There are many sliding door moments in life that can alter the trajectory of future events. For me, attending Foxcroft School and going to the library for study hall one night as a freshman in 1989 was one of the most monumental.

I always wanted to go to Foxcroft. Despite considering other schools with such grown-up conviction as a seventh and eighth grader at Loudoun Country Day School, I knew with my heart and soul that Foxcroft was the place for me. Both of my cousins were alumnae, making me a HOUND Legacy and certainly a familial factor for consideration, but for me, there was a magic to the campus from horseback. Starting when I was a young girl and riding my pony through the early morning dappled mist that blanketed the outside course and hearing Miss Margaret bark instruction at her finely tuned Equestriennes, I knew the ground was hallowed and I needed to be a part of it.

Moving into a dormitory at 14 years old with, in my case, only eleven other girls and having to start adulting out of the nest is tough. At Foxcroft you learn how to navigate the natural cattiness of an entire school of young women who tend to cycle at the same time, gain confidence from your peers- all of them- because the entire community becomes peers from the staff to teachers to friends from all over the world, and build strength from your brain to your core from the curriculum. If I could advise the young women in attendance now, it would be to inhale, taste and digest fully every single moment. Your life is being changed at the moment, for your future, and forever. My Foxcroft friends are my dearest and most of them weren’t there when I was. Some ten years before, some ten years after, but we are all sisters.

These words and advice can apply to any young person, in any school, in any place. My experience was at Foxcroft where I met a friend in study hall in the library. Both of us being slightly rebellious by nature, we snuck Walkmen and our favorite cassettes (which happened to be the same) into the quiet building where such media was banned. From there we became best friends and in what felt like an eternity that we were inseparable, it was only a few, short years. And in those years, during that time, I can pinpoint her influence on my life today. I haven’t spoken to her in over 20 years other than social media comments and random likes. Last week I learned of her sudden passing and my heart is immensely heavy but extremely grateful for how that night in study hall forever changed my life.

In memoriam of Wendy Elizabeth Clear Fleming. Foxcroft, Class of 1992. Gone Away.  From her Senior Page, “Time is everlasting, but nothing outlasts time. Whatever comes must go, it seems. It isn’t ours to question why.”