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A Firm Foundation For The Building Blocks Of My Success (2009 Thesis #3)

(Fairhaven School has just graduated seven students. As a way to celebrate the class of 2009, over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting the theses that they  successfully defended. Below is a brief description outlining how somebody earns a Fairhaven diploma, followed by the third thesis. Enjoy!

Students who have spent at least three years at Fairhaven School may earn a diploma by defending the thesis that they have prepared themselves to become effective adults in the larger community. Diploma candidates must declare their intent to graduate and answer questions at a special winter Assembly of parents, students, staff and public members. They also meet with their individual graduation committees, and defend their written theses before a Diploma Committee made up of three experienced staff members from other Sudbury schools. A majority of positive votes from the Committee is the final requirement of  the diploma process.)

A firm foundation for the building blocks of my success.
-David Lloyd Roskind

I believe an effective adult is a person who can live by his or her own means and be happy while doing so. I have taken several steps towards achieving this goal, or preparing myself to be an effective adult over the past years. First among those steps was simply making the idea of becoming an effective adult a goal at all.

I believe that before anything can be achieved I need to make it an explicit goal first. A mouse will only go so close to the bush where the cat is hiding; at a certain point the cat has to pounce or starve. Opportunity comes within your grasp; it’s up to you to reach out and take it.

The components of life as an effective adult are akin to common sense to me. To be a person who can live by his own means, and be happy, reduces to four main elements: A career, friends, a healthy supply of life experiences, and the lessons that come from them.

These four elements form a cycle of continuous improvement. When I work toward a career or developing friendships, I will get experiences in the process. Lessons come from both success and failure in these endeavors. This new knowledge, then, may aid me in the further pursuit of friends or a career. In repeating this process I will eventually work my way up to, or somewhere close to my ideal life.  Building starts with laying the foundations and that will prepare me to keep the process in motion.

A good career, for me, should allow me to be financially independent, have a tolerable work environment, and feel like my contributions are worthwhile. This may take years to achieve. Some experiences that will likely bring me closer to a good career are a college education, prior job experience, and networking (developing friends or contacts in business).

I have been admitted to Anne Arundel Community College for the fall semester. I have found two fields that interest me, game design and business. I have also designated engineering as a backup choice. I will be taking placement tests in May. However before I attend college I would like to graduate from Fairhaven School.

I do have prior job experience. When I was fourteen I worked as a junior ski instructor at Liberty Mountain Resort. I have skied since I was four years old and I was able to put that skill to use in a job. My principal duties were assisting the ski instructors with their junior development classes, children five to ten year of age. I studied about learning styles and how to customize lessons to individual children’s needs. I preformed demonstrations, set up training equipment, helped oversee the safety of the children and class management in general. It was a fun job but at the same time it shows future employers that I have held a job where I demonstrated interpersonal skills and a high degree of conscientiousness.

When I was sixteen, my mom asked me to provide “subject matter expertise” to psychology researchers at National Rehabilitation Hospital where she works. Her colleagues were interested in the possibility of using video games for rehabilitation of children with brain injuries. I met with the research team for an hour, demonstrated games of various types and levels of difficulty and answered their questions.  Not only is being a consultant for National Rehabilitation Hospital a prestigious tidbit on a resume, but this experience directly correlates with my interest in a carrier of the field of video games. This job was not only the most enjoyable job I had, but also the highest paying (in terms of hourly wage). If I could do this every day, my life would be like a dream.

I am currently working for a parent to provide a student’s daily transportation to school. I pick him up from the bus stop every morning and wait for the bus with him in the evenings, and then I contact his parent to inform her that he is on his way home.  Providing this service on a daily basis over the period of the school year has given me confidence in my ability to communicate effectively, perform consistently and demonstrate responsibility. It should also show my future employer that I have the maturity and tenacity to be a reliable worker.

When it comes to being networked with other people, I know very well how important that is. I would never have obtained any of the above jobs without my “contacts.” I have come to realize how essential other people are in facilitating opportunities.  A contact, after all, is a friend or relative who gives you a scoop, puts in a word for you, or just flat out hires you. This leads me into my next topic: friends.

I like friends and feel that I couldn’t be happy in life without them. Also no matter where they are or who they are, friends always seem to bring something new to the table. That guy I play Pokémon with might just turn out to be a valuable contact and lead me to become the head of the greatest video game studio the world has ever seen.

