Max Berry is a day student from Rome, Ga., who has attended Darlington School since pre-kindergarten. He is a Tiger Expert and a member of Moser House. He is the older brother of sister Sara ('17).
What do you love most about Darlington?
I love it that Darlington always pushes its students to do more. The rigor of my courses has increased over the course of my high school career because my teachers and advisers believed in me and were certain that I could handle a heavy course load. After looking at the amount of credit that colleges offer for taking AP courses, I’m delighted with the amount of freshman classes I’ll already have out of the way. Taking so many advanced courses wasn’t easy, but I’m confident that it will pay off.
Darlington pushes its students to branch out, to try new things. I feel that I’ve become noticeably more extroverted over the course of my Darlington career. I’ve grown into more of a leader, and I’ve gained relationships that I will treasure forever.
Darlington also pushes its students to consistently act in accordance with the Honor Code, a set of ideas that I’ve truly come to value. Your personal value is defined in part by your accomplishments, and it is imperative that others have a true view of your achievements. Not only can it make you a more appealing person, it makes you love and respect yourself for doing what you know is the right thing.
What makes senior year special?
Senior year is a fascinating time. There comes a point when all of a sudden you stop and think, “Wow, I won’t be here next year.” I've been at Darlington since Mrs. Summerville's pre-k class in 2001.
Darlington has been that entirety of my educational experience, and the aforementioned realization was sobering. What comes next is a
decision. You can choose to be scared about leaving the place and people you’re comfortable with for a daunting life in uncharted territory, or you can rejoice over the fact that you’re taking the next big step towards an exciting, enlightening four years in college with brand new people and bountiful opportunities to broaden your horizons.
When you choose to be excited for college, it gets easy to take in all the wonderful things about senior year. For example, I thought my last RUMPUS with Moser House would be a depressing affair, but instead I got to know some great people and had a fabulous time helping Moser win Fear Factor again. It was strange knowing that I’ll never experience RUMPUS as a Darlington student again, but it’s okay because I know that it was just another step along the road towards the future.
So now let’s digress. What makes senior year special? It’s the last year. So many experiences are the last ones you’ll have. Like I said, I already had my last RUMPUS. I've taken my last ACT. Before long, I’ll play my last varsity soccer game with the team I cherish, and I’ll play my last Spring Concert with the band I adore.
Senior year is special because the magnitude of every experience is huge. As long as you can choose to be positive about it, smelling the roses along the road to graduation is a magisterial experience.
Who has been your best teacher—not necessarily your favorite, but who taught you the most?
Well that’s an easy one: Craig Schmidt. During the first semester of my freshman year, I was in Mr. Schmidt’s Ancient World History class. For those who know me and my love of history, it probably comes as a surprise that I wasn't in the honors class. While this was largely due to a poor work ethic in eighth grade, Mr. Schmidt quickly recognized my potential as a scholar and had me transferred into the honors class at the first opportunity.
I totally consider my three years in Mr. Schmidt’s class as the pinnacle of my academic prowess. Mr. Schmidt sets a tempo in his classes. If you can’t keep up, then you’ll probably experience a reasonable deal of anguish. But if you can keep up with his pace, you will truly realize your potential to achieve academically. Mr. Schmidt has such an incredible way of revealing the various layers of the subject matter, of making discussions truly enthusing, and of making students feel comfortable enough to express their ideas in class.
He’ll also teach you how to write consistently solid essays. Beyond his incredible ability to teach, he has one of the kindest hearts of anyone I've ever met. When my father passed away during my freshman year, he was one of the first to offer his condolences and told me to talk to him if I ever so desired. Through all the ups and downs I've had in high school, I've known that Mr. Schmidt has been in my corner, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to repay him for all he’s done for me.
How has Darlington shaped your future?
I highly doubt I would've pushed myself to explore so many college options without the help of Darlington's College Guidance Office. Mr. Moss, Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Brewer are always warm, professional, and offered all of their available resources to help with my college search.
The search never would've yielded such pleasing results were it not for their help and efforts. Also, just being a member of the Darlington Community pays huge networking dividends when it comes to the arenas of college and employment. Beyond tangible opportunities, Darlington has given me a valuable set of morals that are widely respected and similarly valued by other cultures and groups of people. Through the efforts of teachers who've gone out of their way to teach students how to live honorably, I've internalized a commitment to not lie, cheat, or steal that I do my utmost to stay faithful to.
In closing, Darlington has shaped my future through availing huge opportunities and advantages and by giving me the tools, both tangibly and morally, to succeed in the future.