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Student Blog: Life at Prep

"The Prep community is connected like no other and I am so grateful to be a part of it."

A photo of the Appalachia Immersion Trip group in Barren Springs, Va. Alex is the first one to the left of the Glenwood United Methodist Church sign.

By Alex Nordlinger '19

It’s hard to believe I only have one year left at Prep. I’ve developed so many great connections inside the classroom, on the soccer field, and through the many extracurricular opportunities Prep has granted to me. I’ve grown immensely as a person these past three years and I am looking forward to a great Senior year.

This past summer began with the opportunity to lead Prep’s Appalachia Immersion trip. I’ve been lucky enough to go to Barren Springs, Virginia, twice over the past two summers with Prep, once as a participant and once as a student leader. The time I’ve spent in Barren Springs has had a profound impact on who I am as a person and who I want to be as I become a Man for Others.

  Alex on power washing duty in Virginia.

Through my time in the classroom, on the field, and serving others, I’ve learned the value of being part of a community. The Prep community is connected like no other and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

Just a week after the immersion trip, I flew to Spain to spend a month in Gijón with a host family. This was a big step outside my comfort zone, but I had the confidence to do this thanks to Prep’s continually encouraging me to take risks and to try something new. I’ve also had an awesome experience in Spanish class the past few years with Ms. Laguzza, which gave me the idea on go on such a trip. Now that I am home for the summer, I can focus on training for soccer and summer work.

Looking forward to the school year, I’m sure it will be great. I’m taking a lot of classes that I’m excited about, including a dual enrollment multivariable calculus course online through the Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy, a resource Prep has that offers us a far wider selection of courses than those you would typically find in a classroom setting.

Alex with his host brother in Spain.

Senior year is also a big year for community service. Prep helps each of us find the perfect organization to serve with, and I am planning on doing my service through Urban Impact in Bridgeport, a program that supports the youth living in the P.T. Barnum public housing complex. The community service aspect of Prep, for me, has been among the most impactful parts of my experience. Being given the opportunity to help so many deserving people and to be exposed to the different cultures that come with various backgrounds has been both fulfilling and life changing.

Between my classes, community service, and soccer, I am sure that while this upcoming year will be busy, it will also be a lot of fun. I am very excited to get back to school to see friends that I haven’t been able to see over the summer. I am so grateful for everything Prep has done for me and for the many great friendships I’ve developed — it truly is a brotherhood. I know Senior year will go by quickly, I just want to make the most of the time I have left here.

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By William Weber '21

Hello readers! My name is Billy Weber. This is my first year at Fairfield Prep. I hope any kids considering Prep will be able to learn more about the Prep experience through my time here so far.

One of the most daunting ideas that you could have about coming to Prep is taking the train. Many kids, myself included, didn’t have to take a train to school before going to Prep. Despite it seeming like a difficult system to get used to, the train ride is very easy to adjust to. Within a few days of traveling to and from school, the train ride will be simple and can also be fun. If you don’t know anyone going to Prep, the train is a great place to meet people and make new friends.

If you are considering attending Prep, you may be thinking about it for a variety of reasons. You might want to be challenged in classes that will prepare you for college. You might also be interested in the sports teams, or other extracurricular activities. Prep can exceed your expectations in all of these areas. The academic courses are very informative and up to par. I have already learned a lot at Prep, and I have only been here for a few weeks. Taking notes and studying are very important, so it’s a good idea to establish these routines early on. The workload at Prep is higher than middle school’s workload, but this is necessary for your college preparation. Aside from academics, Prep offers a wide variety of sports and clubs. This is an excellent way to meet new people during the school year, and these activities are a nice addition to a college resume.           

High school is definitely a big change from elementary and middle school. It requires more mature behavior and independence, but everything that you go through is essential to be successful later on in life. Your time at Prep will involve a lot of work, but it will also be one of the best times in your life. Both work and fun can be balanced properly if you work hard and manage you time properly. I’m looking forward to the next round of freshmen next year!

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View a photo gallery from the trip by clicking the image above.

By Jack Smith ‘19

In the school year of 2016-2017, Father Stockdale approached me about a new type of trip Prep was planning for the upcoming year. In the middle of the summer 2017, we would fly to Europe to take part in the Ignatian Experience Pilgrimage. On this trip, we would be visiting all of the locations that Saint Ignatius of Loyola visited himself during his spiritual journey, as well as other holy sites such as Lourdes in France, The Church of the Gesù in Rome, and Vatican City. The premise of getting to see these places I had only heard of was exciting, so I quickly signed up and started preparing for the Spiritual Experience I knew I was about to take part in.

