Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Essay by Will Branscomb

The following essay was written by 2009 graduate, Will Branscomb, for a scholarship application:

"From the first day I visited Wellsprings Friends School, I felt very at home there. Instead of walking around with their heads down, ignoring each other, I saw students actually acknowledge and greet each other. They even came up to me, introduced themselves, and offered to show me around the school. There was a real sense of community, which is something I never found at public school. The teachers and students had respect for each other, and actually valued their opinions. While there were some groups of students that hung out with each other more than others, there was none of the clique mentality I was used to. I had finally escaped the automaton production line of public school, and found a group of kind, unique, real people. Instead of trundling down the public school cattle chute to a middle management slaughterhouse, I had stumbled upon a wide open pasture of whatever opportunities I cared to chase.

I had gone to a small alternative elementary school from kindergarten to second grade that had a similar philosophy and values. But in between, while I was in public school, life had become increasingly difficult. In kindergarten I was TAG-identified, but by sixth grade in public school, I had a new diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I always felt confined in school, trapped behind my desk, being forced to write things I already knew over and over again. In my freshman year of high school, there was so much pointless work that I didn't have time to do anything else. At the time, I had no career goals, or any aspirations really, other than to finish my homework.

At Wellsprings, I've been able to research various careers–and finally determine that I want to be a mechanical engineer–all while learning about things that interest me. I started Wellsprings in tenth grade, and within six months, I also started attending classes at Lane Community College. I went from having no credits and no basis for grades in my last term in public school, to a cumulative high school GPA of 3.75, and a college GPA of 4.05.

My self esteem went through a parallel transformation. I went from feeling like “that weird kid who never comes to school,” and from letting all the negative criticism make me even harder on myself, to feeling like an accepted and respected member of the community. I had absolutely no self confidence in public school, but through Wellsprings, I discovered my strengths and learned to believe in my abilities.

Wellsprings has given me an education that few schools can – an education not only in the academic sense, but also in a more down-to-earth way. The people I have become friends with there are some of the most interesting, and unmitigatedly genuine, I have met. No matter their background–whether it be growing up with wealthy parents and aspiring to be a fashion photographer, or growing up not knowing where they'd be able to sleep that night or if their food stamps would last through the week–they would always listen to you, respect your opinion and give you theirs, and they truly cared about each other.

Wellsprings has been like a family away from home, and growing up with them is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life."

–Will Branscomb (2009)
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