Welcome Home, Class of 2024!
Last evening, St. Thomas Aquinas had the privilege and the pleasure of welcoming in its latest class- the Class of 2024. On hand and in their own words were freshman Alyson Rose and senior Max Reich. Their pride, enthusiasm and sincerity is worthy of sharing.
Alyson Rose '23-
Before I came to St. Thomas, I went to Immaculate Conception School in Newburyport, MA. I was the only student coming from my 8th grade class to STA and I remember being so scared that I wasn't going to make any new friends and that I was going to lose the ones that I had. If any of you are coming from a school by yourself andare worried about that very same thing, please just take that worry and throw it away. Trust me! With all the sports and activities and even just being in the classes that I am in, I have made so many friends that I am now able to laugh at the worry I had last year.
What I have enjoyed most about being a Saint is seeing the sense of community here. Whether it's seeing an upperclassman hold the door for a freshman or seeing two students become friends because they got lost on their way to a certain class, or whether it's the feeling we get when all the teachers and all 400+ students sit in teh gym together during Mass, or looking out the Chapel window and seeing the sunset... All of these things represent Saints Pride to me.
Max Reich '20-
When it comes to academics, STA is ready for all of your individual interests, to challenge you in whatever your passions, and to support you in subjects that maybe are not your favorite. The teachers at STA are stellar in all departments. As a senior, in my last semester, I can honestly say I have never had a less than “amazing” teacher. What makes the faculty at STA so unique is that not only are they passionate about the subjects they teach, they are passionate about their students. There is a respect in the classroom that allows students the comfort to express themselves and be heard. Not only this, but the teachers here are willing to do almost anything to help you succeed and flourish in a challenging but enriching environment. An example of this is my Statistics teacher who recently had hip surgery and was out for our midterm review week. However, soon after the surgery, he was emailing us from his home, giving us advice on what to study for the test. This is one of many examples of the dedication all STA teachers provide their students.
Throughout my years here, I have heard former STA students come back and talk about how prepared they felt for their college classes but also ready for college life overall. They felt so prepared with things like works cited pages, course material, studying habits, deadlines, and organization for big assignments; these are all things that are ingrained in the mind of an STA student, so by the time of graduation, you are more than ready.
Another part of academics that many schools don’t talk about is the preparation for the real world. Through my STA career, I have found my love for history and politics. I had a great variety of courses in the departments of economics, theology, and history that supported this passion. I applied what I learned in school to the real world and have worked with the Governor’s Office twice- once during the Governor's re-election campaign and another time in the New Hampshire State House assisting his office with public relations. I have also enjoyed debate and political club here at STA.
When it comes to athletics, I am the captain of the swim team and a 6-time State Champion. But STA is more about being part of a family. I invite you to look up at the gymnasium wall and view our team and individual state championships. For a school our size, STA has a long list of amazing accomplishments. Last year alone, our hockey team won its first state title, we had various individual state champions in Swimming, Tennis, Golf, and Track and Field, and our Men’s Golf team also won the State Title. I am also happy to announce that we will have a brand new turf field for the upcoming school year which is very exciting for the future of our school.
More importantly though, I want to touch on the camaraderie factor of all the STA teams. Last year at States, STA students and teachers came to cheer for the swim team. Literally the same day as States, the swim team went and cheered for the hockey team in a game they had against our biggest rival, Dover (and we won).
At Homecoming for football, almost every student shows up to support the football team; the Men’s soccer team attends the Women's soccer games throughout the season regularly. The point I am trying to make is that all of the teams/athletes support each other. We celebrate each other’s successes instead of downplaying them, and that is a big part of the STA difference and what makes our athletics special. Anyone, even if you haven't ever played a certain sport, is welcome to try something new here- and that "courage to try" is celebrated! When you have this type of culture, success comes as a byproduct.
The most daunting thing to all the students in this room, I'm sure, is the social aspect of coming to a new school. So, I'm going to tell you my story and try to alleviate some of your stress or worries about the transition.
I came from a small school with 50 kids in my 8th grade graduating class. I had friends from that school, but I never really had a tight close group of friends to rely on. I am a swimmer and with that grueling schedule, I have little time left for socializing, so this has been hard for me. This was always tough for me because I wanted that close knit group of friends that I saw everyone else had.
I came to STA with no expectations, just wanting to see what things were like. In my Freshman and Sophomore years, I was really close with a lot of people, even some upperclassmen. I felt comfortable with so many kids. I experienced kindness all around me and everyone was very nice. I was someone that everyone felt comfortable talking to. But Junior year and this year especially as a senior, I really have become close with my current group of friends. These people I know now are- and always will be- some of my closest friends for the rest of my life. We support each other, we appreciate each other, and we care about each other. Having friends who support everything you do and having friends who say, “I am proud of you” after a swim meet is huge when it comes to feeling like you belong in a community that is welcoming to everyone.
That last word is really important: everyone. Here at STA, the athletic kids are friends with the academic kids. Theatre kids know the robotics kids, and we even have athletes perform in the school plays. There are no barriers to who you hang out with at STA. You are not judged by what you like and what you do, you are defined by who you are as a person.
This community fosters a culture of togetherness, and this school, my class, will be considered a family for the rest of my life.