HVWS Class of 2011 was a combined class, half are freshmen in college this year and the other half are about to embark on their college experience. We recently learned that at least half of them wrote about their HVWS experience in their college essay and were eager to share their HVWS stories with us.
Abraham DeFeo wrote his essay about his HVWS 8th Grade Graduation Project.
I was standing in a hole deeper than I was tall, shivering, wondering if I had made a terrible mistake. I was not prepared for this. I had not considered just how difficult this ordeal would be. My heart fell as I realized that the next step would be to drag countless cinder blocks, each heavier than I could bear, down into this pit only to fill it up again. My resolve wavered until I thought of my grandpa.
He had said there was no way I, as a 13-year old, would be able to complete such a thing. It was simply too big of a school project. Nothing motivates me more than when I am told I cannot do something and therefore it was his doubt that drove me to fight through the uncertainty. When I was standing in that hole, feeling sorry for myself, I remembered him and my motivation to prove him wrong was reaffirmed. I would rise to the occasion and learn to challenge myself in a very unique way.
It is this concept of daring to challenge oneself that I remember the most in spite of all the missed cuts, the smashed fingers, the stress and soreness involved with stacking and shaping, literally, two tons of bricks. This lesson shaped my future as it taught me to challenge myself both in and outside of school by taking hard classes while competing in year round sports. Looking back on it, I realize that while I was the creator, it actually shaped me.
I loved the idea of building something that would stand as a testament to my hard work and also serve a purpose: pizza night with my family and friends. The two-ton, 12-foot, wood-fired pizza oven I built certainly does the job. This first endeavor into creating something sparked my passion to complete a project that in its own way, serves others. I want to create products that reach beyond my own community and have an impact on the world.
Once my oven was complete with a fire raging inside and smoke pouring out the chimney, I realized what I had done; I had proven my grandfather wrong. However, I remember feeling so proud, not about proving him wrong, but of the look on his face the first time he saw it. It meant so much to me that something I had built could make someone smile. I will always hold onto that feeling as it will motivate me to do more. Now, every time I look at the oven I am reminded of this motivation and of my grandfather whose doubt fueled me like the wood in my oven. I also start to get a craving for sausage and onion pizza.
Abraham was recognized with several scholar-athlete awards and scholarships: Bethel High School Ralph DeSantis Football Award for leadership and character on the field and in the classroom, the Fairfield County Chapter of the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award and the Chapter President Scholarship, the Southwest Connecticut Athletic Conference Leadership Award, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete Award, the Bethel High School Sports Booster Club Scholarship, the Anna B. Troy Scholarship from the American Legion Bethel Auxiliary and the Hennessey Memorial Scholarship both for scholarship and good citizenship.
Abe will be attending Loyola University Maryland in the Fall studying Mechanical Engineering where he received a Loyola Presidential Scholarship.
To submit your HVWS story please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.