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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

A blossoming gratitude

Kaitlyn Marks
Class of 2021

(11/2017) Each morning as I start my day, bright sunlight beaming over the vibrant autumnal colors surrounding me, I take the quiet time to think about the privilege that it is to be at a place such as this. The Mount, which has rapidly become another home to me, is an environment where education is a priority. However, I have learned more about what education means in the approximately two months I have been here than I had ever thought possible.

In every way, education is about growth. To become educated is to become more; it is to become someone new, better, whole. Spiritually, academically, and emotionally, education is a powerful tool with which one can grasp the world’s opportunities and grow towards success and a bright future.

This month, I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the alumni of Emmitsburg High School by attending the 93rd Annual Emmitsburg High School Alumni Banquet. As I looked over the memorabilia, photographs, and the people themselves attending the banquet, I felt the strongest sense of community. It became clear to me that Emmitsburg High was more than a school; rather, it was a community where a sense of belonging and possibility was fostered in each of its members.

Tasked with interviewing alumni, I will admit I was a bit nervous. I feel so overwhelmed with gratitude to be writing for this paper, and to meet such interesting and inspirational people each day. I spoke to one of the most interesting women I’ve ever met at the banquet, and am beyond happy to have experienced her wisdom and grace. My nerves about doing an interview quickly dissipated as Carolyn Lewis, class of 1967, started by telling me her philosophy of life. "I live by a philosophy. That philosophy is, I don’t want to go through life, I want to grow through life. And you grow through the people you meet. You grow through the books you read, and you grow through travelling, which I do all of."

As I spoke to Carolyn, I could not help the pride and inspiration I felt as she detailed how her education shaped who she is now, so many years later. Explaining how the philosophy by which she lives came about, she mentioned gratitude towards her English teacher, who inspired her to read more. Presently, she reads two books per week and works at the Thurmont Library part time, and her English Literature and English Composition teacher was a big inspiration to her in creating the love of reading that she has today.

An educationally-fostered love of reading is something I am grateful to have experienced throughout my life as well. Since I was little, I could be found curled up with piles of books, and that has not changed as I have gotten older. This passion was nourished by special teachers along the way. In elementary school, my fifth grade English teacher, Ms. Haddaway, dealt with my overenthusiasm for all things literary and did not get frustrated with me (or too frustrated, I should say) when I turned in one reading log per week for fun instead of the small number that were required per quarter. In middle school, I was graced with experiencing many wonderful teachers, especially my caring and lovely sixth grade English teacher, Ms. Calhoun, who I ran into recently and was beyond overjoyed and grateful for. In eighth grade, I had an outstanding English teacher, Ms. Basil, who challenged us and cared for us with equal fierceness, and went above and beyond to ensure my success. Without these fundamental people within my education, I would not be the person or the writer I am today.

Carolyn explained that Emmitsburg High was a school that took many trips, leading her to the current love she has for travelling. In 1964, she attended the World Fair on a bus, and today she travels often. Education involves embracing culture and experiencing new places. Through college, my worldview will develop and grow as I travel and experience courses, peers, and professors that expose me to the brilliance of the world. However, the small, individualized education at Emmitsburg High also made her education valuable. When comparing today’s larger-scale education with the education she received, Carolyn drew one conclusion I agree with completely. "I think that so many children get lost today…I think they’re just overlooked, and in our school, nothing like that could ever happen."

When education is based around smaller classes and caring teachers, students feel like they are valuable and capable of excelling in their education and in life. In high school, some of my classes made me feel like I had the potential and capability to do anything I could dream of. In AP Biology, with Mrs. Riddle, I felt overwhelmed by a challenge so great, and learned that with hard work, sacrifices, and a supportive teacher, I could overcome whatever obstacles I faced in my education and in life.

I became grateful for curiosity, for the ability to make discoveries, and the chance to see dedication pay off. In AP Language and Composition, Mr. Bouselli pushed me to become the best writer I could be and made personal connections to help her students become better students, writers, and people. I learned to appreciate the gift of being able to understand other’s stories through reading, of being able to craft my own works of writing, of expressing my thoughts with a pen and changing someone’s mind through that power.

Carolyn ended our interview by proclaiming her love for life as a whole. "I just find life interesting. It’s so exciting, there’s so much out there!"

As life evolves, grows, and blossoms around me, education allows me to grow right along with it. Meeting such wonderful alumni at the banquet provided me with the insights I needed to be more humble and grateful for my own education, both to this point and in the future. In talking to Carolyn, I found that she was able to verbalize a gratitude for the way education fits into our lives in a way I adore. I feel so grateful for each person I meet, book I read, paper I write and professor I listen to. Without education, I could not be the person I am now, or the person I am destined to become. I am so appreciative to the teachers I have had along the way, to my parents and family for supporting me in every educational and life goal I dreamed up, to the education I am receiving for shaping me and allowing me the chance to shape the world myself.

Read other articles by Kaitlyn Marks