AJ Barre '17
AJ Barre brings his passions for service and soccer together to raising funds and awareness for global causes.
I came to Taft as a new tenth grader in pursuit of rigorous academics combined with competitive athletics. Taft is a place where my teammates can also be my classmates, and my coaches can be my teachers. This unique experience fosters a strong bond between all members of the Taft community. Because of the relationships I have formed here, and the ample resources available at Taft, I have achieved more than I ever thought possible.
In my upper-mid year at Taft I wanted to sponsor a charity soccer tournament. An organization called Grassroot Soccer encourages high schools and colleges to put on these tournaments to raise money and awareness for HIV and AIDS, specifically in Africa. In my hometown the local Grassroot Soccer tournament was one of my favorite events of the year and I wanted to bring that to the Taft community. After nervously announcing my idea at assembly I received an overwhelming amount of support. From faculty to kids alike everyone wanted to help. Because of the connections I formed through my first year at Taft and the resources available to me, putting the pieces into place was seamless. The event was a big success with nearly 100 participants, including two all-faculty teams. This event was made me realize my passion for service through soccer and led me to apply for a Poole grant, a scholarship here at Taft that is granted to students for global community service. I received a generous donation from the Poole grant committee and as a result will be traveling to Peru to help local children and serve as a global steward through soccer.
The Taft community has not only supported me in my endeavors but also pushed me outside of my comfort zone to doing things I never thought possible. An example of this is my experience with the Taft School newspaper, the Papyrus. I had always loved to read the Papyrus; it was in depth, funny, thoughtful and aimed at the students. However, I had never considered writing for it because I thought my writing might not live up to the Taft standard. Last fall, an English teacher noticed my admiration of the paper and suggested that I should apply, despite my worries. I took the advice and two weeks later proudly marched into her office to display the email naming me as one of the newly added writers. Writing for the paper has become, to me, one of the most valuable experiences here at Taft. I have grown as a writer, a thinker, and a person, and have been named the co-editor in chief for the upcoming year. This is an experience that I never could have anticipated before Taft and has opened my eyes as I look towards college and the future.