Sam Brown’s odyssey has led him to where he is now

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Junior Sam Brown was once locked in a hallway.

Not only was it a small hallway, but it was also a hallway in Germany with no means of getting out while he was key-cardless.

Before he ended up in this German hallway, though, Sam joined a team: Odyssey of the Mind. He started his journey with OM when he was in third grade and continued up until his ninth grade.

In eighth grade, Sam and his team ended up in Germany for Eurofest, a festival in which teams from around the world get matched up and problem solve together, showcasing their abilities.

While Eurofest was one of the only times Sam has been out of the country, he was glad he was able to do it with his friends.

“That was a good experience,” Sam said, “because other than [the Eurofest experience], I haven’t been out of the country much, so it was cool to experience that with friends. It was something we could all do together instead of it [being] just me and my family.”

Not only was Sam able to embark on an international adventure with his friends, but he was also able to interact with students from different countries. While his fellow participants were from all around the world, they still shared many of the same teen choices and interests with cultural differences, and Sam was thrilled with the chance to experience and learn about these differences.

“Meeting other people [from different countries] was cool because they shared a lot of interests, but their culture was different,” Sam said.

Eurofest was an exciting time for Sam, but he had many other years in OM that are worth mentioning, too.

Over the seven years Sam participated in OM, he has gained experiences and character traits alike that will be hard to forget or shed, like being creative and acting, or at least speaking in front of people.

“OM was a different experience,” Sam said, “because I’m not normally the person who would be going up on stage and acting and everything, so doing that was different, and I think that helped me grow as a person. And also just being able to be creative was a good thing because normally, in school, [you] just do it the right way, not your way.”

With three years of acting through OM under his belt, Sam became a narrator for Goodwillie Environmental School’s production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol—adapted by Eloise Johnson.

Everyone in sixth grade was given a role in the performance. These roles ranged from the backstage crew, Scrooge, children, and even narrators, and the narrators were the only ones who spoke to the audience. The rest was shown through acting and singing performed by other sixth grade classmates and fifth graders.

OM led Sam to his role as a narrator—the first narrator, or person, on stage—and helped him become comfortable with the audience.

“The night of the performance, I broke out of my shell,” Sam said. “I was the narrator who told Charles Dickens’ story. This meant everyone [was] looking at me, taking in every word that left my mouth. I knew as soon as I stepped on stage I could not be nervous, and, as I reached the microphone, I let loose. The old me was gone. I said my lines to the people as if they were all family.”

Being able to be creative was a good thing, because normally, in school, [you] just do it the right way, not your way.”

— Sam Brown

Not only were the people in the audience a seemingly family, but also the people that would walk on the stage after him.

At Goodwillie, classmates consider each other family. There are only fifty students in a class, and they stick with each other for two years. Because of this and the unique experiences Goodwillie offers, everyone influences each other and encourages them to push to be a better version of themselves.

“[When I was in sixth grade], I grew a lot as a person,” Sam said, “and I cracked out of my shell. I couldn’t have gotten to the point I am at right now without my amazing teachers and friends. They helped me when I was lost or confused. I can’t imagine going to a different school with other people for sixth grade. Every last person in my class has helped shape me into the person I am today.”

With all that his “family” has done and the learning in general from Goodwillie, Sam has been and will forever be affected by the school.

“I think it made me appreciate and understand nature a lot more,” Sam said. “Ever since then, I’ve been a lot more focused on how I affect the environment. I think just how I think in general changed once I was at Goodwillie.”

A combination of things has led to his appreciation for the school: the building, the people, the experiences, and the acquired knowledge.

“Goodwillie isn’t just an environmental school to me,” Sam said. “It’s the school that helped me find myself. If I were to go to a different school, I most likely wouldn’t [have tried] making new friends outside of my group. I’m sure I wouldn’t be who I am today. Goodwillie will stick with me forever.”