Presidential Scholarship Recipient, Steven Gomez, Reflects on his Experience at Lavelle Prep

Lavelle Prep is proud to announce an incredible achievement from one of our very own students, Steven Gomez, who has recently received presidential scholarships to both Barry College in Miami, Florida and Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. We had the opportunity to chat with Steven and his father, Steven Sr., about their experiences throughout the years in being part of our Lavelle family. Here is what Steven had to say about his accomplishments:

ICS: In what grade did you start with us at Lavelle?

S: I started Lavelle in middle school. I’ve been here for a while. 

ICS: When choosing a high school, what drew you to Lavelle?

S: Many of the academic standpoints drew me to Lavelle. A big thing for me was the smaller classrooms. Throughout my high school experience, it was very beneficial for me being able to connect with my teachers one-on-one.

ICS: Were you involved in any extracurricular activities while in Lavelle? How have they contributed to your personal growth?

S: Basketball has definitely had an impact on my life, although I played for other teams outside of Lavelle. It’s helped me develop an attitude where I’m always working hard towards my goals. Also, music was huge for me. I started playing drums in the 9th grade. I built so many friendships with my peers and teachers through that experience.

ICS: How have you changed both academically and personally since becoming a student at Lavelle?

S: In the 7th grade, I wasn’t averaging more than a C+. Then, in the 8th grade, one of my teachers, Mrs. Pontebbi really opened my eyes and showed me what I was capable of. She even placed me in a 9th-grade class because she saw me excelling in her 8th-grade class. After that, it pushed me and my family to stay more on top of my grades. In the long run, maintaining that 3.9 GPA has given me so many opportunities. As a person, I have grown to become more accountable for my actions. I know how saying something or acting a certain way can affect the room. I always try to keep a positive attitude no matter what I’m doing. 

ICS: Were there any other specific teachers that had an impact on your experience at Lavelle?

S: I want to give a huge thank you to Mr. Shick. When I met Mr. Shick in the 10th grade, I was intimidated to go into his class because I had skipped Earth Science II and went straight to Chemistry with older kids. But Mr. Shick really connected with me both inside and outside of the classroom. He always kept it real with me, he was always there for me when I needed help. I owe a lot to him. I would also like to thank Mrs. Curran in the 6th grade. She told me never to forget her and I hadn’t. She paved the way for me as a 6th grader coming into a new school. 

ICS: What was one of your favorite memories while at Lavelle?

S: Aside from the friendships I’ve made, I think I’m going to miss my music class the most because, for me, it gave me a chance to escape from the stress of our school lives. Teachers and students would come in from lunch to watch us play and it was just so fun. It was the best high school experience.

ICS: Do you see yourself staying connected with those teachers you have become friends with while at Lavelle?

S: Yeah, I plan to keep in contact with them always.

ICS: How would you describe the faculty at Lavelle?

S: Caring. They really do care about their students. It’s difficult to focus on forming relationships with students in bigger schools with classrooms of forty kids but at Lavelle, the staff takes their time to make sure a student has grown academically but also personally before graduation. 

ICS: Outside of school, who has been your biggest support academically?

S: My family for sure. My mom and dad really drive the boat for me and I am so thankful for them. When I was a kid, I thought they were a little strict but as I’ve gotten older, it’s become clear that they were paving the way for me. I am so grateful for everything they have done.

ICS: What does the opportunity to go to college mean for you?

S: It’s been crazy. The night I found out I got accepted into these colleges and then got scholarships some of my family told me that they were living through me. I have been so overwhelmed with emotion to know I’m not only doing it for myself, but I’m also doing it for my family. We are succeeding together. I want to bring everybody up with me. 

ICS: Do you have any ideas about what you might study while at college?

S: I am still chasing my dreams of playing sports but academically, I want to major in sports broadcasting and hopefully one day become an analyst or a broadcaster on ESPN. I have been thinking about minoring in music just to learn more about reading notes because being able to play the drums is a gift that I never want to let go of. 

ICS: What are you looking forward to most about college? What are you most nervous about?

S: I am looking forward to seeing how I can handle independence. It will be a big change for me and my family but I believe that I can handle myself. I want to prove to myself and my family that I am capable of doing big things even if it means me being on my own. I am nervous about the “what ifs” like what if I need support but I’m too far. But I know I have God and I have my family and with those two things, I can go far. 

ICS: Do you have any advice for students in high school struggling with remote learning?

S: If you have no stress, you aren’t working hard enough. Stress is normal, it’s not bad to be stressed out. It’s the way you manage your stress that matters most. Always be open with the people around you and they will help you see it through. There were plenty of times where I have felt stressed about school but emailing your teachers can help you out. Building those relationships and feeling comfortable to open up to those people can help you manage your stress. It has been hard for the older students who have to worry about the transition to Zoom while stressing about college and big homework assignments, but I found that creating a mental schedule helps you to balance the things you want to do and the things you are responsible for. If you’re ignoring the things you’re supposed to do, you will see yourself failing. If you’re working too hard on the things you are supposed to do, you might overwhelm yourself and end up not having the motivation to do it at all. There needs to be a balance where you get your work done and still have enough time for yourself.

Turning to Steven Sr., we had a few questions about his role as a parent of a student who has outdone themselves academically throughout high school:

ICS: As a parent, what drew you into Lavelle when choosing a high school for your son?

S Sr.: Being from Staten Island, I know that there are little to no middle school options out there as far as what I was looking for Steven. We chose Lavelle because of the small classroom settings and the basis in education.

ICS: In your experience, how would you describe Lavelle?

S Sr.: The faculty was definitely involved in Steven’s education which I did appreciate. Whenever I needed help, they would be very responsive to both me and Steven. I would always get the answers I needed in order for my child to put their best foot forward.

ICS: As a parent, what does it mean for your child to be able to attend college?

S Sr.: As a parent, it’s been a scary feeling knowing how far these schools can be. However, I am so proud of everything he has accomplished over the past few years. His grades have been remarkable and I always push him to strive for greatness.

ICS: What are you looking forward to most for Steven as he goes to college?

S Sr.: I hope for the absolute most success for Steven, whether he continues to study his current major or even if he finds a different passion along the way. Life is limitless. I know that he can do whatever he wants as long as he puts his mind to it.

ICS: Do you have any words of advice for parents of children who have struggled with distance learning?

S Sr.: I keep both of my children in their own space and try to provide them with exactly what they need from me. Having that communication with them to make sure that they are being heard leads to them being able to better apply themselves in their school work.

According to Steven, there is a key to success like his. “I don’t have superpowers. I was just a kid confused about himself until I learned, through my experience at Lavelle, that you have to work hard to succeed in life,” he says. “Trying my best has put me in the position that I’m in today and it has really paid off.”‘

Thank you again to the Gomez family for speaking with us. We wish Steven the best of luck in his future endeavors!