Wrightwood to Wisconsin: My Education Story
By: Keven Stonewall
Although I graduated from CICS Wrightwood, as its first valedictorian, nine years ago, I feel just as connected to the school today as I did then. CICS Wrightwood opened up in Ashburn in 2005 and I attended from 5th to 8th grade. My parents learned of the school coincidentally through a mailing. The CICS Wrightwood building used to be a private Catholic school and the new facility seemed like a great opportunity for me, especially starting off new and fresh. Timing was paramount to the decision and allowed my parents to choose something different and innovative for my education while still being in the community.
Early on at CICS Wrightwood, I noticed the emphasis on discipline. We often think of discipline as a harsh word but to me and in my experience at CICS, it’s just accountability. Being held accountable to the school’s mission and dress code made me feel important. One of my fondest memories is of the 8th grade Ties of Greatness Ceremony, where male family members and community role models who were doing good things in the community came and showed us young men how to tie a tie and present ourselves in professional settings.
What made CICS Wrightwood so unique to me was how it brought out the best in my inquisitive nature. I saw a microscope for the first time in 5th grade and my curiosity ran away. Intrigued, I asked my teacher what people do with microscopes and he said they challenge norms. Ask questions. Help enrich people’s lives. I knew then that I wanted to not only learn how to use a microscope but how to enrich lives and make a difference doing so. I built these skills over time and my desire to learn was harnessed by Wrightwood.
My CICS Wrightwood experiences helped me become a leader. I felt I could excel in high school because of CICS Wrightwood. They instilled that confidence into us while also reminding us that failure was not an option. For me, that separated Wrightwood from other schools for me. After graduating from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in 2013, I attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison as a Posse scholar. Being surrounded by like-minded peers forced me to get better. Newly graduated, I’m sharper and more prepared to begin a career in science and medicine. I recognize my leadership potential and I can’t wait to turn the passion that CICS Wrightwood sparked in me into a purpose. I hope to become a doctor and a healthcare advocate. If young scientists at great schools like CICS Wrightwood see me as someone who came out of the same neighborhood, then I can connect with them and use my platform to truly inspire the next generation of thought leaders.