Gideon, Class of 2018
Ask Gideon McFarland what he likes best - academics, choir, or athletics - and he answers with a smile. “Academics are my highest priority, no question, but I love everything I do at Gateway,” he says. He values the relationships he has built with his teachers, and says that while they challenge him academically, they also make him feel known and important, as a student and as a person. He credits Gateway’s smaller environment with giving him opportunities to participate in multiple activities. He is a member of the track and field program, and serves as a section leader in Camerata (high school choir) and a second year member of Westinghouse Dynamx Jazz Choir. “I’ve been active in school, in sports, and in the arts, and have learned something different through each," he says. He continues, “When it comes to my studies and track, I find that I’m focused on the end result,” he explains. “But with choir, I really enjoy the process along the way.” Gideon finds that the small school community helps him feel connected to the student body, and gives him the support he needs to pursue - and achieve - his goals, for high school and beyond.
"I'm learning to be a leader."
Emi, Class of 2021
It is impossible not to smile when talking to Emi Matsumae. Her enthusiasm is infectious - especially when she talks about her experience at Gateway. Whether describing her favorite Gateway food - “I love the breakfast tacos here!” - or talking about her classes - “my art teachers have allowed me to pursue what I love about art” - she always has a smile ready. As president of National Junior Honor Society, swim team member, and art enthusiast, she is taking full advantage of the opportunities offered to her at Gateway, with plans to contribute even more. “I’d like to expand the type and amount of activities we do for service in NJHS,” she explains. “Each activity allows us to develop character and independence.” She credits her teachers with helping build students’ sense of responsibility and leadership, which students can then put into practice in their extracurricular activities. “The teachers check on us - they touch base with us to make sure we are on track,” she says. “In this environment, it feels like every one of us matters and is an important part of the school community.” She turns serious when she considers what she thinks Gateway supporters should know. “The people who support our school are investing in something big,” she says. “We are building something great, year by year.”
"I wasn't lost in the crowd."
Austin, Salutatorian, Class of 2015
Baylor University Dean's List, 2015-16
Looking for a smaller environment and challenging academics, Austin Echelberger joined Gateway College Prep during his high school years. It quickly became evident to him that Gateway provided opportunities he was missing at his previous school. “Not only did my classes prepare me for college-level coursework, but I was able to be involved in so many activities.” Among those activities were National Honor Society, Varsity Baseball, and on-campus tutoring with elementary students. Austin’s reputation as an outstanding student was solidified by his designation as Salutatorian. But, like any student athlete, he remembers playing baseball as a highlight of his experience. “In my previous, large-school environment, I would not have had the opportunity to play baseball,” he explains. “At Gateway, I was immediately accepted onto the team, and it meant a lot to be a part of that, especially getting to compete in the playoffs.” He also cites his teachers as major factors in his success at Gateway, including Mr. Stroube: “His classes were very challenging and required hard work on my part, but his positive reinforcement and excellent teaching motivated me to succeed.” Austin’s high school achievements allowed him to consider Southwestern University, Oklahoma University, Oklahoma State University, and The University of Texas at Austin before settling on Baylor University, where he made the Dean’s List as a freshman. “The college-based format of my classes at Gateway made the transition to Baylor pretty easy,” he explains. A Biology major, Austin has balanced his challenging science-based coursework with intramurals and elective study sessions with fellow students. Austin plans to pursue a career as a Physician’s Assistant.
"We are like a big family."
Lizzy, Class of 2026
Lizzy Bray is the youngest of three sisters who attend Gateway College Prep, beginning her journey as a Gator in Kindergarten. Now a confident 3rd grader, Lizzy enjoys her elementary teachers and the many activities she participates in as a part of Gateway’s curriculum. In addition to her core subjects, “we get to do dance, PE, music, library, and art,” she explains. Her favorite? “Definitely dance!” she says. Lizzy and her sisters all participate in the the Dance Department at Gateway College Prep. More than just elective dance classes, the department also features an innovative competitive dance and drill team program called the Gateway Stars, which includes teams from elementary through high school. Lizzy is a member of the Gateway Stars Elementary Team, which performs at two school shows annually, spirit events, and local dance competitions against public school and studio programs. Not only does the program reflect Gateway’s commitment to exceptional fine arts, it builds a unique connection between its oldest and youngest dancers. “One of my favorite things is when the varsity dancers come to our practice to help,” Lizzy explains. “They make it fun, and we learn even more. We are one big team, and it’s like a family to me.”
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