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Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight - Melanie Robertson

Joining the GEMS family in seventh grade, Melanie certainly made each of her six years here count. Among her many qualities, Melanie exhibits the IB Learner Profile traits on a daily basis. Her inquisitive nature and genuine kindness helped her become a loyal friend and natural leader among her classmates. Melanie is also compassionate and loves opportunities to apply her learning in authentic settings, hoping to create impact and truly make a difference in the world.

“Melanie is an intelligent, kind, and creative student. She has been a leader in our student body since she arrived and is, in so many ways, a model of the learners and students we hope to mold going forward,” says Quinn Menchetti, Physical Education Teacher/Assistant Athletic Director/Model U.N. Coordinator. Menchetti continues, “She is an elite level athlete who has approached climbing with determination, joy and humility. Melanie is destined for big things, and all of us here at GEMS are excited to watch.”

Melanie shines in all academic disciplines. As an avid and competitive rock climber, Melanie soars to great heights in the athletic arena, too. Whether in math, science, humanities, or music, she is a strong, passionate learner known for pushing herself to excel while understanding the importance of balance. Music Teacher Chris Roebuck remarks, “Melanie’s passion for music helped push the boundaries of how our class engaged with curricula on a daily basis. Her forward thinking recognized the inherent biases in standard western music history. With her help, we as a learning team restructured how to facilitate discussions about diverse musical cultures, including cultural impacts on both recorded music history and modern music making practices. Melanie is a thoughtful and perceptive student that takes action on issues of which she is passionate.”

Tommy Caldwell, named in 2015 by National Geographic as the best all-around rock climber on the planet, once said, “I've always loved the idea that passion breeds success.” With Melanie’s beautiful mind and heart, it was no surprise to us when Melanie was named as a Commended Student in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. (Click here to read more on her award.) We wish her all the best in her next endeavors. Melanie shares some of her most memorable moments during her GEMS journey in the following Q & A:

Is there a particular teacher, project, or Field Study experience that gave you a new perspective or changed your outlook on society?

During Mr. Hillebrand’s 10th grade Individuals and Societies, my class created a Youth Voter Guide for the upcoming Chicago mayoral election in collaboration with another school and non-profit organization. It was an amazing way for me to be engaged in the political process without being old enough to vote.

My class and our partner school started by deciding on which issues were most important to youth in Chicago, then created a questionnaire to send out to the candidates. There were class periods where we took the time to email or call campaign offices in order to get the candidate to respond to our questionnaire. During that part of the process, we even walked over to Tony Preckwinkle's office and her secretary was so impressed with our group that she took the time to meet us all. Finally, we graded the candidates on how well they would address our concerns, and distributed our guide. We also took the Pink Line train to a Little Village/Marshall Square community meeting to share our Voter Guide and listen to the other presenters.

How has your GEMS journey prepared you for college?

The IB curriculum at GEMS has definitely prepared me for college, since the writing skills and ways of thinking that are important for succeeding in the DP program are also important for college. The small class sizes at GEMS have also helped prepare me for college, because now I know how to reach out to and get help from my teachers and future professors.

What advice would you give to incoming ninth graders?

Be like “The Little Engine that Could” and keep on pushing yourself and chugging along with your school work. At the same time, don't put so much pressure on yourself and fall into the trap of perfectionism. Try and find a balance between your personal and school life.


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