Charter Schools

Whether It's Science Olympiad or Dungeons & Dragons, Lindsey Gwilt's Taking Charge

Lindsey Gwilt is a young woman who is going places. Born in Albany and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, she has been a student at BART Charter Public School since sixth grade and hopes to study biology after graduation. She competes in and coaches Science Olympiad, she performs flute with the wind ensemble, writes fantasy fiction and has recently discovered the adventures of “Dungeons & Dragons.” Her teachers marvel at her insatiable curiosity and her “voracious brain that wants to consume everything from math and science to art and music.” A self-described reluctant leader, she prefers to work in collaborative teams, and yet seems to be “the one that people look at to lead a group project.” At the young age of 16, she has already recognized that leadership involves more listening than talking and that a strong leader does not force their personality on those around them. She’s happy to share decision-making but also likes to know everything that’s going on so that she can see the big picture. She accomplishes this by surrounding herself with people she respects—saying that she would rather have a smaller group of friends that she can really support and care about. Lindsey has competed in Science Olympiad since seventh grade and quickly proved herself to be an invaluable member of the team. In Science Olympiad, students prepare for and compete in a few two-person events which earn points for the whole team. The more events contested, the more points the team gets, so it serves the team to compete even in events in which a student isn’t likely to do well. Lindsey’s first year, she stepped up to compete in “Write it Do it,” a perennial Science Olympiad favorite that our team had simply not had time to focus on. Expecting to simply earn participation points, Lindsey proceeded to take first place in the event and has competed successfully in it each year since. Not willing to rest on her laurels, Lindsey stretches herself each year to compete in the most challenging events, spending months on research and filling binders of notes in order to be fully prepared. In her first year of high school, Lindsey also took on the challenge of helping to mentor and coach the middle school team. This year, she has also joined the “Dungeons & Dragons” club, specifically because it was an area of discomfort for her in which she felt she could grow. She has, unsurprisingly, become a leader in that club as well, again collaborating with peers her own age while shepherding younger students. What’s next for Lindsey? She’s always allowed her (many and varied) interests to lead the way, and is therefore unwilling to commit to a life path, although the study of DNA currently leads the pack of her likely adult pursuits. She says she’s not out to change the world—just her small part of it—and will consider her life well spent if she can say that she supported and had a positive impact on the people she loves. She is already well on her way—changing the BART community for the better with her talent, support and kindness.
Photo courtesy of BART Charter Public School
J.P. Henkel is the director of technology at BART Charter Public School. He began his teaching career at the William Howard High School in Staffordshire, England, and has taught middle school in Atchison, Kansas, and high school in Averill Park, New York. As a technology integration staff developer for the New York City Public Schools, Mr. Henkel founded “@School,” a quarterly magazine providing ...

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