This year concludes my fourth and final year at Canterbury. During my last few weeks here I have started to reflect on my experiences here academically, athletically and socially. Basically, I wanted to reflect on what I expected in attending a private boarding school and what I actually experienced.
So it starts with this question: How the heck did I end up here? Well, let’s just say it was a very opportunistic vine of events. My step-father is an alumni and graduated in 1997, so there’s that connection. However, the most important thing that contributed to my decision was hockey. Coming into high school I had a set plan to take rigorous classes and get recruited to play Division 1 hockey. Let’s just say these last four years the plan that I thought was the best for me, well, wasn’t actually what I got.
My plan wasn’t completely altered, however. I definitely had the opportunity to take hard classes. This took the time of adjusting because I had never taken an AP or honors class before and let me just say that it was A LOT. At times I questioned whether this was the best thing for me academically, but I knew that personally, I would be able to keep up with the rigor and gain the most I could.
I had the chance here to expand academically and venture into all sorts of new areas of study. Some of these classes were Innovation Lab, Probability and Statistics, Science of Western Africa, Astronomy, Psychology, and Philosophy. Eighth grade Jami would tell you that most of these classes seem boring and unnecessary. I mean, how does this even help me grow as a person? Canterbury has taught me that it is essential to keep an open mind and to broaden my horizons. These classes are unconventional in the best way possible, and it gave me the chance to see EVERYTHING in a way I wouldn’t have if I stuck to my original “plan”.
One thing I told myself I would never do is be in a play/musical. Well, at the end of four years I’ve participated in four shows, either on or off stage. If you know me, I am no singer, actor, or dancer so basically, I’m the perfect candidate for a show. However, I decided to jump in and ended up really loving it. I didn’t get any big roles; however, that didn’t matter to me. What mattered was I was able to step onto the stage and take on something I wouldn’t be able to if not for this community. It was amazing creating bonds with people I wouldn’t ordinarily have run into.
Athletically, there were some big changes. My third and fourth form years were what I had planned to do. The seasons went like this: Fall field hockey, Winter ice hockey, and Spring Lacrosse. I only really did field hockey in the fall because there was no other sport I was interested in pursuing. But funny enough, I ended up having a real passion for it and plan on continuing it in the future (hopefully).
Fifth form year brought a significant change. I decided to try Spring Crew for the first time in hopes that I would get in shape for summer field hockey. Let me just tell you, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done, period. Similarly, sixth form year I decided to play squash instead of ice hockey. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but in the end, it was the right decision and I had so much fun.
It was all worth it because through these new experiences I had the opportunity to make amazing friends and have amazing mentors as coaches. What I’ve learned from my athletic experiences is that it’s okay to start from scratch, even if you’ve been playing a sport for a very long time (I played ice hockey for 10 years). It was unfamiliar, but the thing about our community is that it is so accepting of change because what everyone wants is to see others succeed. Both of the sports I tried are very niche sports, so I definitely would not have encountered them without having been here or having an open mind.
The last experience I am so grateful for at Canterbury is travel. I had the amazing opportunity to travel to both Nicaragua and Montana. Both of these trips were very different for me and unlike anything I’ve experienced in my life. Nicaragua was a life-changing experience I will never forget. We were immersed in small communities in Nicaragua for ten days, gaining an insight into what day to day life is there. We met such amazing people with incredible stories; however, at the same time, we were exposed to the real and devastating problems we are shielded from here in the U.S.
Montana was different, exposing us to the problems of global warming and conservation. One of the most amazing yet terrifying experiences there was having a wildfire so close to us. We were able to see up close how devastating these fires can be. We also saw the effects of global warming in the melting glaciers of the national parks. These trips opened my mind in a completely different way, taking me outside my comfort zone physically and seeing such diverse parts of our world.
The message of this reflection is that it’s okay to not have a plan and that keeping your mind open will prepare you for the future. I cannot even imagine my Canterbury experience without the things I did and if I could go back I wouldn’t change a thing. I hope that beyond my time here that Canterbury continues to be a place of acceptance and support. Most importantly, I want it to be the place where it is encouraged to venture off one’s original path and try new and bold things.