Interview with Stanstead College Alum, Oscar Haase
Highlights from the interview
The teachers at Stansted, were on a whole other level, because not only did they care about you, not only did they care about teaching you, they cared about making sure that you understood what you were learning. They cared about you as a person. They cared about making you well rounded. Every teacher was involved in every part of school life. They had to coach a sport. They were part of a club, and every student had to be in a sport, in a club. And so you get all these different sides of all the teachers, and a lot of teachers even worked in the residences. And so you get to know them much more personally. If you need help, you can go to them like that.
They really cared about making sure you could be the best person you were at Stanstead, and then grow into the best person you could be after Stanstead. Another one that I appreciate looking back on, but I definitely did not enjoy while I was there was mandatory sports, so every student has to join a sport. And there's three different sports terms like fall, spring or fall, winter and spring, and you have to be in a sport. And there's competitive sports, like where you go to travel to other schools and compete with them, or there's some intramurals where you stay on campus and just be active. And it was tiring. There was never a down moment.
But looking back, it's incredible that they carved out that time for us because now that I'm in college and I'm sure you've heard of like the freshman 15, you eat a lot in college and it's hard to find time to remain active and stay on top of that sort of thing while you're also focusing on all the academics. So even though I'm not the most sporty or most athletic person, I got the chance to do sports. I did cross country and I did swimming and then I did softball. And getting to do all those was so much fun. And I really missed it because last year we didn't have a spring sports semester because of covid, we all went home and it's kind of upsetting to miss it. That's when I started to really realise that I'm like, Dang, this is a pretty good deal we got going here and now I don't get to be with it again.
You're involved, you're always working, you're always doing something. There's never a point at Stanstead where I would stop and be like, man, I'm bored. It was always go, go, go. And that sounds kind of intimidating, but it was really, you know, really fun and really it really helped with being a well rounded person and growing into your own skin sort of thing, which is the whole point of high school and stuff like that.
I've already mentioned this, but I think I've got to say the teachers again because the faculty and their involvement in the school is really one of a kind. I've been to a couple of schools and I've never seen them so involved and have so much care for the students. But also, I think another big thing it has is location. So it's a beautiful campus and it's in the middle of nowhere, right across the border in Quebec, and it's an incredible campus.
They really care. They really want to see you succeed. And the way they go about it runs you through the wringer a little bit, but it's all, you know, to make you a better person and to give you what you need in life. It's definitely something that you come to realise. It's a very intimidating place to be a freshman. I don't know if it's called if you would call a freshman because it starts in grade seven, but it's a very intimidating place to start at.
It seems like a lot on your plate, like the mandatory sports and the clubs and the workload, and it can feel very weighing down. And for a lot of kids, it's also their first time away from home. And that's just another challenge that you've got to face. But overcoming those hurdles and learning from them and becoming better from them is what makes it great. And so even though it feels intimidating and it feels scary and it feels like there's no way you can do this, you've got a stance that's really about sticking with it and powering through it, and eventually it pays off. It really does.
And within each grade, within each class, you even get to know people and you get to become really close with them. And my favourite example of this is at the dining hall, because you have the table of the one friend group and then another friend group, and then the table that I would sit at. And it became somehow we always thought we were the rejects, but it turned out we were the majority of the school, and we would end up taking up like two or three tables. And everyone comes down. And the common thing with us, quote, unquote rejects, which I don't think that's the right word, we were just our own thing. And the common thing with us was just that we didn't care about what anyone was. We just were all there hanging out, chilling. There was no judgement. There was no ostracization, right? Everyone had a place, and everyone could be who they wanted to be. So like our table at the dining hall, everyone there who sat there with someone, either they were new, they didn't know who else to sit with, or they didn't feel comfortable sitting with anyone. And we would grab them and pull up a chair, clued them in.
And it's very diverse. That was a big thing. So everyone was unique. People came from all over the world. And that really led to that accepting atmosphere that ties in nicely with what we just said. The diversity and the acceptance and being accepting of everyone, regardless of anything race, gender, sexual orientation, anything like that.
