Addison Leavy ’16
Currently Attending: University of Chicago
Years at Shipley: 4
Activities & Positions Held: DECA, Swimming; Crew Co-Captain, Beacon Editor
Freedom to Explore
Shipley provided many opportunities to get involved extracurricularly and engaged academically. Particularly, my experiences as a member of the crew team and as a writer and editor for the school newspaper, The Beacon, stand out, as they have shaped me into a more confident and resilient individual. On the academic side, I have been able to take some very interesting classes, such as comparative anatomy, neuroscience, and a 21st century literature course. At Shipley, I didn’t have to choose a specialty in STEM or the humanities or prioritize either academics or athletics—I was able to have a balanced experience across the board. Here, anyone can do any combination of classes or activities, and I have greatly benefited from this freedom to explore.
The Power of Teamwork
Joining crew as a freshman was a big decision for me, as I had never been in an intense athletic environment. While I loved crew during my freshman spring and sophomore fall seasons, it wasn’t until my sophomore spring that I recognized the impact crew would have on my high school experience. This particular season, there were two fours: a junior varsity 4+ and a varsity 4+. I was rowing in the JV four with some other sophomores and a junior, and while we were all very different rowers rowing in the second boat, we were able to come together and win a bronze medal at City Championships and race in the finals at Stotesbury, the largest high school regatta in the world. While it was fun to win and bond as a boat, it wasn’t until this point that I became more confident in my capabilities and truly appreciated the power of teamwork, dedication, toughness, and all of the other rowing “virtues.” There are many other crew situations that have had a profound impact on me as a person, athlete, student, and friend, and I am very glad people at Shipley encouraged me to try something new.
Becoming a Leader, Finding a Voice
As a school newspaper, it is important to cover pressing topics in the community, such as dress code, senior privileges, and the sports and performing arts credit system. However, covering such topics involves close communication with the administration to ensure that all sides of each issue are presented. When approaching [Head of Upper School] Mrs. van Steenwyk about an article, she not only supported the Beacon’s efforts, but also took great interest in what the students were saying about school life. Personally, I benefitted from my editorship as I developed key leadership skills and became more comfortable with conflict. At the beginning of my “term,” I always wanted to play it safe and print average articles, but as the issues went to press, I became more comfortable using my voice and helping the writers use their voices to create articles that generated responses from members of the community.
Inspiring Intellectual Risk-Taking
I’ve had so many teachers who are extremely passionate about what they teach and who take the time and energy to help students succeed, so it is definitely hard to choose one influential teacher. Every day in calculus, Ms. Wines made the material interesting and accessible, while still challenging the class with application problems. While her passion for math was contagious, she also took the time to talk to students about anything and ensure a tightly knit group where students could feel comfortable working together and taking intellectual risks. I had always enjoyed math, but her class was a special experience I will never forget.
Thinking Critically About the World
Another influential teacher who comes to mind is Ms. Greenberg. In a 21st century literature course, Ms. Greenberg facilitated some topical conversations about some very complex 21st century issues that challenged us to think critically about the world and the future. By never settling for an answer, Ms. Greenberg inspired deep critical thinking as she made us explain why and how we arrived at a conclusion. As a result, I now pay extra attention to what is going on in the world and try to think for myself instead of relying on someone else’s thinking.
Plans for Fall 2016
I will be attending the University of Chicago, where I hope to row for the club crew team, write for The Maroon, and take advantage of new opportunities. I also hope to study abroad as much as possible.
Throughout my years at Shipley, I have enjoyed being immersed in a variety of subjects and have discovered many interests I wish to pursue in college and possibly beyond, such as the life sciences, math, economics, policy, and journalism. I also appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of many Shipley courses, which have inspired me to pursue an “interdisciplinary” career such as working in global public health. However, I could also see myself starting a biotechnology company, becoming a neonatal surgeon, or working in finance. My time on The Beacon has sparked an interest in investigative reporting, and I would love to find some time to travel, find an interesting topic, investigate, write, and get published. I don’t really know exactly where I’ll end up, but I do know that if I’m not genuinely excited about my work, then it’s not worth pursuing.
My experiences at Shipley have helped me find my voice, preparing me to work successfully outside of my comfort zone.