Meet Kent Students
The Kent student body is a diverse, intelligent, motivated and talented group of young men and women. When prospective parents ask, “What’s a typical Kent student like?” we often have trouble answering. That’s because every student here crafts his or her own personal experience and becomes his or her own unique self. There is no “single Kent experience.”
That’s because we provide multiple opportunities for students to pursue their own areas of interest. And yet, we also encourage them to explore unfamiliar arenas and find new ways to participate in life here at school. If you’re a star athlete, we might suggest trying out for the fall play. If you’re an accomplished musician, we might encourage you to take an engineering course.
The result is that students become engaged—academically, athletically, and artistically—in a more comprehensive, holistic way. You can start to understand what we mean when you read about a few of our students below:
Miles is a sixth former (senior) who came to Kent as a fourth former from New York City. He’s a school tour guide, plays varsity baseball and lacrosse and also participates in the Diversity Club and the Film Club (Kent TV). He’s excited to graduate and go to Bates College next year, but says he will miss the people at Kent the most when he leaves.
What led you to choose Kent?
I had a strong sense of close-knit community right off the bat here. I saw smiles on everyone’s face and I just knew I wanted to be here. Everyone was welcoming and went out of their way to say “hi” – and that didn’t change when I came, so I knew it was the right choice.
Did you come as a freshman?
No, I actually entered as a fourth former, which I think was the best choice for me as well.
What did you feel was advantageous about that?
For me personally, it was important to be a year older and to know a bit more. Plus a good amount of kids come in their second year so it’s not unusual at all. Our class is also so close that even having been here for three years, I feel like I’ve been here for four.
How did you land on Bates College? What was your college application process like?
I was looking for a good lacrosse program, and between the college counseling office and help from my coach, I had all the support I needed to find the right school. I honestly felt like I should have been more stressed about it, but I was so well prepared.
Tell me a bit about the people you’ll miss when you leave Kent.
I’ve had the same advisor for all three years and I can go to him about anything. Dorm life’s been good – I live with my friends, and I try to look out for the younger guys. I think I’m going to know most of these kids for the rest of my life.
How do you look out for the younger guys?
My older friends and I try to keep an eye out for them – make sure they’re having a good time and doing their work. There’s a time for fun and there’s a time for work and Kent is all about finding that balance.
Is there anything else that jumps out to you about the school and your experience here?
Just the fact that the teachers come out every day because they really want to be here. That’s really apparent when you sit down in class. They try to not only teach you but inspire you, and that’s what I really love about going to classes.
Any advice that you would give your fourth form self?
I feel like I don’t have anything to regret – all of my decisions and experiences here have just made me better.
Mikaela is a sixth former (senior) from Colorado who came to Kent as a fourth former. Mikaela is an accomplished artist who recently won a national prize for her sculpture entitled Cake Head Man. Mikaela will miss all the support she has received in Kent’s art studios, but is excited to continue her work at Bard College next year.
Let’s start at the beginning. What made you choose Kent?
I’m from a very small town outside of Aspen in Colorado – and I went to a small Waldorf school before and really loved being able to interact with all of my teachers. After the Waldorf school, I spent one year at a bigger public high school and missed the small community. I started looking for other options and Kent was just a great fit. I also met Ms. Lynch, the Art Department Chair, on my first visit and we just clicked.
So you were always interested in art and the art program?
Yes, I’ve always done sculpture. I also do a bit of body and face painting – so I do some of the makeup for the plays. I also make books – like book binding – which has some similarities to sculpture.
When I first came to Kent, they had just built the new art studios and it seemed like a great place to continue my art studies.
Do you take art classes?
I’ve taken a few art classes, but I’ve also continued to do a lot of self study. It’s really amazing to have constant access to the art studios and Ms. Lynch has been so supportive. If I have a dream, she helps me find a way to make it happen.
How have you enjoyed living on campus with your teachers and friends full-time?
I’ve always lived with really great girls, but it took me a little while to find the right fit for a roommate – but the school was really helpful and has allowed me to switch roommates when needed. This year I live with my best friend and we have a lot of fun together.
And being here all the time is great because of the access I mentioned – to the art rooms and to my teachers. I’ll always see my teachers outside of class and it gives me a chance to discuss anything that’s on my mind. The teachers are always here, and accessible, and they really care about all of us.
Will is a sixth former and member of the Senior Council from Oyster Bay, NY. He chose Kent because of its strong music program. He plays soccer, ice hockey and golf at Kent but his real passion is songwriting and music. After graduation, he wants to study music production at college.
Did you know that you wanted a career in music production when you first came to Kent?
I had no idea – I was just a guitarist really, and I grew into that goal. I started in Jazz Band, which was new for me. And the teachers were really great. There are also musical technology classes, so I took those. Right now I’m also taking a music theory class. The new building has also given more access to people for practicing and there’s a recording studio too.
Do you write your own music?
Yes, I’m a songwriter and I’ve been able to produce my own stuff. I have an album on iTunes and music on Spotify too. The classes here helped me with that and I was also able to participate in a program at NYU over the summer.
You’re also on Student Council – do you think that plays an important part in the school?
Definitely, I think it’s nice to have student leadership provide an example to the other students.
Tell me a bit about your friends and your experience of dorm life.
My friends here are definitely the closest friends I’ve ever made, and I’m sure we’ll continue to be friends for the rest of our lives. My roommates, in particular, are like my second family. The dorm parents are really great too – they invite us to their apartments sometimes to watch movies and eat food. You never feel alone here, which is good.
How do you think your class feels about graduating?
I think my entire grade is so excited to go to college, but we’re also all going to miss it here. So it’s bittersweet.
