|Celebrating the Individual|
November's College Corner from Director of College Counseling Brennan Barnard.
I have spent the last month digging into the experiences and interests of our sixty-two seniors and what I have uncovered amazes and impresses me. I have been busy writing the School's college recommendation for each of the seniors to highlight their strengths and advocate for them in the college process. I am reminded as I open each file, just how unique and dynamic Derryfield students are and how lucky I am to work with such committed and passionate young people.
Colleges are of course concerned with the intellectual strengths of students and how they have performed in high school. When they have a wealth of applicants who are qualified based on grades and test scores, they soon turn to what else a candidate brings to their community. What is the value added and what will the successful applicant contribute once they have enrolled? This is where Derryfield's Core Values shine. The final Core Value up for deeper consideration this year is:
"Individuality: We encourage young people to grow as unique individuals through the discovery of new passions and a love for learning, self-knowledge, critical inquiry, and reflection."
Let me just give you a sense for how individuality plays out for this class. We have students who have received accolades and awards for their achievements everywhere from the House of Commons in London, England, to the NHIAA, to local non-profits. In fact, one of our seniors was named Volunteer of the Year within their organization. Seniors have mingled with our country's leaders as they work tirelessly for congressional, senatorial and presidential campaigns. Others have helped Manchester's mayor establish policy and have advocated for the city's youth. Together, they have accumulated thousands of community service hours, building houses, coaching disabled athletes, tutoring, mentoring, working at hospitals, and more. Not because it makes them look good, but because it is the right thing to do and they feel fulfilled by their work. This class has raised hundreds of dollars for causes ranging from breast cancer research, to soup kitchens, to relief in Haiti. More than one member of the class of 2012 has even founded a non-profit organization.
Summers have been spent as camp counselors, river guides, researchers, interns, actors, dancers, and traveling the world. Some of our seniors work throughout the summer and school year, (often more than 20-30 hours a week) in factories, grocery stores, at town pools, barns, and in landscaping. In some cases they are earning spending money and in others they are helping to support their family.
This senior class includes competitive athletes, accomplished singers, artists, actors, dancers, musicians, and riders. Some students have continually lobbied for environmental awareness and sustainability and others have been active in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. One student has traveled the country visiting National Parks and another is on a quest to climb all the 4,000 foot mountains in New Hampshire.
Derryfield has seniors who are deeply devoted to a range of different faiths and have assumed leadership positions within their church as acolytes, cantors, altar servers, worship assistants, and Sunday school teachers. We have students who will be the first in their family to graduate high school and others who will be the first to enroll in college.
I sincerely wish that everyone had the opportunity to step inside the lives of each of our students and witness the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and interests that I get to celebrate and brag about to colleges. It is not surprising that beyond Derryfield's reputation for a rigorous academic program, colleges are eager to enroll our students. Schools want to fill their campuses with such extraordinary applicants who have followed their passion and expressed their individuality. There is no one answer or silver bullet that would suggest involvement in a specific area or cultivation of any one talent. If students are able to know themselves, reflect on their strengths, and pursue their loves, then their enthusiasm and distinctiveness will be apparent. It is never too early or too late to develop a passion or act on an interest, so do not hold back, and likewise do not be too humble to share your gifts and proud moments with the community. You never know who you will inspire.
Director of College Counseling