Choosing to remain positive in whatever situation arises in life can change a school, a community, and even the world. This was the subject of Samantha Breuscher’s chapel talk, delivered on January 9 at Amelia Academy.
Samantha came to the Academy two years ago after homeschool. “I’d been homeschooled my whole life, and I’d only ever daydreamed about going to a high school like most teenagers.” One of the first things she noticed about school was that many students didn’t seem to want to be there. However, in “non-negotiable situations” like this, she said, people can choose to be positive.
Quoting Sir Winston Churchill, Samantha said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big different.” By choosing to remain positive, she said that students can impact their own lives for the better. They can also improve the environment of the school. “Positivity is as easy (or as hard) as you make it to be,” she said. In her own life, Samantha said that it has not always been easy, but she has worked hard to remain positive. She credited her parents with instilling this value in her from a young age. She has also had friends who have been a positive influence. She mentioned Brianna Hailey whom she considers more a sister than a friend.
Two friends and fellow classmates, Amari Hicks and Kelly Flippin, made her transition to the Academy a positive experience. “When I first started going to school, I was the definition of awkward,” she said. The adjustment from homeschool to the Academy was a challenge, but she chose not to focus on the difficulty.
“Instead, I focused on the fact that going to the Academy would not only prepare me for college but help me out socially with meeting new people and making new friends,” she said. One of those new friends has been Ellie Taylor, a classmate who enrolled last year.
How does a student remain positive amid the cynicism and worldliness that seems to permeate teen life? Samantha’s answer is “gratefulness and contentedness.” The decision to remain content, no matter the situation, can help create a positive outlook. The habit of being grateful involves seeking out the good aspects of any situation. Both of these pursuits “can benefit you and others around you,” Samantha told her fellow students.
This attitude can also apply to relationships, particularly when conflict arises. Samantha encouraged everyone to realize that many difficult situations arise from a misunderstanding. “Try and see things from their perspective, and take all things into account when figuring them out,” she said. “When you make the switch from pessimism to optimism . . . the state of being content and happy becomes more achievable.”
Over the past two years, Samantha has been active in a number of programs at the Academy. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the Beta Club. She has also been a member of the Audio-visual club. She has been a class officer and served as team manager for the volleyball team.
Attending Samantha’s chapel talk were her mother, Amy Breuscher, along with her aunt and uncle Luke and Tanya Glanzman. Also present were Tyler and Brooke Glanzman, and friends Allison Jervis and John Bollinger.
“They have shown me the true meaning of love,” said Mikayla Stables about her parents. In her chapel talk, delivered on December 5, Mikayla spoke about these two people who are her greatest inspiration. “I love the bond we share,” she said.
When Mikayla asked her parents if she could transfer to the Academy for her senior year, “they looked at me like I was crazy.” However, they also asked questions and then agreed. “They knew it would be the best decision for me.”
The relationship with her parents has involved this level of support. Mikayla described them as her “rock and backbone” of support. It has made all the difference for her as she prepares to make the first steps toward independence after graduation. Mikayla also expressed her gratitude for the lessons they have taught her and for the help they have given. “They have wiped my tears countless times, told me to get back up and dust myself off, and keep going,” she said.
Mikayla shares a love of the outdoors with her Dad. They go hunting and fishing together. She remembered a time when she was younger and the two of them went fishing at a friend’s house. “We could catch a bunch of fish. After, we would fix them up, cook and eat them,” she said. They also went to the race track on Fridays to spend “Daddy daughter time together as my mom would call it,” she said.
With her Mom, Mikayla shares a close friendship. She said her Mom has always been there for her during tough times. Her Mom offered a “shoulder to cry on” and told Mikayla to “let it go and keep going, you’re a strong girl.”
She and her Mom do everything together, Mikayla said, including a trip to Florida to see her baby nephew. “That was a long, exciting trip,” she said. “It was cool going through different states . . . and it was great to spend family time together.”
The love between her parents has also been an inspiration. The love her Dad has for her Mom is “what every girl dreams of,” she said. She said her parents both put family first and love her and each other unconditionally. “They are my best friends,” she said, “I will always put them first as they have me.”
Since arriving at the Academy as a senior, Mikayla has already become an integral member of the senior class,” said Rodney L. Taylor, Head of School, in his introduction. She represents her class in the Student Government Organization (SGO) and has been active in senior projects. Mikayla also played varsity volleyball this fall.
Her parents, Charles Stables and Angie Davis, were in attendance for Mikayla’s chapel talk. Other guests included Hunter Stables, Henry Mason, and James Hite.
