Although Silvia walks now, she is still involved in nearly every area of Fryeburg Academy student life. Athletically Silvia plays soccer, runs indoor track, and will continue her ultimate frisbee career this spring. Silvia is also a member of the Fryeburg Academy math team, the Daniel Webster society, dorm council, Interact, the Dragon Dance Team, and the international student club. Still needing more to fill her time, Silvia is a dorm proctor, a musician, and part of several musicals, student council secretary, and this fall she took on an internship with the FA admission office.
Math teacher and coach Erik Gustafson describes what she brings to the math team and the Fryeburg community, “Sylvia's enthusiasm for life is contagious. In calculus and on the regional champion math team Sylvia has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills. She genuinely cares about others and is always willing the help. She is a rare gem.”
ESOL teacher Greg Huang-Dale shares similar observations when talking about Silvia’s presence in the International Student Club, “Silvia is always positive and encouraging to others. Silvia sets an expectation that our community is welcoming and fun.”
Silvia came to Fryeburg Academy after she heard good things about the school and campus life through her cousin Oscar Heras. Hesitant to leave her home in Spain at first, she decided to give Fryeburg a try. The original plan was to spend one year abroad and return to Spain, but as the end of her first year approached, Silvia realized that she wanted to return to Fryeburg Academy. Silvia explains, “It was not my intent to stay. I planned for one year to get the American experience and learn the language. In late March I decided I wanted to stay and that meant that I needed to graduate here.”
Not surprisingly, the consideration driving the decision to stay was Silvia’s involvement in the many opportunities offered at FA, “When I started to realize that I would have to leave, I knew that I would miss Fryeburg Academy. At homeschool is just academics. Here it is more clubs, music, sport too.”
Even now anticipating graduation and life beyond FA, Silvia recognizes what she will miss most about her FA experience, “I will miss how much I have been involved. I really enjoy the people here.”
While at FA, Silvia’s participation in the athletic department included soccer, indoor track, and ultimate frisbee. The joy of competition and developing her skills is important to Silvia, but it is clear when talking to her about her athletic experience, it is the connection with other students that she values most. Recalling her athletic experiences, she explains, “Sports gave me a chance to meet so many friends, especially day students. During the long bus rides and practices, you get to meet people that you wouldn’t meet otherwise.”
Silvia played soccer and ran indoor track in Spain growing up, but she explains that her favorite sport is the one that she had never even seen before coming to the United States, “Frisbee is my favorite. There are no referees, and the teams are mixed boys and girls sometimes. It is so much fun!”
At the center of what makes Silvia so enjoyable to be around is the appreciation that she has for people.
It is everywhere Silvia is present, but it is most apparent when Silvia is in her home away from home - the dorm, “I love dorm life. It is awesome to meet people from all over the world. I have made so many friendships.”
Ann Chappell, the FA afternoon activities coordinator, and Silvia’s dorm parent tries to sum up Silvia’s value to the Fryeburg Academy community, “Silvia is amazing. In the dorm, she made fast friends arriving the first year for pre-season soccer. When she made the huge decision to return to FA to finish out her senior year with us we were the winners in that scenario. She is involved in ‘everything.’ She plays sports, is involved with music, was on the dorm council last year, and is a proctor this year. She has been instrumental each year in working on our music and the movies for Dorm Olympics. It goes on and on. Best of all. She is a great friend to all who know her."
Silvia is still unclear what next year will bring. She would like to stay in the United States, but she is unsure, “I am applying to US colleges, but I probably will go to Spain for college. When I have all my options, I will make a decision. In Spain, college is free.”
While Silvia won’t be here next fall, her example will be. The exuberance for life that Gustafson noted has been shared with those around Silvia in the dorm, the classroom, the athletic fields, in clubs, activities, and even the hallways. Silvia also leaves behind the following advice for students entering or returning to Fryeburg Academy, “Be open-minded. Be willing to try things that you have never tried before. Get out of your comfort zone. Talk to people you never considered talking to before.”
Listening to people speak about Silvia, the words seem to repeat themselves to the point that they begin to sound meaningless. At times, as Jess Brooks points out, you can’t explain to others Silvia’s impact on the community, “You have to experience Silvia to understand the quality person that she is. Words don’t really do her justice.”