Spotlight on Success Blake Shore ‘22: How Intellectual Risk-Taking is Shaping his Path Toward Academic & Personal Growth

Gretchen Lee

Blake Shore has a plan. The Saddle River Day School senior is headed to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to study biology next fall and is already hard at work building his scientific resume. Blake intends to combine his interest in the biology of living organisms with his desire towards service to “help people in need of medical care.” But he’s not going to stop there. He says, “Obviously finding a cure for something would be incredible.” Don’t doubt him; this accomplished scholar just may have what it takes.

Blake joined the Saddle River Day School community in the 9th grade. He says the choice to enroll at SRDS was based on the opportunities he knew he would have at SRDS, the small class size, accomplished faculty and the close knit community of “some of the best people I have ever met.” While at SRDS, he has made effective use of his time. A three sport athlete, a curious and dedicated student and an active participant in student governance, he has also helped build the cross country team, all while weathering a torn ACL and meniscus injury last year.

Fueled by a desire to go beyond the classroom, Blake approached his Biology teacher, Dr. Vanessa Robinson last summer to ask if he could assist her in an independent research project. As a continuation of her doctorate thesis, they designed a set of fruit fly experiments to determine whether social isolation causes oxidative stress.

It is this sort of experience, one that has prepared Blake for the caliber of research he’ll encounter in college labs, that has made his SRDS experience so valuable and unique. Not only was he given the latitude and support to design and execute his research, but the ongoing work could meaningfully contribute to the scientific community both through a publishable paper and through the development of a project template that SRDS is now using for future student researchers. 

Not surprisingly, Blake says that the biggest thing he has learned in his time at Saddle River Day School is to try as many new things as possible. This adventurous, entrepreneurial mindset – a feature of both the curriculum and the culture at SRDS where students are taught how to think and not what to think – has led Blake to try his hand at acting in the school play this year. It can also be found during the highly personalized college counseling process. One of the activities of the College Counseling Workshop led by Director, Karen Ferretti, is to ask each senior to research a relatively unknown college to them and present their findings to the class. Blake particularly enjoyed this activity as it gave him insight into colleges he never would otherwise have investigated. In the end, though, Blake only needed one college. He applied Early Decision to Wake Forest and was accepted.

One of the core principles at Saddle River Day School is “Intellectual risk-taking.” Blake Shore understands fully that he has experienced first-hand the opportunity and has earned the respect to take intellectual risks during his time at SRDS. As a result, he has become an impressive young man with a very bright future.