Haley Budin joined The Grayson School in 2019, at the beginning of her sophomore year, and will be part of The Grayson School’s first graduating class. 

A strong student all around, Haley is particularly fascinated by history and sees her international upbringing and travels as foundational to her deep, varied interests. She will happily engage with you on historical topics as diverse as presidential politics, the Russian tsars, the Balkan states, and British royalty. Haley throws herself into her studies of history with abandon, demonstrating fierce engagement and intense determination along the way, regardless of domain. Her instructors describe her as an an “invaluable asset to discussions, pushing our conversations into richer, more nuanced territory” as she expertly analyzes primary source material to support her arguments and nimbly makes connections across eras and cultures. It is especially fitting that Haley was recognized with this year’s Departmental Award in History; even outside of school, she spends her time reading historical biographies and watching documentaries!

Beyond her academic pursuits, Haley has distinguished herself as a passionate participant in Grayson’s theatre program. Her positive attitude and do-or-die mentality infuse her work onstage, and she is determined to wring every last drop out of each character she embodies to get the most out of her performances. Her leadership abilities were on full display in the spring of 2020, when she spearheaded the effort to move Grayson’s original performance of Les Misérables online due to COVID concerns. Unsurprisingly, she jumped at the opportunity to reprise her role of Fantine for our in-person performance in May of this year, in what stands as the largest-scale musical production in Grayson history. In addition to showcasing her incredible range, Haley’s personal, impassioned embodiment of one of Les Misérables‘s tragic heroines was integral to the show’s emotional backbone and overall success. When asked to comment on her performance, an instructor shared the following, unparaphrasable review: “Natural ability? Check. Gumption? Check. Dedication? Double-check.”

Haley extends her substantial theatrical talents to writing and production and debuted a brilliant original piece, “Afterlife Express,” over Zoom as part of her work for Open Studio last year. Her spectacularly vivid imagination and abiding empathy undergird her ability to relate to her characters emotionally and motivationally, regardless of their alignments, while her fearlessness to plumb the depths of the human condition runs analogously to her audacious scholarship. Whether in class or onstage, Haley is “willing to try anything new and to accept and incorporate feedback. A formidable talent.”

From her advocacy work in Rainbow Club to her abiding love of theatre and history, Haley has been an integral member of the Upper School community from her very first day at The Grayson School. Her teachers are “so, so glad” that she found a home at Grayson, expressing further that her compassionate, enthusiastic energy have been vital assets to both the Upper School program and larger school community. It is no wonder that she received this year’s Values Award for Respect, and we are confident that those she meets in college and in life will further benefit from her innate kindness, determination, energy, and wonder. 

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