I turned eighteen this school year and even though I’m still young, I feel I have experienced a wide variety of events. Sometimes things are bad, sometimes things are good, but I always manage to learn something. The following are some of the more notable events and experiences that have happened at home and at Fairhaven School.

Sometimes in life you lose things. I learned this in one of the hardest fashions when I was just five. About four months prior to these events I found out I had a baby sister coming. I was very happy to say the least. Her name was Mary, my third sister. She drooled, wore diapers, drank milk, and did everything else I though a baby would do. But Mary was different. I didn’t fully understand at the time, but Mary was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. My siblings and I couldn’t possibly understand that fewer than ten percent of babies with this abnormality live to see their first birthday. Mary passed away when she was six months old. I think it goes without saying, I was absolutely crushed.
I would like to believe that this experience has helped me become a more mature person. I think I really learned the importance of life and how you can’t always just find something that is lost or fix something that is broken.

When I was nine my parents split up and we had to move. This was scary because I didn’t fully understand what was going on and my dad was angry. In fact everyone was acting a little off. Eventually things settled down and both my parents got new romantic interests. One of them was okay, the other one was not fond of my siblings and me. A few years later my parents finally got the divorce. It was a relief to have it settled. Luckily we are all somewhat happy now.
It just goes to show you things don’t always work out, even if that isn’t the main lesson I learned from problems in my parents’ relationship.  What I actually got a taste of from this ordeal was just how complicated the adult world that I am about to enter can be. If people can’t resolve within an eight-year span to finalize a divorce, the issues involved must be truly complex.

Last year, without any warning, I had to miss weeks of school. This was simultaneously one of the most obnoxious and terrifying periods of my life. My appendix had swollen, and then burst. After a couple of painful nights, I went to a hospital and ended up getting stuck with more needles than I can remember. You know it’s bad when they go for your neck.

Apparently I almost died but I don’t remember it all too well. What I do remember was seeing the bill in the mail and loving my insurance. Also my doctor had an amusing name, Chengappa.
I learned that health insurance is almost required nowadays, as one accident can get you into the hospital and the health care industry knows how to break the bank. The insurance pay-out for the two hospitalizations that resulted from my perforated appendix could have bought me a nice new hearse. If I could only keep one thing in my wallet, it would definitely be my insurance card.
Fairhaven School has been a huge experience as a whole and has helped me mature in many ways. At Fairhaven School, I get to practice my social skills as the majority of my time is spent talking to people. I get to talk to and make friends with people young and old. For some of the younger students, I see the possibility that I may serve as a role model.  I am conscious that whatever action I take around them may have an impact for which I may have to take responsibility.
In Fairhaven School’s Judicial Committee, I seldom find myself in the defendant’s chair. I do however appear frequently as a witness and I have been an Alternate thrice. I also sub for other members occasionally.

I have had one major experience at Fairhaven School that almost defines my presence there. That experience is my involvement in Computer Corp. When I first came to Fairhaven School, I didn’t have much interest in Computer Corp, but the School Meeting Members that I was talking to did. They all got up and went to the meeting and I tagged along. I joined Computer Corp. the next week, after I became a School Meeting Member. The meetings were rather long-winded at first but later became fun. I have been in Computer Corp. ever since and have filled positions from Executive Director (the chair) to silent room Director (the guy in charge of teaching the rules to people in the room you can’t talk in) and I had a blast everywhere. I even played a role in Computer Corp.’s ground breaking carnival fundraiser.

Computer Corp. gets to bring a lot of issues to School Meeting, or rather the same issue every year: The annual heated “M” Games discussion. Every year this issue finds itself on the agenda. Almost all of the students and staff come and speak their part. It really helps get people into School Meeting and more active in the community. I’ve displayed my “loyalty” by changing sides every year. I have been supportive of, indifferent to, and vehemently against having “M” games at Fairhaven School. No matter how fun “M” games are, they really are too much work to manage appropriately in a heterogeneous environment such as Fairhaven School. The topic, however, is very useful for spurring discussion and getting to understand what the different members of our community hold important.

I am David Lloyd Roskind and I feel prepared to take on the challenges of effective adult life.