Music, Mathematics, and Merit

Gabe Manry ‘18 is bright, charming, and possesses an eloquence and self-possession that belies his age. At just 17, he’s already lived all over the world as a military brat, and in fact lived in Australia before landing in Virginia, where he’s resided since elementary school. He started at FCS in the 2nd grade, and now is about to graduate as a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist.

This honor is only bestowed to 16,000 fellow students across the country. He shared with us about his experience at FCS over the years: “Everyone has an outlook of positivity, of building each other up. There isn’t a lot of conflict between students because most everyone is trying to do the right thing because God has called us to do it. It’s a nice environment to be in in a lot of ways.”

Gabe is, obviously, a top-notch student. He’s invested a great deal of time and effort in advanced placement (AP) and dual enrollment courses in an effort to prepare for an excellent college career after graduation. When asked about his experience with dual enrollment and AP, he shared, “I think it’s very important, because many of the advanced and college level courses can tailor their approach to a student who can absorb and comprehend information more quickly. It’s really nice that our own high school teachers can do the courses with us. We already have a relationship and have built a rapport. They are better able to understand where we’re coming from, making them even better teachers.”

While Gabe is keeping several elite colleges in mind as he prepares for graduation, he does dream of receiving an acceptance letter from a very particular university. “To my own pride, I would like to be able to tell someone I went to MIT. One time when I was a kid, a teacher asked me where I wanted to go to college, so I asked my mom where is the best place to go if you want to be a scientist. And she said MIT! So yeah, that made an impression on me,” he laughed.

Surprisingly, this young math-whiz and probable future scientist has some unexpected extracurricular interests. “In my free time, I love to play video games. That’s my favorite thing to do, but that’s not very exciting; most teen guys do that! My other main hobby is musical theater. Two years ago I tried out for Fiddler on the Roof with my best friend, I got a part, had a great time, and I’ve been doing those ever since. Those are my weekends currently!” Gabe has had roles in the musicals You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Beauty and the Beast, Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, and recently, The Little Mermaid. He also plays guitar with the worship team at church where he’s very involved.

He even gets to use his love of music as a ministry to the community. “My church has a ministry at an assisted living facility down the street. Every week, someone from the church goes there to give a sermon, play music, and sing hymns to the residents there. Sometimes I get to go down there and lead worship. It’s been really great for me. It’s a blessing to the residents who don’t have another way to attend church. And it blesses me to see how appreciative and loving they are to people just coming to spend time and sing some songs. It means so much to them.”

More than anything, Gabe loves Jesus. He shared with me how many young people choose to throw away the values they were raised with once they get to college, but how it’s so very important to him to keep his values close.

“My parents have raised me to be a person of high moral character, and I think that those ideals are something I need to be very intentional about preserving through study in God’s Word and constant discipling.”

College can be a big challenge for a student who has grown up in the relatively sheltered environment of a private Christian school, but that type of background can be a stabilizing factor as well. “It’s important for me now to seek out and understand the foundations and reasons for what I believe in, so I can stand firm when challenges come. It’s important to understand that without strong support like I’ve had throughout my whole life, I’m not going to be able to fully defend what I believe in.” Gabe wants to go into his college career firm in the faith and remaining true to Jesus. That foundation, I’m certain, will lead him through to tremendous success in the future.