Come July 2017, I was heavily anticipating the trip. On the morning we were to depart, we all met at Prep and gathered together to go to the airport. Since we had spent time in our weekly meetings getting to know each other and prepare for the experience, I was already close with the Prep group and was excited to see them again. Despite traffic, delays, and lots of waiting in airport gates, we finally arrived at our first destination in the journey: Spain. Our first main stop took us to the city of San Sabastian, where we explored the city, tried Basque cuisine, and nestled into our first of many hotels.

The next day, however, we got to visit the town of Loyola, where Saint Ignatius himself grew up. Not only did we see his house, but we got to go inside and experience his early childhood and even celebrate Mass in the sacred spot where he was called to service. This was the first of many spiritual experiences I would have over the course of this trip, enhancing not only my faith but my sense of Jesuit service and justice. After spending time in the Basque country of Spain, we got on a bus and left for our next stop in Lourdes, France.

Over the course of the trip, I had many spiritual and life defining moments. But France provided the most meaningful experience to me. As a student of French, it was an amazing opportunity to be able to put my studies to use and speak to the people of France; but that doesn’t even compare to the experiences I had in the city of Lourdes. Driving into the city, there didn’t seem to be anything that stood out, however that changed when we arrived to the “centreville” of the holy place. It was immediately clear that this was a place rooted in the Christian faith. No matter where you looked, you were guaranteed to see multiple faith-themed shops, restaurants, or hotels. However, that was just the surface of the spiritual presence of Lourdes.

Each night that we were staying in France, we got to experience the nightly Rosary procession. Most, if not all, of the visitors to the town got to gather together to pray to our mother Mary. It was an eye-opening experience getting to see the power of our faith through the sick, needy, and those who were there to help out. The feeling I felt seeing so many people congregating in one place from all corners of the world in one common interest and passion can honestly not be described in words. The nightly processions we took part in Lourdes have stuck with me even to this day, and were definitely one of the highlights of the pilgrimage.

After spending a few days exploring the city of Lourdes, we left for Barcelona. While the ride to Barcelona was certainly long and exhausting, the city of Barcelona was worth the wait. Not only was it my first time seeing the Mediterranean, but it was my first time being a sprawling European city along the ranks of New York, Paris, or Rome. In Barcelona, we were given plenty of free time to go explore the city, and it was absolutely fantastic. The highlight of Barcelona, however, was getting to see the giant Sagrada Familia basilica in the center of the city. It was visible almost everywhere in the city, and was even more impressive up close. Barcelona, while a breath of fresh air compared to the reverence of France, was still in many ways a holy experience I’ll never forget.

However, the most meaningful parts of the pilgrimage to me were found just outside of Barcelona. Over the course of a day, we visited the two very historical Jesuit sites of Manresa and Monserrat. I had heard all about these places in Prep’s theology classes, but to see them was such a different experience. I was truly engrossed in the culture and life of St. Ignatius, and it couldn’t be clearer that these spots had significance. Looking at the landscape of Spain from the top of Monserrat, I could truly see why Ignatius came up with the idea of “God of all things.” The Jesuit practices and ideas, through this pilgrimage, have become so much more and meaningful in my life

Our final destination during the 2-week long trip was Italy, and to me, it was certainly the highlight of the trip. We started in Naples, took a stop in Sorrento, and finally ended in Rome. One of the best parts of Italy, to me, was the amazing food. Every single day we were in Italy, I was fortunate enough to be able to enjoy an unforgettable meal. The food and the restaurants here in Connecticut truly don’t compare to those found in Italy. Beyond my meals, though, Italy gave me an uncountable amount of memories and experiences. Highlights include a day long boat ride to Capri, the Vatican Museum, celebrating mass at The Gesù, and getting to see Pope Francis.

Over the course of 2 weeks, I feel like I truly grew as a person. It’s hard to imagine that just visiting a place would be able to do that to me, but it truly did. Through the holy sites, combined with the relationships I formed with my fellow Prep brothers, I feel like I have grown to be more faithful, religious, and committed to justice; and I couldn’t be happier and more grateful that I was fortunate enough to be able to go on the Ignatian Experience Pilgrimage.

