Interview with Crescent School Alum, Cooper Midroni
Cooper Midroni recently celebrated the five-year anniversary of his graduation from Crescent. They celebrated online, with almost half the grade level on a Zoom call. It made him reflect on how strong those bonds are, and how much caring is there. He says his time at Crescent helped him understand what he wants to do with his life. It gave him a desire to know himself, better and better. He says most people experience that in university. But for him, having that self-knowledge ahead of time was extremely useful.
Highlights from the interview
The experiences of leadership or mentorship that Crescent offers — especially with that unique focus on character and on introspection — I think that gave me a lifelong piece of myself that wanted to understand myself better and better. It was kind of an awakening at Crescent that then lasts throughout your whole life. A lot of people get that at university. It was very useful to go into university having already found that.
What I appreciated most about Crescent was the community, and especially the community within the grade level. For example, I recently had a virtual reunion with people in my grade — we had about half the grade on a Zoom call, which is impressive these days. We had breakout rooms where we would just have four or five of us catching up for minutes at a time. It was so energizing to see people, and to see how strong the affection is — to see someone you haven’t seen in five years and being like, ‘Wow, I have a deep interest in what you’re doing with your life’.
What differentiates Crescent is how it prioritizes character. I know that’s the tagline, but I think it’s very different to read that from the outside, looking in, versus being on the ground and realizing that character is actually imbued in everything they do. I think they really give any student the opportunity to find themselves. For example, things like BEAR Week, which is a yearly trip the school does with all grades at the start of the school year. As a student, you are put in all these organic environments where you slowly, piece by piece, get glimpses of who you think you want to be, and by the end you have a much better idea. I remember feeling very confident about just my path ahead of me when I was leaving Crescent.
I just remember every day feeling very positive when I was at Crescent. For example, studying for tests, surrounded by these people who are like, ‘We’ll get to this together’. Those feelings stick with you. And that’s an important feeling to have going into university, that kind of optimism.
There’s just so much packed into the Crescent community, so many different niches that you can find yourself in. There are people who are interested in music. There are people who are interested in fine arts. There are people who are interested in sports. And they go on to do these things at a very high level. People find a place for themselves at Crescent, and you have all this abundant opportunity. It just kind of felt like a playground where you could pick and choose what you wanted and safely try things out.
The combination of kindness and respect is a common thread among students at Crescent. When you really have this emanating sense of kindness to people around you, respect follows. And you respect people for who they are, you respect them for the value they bring on the sports field or in the classroom, or after school in study groups. So I think people were very kind and I just look back and I think that has led to these authentic relationships that I had, where you have nothing but goodness to feel about the people around you.
Character is imbued from the bottom up at the school. You might read that in the pamphlets and assume that it comes from the top down. But really it’s there from the very beginning. One example is how Crescent really emphasizes mentorship. It occurs in a variety of ways. I think almost half of my grade chose to be a mentor to younger students in some way. And when you’re asked to be a mentor, you very naturally have to ask the question, ‘What am I mentoring for? What kind of mentor do I want to be?’ And that introspection goes a really long way throughout your entire life.
I think people would be surprised by the energy in the halls. I remember packs of boys walking down the halls going to the next class. There’s just so much energy going on in the halls. The same hallways that you are walking between classes to and from, those are the same hallways where you’re doing exciting activities, like when you have House Day. It’s like the place itself is filled with energy, and it’s a very positive energy.
The teachers I had at Crescent were incredibly positive mentors in the community, and great influences on everyone.
There was a lot of wisdom in the structure of the school, and the way the teachers and staff led the school, and I have a lot of gratitude for that. You don’t recognize it when you’re a student, you don’t understand some of the rules, but they end up being very influential. You can retrospectively look back and say, ‘I’m glad I had that. I’m glad I was raised with those values’. There’s a master plan that you just don’t have access to yet.
The top reason to choose Crescent would definitely be the community. I think the environment that you can be in as a young boy at Crescent is just absolutely ideal in terms of the opportunities, the ability to find yourself, the ability to create meaningful relationships that really give back to you in big ways.
I think there’s a very healthy amount of challenge that you get at Crescent. I think that’s what you’re looking for, both as a young boy and as a parent: you want your child to be brought up in an environment that is going to test them in a lot of different ways. Not just academically, but also personally and socially. As a student, you’re going to need to find yourself, and the challenge you get at Crescent is going to result in you having a much better idea of what you should be doing with your life.
I think my advice to new students would be to take risks. This is a very safe environment in which you can test out your understanding of yourself. Make friends, do new things, expand the scope of your perspective. Take advantage of the opportunities at Crescent. If you want to try art, you want to try sports, you want to try robotics, you should do that, because you’ll only be better for it. I look back at my time at Crescent as beyond formational to who I am now.