Performing in front of an entire school takes courage, and for Annabelle Bridgforth, her favorite Hutchison memory is when she performed at the Heart and Soul Talent Show for the first time when she was in eighth grade. She remembers being nervous but said the supportive atmosphere made it one of her favorite shows to perform in.
“You can go on stage and know that your classmates and peers will be cheering you on. The encouragement from the entire Hutchison community exemplifies the same encouragement I have felt during my time at Hutchison,” Annabelle said.
Annabelle, a National Merit Finalist, has attended Hutchison since pre-kindergarten. She is a hardworking, determined student who has always enjoyed being challenged in the classroom. Her dedication shows: she is a member of the Cum Laude Society, National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, Sara Frey History Society, Ascensus Society, and Tri-M Music Honor Society.
In addition to performing an original song at the 2022 Heart and Soul Talent Show, Annabelle sang “The Chain” with Natalie Hall ’22, Genevieve Geno ’22, and Ava Weiss ’22.
To Annabelle, the best thing Hutchison taught her was how to achieve her academic goals while maintaining relationships. She recently received the Sara & Leonard Frey Award, given to a student committed to the life of the mind and to the active pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Annabelle genuinely loves to learn and credits Hutchison with instilling this passion. Over her 15 years at Hutchison, she has developed her interests in a variety of subjects. At the University of Virginia, she plans to major in English while taking classes on the pre-medical track. Although she's not certain which career path she will pursue, she hopes to make a tangible impact using her skills from Hutchison and those she will gain in college.
“It has been wonderful to learn all of these skills that I want to use beyond Hutchison,” Annabelle said. "I hope to continue to carry my confidence inside and outside of the classroom."
She also thanks Hutchison for helping her grow through extracurricular activities and teaching her leadership, discipline, and how to express herself. Sports have been a big part of her Hutchison experience. Annabelle is a strong athlete who participated in three sports this school year: cross country, swimming, and track. During her senior year, she served as vice president of the Athletic Council.
“Sports have helped me meet and learn from wonderful people and become close with my teammates,” Annabelle said. “I love seeing the outpouring of support at different events, whether at senior night, a championship, or a normal track meet.”
Annabelle was a member of the cross country team that won the Regional Championship in fall 2021.
Hutchison nurtured Annabelle’s creativity too. She discovered a passion for songwriting as a creative outlet. It felt like a natural jump after taking piano and vocal lessons. She is working on an EP of original songs, one of which she performed at the Heart and Soul Talent Show this year. She said songwriting gives her artistic freedom and a way for her to connect with others.
One particular class assignment sparked her creativity: after reading Macbeth, a teacher assigned a project that encouraged everyone to demonstrate their understanding through any creative lens. At the time, Annabelle had just finished writing her first song, and she used the assignment to try writing another. She was proud of her final product and how it inspired her future work.
“I felt fulfilled by creating a tangible product that illustrated my understanding of the play. Rather than simply writing an essay and outright stating my ideas, I was able to express myself in a much more authentic way, which I had never done previously,” Annabelle said.
Since that project, she said she strives to achieve a similar level of fulfillment in all of her work, whether it is an essay or musical composition.
While she has learned a lot over the years, she said the most meaningful parts of her Hutchison experience have come from the relationships she has built with the community: "I feel like I can connect with my peers and friends. I have loved how I’ve gotten the chance to excel but have never lost sight of relationships,” she said.
Annabelle’s favorite school traditions are those that build relationships between girls of different grades, such as senior-freshman pairings, fifth-grade buddies, or flower girls and seniors. She said they provide the opportunity to connect with people she might not have met otherwise, making the Hutchison community stronger. She is looking forward to meeting new people at the University of Virginia, but she will miss the familiarity of the Hutchison campus and community.
“I have loved my time at Hutchison. It's been amazing to stay with such a fantastic group of girls and to learn from so many inspiring teachers. It's incredible to be able to wander around campus and have so many wonderful memories associated with it,” she said.