classmates did. I also found that writing essays or response papers wasn't as stressful for me. The preparation that we learned at Walden with writing and speaking is something that I'll never forget!

Lainy P.

After Walden, I attended Strath Haven High School and The College of William and Mary, where I graduated summa cum laude. I've since moved to the west coast where I worked as a technology investment banker at Goldman Sachs, at a fast growing start up, and as a Venture Capital investor.

I spent 11 years at Walden, and the lessons I learned while there were formative and continue to guide me. Walden taught me independence. I was empowered to make my own decisions and mistakes. From an early age, I was entrusted with glassware for drinking and a real knife to cut bread. I felt a strong sense of responsibility and was enabled to succeed.

I could also be myself at Walden. The small class sizes allowed me to feel comfortable running for student council or trying out for drama. I developed my own interests, unconcerned by peer pressure or fear of failure. 

Walden installed a lifelong love of learning. I consider curiosity to be my greatest strength in my current job, and that was first sparked when “playing” with Montessori bead stairs and cardboard cutout letters.

Walden was excellent preparation for high school and beyond. I was taught strong study habits. I believe I was better equipped than many of my classmates for the rigors of high school and beyond.

I still count my classmates Meggie and Betsy McCarthy Alfano among my best friends!

Zaina M.

Hi! My name is Zaina, and I’m a junior at Strath Haven High School, where I play flute in the marching band and participate in Relay for Life. I’m also a member of both the tennis and debate teams. 

My years at Walden were the most precious of my life. Beyond all the day-to-day excitement, I most vividly remember the overwhelming love. I started at Walden when I was five, and spent countless hours surrounded by the most wonderful group of people on earth. Everyone at Walden, from classmates to teachers and everyone in between, was truly my family. I am so lucky that I got the chance to grow up in this incredibly caring environment.

I really enjoyed being taught in small groups. That individualized attention prepared me the most for entering high school, because I understood my own learning style and personal preferences better than those who had gone to bigger public schools without the same individual experience.

My best memory of Walden is the 3/4 class trip to Long Beach Island! I remember sitting in the car with two of my best friends, laughing all the way to the beach. It was incredible to be with all my favorite people, building sandcastles and learning to surf, especially because it gave us a sense of freedom that I, at age nine, had never experienced before.

I have to say that the person I am today is entirely thanks to Walden. I learned how to cooperate, to listen to my peers, how to be empathetic, and how to accept. Walden taught me how to be a better friend and a better problem solver, and I learned the true power of communication. I have no doubt in my mind that without Walden, without the friendships I made and the teachers I had, I would not be half of the person I am today!