Photo Courtesy of Jaime Grennan
July 3, 2013
On her first day as a student at a French high school, Jaime Grennan found herself scared, and the subject of her classmates' laughter.
But not long after, her new French classmates took her in, brought her to sit with them at lunch and welcomed her to their country.
"We still send letters and packages to each other," Grennan said.
Grennan, a co-valedictorian with Kaylea Elliot at Great Path Academy Middle College High School at Manchester Community College, has what she describes as the ¿travel bug."She spent a semester of her senior year attending high school in France, where she stayed with a host family who she said took her in ¿like a third daughter."
When her host family took her sightseeing, though, Grennan said they showed her France from a French perspective rather than that of a tourist, taking her to the Palace of Versailles and the farmlands.
"It was an amazing connection that I'll keep with me for years," Grennan said.
Grennan also travels as a competitive Irish dancer, an interest she's pursued for 13 years. She traveled to Ireland for competition in 2009 and 2013. Competition days are intense -- the girls wake up at 5:30 a.m., eat a meal heavy in carbohydrates, and set up their wigs and makeup. After competing in different events, they wait two to three hours for results and, if they¿re lucky, attend an awards ceremony that night.
She hopes to continue Irish dancing as a student at the University of Vermont, where she's already found a club she hopes to compete with in November.
And with her religious studies and global studies majors, Grennan plans to keep traveling.
"Whether it's Ireland or London or France, I really can't wait," she said.
Kaylea Elliot recently returned from a missionary trip to Kenya, an experience that only reinforced her passion to pursue medicine.
"I love school, and I really want to give back to my community through medicine, so I thought that¿d be the best way for me to help people around the world."
The co-valedictorian will be heading to the University of Connecticut this fall to study chemistry and pre-med, in hopes of pursuing a career that would benefit those who¿d need her most.
Elliot travelled to Kenya for 10 days with her church, Manchester¿s Faith Tabernacle, where she helped host church services and bring school supplies to children in school.
"You expect to see huts and children running around, but you don¿t know how much it'll affect you emotionally until you get there," she said. "It makes you realize how blessed you are."
As the daughter of her church¿s pastor, Elliot has always been heavily involved with her church, having played the piano there for 11 years. She worked with her youth group to launch Enfocus, a free tutoring program that would meet with children once a week, where Elliot taught math.
Her youth group meets once a week on Tuesday nights, and plans different events each year, such as trips to Six Flags New England. Every other year, members travel to a national Leadership Youth Conference in locations around the country. This year, the youth group is headed to Louisville.