Testimonial: Sierra Zardus

The following text is Sierra’s 8th grade graduation speech from May 20, 2010.

University School of the Lowcountry – kind of a formal name that implies a lot of hard work. When I first heard of this school, I wasn’t so excited about coming. I was beginning my first year at my local public school and didn’t really want to switch schools again, but by the end of the school year, my parents had little trouble persuading me to attend USL.

As a perfect start to the year, I arrived about 20 minutes late, after driving up and down the wrong road. Kate Frain, the one who told me about this school, had begun to doubt that I was actually coming.
Despite the difficult beginning I have loved this school more than any other I have attended. The teachers, the students, the LOTCs, it’s hard to say what my favorite part of this school is. I am so grateful to Mr. Kreutner for starting this amazing school and allowing me to be a part of it. I have loved every minute here and wouldn’t mind getting held back so I could stay. Really.

I would like to say thank you to all my teachers for helping me to see that learning is fun and important. I have come to enjoy every class and spending time with each of my teachers.

In Spanish I have learned to work on my own while still knowing that I have the support of Seńora Rowland if I become lost.

In Math I have been able to have plenty of one-on-one time with Mrs. Brown and have also been able to understand math much better than in a normal classroom. Mrs. Brown’s patient and guiding voice is always welcome when I feel as if I am drowning in numbers.

Mrs. Logan has taught me how important it is to know, understand, and keep up with what is happening in the world around us and that we need to stop the world from “going to hell in a hand basket.”

I have learned new games and been pushed to the limit in PE by Mr. Buchanan. It has been a dream come true to be able to play my new favorite game – Capture the Flag, along with others such as Cross My Ship and kickball at school. I have loved learning Latin and laughing at Mr. Buchanan’s ludicrous bonus questions.

Ms. Paeschke’s unique writing class has given me the opportunity to practice writing for a teacher without having to worry about getting a grade. Mrs. Paeschke’s gentle criticism and her friendship have been very rewarding.

Every day after school I have had the pleasant company of Mrs. Katz. I know that I don’t need to worry if my parents are late when she is there, ready to supervise the after school program with the help of Caleb, the cutest baby in the world. Being in charge of the after school program is just one of the many tasks she has taken on such as cooking dinner for the USL celebration, sharing her skills and knowledge with art projects, and writing grants for the school.

Mrs. Ewing is like no one I have ever met. Her deep understanding of and enthusiasm for plants, animals, people, and the environment goes far beyond the mortal realm. I have enjoyed attending her class through which I have been able to know and appreciate my surroundings as well as Mrs. Ewing herself.

I would also like to thank all my classmates for giving me a pleasant school year and for sharing their friendship with me. I have had so much fun getting to know each individual here, and I plan to come back as a mentor to spend time with all the students.

I would like to thank my parents. I am grateful that they told me about this school and persuaded me to explore the possibility. I first rejected my parent’s proposal that I switch schools after only a month into my seventh grade year. One of the many failed attempts to get me to be a bit more willing to go to USL was comparing schools to chocolate. My dad asked if I would rather have Hershey’s or premium Swiss chocolate, and once I understood that he wasn’t just talking about chocolate, I quickly let him know that I was fine with Hershey’s. However, I think we’re all glad I got tired of low-grade chocolate. I am indebted to them for providing me with the best eighth grade education possible in South Carolina, and I cannot thank them enough for everything that they have done for me to be here.

And last, but certainly not least, my thanks to Mr. Kreutner, who has produced a reality out of his dream of a wonderful school. I am awed every day by what he has created and how willing he is to share. He has taught me, showed me, and told me so much. He has given me, as well as all the other students here, opportunities and experiences that we would never have received if not for him. I cannot say how thankful I am for this perfect school year he has given me.
As I get ready to leave University School of the Lowcountry, I look back on all that I have learned, how I have changed, and what I will be taking with me. I learned to enjoy leaning. I have become more bold and confident. Simple etiquette such as holding doors and shaking hands has become second nature to me. Armed with my new confidence and curiosity, I am ready for whatever opportunities and challenges await me. Thank you to all of you for helping me to become the person I am today and preparing me for my future. I am going to miss you all. I hope that you have a great summer. Thank you.

Sierra Zardus
University School of the Lowcountry – Class of 2010
Academic Magnet High School – Class of 2014

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