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For most students, finding out they have been accepted into a new school is a pretty straightforward process.
They apply, check their mailbox, and then, one day, receive the letter for which they had been waiting. Opening the envelope, they prepare themselves for what is to come: either they have been accepted or rejected.
But, for two students in Cheshire earlier this year, finding out where they will be attending school come this fall was far more memorable.
Cheshire residents Gabrielle Girard and Patrick Brown had both applied for scholarship awards to attend Cheshire Academy. Girard, who will be entering the ninth grade next year, applied for the Town Scholar Award and Brown, who will be entering seventh grade, applied for the Beardsley Scholar Award. Both anxiously awaited word, unsure if they would be accepted and, ultimately, attend the school.
But, instead of getting a letter in the mail, these two students received word in a far more unique way. For the last several years, Cheshire Academy has chosen to inform the winners of these awards with the type of pomp and circumstance that usually accompanies the winning of a major prize.
On a specific day, representatives of the Academy pile into a van, the school's mascot in tow, and travel to the home of the award winner. There, they surprise the soon-to-be student with the news: they will be attending Cheshire Academy in the next year.
Girard was on her way home from school, riding the bus, when she noticed the commotion in the driveway.
“I had no idea what was going on,” she stated. “I couldn't even imagine what was happening.”
There, standing in her yard waiting for her, was a group from the Academy, including admission's office representatives, the winner of last year's Town Scholar, the winner of last year's Beardsley Scholar, and the school's mascot, the Cat.
When Girard approached, the group informed her of the good news and presented her with an oversized version of the acceptance letter and the Town Scholar Award.
“It was so exciting,” she admitted.
While Girard was hopeful she would win, it wasn't something on which she was banking. That's because last year's Town Scholar Award winner, who was there to greet her when she arrived home, also lives in the same house. It's her brother, Mathieu.
“I didn't think they would give it to someone from the same family two years in a row,” she said.
For Patrick Brown, word of his acceptance came with a knock on the door. Heading down to see what all the fuss was about, Brown found the same welcoming committee that had greeted Girard.
“It was actually pretty overwhelming,” said Brown. “I came to the door and I had to kind of do a double take.”
Brown became interested in Cheshire Academy after a friend of his began attending the school last year. After hearing good reports about the Academy, he decided to apply for the Beardsley Scholar Award.
“I am really happy I applied now, that's for sure,” he said, laughing.
The Town Scholar Award has been given to a Cheshire resident for several decades, a way for the school to show its appreciation to the community for which it is named. The Beardsley Scholar Award is open to all Connecticut students who will be entering the seventh grade, and does not have to be given to a Cheshire resident, though the winner has hailed from town for the last few years.
Both Girard and Brown spoke of how opportunities in sports and other extracurricular activities helped persuade them to explore attending Cheshire Academy. Girard admitted to being excited about meeting new people and forming lasting friendships while Brown is particularly interested in specific sports he may try.
“I'm a little nervous,” Brown acknowledged. “I think you're always nervous starting a new school, but I am also really excited and can't wait to start up.”
“There are people there from all over the world,” stated Girard. “It's going to be fun to meet them.”