Finding courage I didn’t think I had


Matt Stefanowicz '19 shares how Peddie encouraged him to step outside his comfort zone.

Who would’ve guessed that the same timid kid who was once terrified to sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for an “audition” would one day be (attempting) to sing “You’ll Be Back” from the musical “Hamilton” in front of a plethora of his peers, family and even teachers on the Peddie stage?

Certainly not me.

Or, who would have thought that a kid whose biggest fear was once having to use the voice chat function in video games to talk to strangers would be spending 40 minutes talking to a group of strangers on a tour about his school?

Definitely not me.

Matt Stefanowicz '19 Peddie School

Stefanowicz played King George from the musical "Hamilton" in Peddie’s spring musical revue, “Broadway Tonight.”

Perhaps these examples make me seem much braver than I actually am. I still get butterflies before I walk into the admissions reception room to give a tour, and I spent the few minutes before my stage performance shaking with fear. I don’t think I’ll ever be courageous enough to do any of these activities without the anxiety that usually precedes and follows it. But at Peddie I have found the courage to know that I can do these things, fail and still receive support from the amazing people I’ve encountered here.

The endless opportunities at Peddie have also significantly changed my work ethic and personality. I never expected to learn such amazing study habits and push myself to become a good student. Coming from a middle school that did not encourage participation in extracurricular activities, I was rather shocked when I learned that all Peddie students are required to participate in an after-school activity. Though I did not exactly find my niche when I tried crew my freshman fall (let’s not talk about it), I eventually found countless activities that I spend the entire day looking forward to participating in later. These activities have all helped me become more confident in myself and my abilities just as much as the academic courses at Peddie have.

Matt Stefanowicz h'19 Instagram takeover

Stefanowicz was invited to do a student takeover of Peddie’s Instagram page @peddieschool during Open House.

Before Peddie, I could never imagine giving a speech to run for student government in front of the entire school or even having the confidence to believe that I could be a good leader of the school. Though I ultimately did not win, I was proud and amazed at what I had done. That in itself was an accomplishment. I also could not have seen myself giving the light cues for a play, as I would have been far too scared that I would mess up and ruin the show.

My experiences at Peddie have taught me that it’s okay if everything doesn’t go perfectly. I still consider myself a bit of a perfectionist, but now I understand that things happen that are beyond your control and that sometimes you’re just going to make a mistake.

At Peddie, something within me has truly come to light. I don’t know if there is any place that could replicate this experience as well as here, and I am forever glad I’ve found that piece of me I didn’t think existed.

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