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Layla '26 Performs at National Private School Leadership Conference

Sophomore Layla Thomas performed and shared her education journey at the National Private School Leadership Conference this week, hosted by the Department of Education. Layla was the "Student Spotlight" of the program, and the only student to be listed as a speaker at the event.

"It was really exciting and very fun," said Layla. "I was a little nervous ... It was an honor to be the Student Spotlight for Visitation, and be able to represent Visi at the conference."

Layla performed "Part of Your World" from Disney's "The Little Mermaid," before sharing her story of switching from public school to private middle school in 6th grade. She said, "Throughout those six years [at my local public elementary] I’d always felt - a little like Ariel - that something was missing," adding that in switching to a private school, she was able to - for the first time - "test my abilities when it came to learning."

When it came time for high school, she knew she wanted an all-girl education and an "empowering academic environment," said Layla. "In the classrooms, I'm never afraid to speak my mind.  It can be something as simple as feeling confident after answering a question in class or as vulnerable as taking a risk when I know I could fail. It is truly amazing to be in an environment where all of my peers share my passion for learning, and we work together rather than competing with each other building each other up."

"It was a delightfully proud moment when Layla took the stage ... Much like Ariel, Layla spoke of new endeavors, challenging herself, and following her passions and dreams," said President Barbara McGraw Edmondson. "The audience was charmed by her voice, her poise, and her confidence. She was a shining star!"

"I am proud to call myself a Visitation student who is free to express myself whether it is in my studies or on the stage," said Layla. "I can’t imagine being in another environment where my passion for academics and the arts would find the same level of support and nurturing."