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Written by Finn O'Connor '19

Hello, for those who do not know me, my name is Finn O’Connor and I am currently a junior at Fairfield Prep. This blog is intended to be a window into my life as a student at Fairfield Prep, and to take all of you on a journey with me throughout the upcoming school year. I hope that reading this will prove to be helpful in your own academic life, and to give you tips on how to have a successful year.

As an all too fast summer has come to a close, I have found myself back in the halls of Fairfield Prep, excited for another great year of challenges and opportunities. Of course, the return to school also means summer work, which was quite enriching to say the least. Luckily, I got it all done before classes really got underway, as teachers were quick to test and check us all on the work that was due upon our arrival. One of the best techniques I have discovered over the past summers is to begin homework prior to the week of return, but I’m sure all of you have been told that for years.

Besides the work aspect of the return to school, the transition back into classes was smooth and enjoyable as I was able to catch up with friends whose paths I had not crossed over the summer, and most of all to get back onto the train. Honestly, the train has proven to be one of the most influential parts of my time at Prep, wherein I made the majority of my closest friends, and spent the majority of my time. My first train ride up to Fairfield was almost nostalgic, reconnecting with what was once such a major aspect of my life.

Overall, the return to Fairfield Prep this year was as great as I could have imagined it, and I am looking forward to settling in and getting into the “meat and potatoes” of this school year, and to share these experiences with all of you reading.

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Written by Bowen Chen on Aug. 23, 2017

I am writing this blog in an airport lounge in Hong Kong.

I am Bowen Chen and, finally, I am a senior. As a Chinese international student, annually, I take a flight back to China; yet, this summer, my destination was different.

Instead of flying to Shanghai or Hong Kong, I intentionally chose Columbus, Ohio, where I would participate in a six-week mathematical summer program, the Ross Math Program.

Ross is one of the top math programs in America, founded in the early 20th century. Rather than studying regular mathematical topics, such as algebra, geometry, or even calculus, students have lectures and seminars about Number Theory.

Well, you might ask, “What is Number Theory?” Let me give you some examples.

Did you ever think about why one plus one is two? Why zero and one exist? Are there any axioms we can always follow while proving a mathematical lemma?

You might think these questions are stupid and seem inconsistent with other math topics; I thought so too. However, if you think deeply about these simple things, you might realize these simple things are not that easy. Yes, these fundamental questions are examples of number theory, the most basic and ancient math topic in the world, which has existed since human beings invented numbers. In Ross, number theory problems are charismatic and ineffable, occupying my mind all the time. Attending the lectures and seminars every day, I clearly understood that what I had learned was only a tiny part of math. In Ross, my previous math knowledge is nearly useful; In Ross, professors and counselors do not need a general answer but students’ capriciousness and meticulousness (no skipping in-between steps); In Ross, every proof or disproof appeals to logos. Solving a problem or salvaging a false lemma require clear logical thinking behind every single step. Notwithstanding the extreme difficulty of these number theory problems, it cannot quell our motivation. Finding the correct answer after discussing with global friends who all love math brings unprecedented pleasure.

After experiencing Ross, my summer vacation truly began; however, it was momentary because it only lasted six days. After briefly relaxing, I spent the rest of my time taking an SAT class. Hopefully, it is useful.

Now, let’s talk about the plans I have for my senior year.

Academically, I will take five AP classes, including Biology, Chemistry, English, Statistics, and Government. Someone might ask “are you oppressed?” Yes, I am; however, in order to acquire more college credits, I believe I need the challenge. Biology and Chemistry are recondite, cryptic, but integrally interesting. I want to major in biomedical engineering, so these two APs will be vital to me. Because I finished Calculus last year, I desire for something with a distinct flavor. Unfortunately, number theory is not offered here, but Statistics might be palatable. Since my curriculum should be exhaustive, I believe Government, English and Social Ethics will be beneficial.

In addition, there are many club activities I need to take care of. As the new captain for math team, I expect to see more talented members join us. Our goal is to be the state champion this year. In addition, I cannot wait to initiate the 2018 yearbook. Through my camera lens, I will record every single joyful moment in Prep.

The plane is going to take off now. It is better for me to stop writing and turn off my iPad. My first blog ends here, but my journey will certainly continue.

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