Friday, March 5, 2010

Billy Jackson, Alumnus

I had a wonderful surprise this morning. A former Summers-Knoll student came to visit out of the blue! Billy is currently at the University of Michigan majoring in Film with a minor in Mathematics. He had left SK by the time I arrived nearly eight years ago, but we had a lovely time this morning trading stories and looking around the school.

A brief background on Billy: he attended Emerson for Middle School, Pioneer for High School, and now he is at U of M. This is his first year at U of M, but he has entered directly into his Sophomore year because he covered so many accelerated classes at Pioneer, including a bunch of college math and science at U of M alongside college students. ("Math was always what I was best at when I was at Summers-Knoll," he said.)

I asked Billy how he fared with the transition from SK's small, warm environment into the larger schools he attended later. He said that, for him, he felt as if the transitions were stepped really well. From here to Emerson took him to a larger, but still very manageable size. Pioneer was a step up from that, at 3,000 students. U of M has 14,000 students, and he said smilingly that he is perfectly comfortable there.

So why Film? Well, said Billy, he had assumed that he would study Engineering at college level. He is good at math and science, and it seemed the obvious thing to do. But then he took a class in Film, and a passion was born. He lit up when he was talking about it, how it incorporates math, art, technology, philosophy, business, language... "All things I love!" He is writing a screenplay - a cool goal for a math and science guy.

Billy reminisced about various things from SK ("I was a trouble-maker! I spent a fair amount of time in the office getting to know Dr. Cole [the head of school at the time].") He also remembered a particular project - a self portrait with writing that everyone in his class contributed to a class book. I thought it was fitting that a student from this school would remember an expression of the community bonding which has always been so important to us here. "I still have that book," he said.

You may be seeing Billy this summer - he is a Taekwondo instructor and may be training young Jedi to channel the Force at our Star Wars camp - maybe also to make their own original Star Wars movie. He made an instant connection with the kids here at school; it gave me a huge kick to see this former student and our current students chatting together.

Welcome back, Billy! It was wonderful to meet you, and to reconnect with a member of our family in such an delightful and unexpected way.

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