The school was super about acceptance and about inclusion. And moreover, I think it's really about preparing you for life. There's stuff with resumes, there's stuff in the houses to prepare you for dorm life in college and university. And there was even etiquette training at the dining hall. Everyone loved that. And it was really about making you the best you can be. And that diversity stuff and the inclusion stuff, I think that really ties into being the best you you can be because you are at your best when you're helping others be at their best. And if stance that helps you help others, then they're really helping you help yourself.
I definitely think students will be surprised by how busy they are. Every student before me said, oh, you're going to be busy. You're not going to have free time. I thought I listened. I didn't listen enough. It's very busy. And so, yeah, that's something that students will be surprised about is how little downtime there is. And by downtime, I don't mean, you know, free time where you can hang out with friends. By downtime, I mean, like, when you're doing nothing because, you know, you're always hanging out with your friends at the school because you live with them and you're in class with them and you're at sports with them.
I guess it's sort of satisfying that, you know, you're always doing stuff and you're always getting stuff done. Well, absolutely everything will shape who you are. But do I think it shaped me for the better even more? Absolutely. Because like I said earlier, high school is where you learn to be yourself and where you sort of grow into your own skin. It's really great at getting you on track for life. The only thing that I can or at least I can think of at the moment that I disliked, that I would have wished I could have changed is not being able to try everything.
And then my personal favourite, because I'm a very nerdy kid, is being able to do every class under the sun because I love learning and I love learning new stuff, stuff I'm not familiar with. So I'm in aerospace engineering. So in high school or in my senior year, grade twelve, I had to do calculus, physics, chemistry, statistics, all the math and science based courses. And those were my favourite courses. But I would have also loved to have done philosophy or biology or history, things like that where you've got this focus. That's what you're trying to do in life. But branching out and learning other things is also incredible.
So broadening horizons is an important thing. And it's something that definitely gives you the ability to do. But it's something that only to a certain extent, right? You only have so much time in the day. We can't all be Hermione Granger with a time turner to take all the classes. That would have to be like my one dislike, and my one thing I wish I could change was being able to do more, which is kind of crazy to say, thinking back, because I was already doing so much and my plate was so full and I'm like, yeah, what if we had more? So that just shows what it leaves you like, yeah, I definitely remember very strongly in grade twelve, sitting in AP Chemistry and AP Physics, not in class, but doing the homework and studying for tests and being like, oh my God, what am I doing with my life? This is awful. I don't like this. I don't like doing the work. It's so much work, stuff like that. And now in College, I'm like, oh, I don't have to do those classes, which are at the College level, they're much more difficult.
It was very much work hard, work hard and play hard. You get to put in the effort, put in the time, and then you get the reward at the end. And that's something that I'm realising, like that's what I realise as I grow older is I've put in the time and now I'm getting that reward back.
And by that I mean exploring all of these different opportunities and taking advantage of experimenting and discovering new things. And through that, you become a more well-rounded person. Even if you don't stick with something, you learn new things and you become a new person. I think almost no matter how your stance, the years go, you'll look back on them with fondness. And that's something that I heard from other alumni while I was still in school. And I was like, man, those guys are crazy. But it does come true, right? You remember all the good times and the bad stuff you sort of realised didn't really matter. So the experience makes you think it's a great memory to have, great to think back and think fondly and then last.
And something my physics teacher said a lot is about front-loading the pain. So you work hard now and like I said, work hard now, play hard later. And it's a lot about exposing you to these things that normally you wouldn't be exposed to until college, like living in a dorm away from home. A lot of people at Georgia Tech, they're away from home for the first time because they've never had the opportunity to do so before. College is their first time out of the house, like on their own. And it’s Stanstead’s goal to expose you to those things early on and make you aware of them and know how to deal with them and be a better independent person. So that was the three things were to become well rounded, to have the experience and then to be prepared for life as it comes swinging at you.
And it's very much you've got to put your faith in the people of Stanstead and in the community that it forms and trust that it works, because it does. And people do enjoy it, even though it may not seem like it at first. Ok. This is sort of the other side of what I just said to the parents. But stick with it. You have to persevere and you've got to have grit and you've got to be able to dig in your feet for the long run and not turn away and give up.
And it's got to keep moving forward. Keep moving forward. So to a new student, I'd say stick with it, keep moving forward, don't give up. It does get so much better and it's a great time and you're going to enjoy yourself.