Character Counted: Jack Gill, Talbot County Public Schools, and the U.S. Naval Academy

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Test scores and other metrics can and should be used to evaluate the success of a public education, but what those measurements will never be able to statistically record is the development of personal character with its graduates.

Hard to quantify, and fostered from many sources like families and mentors, one’s character, much more than testing above state averages in math or science, is the one essential quality that will make the difference in having a successful life. Unfortunately, there is no standard test to measure such a thing.

All one can go by is anecdotal evidence that a young person has not only developed a sense of self that can project confidence but the mindset to persevere when things go wrong.

That is why the Spy was so interested in hearing about St. Michaels High School’s Jack Gill and his lifelong dream of attending the United States Naval Academy. While Jack’s story eventually turns out well, he was tested in a way where only a strong character can remain resilient.

Valedictorian, class president, athlete, countless with hours of volunteer work, and the blessings of Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and the 1st District’s Andy Harris, Jack had been on a two-year campaign to win an appointment to Annapolis. While he applied to a few safety schools, things were looking exceptionally positive as he waited out the arrival of news from the Naval Academy.

And, at last, he did get that notice, but it wasn’t the news he sought. The words “waitlisted” flew off the official correspondence which Jack immediately knew meant that he had about a one percent change of ever securing an appointment to the academy.

In the face of such a severe blow, when it would be more typical to retreat into depression or readjust personal goals, Jack continued to keep the fight going.

The Spy would submit that Jack’s story, as told in our interview with him at Bullitt House, is part of that anecdotal evidence that Talbot County Public Schools is producing some remarkable results.

About Dave Wheelan

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