As her family life spiraled from strained to cracked to broken, senior Christina Ouimette found identity and refuge in school.
“I loved school,” says the western Massachusetts native. “I went to Essex Agricultural and Technical High School, Essex Aggie. I could tell you about my school forever. You have your academics one day, and your Ag classes on alternate days. It’s broken down to three majors, plant science, animal science, and environmental science. I concentrated on environmental science. It’s broken down by year, so sophomore year is woodlands and wetlands, junior year is marine biology, and senior year is hazmat training and AP exams.”
Christina takes a breath, her eyes looking back. “We have a fish barn on campus, so we raise Atlantic Salmon that we eventually release into a river. We raise Large-Mouth Bass, Red-Belly Turtles, Flounder…We collect a lot of data, do wetlands surveys…We don’t have regular tests.”
The exam at the end of sophomore year was a seven-day, 62-mile canoe trip down the Merrimack River. It consisted of shoreline surveys, water-quality testing, and macro invertebrate surveys, an experience Christina calls “one of the coolest weeks of my entire life ever.”
“At the end of the trip they got us all together and gave everybody an award, a nickname. Mine was Diesel,” she laughs. “I never gave up, I always kept going. From point A to point B, I was like, let’s do it!”
Although Christina originally wanted to go west for college, she decided on GMC in part for the environmental emphasis. Arriving directly from high school, she contributed to UNICEF early, dug into the arts and education programs, and held several jobs to pay the bills, eventually becoming orientation leader. She served as interim director of student involvement during a search for the position in 2008.
Now president of the College Programming Board—a group that coordinates college events—Christina is intent on improving the group’s processes and ensuring students get the entertainment and social experiences they need.
Next semester, the arts education major with an environmental science minor plans to student teach to finish her degree. She is also studying for her Praxis exams and working on installing recycling programs at Poultney’s elementary and high schools.
“My passion is to help and educate,” she says. “I’m learning how to teach with art and work with the elementary level, teaching kids at a younger age things that will effect them when they grow older.”
by Ryan Dixon '11