"At IMS, we were encouraged to try everything and pursue everything."

Anne Huffines '19

Now a student at Skidmore College, Anne Huffines shared her reflections on how IMS supported and nurtured her passion for the performing arts.

IMS: You came to us from the Professional Children’s School in New York City. What motivated that move?

Anne Huffines: Well, I was doing a lot of professional theater at the time, and I was kind of letting school take a back seat, which I didn’t enjoy.

IMS: Did that transition entail a lot of sacrifice, taking you away from the city and the theater?

AH: I wouldn’t say so. When I came to IMS, I was really glad that I was still able to do so much music and theater. I loved theater at IMS. I loved music at IMS. I mean, I really started seriously writing music while I was there. And I continued with all of that when I moved on to Grace in the city; I wrote a musical, and I was working on producing it right up until I left for Skidmore, where I am now. I’m taking acting classes here. I’m considering a major or maybe a minor in either theater or music composition.

IMS: What made your experience with the arts at Indian Mountain so special?

AH: Mr. Edson and Mr. Tieger, the faculty members who led the drama program at the time, were just incredible. Rock Band and Jazz Band with Mr. Miles totally changed my outlook on things. When I was doing serious theater in the city, I was told that being Reno in “Anything Goes” was something that was never going to happen for me just because of the way I sang. And joining the Jazz Band, having a teacher like Mr. Miles, who enjoyed the way I sang, who wanted me to explore more stylistic possibilities, really encouraged me to be more confident in both musical theater and other modes of performance. As a result, I’ve continued to pursue my own music and write independently, and that’s definitely due to my experience at Indian Mountain.

IMS: What else about your time in Lakeville seems relevant to your story?

AH: When I arrived at IMS, I was honestly really, really afraid that I wasn’t going to like it. It was the first time that I’d been on a sports team since I was eleven, so I was a bit skeptical. I remember signing up for the Dance Team, and I was so nervous. I expected it to be challenging and rewarding, but it was actually fun and really great. It was one of my first experiences, and I really came to appreciate how close everyone gets in those settings. I didn’t expect to enjoy every second of it, but I did. And I think that’s true of IMS in general. I met some incredible people. I still text with seven IMS people every week. We keep up with each other. I think we’ve made a lot of effort to stay in each other’s lives, which has been really nice. And I’ve been to a lot of schools and that doesn’t always happen.

IMS: What about the academic side of things? Do you feel that Indian Mountain helped prepare you for the rigors of high school and college?

AH: Honestly, I was shocked by how much I felt like IMS prepared me for college. After high school here in the city, college in Saratoga was certainly a return to a residential setting, and all those lessons from IMS sort of kicked in, almost like second nature.

And I think that IMS operated in a lot of ways that were similar to a liberal arts trajectory. Something I always enjoyed about the school was how many options we had in our 8th and 9th grade years, and it felt like the topics, the lines of inquiry, were more student-directed. That’s something that attracted me to both Grace and Skidmore because of how much I enjoyed it at IMS, where we were encouraged to try everything and pursue everything.

For instance, I remember that we had a summit where we were assigned different constituencies involved in the debate over the fate of the Brazilian Rainforest. That experience of collaborating with my group on a plan that we considered persuasive, that spoke to the self-interests of the other parties while advancing our own agenda, was tremendously rewarding. I remember looking around that room and thinking that us kids were more logical than a real council or committee would have been.

I also loved the Poquonook Symposium Project, related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, that wound down our 9th grade year. I got super into my project. We came up with a solution for unhoused LBGTQ+ youth, and it was an amazing first foray into an independent study, of sorts. I did another in college and I hope to do another here at Skidmore, so I’m really grateful to have learned by experience that last semester at IMS.

IMS: It’s obviously been a few years since you were a student here. What do you think of when you reflect back on that time?

AH: I’m really grateful for my time at IMS. I have some difficulty picturing the person I was back then, but I know that kid had no idea that she would be where she is today. And I owe so much of that to all the people at IMS who were actively interested in helping me and making my time there valuable.