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Kaila Bridgeman 200

Kaila Bridgeman
SAS Class of 2010

Learning that I attend School for Advanced Studies typically elicits an expression of wide-eyed amazement and admiration. Some bold individuals go as far as questioning my mental health; surely I must be insane if I willingly put myself through the stresses of dual-enrollment rather than enjoy myself at a "normal" high school. In such cases, I laugh and offer a different perspective by stating that the choice to attend SAS was an expedient one; I live for the change that allows me to go beyond the normality of life and find something extraordinary. My decision to transfer to SAS has been life-changing; I have been challenged in countless ways beyond the realm of academics that has fostered my growth as a person, not just as a student.

Though I have been labeled as a "gifted" child since my elementary years, I never considered myself as a person with the capacity for greatness, not until SAS. My school does not spoon-feed students, as is the habit of "normal" high schools. Rather, it thrives on the Honor System and entrusts students with higher levels of responsibility with the full confidence that they will succeed. In becoming more reliant on my own abilities and gaining confidence, I developed a genuine excitement for education; fresh ideas about my future, my goals, and my aspirations exploded in my mind like fireworks with rapid bursts of color and excitement.

In my previous schools, I was reserved and tentative in pursuing my own interests. However, the diversity of my new school facilitated individuality, a chance to finally be myself. I found, for instance, that I thoroughly enjoy managing or assisting with school activities when I headed a project that allowed our small school of 100 students to donate over 130 pairs of jeans to underprivileged teenagers. It made me realize what I could accomplish by simply taking the initiative. It has always warmed my heart to improve someone's life just by lending a helping hand. This is why I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, lining up my stuffed animals and giving them assignments that were scored and recorded in my very own grade book. Several years later, I have taken that passion and turned it into something positive for my community.

The confidence I gained by simply placing myself in a more academically rigorous environment has been empowering. It is a source of energy that propels me towards a better life and drives me to step out of my comfort zone, seize every positive opportunity, and never settle for anything less than the goals I set out to reach. It is the energy that I try to pass on to others whenever the opportunity arises. This is how I contribute to my environment, in a school setting or otherwise: by putting my best effort in helping others to recognize their potential and beauty, and guiding them towards success.

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