What are you going to miss most when you leave?
Definitely the people. I’ll remember the little moments most and the sense of community here.
Gabriella (Gaby) is a fifth former from San Francisco, CA. She’s the captain of the JV basketball team and also rows on the crew team. Her real passion, however, is film and videography and she’s founded a new student club, Kent TV, in order to pursue that interest and to help other students learn more about video production.
Let’s start at the beginning. What made you choose Kent?
I came from California and I really wanted to be on the East Coast. I loved Kent’s campus and facilities, and the sense of community here really stood out to me. It’s been a great fit.
I see that you’re a student tech – is that your school job?
Yes, all of the students have jobs on campus as part of their responsibilities at the school. I didn’t know much about computers before I started as a student tech, but now I can troubleshoot a lot of issues. It’s actually helped me with my videography and film-making too.
Can you tell me more about Kent TV?
Yes, I’ve always been interested in videography, so I started a film club here. Kent TV makes films “of students, for students, by students”. We’ve made about 4 films this year – they’re not very long, but they’re a lot of fun. We do narratives and interviews.
This was just something you were passionate about so you started a club?
Tell me what that process was like.
Well, I have a partner in crime, so he’s been helping me. First we found a teacher to sign on as our faculty advisor and then we recruited interested students, and yeah, now we have a club. It was actually pretty easy. We’re even starting to plan excursions to different film production companies.
In terms of the film production equipment, does the school provide access to what you need or did you have to find those resources on your own?
The school does have a lot of the equipment, and the art department has been really helpful in teaching us how to use it.
So are a lot of your friends a part of Kent TV? Who are your closest friends?
I am good friends with a lot of the students in the Club. But I love Case [Dormitory] – I have a lot of good friends there and they’re really supportive. That’s important because when you’re living away from home, your friends really become your family. When you’re having a bad day, they’re the ones who comfort you; when something great happens, they’re the ones who celebrate your accomplishments with you. Everyone’s rooting for you.
Can you think of an important lesson you’ve learned in your two and a half years here?
A lesson? Well, I learned a lot about myself during my first year here: how I personally deal with a lot of things, my strengths, my weaknesses, my pet peeves, what I really enjoy. It’s been really empowering to have the chance to test myself, to adapt, and to grow.
Ariel and Keanu are both Senior Council members who traveled from outside of the United States, from Japan and Canada respectively, to attend Kent. They both stay busy with a number of activities: Ariel is a coxswain on the crew team, dances, writes for the online magazine, and does photography. Keanu plays varsity ice hockey and football, JV baseball, is part of the chess club and participated in the entrepreneurship contest. Both are enthusiastic about all of the opportunities Kent has provided them.
When you first got to Kent, was it what you thought it would be like?
Ariel: I came from a Japanese school so I couldn’t even imagine what an American prep school would be like. I came from a whole different world, but my transition here was really comfortable.
Keanu: I went to public French school in Montréal and coming here [as a Fourth Former] the work was kind of the same – I was used to having a lot of work to do – but when it came to activities and other stuff you want to do, there are the resources and support to do whatever you want. That’s what made the difference.
Ariel: Yeah, I do think for some people it can be a huge jump: the workload. But as far as balancing everything, Kent teaches you everything you need to know.
Keanu: And like most students, I play three sports and I’ve participated in other activities like the entrepreneurship contest – so between classes and everything else, you’re busy. But you’re also given the structure you need, and all the tools, to succeed.
Can you tell me more about the entrepreneurship contest?
Keanu: Sure, it was actually part of a semester-long activity – students can participate in the place of a sport. I was able to do it because I fractured my wrist during football season, and it was a great opportunity.
Students are free to pick any product or service idea they want and basically they build a model or prototype with a business plan. Depending on the business plan, the school provides a mini loan as startup capital. At the end of the program, there’s a presentation in the style of Shark Tank – it’s judged by business owners and the top project receives a cash prize. I actually built a cell phone charger prototype and ended up winning the contest. I even kept working on it over the summer.
Ariel: I know a lot of students really got into the contest.
Keanu: Yeah, and now there’s also a stock market competition run by colleges and business schools like Wharton. Kent just started participating and it’s really cool because it works with the real market.
Do you find you’re pretty close with the teachers and faculty?
Ariel: You can always go talk to teachers if you’re having any issues. Teachers will meet you to help you on your project or work through a problem during study hall. Academics-wise that’s really important for me. Also a lot of the teachers wear different hats for the students: they’re teachers, mentors, coaches.
Keanu: Yeah, definitely, they’re always there for you – in or out of class. Like last year I took Theo II and really enjoyed the class so at the end of the semester, Mr. Weber gave me a book – it was on one of the subjects from the class – and told me that I should read it if I really liked what he taught us. I still meet him on the weekends – I’m not even taking his class – but we meet up and talk about the book.
Since you’re both seniors, could you tell me a bit about your college application processes?
Ariel: College counseling literally gives you every resource they possibly can. And they check in with you through the entire process. They send you emails before deadlines, and they meet with you regularly. I also need to say that the English teachers went above and beyond to help all of us with our college essays.
Keanu: The entire school really gives you the tools to tackle the application process – to take on the responsibility and feel confident doing it.
As you look forward to graduation, is there any advice you’d give to third formers or fourth formers coming in?
Ariel: I basically grasped every opportunity that I had – so I would say, just take it. Take all the opportunities you can. That positive attitude will take you anywhere.
Keanu: Going on the same subject, you have a lot of resources here to do whatever you want, and you might not have the chance to do those same things once you leave here – at least not with the same support. So take advantage of everything you can. Try a different art class, a music class, a sport – go for it.