STAR Student: The other side of the coin

DSC_0286
Dylan Quintal has been a shining STAR student for Stratford and Bibb County. On Tuesday night, he was selected as STAR student for Region 6. (Photo by KENZIE MUENZER)

Receiving an award—monetary or otherwise—is a coin with two very different sides. I have learned as much since being named Stratford’s STAR Student, and earning the additional honors of STAR Student for Bibb County and for Region 6 has only confirmed this observation.

IMG_5991
Dylan Quintal

On one side is the award itself—the certificate, the ceremony, the honor, the publicity. When one thinks about winning an award, these parts come to mind first.

Nevertheless, I find the opposite side of the coin to be far more valuable than any certificate can say. The day-to-day recognition—the congratulations from family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike—is far more worthy a subject to put to paper.

To congratulate someone else is simple enough, so until recently I didn’t know what it’s like to be on the receiving end. The sheer volume of congratulations, exchanged briefly in the hallways or in the midst of conversation, comes as a pleasant, humbling surprise.

The sources, too, are often unexpected: acquaintances from elsewhere in Georgia, friends of friends of friends, even employees from grocery stores and clothing stores have recognized and congratulated me. While the act itself is simple enough, people may not realize its power.

I would like to thank sincerely each person who has expressed their congratulations over the course of the past few months—you’ve brightened my days and helped me to understand just how many people care about me.

With that having been said, there is another sense in which I’d like to focus on the opposite side of the coin. If winning an award is like a coin toss—and it can often seem as touch-and-go as one—then I am the head that has landed right side up.

However, the outcome of a coin toss depends as much upon one side landing upright as it does upon the opposite side landing face down. Just so, my being STAR Student is the product equally of my own work and of the dedication and support of everyone chasing my tail to each ceremony.

Those people—namely, my family, Mrs. Michelle Fleming, Mrs. Martha Eubanks, and all the other teachers and mentors who have played a role in my success—deserve just as much recognition as I do. Perhaps it’s the nature of the toss that they seem merely to be riding my coattails, but I truly owe more than I can begin to say to these fantastic people.

My mom, Kim Quintal, deserves more than anyone else to take a great portion of the credit for everything I’ve done. Without her constant sacrifice and devotion to us, my siblings and I would never have been able to dream of the opportunities we’ve had. She has shaped my passions, my interests, my love of learning, my curiosity, and my artistic and literary predispositions.

She always ensured that I would never be afraid to ask questions and seek answers. My mom has encouraged me to take risks, to be unafraid of failure, and always to do my best while maintaining my own character and values.

A single mom raising three kids, she took a second job besides her regular teaching job to pay for the our incredible education at Stratford Academy while also taking care of our needs and making sure we were healthy and well.

Attending Stratford Academy has been a blessing for our family, and I’m proud of all the work we have done together and individually to find a place in this school and this community.

Stratford has welcomed us warmly, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.