Eighth grade scholar at LEARN Hunter Perkins, Caitlyn Smith, is impressive. She will be attending La Lumiere Boarding School in the Fall of 2019. Here, she speaks about her time at Hunter Perkins, how her teachers encouraged her, and what she is looking forward to in high school.
How did you choose the high school you will attend?
Our teachers, Mrs. Dameron (High School Placement Coordinator) and Mrs. Franklin (Principal) have encouraged us to know what schools we want to go to from a young age and encouraged us to map out what we want to do. I’ve wanted to go to La Lumiere since fourth grade. I also have a history with La Lumiere because my aunt went there. It was almost ingrained in me, but I ultimately chose it because I like the environment and the cultural differences there. I think I will be able to expand my character and expand culturally.
What are you most excited for going into high school?
I love Hunter Perkins, but I am excited for new experiences and to meet new people. I’m excited for a different culture and new learning environment that I can excel in. And I am looking forward to being challenged in high school.
Are you nervous about anything going into high school?
Some of the nervousness went away when I attended Phillips Exeter Academy’s Summer Program, which helped me feel at ease being away from home. I am nervous about leaving the comfortable environment here. At Hunter Perkins, I know everyone and everyone knows me. But I am ready for it.
How did you get into your preferred high school of choice?
In 7th grade, Mrs. Dameron emphasized that we need to have our grades up and high MAP scores. So we researched the schools, started our applications, and in December we took the selective enrollment test.
The boarding school process is different because they don’t use the CPS structure for applications. I had to work on getting recommendations and perfecting my essays. There were a lot of interviews. After I was accepted, I had to go through the scholarship process, which definitely wouldn’t have been available if Mrs. Dameron wasn’t so well connected. It took about a year and a half to get the materials ready and was a lot of hard work, but it definitely paid off.
What did you do to prepare for high school?
I definitely started joining more clubs, more sports activities, and participating in community service outside of school. I think my biggest asset was all of my achievements.
I got into the summer program at Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire. I have done a lot of types of community service and interviews with people. I did public speaking at the March for our Lives at Google Headquarters. I was voted the Girl’s President of the Women’s Council of Illinois. I am also third in the eighth grade class rankings at Hunter Perkins.
I also think that Hunter Perkins offered programs and opportunities that helped build up my resume. Some of the programs that have helped me are scholastic bowl, shadow days, college trips, and leadership opportunities within Hunter Perkins. For example, eighth grade students help other students in the school. We get to interact with other grades like the Kindergarten class and the sixth grade quite a bit. It has helped me with my leadership qualities because we have to be good role models. We can’t slack off and that’s important to show them. Even though we are in eighth grade, and school is almost over, we have to show them it’s not over until the very last day.
Where do you want to go to college after high school?
I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in pediatrics. To do that, I want to go to Johns Hopkins University for their surgical program. Then I want to go to Princeton for their residency program.
Who’s helped you get to where you are today?
My mom and dad have helped me tremendously. They never let me get comfortable. I can’t bring home a B because I am better than a B, so I am always pushing for excellence.
At Hunter Perkins, Mrs. Dameron and Mrs. Franklin have given me the tools for success that I need. Mrs. Dameron is always in my ear telling me I can be better and she’s helped me believe it.
In another way, my friends have also helped me because they give me that competition that helps me want to be better and do better.
Learn more about La Lumiere School at their website lalumiere.org
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