Tap tap, tap tap, is what I heard as I looked up from my desk. What did I see but three excited faces peeking in on my small office door window. I give a wave from behind my desk and Keen, Andrew, and Milo all come into my office.

"Good Afternoon, gentlemen, how are we this afternoon?"

"Mr. K, you have to come down and see our boat. We have got the wiring figured out and you need to see the solar panel we are going to mount on it!" Up from my desk I stood and off we went to the boat shop.

By the time I got to the Olson Center, there was a buzz of activity. In the five intervening minutes, all formal Forman attires were off and the kids were in street clothes getting ready for another afternoon of building their passion project.

"Hey, Mr. K...ya know what-- I kinda grew up with this boat."

I whipped around and there was Keen...with his hands gliding along the shiny finish of his almost complete boat.

His pride was obvious and it would be easy to think this was a story about a boy and his boat. But the truth is, I think Keen was telling me less about the boat and more about himself. Sure, there was a pride in his pet project, the boat, but I also saw a pride in himself--a pride that, throughout his three years at Forman, has grown in ways that are meaningful to him and apparent to all those who love and support him.

"You gonna come down to the lake when we launch it?"

"Of course, I will."

Of course, I will indeed. I will because it's kids like Keen who make me realize there is no place I'd rather be than at Forman. There many other good schools, but, for me, Forman stands above all of them because of our commitment to the arc of progress: I saw it in Keen, and I see it all over campus--in the classrooms, on the playing fields, and in student interactions in the dorms and common areas. There's something intangible here, something special--a commitment to growth.

I remember the day Keen came to visit us before he ever committed to coming to Forman. He was shy and reserved, with glimmers of passion that came through when he talked about programming or video games--your typical freshman kid. But Keen learns differently, so for him and his family, Forman is a good fit.

"I kinda grew up with this boat" is a great metaphor for Keen's time at Forman; there have been times of paddling upstream and times of smooth sailing. But most important is the course in which he has been sailing--a course towards a horizon made all the brighter because of his bond with the boat he's traveling in, which is, of course, himself.

E. Michael Kowalchick
Assistant Head of School for Enrollment and Operations
Keen and his friends launched the boat in this story just yesterday on Bantam Lake. Three years in the making, check out the launch photos here.