The first day in a new school feels difficult for anyone. This has been especially true for Ellie Taylor, who attended three schools in four years. It’s just as hard to “get used to a place and then leave,” she said. This experience was the subject of Ellie’s chapel talk, the first delivered by Amelia Academy’s class of 2019.
The chapel talk, a program launched under the direction of former headmaster James D. Grizzard in 2007, is a requirement for graduation and a milestone of each senior’s year.
Ellie arrived at Amelia Academy last year and said she found “the right place” when she entered her junior year. “Here I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be,” she said.
This was not always the case. At the end of the eighth grade, Ellie was given the news from her father that she would be changing schools. Her parents decided that she would switch schools during the last nine weeks. Ellie said the change was abrupt and difficult. However, she now realizes that her parents made the necessary decision for her. “They did what was best for me,” she said. And she was grateful for the loyalty of her friend, Madison Dooley, with whom she remains friends today.
Knowing no one at her new school, Ellie said she did the only thing she knew to do. “I started talking to people to try and find some friends.” She found another true friend and worked hard to adjust.
At the end of her tenth-grade year, Ellie found herself in the same situation again. She was being moved to a new school after “getting used to a place and finding a true friend.” Over the summer, her parents began looking for another school. Even though she felt unsettled, Ellie said she “can’t thank them [her parents] enough. . . they did what was best for me.”
Amelia Academy proved to be the right place. She made friends with whom she has “life-long connections.” Ellie is known for her success academically and as a distinguished voice in the senior class, said Rodney Taylor, Head of School. Last spring, Ellie was elected Vice-President of the Student Government Organization by her fellow students. She played varsity softball last spring and was named all-conference in the Virginia Colonial Conference (VCC). Ellie also played varsity volleyball this year.
Finding the right fit at Amelia Academy has proved immensely rewarding for Ellie. It was unexpected in the beginning, but she trusted her parents’ decision. Ellie urged her fellow students to cultivate that same trust in their parents, guardians, or true friends. “When they do something you don’t agree with or make decisions you don’t like, please know that it’s in your best interest,” she said. “They care about you, and they want what’s best for you.”
Attending her chapel talk were her parents, Jennifer and Bobby Taylor, and her friend Madison Dooley. Also present were several friends from the AA class of 2018 – Gillian Coleman, Allison Jervis, and John Bollinger, all students at Longwood University.
On Saturday, November 3, the Lady Patriots volleyball team went on a 7-1 run to end their regular season and conference tournament, becoming the Virginia Commonwealth Conference Volleyball Tournament Cham pions. They out-scored Kenston Forest School in the championship game in straight sets (3-0). "Perseverance is the greatest test of character, and that is what we did; we persevered together,” said Coach Jason Morris.
The Lady Patriots championship team members are (standing, l to r): Madison Bo., Emma A., Lina L., Lexi E., Kelly F., Amari H., Catarina S., and Mikayla S. Kneeling (l to r): Jade N., Sarah R., Ellie T., Laura S., Madison Ba., Coach Jason Morris, Manager Kellie B.
Amelia Academy dedicated their new playground, Patriots at Play, on October 26. The playground dedication was led by Academy moms and faculty members Jesse Roberts and Jennifer Hayghe. They gave a joint speech on the history of the project. Jason Morris, a member of the AA faculty, led the lower school in prayer to end the dedication.
Almost two years ago, Roberts and Hayghe formed a committee to raise funds to purchase new equipment. They identified a need for a colorful, fun, and safe place for all kids to exercise daily.
The committee researched equipment and costs and selected two basic designs. "the more expensive set was our ideal, even though it seemed out of reach. But we were reminded to 'set our sights high' and lo and behold! The more expensive set went on sale. And we were blessed," said Roberts. In six short months, they'd managed to raise over $20,000, enough to seal the deal.
"The impressive thing about this beyond the sheer magnitude of the amount is that so many people donated to the effort. Parents, alums, friends, local businesses, and the children themselves, came together to contritbute to this effort," said Hayghe.
The entrance to the playground is the colorful Patriots at Play archway, adorned with hand-painted ceramic tiles purchased by donors.
The play structure arrived in July 2017 and "looked like a giant Lego set," said Roberts, who was the project forewoman for the construction. "all those myriad pieces actually did fit together and we got it all assembled for our kids to enjoy by the first day of school last year."
Now, the archway - it has been a work in progress. "Every time we thought we were set, we ran into a setback. Even the weather conspired against us with all the constant rain," said Hayghe.
In the end, on another rainy day in October, it finally came together with the help of a lot of people, a lot of ingenuity, and a lot of dedication.