We say it again and again, but it still bears repeating. Our students are what make Chinquapin the place it is. They are resilient, hard-working, honest and kind. The urgency of their dreams is what fuels us through the long days and weeks of preparing them for success in college and life beyond. We often tell people stories about our students; each one is so unique and special to us. While we have as many stories as students (155 this year!), here are a few that I think capture Chinquapin’s essence (names have been changed).
- Enrique, now a college freshman, contacted the school after we flooded and asked if he could donate his Chinquapin-sponsored scholarship to the relief efforts. Reluctant to let him do this, we agreed upon a $100 donation. He said he wanted to do it because this year’s group of seniors is “a really good group of kids,” and he didn’t want the flood damage to impact them.
- Claire, a current senior, is not boarding this year because her mother needs her help at home taking care of younger siblings. She is still keeping up her grades, getting in her college applications and applying for every scholarship available on less than optimal sleep. She is widely regarded as a “rock star” who will achieve whatever she pursues.
- Edith, a sophomore, has noticed that our kitchen staff has a difficult time finishing up on Fridays so has asked me if she can do an extra meal crew each week so that she can help them.
- Denise, a freshman, has come out of her shell since being at Chinquapin. A gifted student, she struggled with social relationships until she formed a club based on her interests. Now she enjoys sharing her passion for physics!
- Brian, a junior, was essentially rescued from a home situation that included illegal activity and neglect. He is thriving here and has been staying with staff occasionally on the weekends in order to have a more structured environment.
Dr. James Comer, professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale, once said “no significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” We concur, and believe that relationships are at the heart of Chinquapin’s phenomenal success with our students. These relationships are forged by our close community, working alongside each other in academics, extra-curriculars and chores. Our small size, boarding component and family atmosphere allow us to know our students’ stories so that we can insure that significant learning - and significant change - occurs for each one of them.
Laura Henry, Ed.D.