Orchard Graduate Dances Her Way to Duke: Q&A with Caroline Rettig ’15

Orchard graduate, Caroline Rettig, was recently admitted to Duke University through its Early Decision program. Nearly 5000 students applied through the program last November, which dropped the acceptance rate to 18 percent. This made it the most selective Early Decision process in Duke’s history! Caroline says she was drawn to Duke because of the opportunity to continue to pursue dance at a high level, while also allowing her the flexibility to pursue a more academic major.
Catch up with Caroline in our Q&A below as we discuss the meaningful impact of Orchard's Progressive education, her plans for the future, and advice for current Orchard students!
We recently saw you perform The Nutcracker with the Indianapolis Ballet at the Murat Theatre. You were fantastic! How long have you been performing ballet?
I began my ballet studies at the Jordan Academy of Dance on the Butler University campus at the age of three. I first attended pre-ballet classes at Jordan and eventually began pre-professional ballet training there at the age of seven. While at Jordan, I was given opportunities to perform alongside Butler University dance majors in performances such as the Peggy Dorsey show. Butler closed the Jordan Academy of Dance in 2011, at which time I began training at the Indianapolis School of Ballet in downtown Indianapolis. At ISB, I have had the opportunity to learn and perform some of the world’s most famous ballets. 
Performing on stage must come naturally to you?
Performing on stage is my favorite aspect of ballet. It is especially appealing to me because it provides both a creative and physical outlet as well as an opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned and achieved in class. The various opportunities to perform on stage at Orchard, including my favorites, the “First Grade Talent Show,” the “ Third Grade Poetry Night” and the “Fourth Grade Play,” provided me with similar opportunities to demonstrate personal accomplishments and definitely helped me to grow comfortable on stage. 
After Orchard, you attended North Central. In what ways did Orchard help prepare you for high school?
Orchard provides a high level of independence to its students, which requires students to be dedicated and responsible for making the most of their primary education. Thus, at Orchard, I learned how to develop committed personal study habits, which I then employed at North Central High School. Orchard’s Progressive education also stresses the value of community, which fostered my interest in joining and participating in various clubs at North Central. Although North Central’s student body is much larger than Orchard’s, I used Orchard’s principle of community to help me develop my own niche or community at North Central through involvement in organizations such as Spanish National Honor Society, National Honor Society, and the Counterpoints Show Choir.
Now you’re off to Duke University! Congrats on the Early Decision. What other schools did you apply/get in to? 
The Early Decision application process at Duke restricts applicants from applying to multiple private universities. So when I chose to apply Early Decision to Duke University, I limited myself to applying only to public universities until I received Duke's decision. In addition to my acceptance at Duke, I also applied and was accepted into Indiana University, where I was invited to complete the selective scholarship application and was also a direct admit into the Hutton Honors College. If I had not been accepted into Duke University, I likely would have also applied to Princeton University and the University of Southern California, based on their combination of strong academics and strong dance opportunities.
What do you hope to study during your time in North Carolina?
Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences provides students the unique opportunity to pursue three different modes of inquiry. At the moment, I plan to pursue a double major in Dance and also Art History: Architecture. I would also like to obtain a certificate in Arts of the Moving Image, a Duke program dedicated to the study of motion picture and new media arts. 
With Orchard’s focus on Progressive education and The Arts, what’s one thing you learned at Orchard that will always stay with you?
Orchard’s policy of acceptance will always stay with me. Rather than creating a homogenous body of students, Orchard encourages its students to be individuals. I mean how many schools, besides Orchard, celebrate “Unicorn Day” during their spirit week? Certainly, none that I know of!
Any advice for current Orchard students hoping to pursue dance in the future?
While it sounds cliché, I would encourage Orchard students to seize any opportunity given to them. Orchard’s Progressive education gives students the freedom to pursue what’s in their best interest. For instance, in middle school, the administration rearranged my daily schedule during the production week of the Nutcracker, allowing me to make it to afternoon ballet rehearsals without compromising my schoolwork.

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