Alumni Focus: Ellie Lai

In the Fall/Winter 2016 edition of Scribe, ESK features several alumni who are doing great things in the Knoxville community and beyond. We will bring those same stories to the blog here at Ellie Lai is currently a senior at Webb School of Knoxville. She graduated from ESK in 2013.


1. How did your time at ESK prepare you for high school? 

ESK really prepared me writing-wise. Webb requires you to know how to write, and ESK gave me a solid foundation in writing essays as well as learning basic grammar and editing points. High school skips those basic requirements, because they expect freshman to already know those. I was so glad ESK drilled grammar and vocabulary and the 5-paragraph essay, because I could see that I was either at the level or ahead of some of my peers. In addition, English isn’t my favorite subject, so I’m grateful that I got a head start in high school due to ESK’s writing-heavy curriculum.

2. Was there a teacher (or can you think of a story) that captures what makes ESK special? 

Mrs. Quaint was one of my favorite teachers in the middle school. Not only did she prepare me for high school math, she made sure we had fun learning about math. If I didn’t know how to solve a problem, she would always be there to help me through them. Furthermore, she’d show us different ways of solving problems and the creativity that occurs in math. I also picked up note-taking habits that I still use in high school from Mrs. Quaint. Mrs. Quaint is a one-of-kind teacher, and I am so lucky to have had her during my middle school years.

3. What is your favorite ESK memory?

I think my 8th grade trip to Washington DC was my favorite memory. Other than visiting the museums and taking tours, I got to see and hang out with my childhood best friend who moved there. At that time, our entire grade really knew each other, and it was really fun to enjoy each other’s company in a cool city. It was one of the last times where our entire grade was together before graduation.

4. What organizations or activities have you been involved with at Webb?

I was part of the Varsity Girls Soccer Team my freshman year, but stopped after my first season because I got injured. Now, I do long-distance running. Of course, I still play piano competitively. I am also a Writing Center and Math Tutor, so students come to me if they need help with their essays or math homework. I am also a Webb School Ambassador and help with open-house events to welcome in prospective families. Furthermore, I’m part of Interact Club, Baking Club, and Outdoors Club.

5. What did it mean to be named a commended study by the National Merit Scholarship Program?

Yeah, I was very honored!

6. What advice would you give to this year’s graduating class?

I would say remember to have fun. High school is a really cool place if you interact with the events and people there. Find a balance between schoolwork and extracurriculars. Go to football games and basketball games. Be a part of community service. Join a club. Join a sport. I promise you can balance the two, and I speak from personal perspective. If you don’t be a part of your school, you’ll miss out on opportunities you wish you were a part of.

7. What are your plans for after high school?

For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be in the medical field just like my parents. Recently, however, I’ve started to look more into engineering. Right now, biomedical engineering has really caught my interest. Hopefully, college will help me decide exactly what I want to do!