At my last school I stood up to some bullies and told them that what they were doing was wrong. I went to the Head of School to see what could be done to stop their behavior and he told me I should just be friends with the bullies and move on. I didn’t agree with that.
Since it was clear no changes would be made and my voice was not being heard at my current school, I made a very tough decision to leave. I went home and made a plan with some friends to start an anti-bullying campaign called Inspirit Revolution. One of our goals is to get legislation passed to make it a requirement for bullying to be documented at all private schools. Some private schools already do, but right now only public schools require it. We are also creating a documentary with my cousin to show how bullying affects kids.
When I was filling out my application at Tampa Prep and they asked about my activities and community service, I listed my experience marching in the St. Pete Pride parade, phone banking for Hillary Clinton, and speaking about women’s rights at the Montessori Model United Nations. My mom asked me if I should leave out those things that could be “controversial” to not make waves.
My response? “If a school doesn’t like me for who I am and what I do, then it’s not a school I want to go to.” So I put everything on the table, you could say.
I’m so glad I did, because Mrs. Honegger (Associate Director of Admissions) noticed some of those things, smiled and said, “I see you’re already active in politics and in your community. That’s great!” I knew immediately I had found my new home. I’ve only been here one year, but everyone has taken me in with open arms. If I could give one piece of advice to a future Tampa Prep student it would be this: Be yourself. You will be accepted here.
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Mrs. Tammy Honegger on Maddie
When I interviewed Maddie, I thought it was cool that as a young person she was so dedicated to making change in schools. She was such an activist. I found it really inspiring that she took the initiative to talk to her principal about her issues and concerns. Not a lot of young people would do that; that’s more of a high school thought process, so that was unique. — Tammy Honegger, Associate Director of Admissions
Maddie is incredibly bright, enthusiastic, and has a really good work ethic. It surprises me that she did not have a passion for English prior to coming to Prep. She contacted me even before school started about summer reading, so from the getgo she was showing her dedication to school. I was impressed before I even met her. She’s a good teammate and very friendly to the other kids. She’s just a natural leader; her whole demeanor exudes that. — Sarah Lonetto, English teacher