Graduating Gerstell Academy senior Antonio Holland has a lot of accomplishments under his belt — great grades, leadership positions and scholarships. But according to those who know him, he is driven by something more.
“Grades matter to him, but he also studies and learns out of a passion for learning and a genuine intellectual curiosity,” said Dr. David Greenspoon, Holland’s history teacher. “Character matters to Antonio. It really matters to be a good, honest, ethical person.”
Greenspoon said this was no more apparent than in Holland’s leadership roles, of which there were many, including serving as president of Gerstell’s Student Government Association.
“In reality, on a day-to-day basis, he is extraordinarily humble about his accomplishments as president,” Greenspoon said. “He really does not grab the spotlight unnecessarily. He’s really good at inspiring other people to do their best.”
But with graduation on Friday morning, Holland did have an opportunity to discuss the things he’s been most proud of during his time at Gerstell.
“I think the biggest thing for me was trying to plan the homecoming dance this year,” he said, noting that the school moved what had been a winter event into the fall to line up with other schools. “I think we had about six weeks total to plan it. That was an interesting challenge just to get everything in order but I was really glad how it turned out. We had the largest homecoming ever.”
This past year, Holland was also the president of the Social Studies Honors Society at Gerstell, and was a member of many others.
“I was in the National Honers Society, National Math Honors Society, National Spanish Honors Society, National English society,” he said, “and Science Honors Society.”
An athlete also, Holland played lacrosse and wrestled at Gerstell while playing football with the Central Maryland Christian Crusaders, a Christian home school team.
In his junior and senior years, he volunteered with Gov. Larry Hogan’s political campaign.
When it comes to college and career, Holland said he has always wanted to serve in the U.S. military, and has been awarded a four-year Army ROTC scholarship.
“Since seventh grade I wanted to go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point,” Holland said. He had what he considered a competitive application, had received two congressional nominations, but in April got the bad news — he would not be considered recovered in time from a recent hand surgery due to a sports injury and would be medically disqualified for the 2019-2020 school year.
Instead, Holland will attend the Virginia Military Institute in the fall.
“The plan is to spend a year at VMI using my ROTC scholarship, reapply for West Point and hopefully get in the second time,” he said. It’s where he hopes to begin a long career.
“I’ve heavily considering going full career, 20 years past my five-year minimum commitment,” Holland said.
When thinking back over his four years of high school, and his earlier time at Gerstell, Holland said he would recommend those who follow in his footsteps there to cherish their time in school.
“Going back to my freshman self, I can’t imagine how fast it flew by,” he said. “Enjoy the moment as much as possible, make memories, make friends.”
Gerstell Academy Class of 2019
Valedictorian: Grace Vaeth
Commencement address: Andy Harris
How many plan to … ?
Go to a 4-year school: 25 (100 percent 4-year acceptance rate)
Go to a 2-year school: 1
Go to a trade school: 0
Join the workforce: 0
Enlist in the military: 0 (1 to attend United States Naval Academy, 2 to attend college on ROTC scholarships)