Nick Vance is a Senior at Archbishop Spalding High School. He is a varsity basketball and lacrosse standout and is a near straight A student.
While he enjoys school now, that wasn’t always the case. According to Nick, “In my early elementary years, I dreaded being in the classroom, it was an exhausting experience. In my later elementary years, I lived in Beijing, China while my father was stationed there with the Coast Guard. It was a much more diverse school. While I was still too young to really understood that people have different learning styles, I embraced learning and doing more with all that an international school offers to their students. Then one summer back in the United States, I went to camp at the Summit School. The counselors there seemed to understand me. I felt welcomed and at ease. My parents enrolled me at the Summit School the following year where my life began to change. They recognized my learning differences at The Summit School and gave me the tools and confidence to unlock my full potential.”
At the Summit School, which was founded to exclusively serve children grades 1-8 with dyslexia and related learning differences, Nick thrived, graduating 8th grade in June of 2015. Nick continues to feel a strong connection to the school and last year found a way to give back.
Last spring, Nick and his Mom heard a singer/songwriter named Jesse Ruben at Rams Head. Jesse had written songs about a very challenging period in his life and the outcome from his experience was the “We Can Project.” Through a series of lectures, group sessions and lessons, the We Can Project helps students develop the mindset that they can do anything they desire while also teaching them about giving back to the community through service. A “We Can” day at a school includes goal setting, confidence boosting, and shared service activities.
Nick decided a “We Can” project would be perfect for the Summit School. So he contacted Dr. McCarthy, the Head of School, to talk about the project. While she loved the idea, the school year was near its end and there was no funding available. “I didn’t want this to stop me from reaching out to Summit’s elementary and middle school students,” says Nick, “so I set up a Go Fund Me page to bring Jesse and “We Can” to Summit.” Nick soon raised over two thousand dollars for Jesse to visit, teach and perform at Summit.
“When the day came to visit Summit, both Jesse and I were excited and a bit nervous,” Nick says.
“But watching the kids flow through the gym door with so much excitement felt awesome.” The program began with Nick’s speech introducing Jesse, then Jesse sang his songs and told them his story of overcoming challenges and working to reach his own goals. After the entire school assembly, Nick and Jesse held individual goal setting activities with different grades, encouraging the students to set their own goals.
According to Dr. McCarthy, “Jesse Ruben is a talented, young artist who engaged with our students and reinforced for them that goals can be met and challenges overcome. It was a special pleasure to not only have this caliber of talent working with Summit students but knowing it was a former student whose passion and initiative made it happen.”