- Upper School
Ayanah Proulx, our Marketing Coordinator sat down with Mary Halle, the Thornton Academy 2019 Valedictorian to discuss her aspirations following graduation in June, and to reflect on her most prized TA memories and traditions.
AP: You mentioned you’ll be studying nursing in college - Are there any TA specific classes, experiences, and/or teachers that encouraged this decision?
MH: I always knew that I liked science classes and obviously TA has a lot of options. I took honors biology and took honors chemistry. Those two teachers were definitely great at teaching the subject and I learned a lot. I also took anatomy with Ms. Bove and I really liked that class. She is also really into what she is teaching and knows a lot about the subject. They didn’t make the decision for me, but they did help me learn that I do like they subjects and that I want to learn more about them.
AP: That’s one of the best things about Thornton, the school helps push students to explore and gives them the space and array of classes so they are able to find what they are passionate about. Students are given an extra edge which means they enter college with a better understanding of what they are interested in and want to study. Some schools may not place as much of an emphasis on exploration and investigation, so students might feel as if they are going into life after high school a bit blindly.
MH: Exactly. Getting the experience from those classes, if you feel prepared and you thrive in that sort of environment then you want more of that in college which is how I felt. Taking those classes and liking them, knowing that I’ll like a step further, since there is a lot of science in nursing.
AP: We just had Mary’s Walk this weekend, and Winter Carnival earlier in the month, do you have any favorite Thornton memories or traditions?
MH: I always loved homecoming. Homecoming week is so fun since everyone is doing spirit week, spirit days, then the rally and the football game. That TA spirit, everyone is so into it which is really nice. It just makes it that much more fun. And like you said, Mary’s Walk. I’ll always love that the community comes together for that event. It obviously is special to me because it was in memory of my grandmother. It’s really nice to see everyone come together and all the volunteers. I really like the pillar assemblies as well.
AP: Those are really awesome. When I first started working here I was amazed and moved after I attended my first assembly - what a great thing to recognize students for all talents and accomplishments!
MH: It’s amazing to have all students in the spotlight and to recognize them for the things that they do, especially the things that maybe not a lot of people know about. You learn a lot about your student body. When I talked to Mr. Nelson about that he said that this was the point of the assemblies, to make everyone aware of other things outside of TA sports, or just TA specific things. It’s cool to know about that with your classmates.
AP: Are there any moments or memories you will bring with you to college from TA? Anything that you would miss the most?
MH: I’ll always miss my sports for sure. Just having a team, like you automatically have a group of 20 friends that have your back, which is so nice. Especially going into freshman year I was able to meet so many people through the soccer team, and those memories going to Buffalo Wild Wings and hanging out with the team, and those are the things I’ll miss for sure. And hanging out with friends at football games, and hockey games. And just being at school. I just love seeing my friends everyday.
AP: Sports are something I have realized bring people together at TA, no matter if you are playing or on the sidelines watching and cheering - they bring the school together.
MH: Yeah, even if you don’t play a sport a lot of people come and watch for the fun of it. It’s nice to be able to socialize with people. Those are the things I’ll definitely remember.
AP: How do you believe your past four years at Thornton Academy will encourage your growth beyond graduation?
MH: With TA there are so many opportunities, all of these classes, and to grow through your academics, and challenge yourself, which I have definitely pursued. It’s nice to have that academic experience under my belt going into the next four years, knowing that my teachers have prepared me.
It’s also nice being at TA and having the boarding program and getting to interact with people that just haven’t grown up in Saco. Having that experience getting to know other cultures with different backgrounds. Because going into the real world it’s not just the Saco community, it’s not just one group of people. I think that going into college next year I’ll take my experiences interacting with different people who are from different countries, who have differences in lifestyles, being able to understand that and make friends who aren’t just like me. Do you know what I’m saying?
AP: Yes definitely, the boarding program is such an amazing asset to Thornton and its community!
MH: Not many high schoolers get that experience - being able to understand other cultures and backgrounds and their way of schooling.
AP: How has having students from different countries affected your day-to-day classes?
MH: In class, a teacher would ask “how was your experience different in your classes back home?” It’s really nice to get that perspective. Like in Italy schooling is much different, they don’t have multiple choice. To understand people and their lives and bring it into your real life has been pretty cool. You don’t even have to be close friends with everyone to understand and learn about their experiences.
AP: It’s nice that teachers will bring that perspective into the classroom setting, and highlight these differences in a positive way.
MH: That’s a great thing about TA that not many other high-school students get, you usually start growing outside of your hometown and getting that worldly understanding when you move onto college, if not later than that. So it’s neat to be able to experience that now.
AP: I know last time we chatted you weren’t committed to a college, are you still weighing your options?
MH: I haven’t put in a deposit but I am pretty positive I will be going to Saint Anselm.
AP: That seems like a nice distance away where you can always come back and visit home but still explore a new space.
MH: Yeah, I’m a homebody so I like the option, but I definitely want to spread my wings a little further than Maine just to experience more. I think it can be hard to appreciate Maine and Saco until you are gone. I think this experience will encourage me to know what I want and compare my home to something else. I loved the school, so beautiful.
AP: I definitely understand wanting to explore a new town and state, but having the option to visit home on the weekends or for vacations is a benefit of being a drive away instead of a flight! My last question- do you have a favorite space on campus?
MH: Since I have had that experience with sports I will always have so many memories with Hill Stadium - practicing there every single day, having games there. When I think of a place at TA that’s the first thing that comes to mind because I have spent so much time there for both soccer and lacrosse. And the football games, even if you don’t play the sport, being in the crowd.
I also love the cafeteria, especially the first two years when you have caf study halls and find a group of people to study with and hangout with. And then, what is unique about TA is you have two different lunches so you can have lunch with a different group each day.
AP: I love those two answers; I had never thought about how much of a great opportunity the two lunches can be. Thank you so much, Mary, for your answers, and taking some time today for this interview!