Older students helped Colter Sienkiewicz ’24 when he was new — now it’s his turn.
BY JACQUELINE PRIMO LEMMON
Seated at a table in Raffini Commons in the Friedman Community Center, Colter Sienkiewicz looks out a window toward Drury, the boys dorm he has called home for the past three years. It’s a bright and temperate September day and Drury is concealed by slowly turning leaves that will fall, fully orange, later in the term. Sienkiewicz is between American Foreign Policy class and varsity soccer practice, and he nods and returns hellos to teammates, classmates, housemates and teachers who walk by as he talks.
A Sixth Former who joined the SPS community as a Fourth Former, Sienkiewicz smiles as he recalls what brought him more than 2,000 miles and most of the way across the country for his second year of high school. “I didn’t really feel like I was getting anything out of school [at home], and I’ve always been kind of adventurous,” he says. He was attending public school remotely due to COVID-19 when he started filling out the application to SPS … without telling his parents he was doing so. “Eventually I got them on board,” he says.
Sienkiewicz’s smile takes on just the tiniest hint of mischief as he relates this story. Still, he recalls feeling scared and nervous during his first few weeks in Millville, and credits close relationships with Sixth Formers in his house with helping him through the transition. “I don’t know if my experience would have been as positive if I hadn’t had that,” he says. It was the desire to serve as that same sort of safety net for younger students that inspired him to apply to be a Sixth Form prefect — a priority, he says, that he shares with many of his formmates, both prefects and not. “I think that’s how a lot of students feel,” he says. “They want to make sure the dorm culture continues to be positive.”
As one of two prefects in Drury, Sienkiewicz makes himself approachable and available to the other residents if they need anything, whether it’s someone to help think through a friend problem or a math problem or just to celebrate an accomplishment. Over Opening Days, he helped set a calming and welcoming atmosphere in the house by greeting students and families as they came in, answering parents’ questions and helping kids get settled in their rooms. Often, he will leave his door open in the evenings and chat with other residents as they walk by, letting them know he’s not “hunkered away in there,” he says. He makes sure everyone in the house feels connected and organizes activities like playing basketball in the gym or ordering chicken wings from town. Sienkiewicz also keeps in close contact with his head of house, Associate Dean of Admission/Director of Multicultural Recruitment Derek Johnson — who also checks on him.
In addition to serving as a prefect and playing varsity soccer, Sienkiewicz rows crew and is a varsity wrestler. His schedule is loaded with honors and advanced courses, and he is one of just a dozen students who were selected for the Applied Science and Engineering Program, for which he is currently working on his Sixth Form capstone. Sienkiewicz says that making time for everything that matters to him means taking time away from things he can live without: social media (deleted) and TV (which he doesn’t watch during the school year). He knows he won’t regret not watching the latest reality show or blockbuster during his free time, and that carving out time to build relationships with other students and Drury residents is something he will value forever.