by Anushka Saxena, Gwinnett Magazine Intern
At GSMST, we take pride in a variety of accomplishments. Not only we are a National Blue-Ribbon School of Excellence, we are also known as the winner of the international VEX robotics tournament, home of the state-winning math team, leaders in Model United Nations, skillful Science Olympiad competitors, talented international musicians...the list goes on and on!
Although we are widely known for these accolades, the school contains a strong and mutualistic community, and it's one of the defining features that separate us from other schools not only in the county, but across the state as well. So, what makes GSMST culture so special?
"The school has a unique culture in which people with similar interests, academic or otherwise, can express and discuss them without fear of being judged or feeling like an outcast," states Jamil Kassam, a senior who looks forward to graduating but wants to spend his last year here with all his close friends.
Other people at the school have similar thoughts on the congeniality of our students.
Mr. Ben Schepens, our Computer Science Principles and Information Technology teacher, says that although this is his first year here, he is glad to see "faculty and students succeeding and competing not against each other, but against educational obstacles."
A freshman, Aditya Yadavalli, also agrees. "People here at GSMST actually seem to care about you even if they are upperclassmen, which seems different for me because I never thought that would happen."
Back to the school's competitive spirit, a few see the competition as a big part. Junior Zachary Maillard believes "it is the willingness to complete such work and go through the difficulties that makes GSMST, GSMST."
I was talking to Mr. Jeff Burmester, our AP Physics teacher, after a Science Bowl meeting, he looks around the room at the students eagerly discussing telescopes, and simply states, "We are slightly geeky and positively competitive." I don't think you see that anywhere else.
Another thing that makes GSMST distinctive is the background of our students. When I posed this question to Ms. Renee Covin, our 11th grade American Literature teacher who has been at the school since the second year it was established, she answers, "The diversity of languages, places of origin, the myriad ethnicities, the fact that students come from all over Gwinnett (and from all over the world) make this an exciting place to be."
She goes on to explain how International Night, one of our biggest events of the year, is such a huge success because of this.
I smiled as I watched Senora Cynthia Santana, our Spanish I and III teacher, on Throwback Thursday, part of our Pink Week when we raise money for the American Cancer Society. She embodied that ideal perfectly the day I interviewed her because she was accurately dressed up as Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican painter. She shares a similar response "I've been working here for four years, and the culture of the students from different backgrounds is also what makes up the person of the school."
We are an extraordinary school! We learn, grow, compete, excel. Along the way, we face hardships, failure and tears. However, Alice Szymkiewicz, a 10th grader, responds to that very optimistically, saying, "We're all in this together."
Although we aren't East High from High School Musical, I can assure you, our school, our community, our family is better than that -- because we are GSMST.