In my eyes, and in many other students’, Episcopal has been a home over these past few years. For some, maybe just a mere two years, but for others, it has been an ongoing twelve. Now I reference to our educational institution as a “home” because, in reality, we spend more active, engaged time on the Woodland Ridge campus than at the atypical home where our mail and packages are addressed to. We wake up at the crack of dawn to drive to this home and spend seven tireless hours working, playing, eating, discussing, and innovating. For many students, those seven hours turns to eleven once the time spent running on the field, swimming in the pool, or dancing across the stage is taken into account. At my genuine home, I spend around five to six hours conversing with my family and finishing up homework, which pales in comparison to the lively hours spent at Episcopal.
This community created through time and collaboration is what truly molds and shapes the student body that thrives in our home. Like many things in life, Episcopal is a home that will give you just as much as you put into it. It has personally bestowed me with the gift to unravel what’s right for me through endless experiential opportunity. Starting in seventh grade, I traveled to Dallas with the middle school band to participate in a nationwide concert. Fast forward to freshman year, I spent two weeks in Madrid, Spain with a student my age to immerse myself in a foreign culture and sharpen my linguistic skills. And just this year, I traveled to Boston with our school’s Mock Trial team to participate in a workshop hosted by Harvard University. And while all these off-campus opportunities were great, I’ve arguably participated in even more meaningful experiences on campus. Over the past two, I’ve participated in the Honors Diploma program at our school to study my passions and develop a college-level thesis around a topic I wished to pursue. And this is just my personal story. Every other student in the Episcopal family has their stories too, each equally important, diverse, and developed.
Because of this, and on behalf of the graduating senior class, I’d like to think of our experience at Episcopal as one that was both positive, yet transformative. These past years have prepared us for the next stage of our life by teaching us how to work through collaboration. Our educational journey has allowed us to gradually fall off the beaten path and learn what’s genuinely meaningful to us. Maybe that looked like dabbling our toes in theater and realizing it might have not been a good fit for some of us. Or maybe trying out for the track team on a whim and becoming a state champion. Or maybe signing up for a class that changed our future goals and aspirations. Regardless of what the scenario may have been, Episcopal allowed us to experiment with opportunities that one couldn’t imagine.
And this is why I refer to Episcopal as a home, not a school. Many people fall short to the preconceived notion that a school is where students go to fulfill course requirements, graduate, and escape, almost as if education is supposed to be some “prison-like” agenda schedule. While Episcopal is a home where we complete course requirements, it’s also a home where we get to develop a sense of identity along the way. Rather than trying to shove you down the chapel aisle in a hasty four years, it asks that you stop along the way and question who you are. What do you enjoy? Where do you want to go? Rather than slapping a schedule down on our desks, advisors ask us, “What are you interested in and how are you going to pursue that?” I’d like to think that our curriculum’s mission is to make sure that, when us Seniors walk down that aisle next week, each and every one of us will know who we are a little bit more than when we came in.
So for rising students, take advantage of this home. Take advantage of the endless opportunity that lingers around our school grounds. Reach out to your family members, whether that be a new teacher or a classmate you’ve never talked to, and learn more about them before your time is up. It won’t be long before your time comes when you’re walking down that chapel aisle, and hopefully, just hopefully, you will know yourself a little bit better. With a little more opportunity and with a little more knowledge.
Elliott Kellam is an Episcopal senior. He has been a Writing Center Fellow since his sophomore year. Elliott swims for the school swim team, is an active member of Model United Nations and Mock Trial, and participates in the Honors Diploma Program. He plans to attend Duke University in the fall to study Psychology with a minor in Entrepreneurship & Innovation.