At Grace School, we believe Once a Gator, Always a Gator. This month for our Alumni series, we sat down with Aidan Cook (class of 2014) and Noah Cook (class of 2016). We had a chance to learn more about their time here at Grace and how it instilled some excellent character values and work ethic going into High School and College. Noah and Aidan had very similar experiences, even though Noah attended Grace School from third to eighth grade, whereas Aidan was only at Grace for his eighth grade year.
Alum interview with the Cook Brothers
Tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Aidan: I am currently a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology majoring in Brain and Cognitive sciences (neuroscience) and minoring in theater arts. My purpose for this major aligns with my interest in learning more about the brain, neural networking, and the mind, which will also connect with my computer science background. I am also really into theater arts. I chose theater arts for my minor because it will help me develop the intrapersonal and presentation skills I’ll need in the future.
Noah: I am currently a Business Major at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in economics with a concentration on entrepreneurship. My main goal for focusing on entrepreneurship is to collaborate with people with great ideas ad introduce products for a niche market.
Could you please share one of your favorite Grace Middle School memories with us?
Aidan: One of my favorite memories would have to be participating in all the outreach initiatives. I remember raising funds to build a water well in Nicaragua. That was something that stuck with me, and I was happy to be a part of it.
Noah: There were so many great memories made during my time at Grace School, but two stood out to me. First, our mentorship program in which we got matched with a sixth grade student for the year and had the opportunity to spend time with him weekly and share life lessons. We even had a chance to work on our English project together- writing a book. Our end-of-the-year trip we took to Washington DC in eighth grade is another great memory I have from my time at Grace School. I had some fantastic and memorable experiences with my friends for one of the last times before going our own ways to different high schools. Grace School gave us the opportunities to make these memories I continue to cherish.
What was the name of one Grace School teacher who truly made an impact on your life?
Noah: One teacher who impacted me was my seventh grade Language Arts teacher, Mr. John Evans. His class was a lot of fun because he was the kind of teacher that made learning fun. He encouraged us to think outside the box. There would be times when he would bring a guitar to the classroom or all of us to go outside and read. He fostered an environment that tapped into creative and innovative learning. He gave us a fresh way to analyze books and lessons.
Another teacher that made a significant impact on me was Mr. Williford. He was my seventh grade science teacher, but to me, he was so much more than just a biology teacher. He was so active in the community, participated in mentorship programs such as The Art of Manliness and was a key chaperon on many school and class trips. That was something that just stood out to me, and I think about it to this day. He is the Middle School Principal now, and I did not doubt that he would make it to that position one day. That is very well deserved for him, and it is a well-deserved leadership position for him. I knew he has that potential.
Aidan: Even though I was only at Grace School for my eight grade, the one teacher that stood out to me was Mrs. Sebastian. She made science fun for me, which was valuable and motivated me to continue my pursuit of science in high school. She taught each class with much enthusiasm and it made me enjoy science because the work can get a bit nebulous. She instilled a love of learning for me early on with competitions such as PSIA and always answered any questions I had in a fun and creative way.
What was one lesson you learned during your time at Grace School that helped you navigate high school and now through college?
Noah: Mrs. Walters was the principal when I was at Grace School. She did an excellent job at making sure our character values-she stayed on top of it. Grace School instilled character values from the beginning. We would have regular school assemblies, where our teachers and principals would check in with us. We learned the utmost ethical morals. It was standard for every student at Grace School because we were responsible for reflecting and representing Grace School wherever we went. The character values and good work ethic that we learned at Grace School were fundamental and foundational. For me, these values carried on through high school and college.
Aidan: Grace School taught us about time management and scheduling, which has served me invaluably. Even now, writing things down so that I don’t forget about them. This skill has made my life so smooth.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years and beyond?
Noah: After undergrad, I want to live and work near my family, have steady success, and serve my community. I’ve seen what an impact community outreach makes. I realize that it’s a gift that gives back in all kinds of ways. I also want to establish my start-up venture. I am not sure what it will be right now, but I have ideas in mind.
Aidan: Speaking broadly, I see myself working in programming and computer science solutions for human learning and machine algorithms. I would love to work in research.
What advice do you have for our eight grade students looking for a High School and beyond?
Noah: This is a great time to try out lots of things and explore what you want to do. Don’t limit yourself to anything or hold back. Continue to work on yourself and find the next reasonable step to take.
Aidan: Noah said everything that I would say, but to reiterate, have fun doing things you enjoy. Be willing to approach new subjects with the will to learn something new.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Noah: One last thing is that I appreciate all that Grace School provided me growing up. Grace School wasn’t just a school for academics. I learned more about character value and who I was as a person. Looking back, I realize my teacher created an excellent environment for us. I am so grateful for my time at Grace School and what it taught me. Go Gators!
Aidan: What I loved the most about my time at Grace School were the friends I made, the experiences, and the skills I developed. Grace School was such a welcoming environment, even though I was only there for a year, I felt like I was part of the school family.
About Grace School
Grace School is a private Christian school in Houston, Texas, serving students from ages 20 months through Grade 8. Uniquely combining a faith-based STEM curriculum, Grace School fosters an environment where children develop the skills and mindsets to become compassionate innovators, problem solvers, creators, and changemakers.