ROCHESTER - Spaulding High School freshmen participated in a day-long event on Thursday that featured a visit from an inspiring two-time Olympian, as well as opportunities to start charting their futures.
Molly Sullivan Sliney, a two-time Olympic fencer who represented the U.S. in the 1988 and 1992 summer games, spoke to freshman about her journey and the power of imagining possibilities for themselves.
"If you can imagine something happening in your head," she said. "It can happen."
Sullivan Sliney began her presentation with a visualization exercise that took students on a journey to the Olympic opening ceremonies, which she used to reveal that her road to the games and beyond was at times marred by setbacks due to her lifelong struggle with dyslexia.
Though she started fencing as a way to build her self esteem, the sport ultimately helped her earn a full scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, allowed her to see the world and set her on the path to where she is today.
"It's not about where you end up, it's the road to get there," Sullivan Sliney said. "It's the story that happens along the way."
Organized by Spaulding High School Staff and Rochester Bridging the Gaps, the event allowed freshmen to spend the day exploring their options for the rest of their high school careers and beyond while upperclassmen participated in all-day testing.
In addition to Sullivan Sliney's visit, two groups of freshmen toured the Creteau Technology Center and learned about the 15 Career and Technical Education programs it offers to Spaulding juniors and seniors.
Freshman Day represents a departure from the approach of past years during upperclassman PSAT day, when freshmen participated in a less structured day of activities. This year, the Olympian's visit, the Creteau Tech tour and a career fair enabled freshmen to spend the day being empowered to take their futures into their own hands.
"We wanted to focus more on keeping them engaged by letting them know that the choices they make now will help them in the future," Assistant Principal and co-organizer Jason Bushway said. "I hope they leave today with a renewed belief in themselves and an understanding of the options available to them inside and outside of the classroom."
Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator Dean Graziano was one of the driving forces behind making the event happen as well.
"This was an excellent opportunity to use a day when freshmen are out of class to give them a sense of the kinds of career paths that they can pursue," Graziano said. "It would not have been possible without the support of all of the businesses who worked with us to make it a reality."
Numerous Rochester businesses and organizations participated in the event, including:
Federal Savings Bank
Paul Mitchell Schools
Empire Beauty School
Rochester Community Center
New England Pizza