For two of this year’s 38 college-age ASP interns, and one assistant director, spending time on the campus of St. Paul's School is nothing new – or so they thought.
Despite their previous experience on School grounds as St. Paul’s students, for these three – St. Paul’s alumni turned ASP employees – this summer in Concord has been a new adventure.
Second-year ASP Assistant Director Donny Dickson ’07 grew up on the St. Paul’s campus, where his father was a longtime faculty member. Still, he knew little about the program.
“I only knew the basic facts about ASP,” admits Dickson, who joins interns Stephanie Crocker ’08 and Melissa Keaney ’10 at ASP this summer. ASP Director Mike Ricard ’89, SPS science teacher Terry Wardrop ’73, and ASP Master Teacher Richard Schade ’62 are other SPS alumni involved in the program. “I knew it was for high-achieving New Hampshire public school kids, but I didn’t know much about what the day-to-day program was like.”
Keaney was only slightly more familiar with the ASP, having grown up in Manchester, N.H., and spent time working on the SPS grounds for two summers.
“I knew a number of high school students who had attended the program while I was a student at SPS,” says Keaney, an intern in the ASP’s molecular biology class. “In the summers before and after my Sixth Form year, I gave tours on campus and saw some of the ASP students working in their classrooms and going to lunch, but never interacted with them.”
Engineering intern Crocker says she has been impressed by the excitement of the ASP students, about whom she knew little before arriving in June.
“It’s interesting to see another group make this place its own,” she says. “They have a dance or a movie in Memorial Hall or just get to hang out at Freeman. What’s great is the excitement they bring to all these things. They love it.”
Dickson has helped to incorporate some SPS tradition into ASP. Last year, he suggested adding costumes and other wacky attire to the fundraising run in which the ASP community participates each summer. The event, which features students dressed in tutus, superhero-wear, and business suits, among other clever disguises, mirrors the annual Club/House Cross Country Run, which takes place at St. Paul’s each fall.
Dickson and others also have noted the way ASP students embrace learning so eagerly.
“I find the program to be a really safe environment in which it is actually cool to excel and be interested in your studies – and have fun doing it,” he adds. “It’s fun to see how the majority of the kids embrace this culture.”
Keaney agrees, noting that she is most impressed by the hard work of everyone in the ASP community.
“The teachers are so invested in helping each student learn as much as possible,” she says. “The interns want to ensure the most positive and impactful experience for the students. And the students put an incredible amount of effort into everything from their class work to sports to serenades to T-shirt designs.”
Dickson admits to feeling a sense of ownership of the School as a former student and faculty child, but wishes current SPS students understood just how much their experience means for the students who attend the ASP.
“It is about experiencing a little snippet of the boarding school life for five weeks,” he says, “the same lifestyle that many of us could take for granted 30 weeks a year.”