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Student Q&A: Joel Lawore ’23


St. Mark’s has provided me with a variety of learning experiences. I’ve been able to challenge myself in many different areas and in ways that aren’t always possible for many students. I’m very grateful to have been able to further my interest in computer science at St. Mark’s, especially because this opportunity has not been as available throughout my previous educational experiences. While our Computer Science Department is still growing, it’s allowed me to learn from some incredible teachers so far. My favorite experience would be my IV Form year Java class, taught by Mr. Friedman. Not only did he inspire me to be more creative with my code, but he gave us the freedom in class to express all our ideas. I learned so much about coding that year that I will carry with me as I go on to major in computer science.

Looking back at the early days of my St. Mark’s career always reminds me of the value of our community. Something from that time that will stick with me was how there was such an attitude that pushed students to try new things.

I was encouraged by many to do the same; this led me to discovering passions in choir/a capella and wrestling, which I am now the co-head and captain of, respectively. While I’m very grateful that the St. Mark’s community has given me the opportunity to discover these passions, I’m just as grateful to have been able to continue exploring the passions I had prior to St. Mark’s. The fall preseason for soccer was my first experience as a St. Mark’s student, and one that I am happy to have been able to continue throughout my four years here.

St. Mark’s does their best to create spaces for students to socialize, and they do their job. I’ve spent a lot of time catching up with friends in the always-crowded Burgess Center, or in our Dining Hall, another social hub on campus. However, the greatest memories I’ve made with my friends have almost always come unplanned. From the unexpected hall sightings, to walking to see 10 of your friends packed into your room in between classes, I think it speaks most to the community that St. Mark’s has built why these experiences are possible.

I’ve been fortunate to have so many great memories at St. Mark’s. The student experience is just so rich, and because of that I have such a variety of great experiences, ranging from athletics to arts. This made it very difficult to pick one, however, I’d say the Wick A Capella Festival of my III Form year narrowly takes the cake. Not only was it an extremely fun experience, but it was a crucial point of growth for me as a person, as it allowed me to overcome a long-lasting fear that I had of speaking and performing publicly.

The boarding environment allows for meaningful relationships between teachers and students to be cultivated outside of an academic environment. Even more so at St. Mark’s, being a small school allows for these relationships to grow even further. It is just such a unique experience when your teacher is your coach, dorm head, or part of your affinity group. Especially when I was a III Former, having access to the different sides of my teachers made them so much more approachable. This was valuable because it encouraged me to learn to take initiative and communicate with my teachers, a skill which will be extremely important in college.

Additionally, every student has that advisor relationship, one for me can be best described as your parent on campus. This is the first way St. Mark’s introduced me to the idea of communicating with teachers, and my relationship with my advisor has been the main beacon of support throughout my time here.

St. Mark’s has taught me how to challenge myself. Whether it be socially, athletically, or academically, we cannot truly experience growth if we stay where we are comfortable. Throughout my St. Mark’s career, I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone in so many ways: engaging in affinity groups discussions has broadened my perspective on identity, beginning a new sport in wrestling made me a better athlete, and Advanced Calculus with Ms. Cao this year has led me to become a better student. These three experiences have led to growth in different areas, but none of them would have been accomplished if I had stayed comfortable. I’m grateful for the attitude within the St. Mark’s community to have been pushed to take these steps.

As someone who loves people and sees himself as a leader, motivator, and innovator, I think it makes sense that my dream is to be a successful business executive. This type of career could potentially cater to my current interest in technology and requires dynamic work experience (including travel!) that provides the constant excitement that I value in a lifelong career.

As a Christian, I was raised to know the importance of serving your community. When I first arrived at St. Mark’s, it was through this value that I pushed myself to navigate the jungle of uncertainty that faced me. Since then, things haven’t changed. My inspiration for being a leader is to serve and help those around me, especially in the ways that I have been helped previously. When it comes to helping others, I firmly believe that there is no one more qualified than someone that has been through their struggle. Throughout my time here, I have faced my fair share of challenges, which I’m blessed to have been able to overcome. Now, as I go into my VI Form year as co-head Monitor, my focus will be to make sure every student will have the support from the community during the struggles so that they are able to succeed.