The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

Spyglass

The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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“This is really about the two years she spent here and her time as a teacher.” Anna Bondoc’s Celebration of Life

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Guests settle down as the event dedicated to Anna Bondoc starts. (Credit: Aceley P.)

During the Upper School morning band on January 13, parents, students, teachers, and alumni crowded the library, straining to get a glimpse of the podium. The interior of the library had been rearranged to center a Smartboard displaying a photo of Ms. Anna Bondoc, a former teacher who died this past September.

The gathering, a celebration of life, included guest speakers and a dedication of one of Ms. Bondoc’s pieces of art, which now hangs in the library.

(An up-close picture of Ms. Bondoc’s art piece. Credit: Presley P.)

Ms. Bondoc taught English in Upper and Lower School and was a parent of Westridge alumna Claire Sand ’23. To many of her former students, Ms. Bondoc was more than just a teacher. Nova R. ’28, a former student of Ms. Bondoc’s and a speaker at the event, said Ms. Bondoc was “not just a teacher, she was a mentor, [and] a guide.”

9th Grade Class Dean and Upper School English Teacher Ms. Katie Wei taught 9th grade with Ms. Bondoc. Ms. Wei played a large role in organizing the celebration of life. “We wanted to honor her contributions to the school and also allow a space for closure for our campus,” Ms. Wei said.

The event was intentionally scheduled in January so alumni could attend while their colleges were on break. Although there was already a memorial hosted by Ms. Bondoc’s family in September, the celebration of life was a way to honor her time specifically at school.

(Westridge students, teachers, parents, and alumni chat while waiting for the ceremony to start. Credit: Aceley P.)

Event organizers wanted to hold the ceremony in the library because of Ms. Bondoc’s affection and appreciation for books. “Whenever you consider Anna’s love of reading… it made total sense that the space was there,” Assistant to the Director of Upper School Ms. Ashley Leonard said.

Head of School Ms. Andrea Kassar opened the event by recalling her experience meeting Ms. Bondoc. They talked at Alumni Courtyard, and Ms. Kassar recounted her first impressions of Ms. Bondoc as an “intellectually curious and kind” person. She later thought of her as someone “who really understood the importance of [diversity and inclusion] and who [was] thinking continually in a truly open and forward way about these key issues for our school and beyond.” 

Ms. Bondoc’s daughter, Claire, said, “If you ever met my mom or were lucky enough to be taught by her, you know what it feels like to experience the caregiving and guidance that she was. Her students are ultimately one of the greatest representations of her legacy and that her lessons, wisdom, and teachings live on in their academic and personal lives.”

Gathering together gave community members a chance to celebrate and appreciate Ms. Bondoc and the lives she touched as a colleague, educator, and friend.

(A student working on her homework in front of Ms. Bondoc’s artwork in the library. Credit: Aceley P.)

On the young adult fiction shelf, Librarian Ms. Stephanie Bolton curated a book collection in honor of Ms. Bondoc.

(Library visitors can check out a display of books Ms. Bondoc enjoyed or helped write. Credit: Aceley P.)

Many speakers mentioned the importance of caring for one another, checking in on each other, and showing others care and compassion. “Far too often it’s in hindsight that we regret spending so little time sharing. It is not overly sappy or emotional to mention that you love someone, appreciate them, and are grateful for them, even if it feels cheesy,” Claire said. 

Holly N. ’25 was taught by Ms. Bondoc in 7th grade while she worked as a substitute teacher. The celebration of life gave her a “new perspective” on teacher-student relationships. “It’s very easy to see a teacher-student relationship as just as a teacher and student. I think there’s more to that, there’s layers, especially as everyone said, [Ms. Bondoc] was a mentor. She was a caretaker to her students.”

 

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About the Contributor
Aceley P., Staff Writer
Aceley is a freshman and this is her first year in Spyglass. When she isn’t doing schoolwork she likes to bother her friends, read novels, watch show jumping videos, and learn about gemstones.

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