Student Spotlight: Ryan Whiting ’24

St. Thomas Aquinas High School current senior and member of the Class of 2024, Ryan Whiting, had the opportunity to sit down with us for a brief interview. Read the interview below to learn more about Ryan and his time at STA!

Ryan Whiting ’24 entered STA in the fall of 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a Stratham native, he attended Cooperative Middle School in Exeter and was looking for a high school experience with smaller class sizes and a more independent focus. He knew he would not thrive in a remote learning environment, so the fact that STA remained open was a huge driver in his decision to attend. Like all students, the social distancing rules and other safety regulations had an impact on his experience. “I showed up on the first day of soccer practice in a mask. It was so hot in the August heat. When school started, we had to keep 6 feet away from our classmates and there were plexiglass dividers on the lunch tables. It made making friends very challenging.” What began as a difficult start, however, has blossomed into a high school experience that Ryan cherishes. “My friends from public schools did not go back to school until the middle of Sophomore year. This affected them academically, athletically, and socially. I’m so lucky to have had those things enriching memories.”

Throughout his time at St. Thomas Aquinas, Ryan has taken full advantage of many of the opportunities offered. Each experience has helped him grow into the person he is today. “Four years ago, I was shy and I wouldn’t engage in a conversation unless someone engaged with me. Now I have leadership positions in clubs, sports, etc. I’ve grown in leadership and communication skills.” Ryan serves as Captain of the Soccer and Tennis teams. He joined the Ski team freshman year and even became a kicker for the Football team Junior year while playing soccer (as long as there were no conflicts). Ryan is also a member of the Student
Advisory Board (SAB), which plans various activities like Spirit Week, dances, Homecoming, Winter Formal, and other school fundraisers.

Academically, Ryan strives to push himself. “When I do extremely well, it means I am capable. I’m going to set a higher goal for myself. That’s why I took on a little bit more each year. Now, I’m taking all Honors and three AP courses. I had the best semester I’ve every had. It’s inspiring.” He credits his teachers for helping him throughout his academic career. “The school is a magical place. There’s no doubt about it. The faculty wants to see you succeed and achieve your dreams. They come in early and leave late. They watch you on the field and the court. It’s really second to none.” Two of his teachers, Mr. Holmes and Mr. Salito, have had a profound impact on him. “They’ve inspired me to search for my best and pushed me academically to challenge myself to take more challenging classes and push myself past my limits.”

Ryan was recruited to play tennis at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA next year. “I visited 15 other schools, but I knew it was the one from the moment I stepped on campus. For me, it has the perfect balance of athletics and academics.” His plan is to follow in his family’s footsteps by focusing on commercial real estate development. “I want to be in the field talking to people. With this field, there’s always a project; you’re never done. You can continuously push the boundaries of what’s capable.”

Outside of school, Ryan coaches soccer for the town of Stratham. He’s also worked with an organization called TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer), a community-based program for young athletes with disabilities.