student in classroom

By Parker Chadwick

My place of importance is The Janus School. It is a small private school in Mount Joy PA. This is a small town located between Lancaster and Hershey. It is found on a small plot of land about 4 acres in area for the main campus with about 20 located across the street that is wooded with a small bit of farmland on it. This is the place where I became who I am. I found myself, and who I want to be as a person in those walls. I was a role model there, everyone knew my name, and I knew theirs. This is where I learned about others, where I learned about school, and how to actually live my life instead of walking through the motions. I developed skills as a leader, I refined my empathy and kindness. It was my safe haven. It is where I chose who I want to be.

It was a small school. There were only seventy two kids in the building; it was a K-12 School. I knew every teacher, and they knew me. I worked closely with each and every person and I created a network through the school that I would not trade for anything. For I know I can call upon them at any time and they will be there for me. This is my place of importance because this is where I can be me, because it taught me how to be me.

parker at convocation

Before I went to Janus I was a shell. I was basically empty, not very talkative, and not passionate. I was devoid of character. But while I was there I created myself. I created a new me – the me that was always there but was denied its right to shine. And others flocked to me because of who I was. I became student council president. People knew my name. I all but owned the school because they knew I would do nothing to disrupt it. Because who I chose to be, was a kind, respectful person. I chose to be a leader, to smile whenever I was losing hope, to find the silver lining.

Janus was a place of kindness, there were no hostilities, and there was acceptance. I was able to come into my own because the environment was open to me. I was able to create myself because everyone else was supportive, they let me experiment, they let me trial and error. They knew from day one that I was more than that shell and they wanted to see who I was. Who I molded myself to be.

I have two mentors that I gained from Janus, their names are Jason and Mrs. K. One was my tutor and science teacher, the other my English teacher. Both of them had faith in me and knew I could do what they asked. They pushed me to my limits and had me push even further because they knew I was able to handle it. They did this academically and socially. They helped guide me to refine my social skills so that I could discuss any topic without getting heated or too involved, they taught me how to debate, how to teach even. These mentors helped me choose who I want to be.

My first memory of Janus was when I was visiting, a young woman who was my age came and sat next to me during lunch because I didn’t know anyone so I was sitting alone. As soon as she sat down she saw my sketches and said they were good. Then more people slowly came and started sitting next to me. I didn’t know what was happening because I was always alone. No one ever walked up to me. I moved away further on the hill. And she followed, bringing the group of people as well. I didn’t know what to do. I know now that they saw me alone, and didn’t like seeing others alone. So they came to welcome me to Janus, and I will never forget that. And that girl turned out to be my best friend in the whole world.

Another memory of Janus that I hold dear is found in my last year attending before I was graduating. I needed to look into jobs for the future for an assignment, so I asked Jason if I could teach one of the younger grades class. It was a test to see what I have learned in my independent study and to see how well I could communicate and keep others interested in my teaching. Of course I was nervous at the time, this was the first time I was leading a group of young people to learn. But all through making the lesson plan and the prep work needed for the class, Jason just kept encouraging me, helping me when I asked. I was able to effectively teach the class about how to survive in a bad situation when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. Afterward, Jason patted my back and said I did a wonderful job. And that told me that I could effectively teach and lead others.

On the last conference I had with my teachers and the school board near the end of the school year we met to talk about my future, how things went over the course of my time at Janus, and where I was going from there. All was well, everyone was praising how far I had come, but then my English teacher Mrs. K. pulled me aside, she handed me a small box, and I asked what was in it. She said open it with such a cheesy grin on her face. I opened the box and what was inside make me chuckle. It was filled with small pieces of paper with punctuations on them. She then said to me, note how very little semicolons there are, I don’t want to see you use them as much as you do. I retorted with well you created the monster so you have to take responsibility. This memory makes me smile, because this was the relationship I had with her. It was full of antics, jokes, and growth. I would not be as strong a writer and I would most likely be less of a happy person because of her annoying gratitude journals she had us write all the time.

This is my sanctuary, this is where I found myself. I would hate to see such a place leave from his world, it may not be a large plot of land, it may not be a large swamp, it may not be the solution to all life’s problems, but I hold it dear as though it does. Because this is where I grew up. And where I call a Home. This is where I created myself.

I was able to create myself because everyone else was supportive, they let me experiment, they let me trial and error. They knew from day one that I was more than that shell and they wanted to see who I was.

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