2017 Alumni Scholars Essay Contest Winner

Abigail Pham ('11) is the 2017 winner of Jacksonville Country Day School’s Alumni Scholars Essay Contest. Abby will be attending the University of Florida in the fall. She will win a one-time scholarship of $1,000. You can read her winning essay below or listen to Ms. Pham read it by clicking the play button on the right.
"Through my 8 years of attending JCDS, I was instilled with an exceptional amount of virtue and received academic preparation that leads me to thrive in middle and high school. My experiences at Jacksonville Country Day thoroughly prepared me for the rigorous classes I would go on to take at Episcopal School of Jacksonville, and I feel that having such a solid foundation built early on made the possibilities for my future endless. Not only did I feel prepared for school itself and the advanced courses I ended up taking, but I also felt ready for the social and physical challenges I faced. The JCDS experience was truly all-encompassing and utterly fulfilling in so many ways. The teachers I had, the friends I made, and the experiences I had shaped me into who I am today and will follow me through the rest of my life.
One of the things about JCDS that has stuck with me the most is the emphasis on character. Even at the point in time when I was still learning to write my home address, I knew about virtues such as honesty, patience, respect, and kindness. Those traits would be posted around my classroom and talked about daily, with my teachers explaining what they meant and how they are important to be able to treat others how we wanted to be treated. I remember the virtue of “patience” clearly because the week that it was being focused on was the week I discovered that I wasn’t very good at being patient. Despite my issue with it, my teachers would always guide me through it in a way that wasn’t frustrating and turned the situation into something positive that encouraged me to put patience into practice. While I worked on developing my own character during school, my classmates around me continued to do the same. I was so fortunate to go to a school surrounded by peers who were growing into individuals with a similarly strong sense of character; I believe having a community that valued good character made me value it more as well.
Besides a stellar start to character development, JCDS also provided a phenomenal academic education. The skills and concepts I learned at JCDS have undoubtedly been the groundwork for everything I have studied thereafter. In many of the subjects I took, my teachers had innovative and highly effective methods of teaching that helped me grasp concepts quickly, energetically, and in my own way of thinking. Many of the methods I experienced at JCDS were focused on tailoring the lesson to each child’s way of learning, which accelerated learning for not only myself but also for the rest of my peers. For example, as Singapore Math started being integrated into my daily math lessons, I noticed how there were many different ways of arriving at the correct answer to problems Having this mental flexibility and opportunity for critical thinking truly enhanced my education and helped make me a better student.

Additionally, the holistic experience of JCDS also extends into extracurricular activities. I was a member of the Jazzy J’s at JCDS, took piano lessons every week, and always loved participating in any of my class’s performances. This passion for music continued into middle and high school, and I currently am the Co-President of the Vocal Ensemble at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Having fine arts introduced to me at an earlier age at Jacksonville Country Day gave me an early start in my love for music and performance. This is one of my favorite things about my Jacksonville Country Day experience.
Overall, this gratitude and thankfulness I feel towards JCDS is overflowing and bounteous. I attribute much of the growth I have had as a person to the experiences I had early on that allowed me to develop into someone who knows very well about respect, patience, honesty, compassion, perseverance, and more. After I left JCDS and continued my studies, I definitely noticed that I was fully prepared or even at an advantage in terms of academics, and also fully equipped to connect with everyone I met at my new school. For all of this, I only have JCDS to thank for helping me develop into a friend, student, and citizen I can be proud of."
Thanks to all of our alums who participated in this contest! 
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    • 2017 Alumni Scholars Essay Contest

      Abigail Pham ('11) is the 2017 winner of our Alumni Scholars Essay Contest. Abby will be attending the University of Florida in the fall. She will win a one-time scholarship of $1,000. Thanks to all of our alums who participated in this contest!

Located In Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Country Day is a Private School for Grades Pre-K - 6. JCDS is dedicated to academic excellence, as well as developing character and healthy lifestyles.