I basically grew up in a library. My mom is a librarian, so I have spent more time in a library than anyone I know. My most vivid memory there was spending my sick days in the corner of the children’s section at the North Bridgton Library, wrapped in a blanket on top of the heater and reading the Goosebumps books that I was nestled beside. I’ve made collages in a library, had a Dirty Dancing potluck in a library, and even slept on the floor of a library. Three times, actually. Instead of falling asleep at night with a stuffed animal, I would fall asleep clutching a book. Looking at me now, with my book collection that easily exceeds 200, you would never know that up until my sophomore year, my dream and passion was to become a scientist.
When I originally applied to Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, Maine, I thought that I wanted to be an archeologist. I wanted to dig things up and solve mysteries. I’ve always been fascinated by history, and one day wanted to make as big of a discovery as the Titanic or King Tut’s tomb. I went in signing up for as many science and biology classes as I could, hoping to learn as much as I could about anything and everything. I was excited to take Freshman Humanities as well, but I mean, dinosaurs and undiscovered ancient villages were out there waiting for me!
As a kid, I spent several summers at Woods Hole Children’s School of Science, a summer camp on Cape Cod. I was a camper and a counselor at a day camp at Holt Pond Preserve, and many Girl Scout trips involved ‘sciency’ things. To keep up with the “sleeping on a floor” theme, I’ve also slept on the floor of the Boston Museum of Science. I’ve slept on a lot of floors. So once I heard about a school that was all about science, I knew that I needed to go.
I knew that a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) school would be a good fit for me because it specialized in science. Yet after being there for nearly a year, I began to recognize that I enjoyed learning about how the country was founded more than I enjoyed learning why humans are humans. I knew this after I volunteered in a first-grade class and got to help some of the students with reading history packets.
From there, I began to come to terms with the fact that to me, science classes just weren’t that fun. I’m terrible at math, I can never remember scientific formulas, and I always spilled chemicals on the table during labs. The part that I did love, was reading about scientific discoveries and writing papers. With this new realization mixed with my love and passion for writing and reading, I quickly determined that humanities was the route for me. That’s what’s cool about a college prep school; you get to build your day in a way where you have fun and discover your interests.
Despite being advertised as a STEM school, Baxter actually has an incredible humanities program. I’m currently taking humanities classes just for fun because I’ve already completed all the Humanities classes and received credits that I need for the rest of my high school career. There’s an extensive amount of history, literacy, art and design, and writing classes that people would never know are there unless they took a tour of the school. The teachers are passionate about what they’re teaching, and the students are always engaged and excited to read.
If I had stayed in my old school district, I would have never discovered how much I really love reading and writing. I wanted to be a scientist for as long as I can remember, but such a wide array of humanities-based classes have driven me towards publishing and editing.
It is very important to me that humanities is represented and pushed in schools, because of how they affected me. I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life because I had never really explored anything but science. Because of that big push that I received from advisors, I have now created a 200-page school yearbook, written for a local newspaper, gained some contacts in New York publishing companies, written a collect of short stories that nobody is ever going to see, and now I’m here.
I’ve become fascinated with writing and how books are made. Taking these humanities classes has made me want to go into publishing or editing, or something that I can do to help make books. I’ve been inspired to make things that people want to read because of these humanities classes. If schools did not have these kinds of classes available, the world would lack the people needed to help create things like books and magazines and newspapers.
The whole time I’d been in school, the only grades that mattered to my school were the ones I was getting in my math and science classes; and because of that, I was driven towards a path that I wasn’t even aware I didn’t want. If I hadn’t switched schools in order to pursue my then dream, I never would have learned what I really want. The easy access to these classes at Baxter has changed my perspective on life and the way I learn. The freedom that students are given when choosing classes is welcomed, accepted, and encouraged by all teachers, and sometimes those teachers will try their best to push you out of your comfort zone to help you explore what you really want.
Sometimes it helps to step a little outside your comfort zone, and I recommend it to everybody. The end results could quite literally be life changing.
Zoe Silvia is a student at Baxter Academy for Technology and Science.