When Sizer School senior and Ashby native Sebastian Rodriguez sat down to plan his Senior Project, he knew he wanted it to go beyond the basic. Sebastian Rodriguez is making HIS story, the product he presents to the world – in the hopes of changing it.
“Initially it was going to be a physical product. I’ve been a camp counselor for [over] four years and thought I could organize a ‘sports day’ and run through activities. Then I stopped and thought to myself, ‘I want to try something I haven’t done. I want to make myself uncomfortable because that’s when you learn best in my opinion,” said the 19-year-old varsity basketball captain.
A meeting with his senior advisor gave him the idea he needed.
“I had a meeting with Mrs. [Pam] Sweeney and she said to me, ‘you have a story, share it’ and that opened my eyes. The answer was in front of me the whole time. I did have a story and wanted to share it – just didn’t know how.”
Before attending Sizer School and before moving to Ashby, Sebastian lived in the Boston area with his family. In his speech, Sebastian recounts growing up in Lynn, a boy in love with basketball.
He also talks about the day his family became homeless.
“We slept on the living room floor, practically forced our mom to sleep on the couch. My baby brother slept in his car seat. That hurts to see,” he says. “One night I woke up and looked around the room and I cried. I missed having a bed. I missed not waking up stiff from sleeping on the hard wood. I said to myself, I’m going to change all of this.”
At the time, he tried out for the basketball team where he lived.
“I was the kid who didn’t see a purpose to school. I used to always question, what was school gonna do for me?” Sebastian shares in his speech. “At my age kids were going down the wrong path and I was too. Skipping school, being angry all the time being mad because the world was somehow at fault.”
But instead of continuing down that path, Sebastian made his life about basketball instead.
“In my speech I talk about what basketball really means to me. It was more than just a sport or a game, it was a way of life, an anchor, a way out, and a distraction from what was going on in my life, especially all the negativity I was around. Basketball was healing me and I didn’t even know I needed healing,” he said.
Sitting down to write his story, Sebastian said he struggled to find the right words.
“It was difficult limiting what to share …. Yes it was a personal story, maybe even a tear jerker, but I did not want people to start feeling sorry for me. I just wanted them to understand why I am the way I am,” said Sebastian.
With help from his Senior Advisors, Sebastian not only wrote a moving speech, he created a YouTube video - in order to present it to the whole world.
“I want the audience to take away that everyone has a story. It’s not about how hard yours is, it’s not about how tough life gets – it’s all about how you fight back, it’s all about how you push life right back,” he says. “I hope my message is clear and that I inspire others to share their story. I’d love to be a part of a trend to change the world, even if it’s one life: that’s still one more life changed than before. I just want to make a difference, no matter how big or small.”
Senior Project is a graduation requirement of Sizer School. It is an opportunity for a student to independently explore a topic of their choosing. Senior Projects demonstrate a personalized learning experience and are designed as a “spring board” into life beyond Sizer, allowing students to move beyond the limiting, often stifling world of high school.
Going forward, Sebastian hopes to take his story on the road.
“I would love to keep sharing my story or help be an advocate for someone else to share theirs or even both. … I love the idea of going out to elementary schools or even middle schools and sharing my story with the youth,” he says.
Apply to Sizer School now. Accepting applications for grades 7, 8 & 9 for the 2020-2021 school year.