Author Wes Moore Visits Brunswick

Photo: greenwichacademy.org

On October 2 in the Baker Theatre at Brunswick School, students and faculty had the privilege of hearing Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore (Brunswick’s required summer reading), speak about his life and share his passions and goals.

Wes Moore had a commanding yet unassuming presence. After being introduced, he stepped out from behind the podium and thanked the audience for being there and reading his book, even if it was required reading. His words instantly produced laughter, lightening the mood of the theatre. Within his first sentence, Moore had hooked an entire auditorium; students and faculty members alike visibly sat straighter and more attentively, eager to hear more.

Wes Moore’s story is a remarkable one. Born in 1978 in Maryland, Moore struggled academically as well as behaviorally for the first thirteen years of his life; after many threats and pleas from his single mother, Moore was sent to Valley Forge Military College where he graduated in 1998 Phi Beta Kappa.

He then graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001, became a Rhodes Scholar and went on to study International Relations at Oxford. He is a war veteran, having served a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan as a paratrooper and captain. After the war, he was a White House Fellow to Condoleezza Rice and became the bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore. In short, Wes Moore is the epitome of a success story.

But The Other Wes Moore shows another path that Moore’s life could have taken. A few blocks away from where Moore grew up, there was another boy also named Wes Moore who had similar disciplinary problems in his preadolescence.

The two boys seemed to be heading down the same path. However, one Wes became a celebrated author and war veteran, while the other is currently serving life in prison without parole for the murder of a police officer.

The novel explores the two Wes’ lives and paths and attempts to discover what separated them. Was there a single choice that changed one’s life for the better, and one for the worse? To Moore, the answer is not that simple: “At many junctions and at many points in the story, the chilling truth is that his story could have been mine, and the tragedy is that my story could have been his.” [1]

The Other Wes Moore reflects on the importance of choices and the impact these choices can have on our lives; but even more than that, it discovers that a singular choice does not define someone. There is not a definitive moment in one Wes’ life that readers can pinpoint and say “Right there. That’s where his life changed.”

Wes Moore said something then that struck me: “If at the end of your four years at this school, you are the only one who benefitted from it, then it was a waste. Make sure that it mattered that you were even here.” In a school like GA, where stress about grades and college applications seem to dominate our lives, Moore’s words strike a chord.

Our time at this school should be about so much more than our GPAs. We have a responsibility to make the most of our education and to do something with it. The Other Wes Moore has an important message that speaks directly to our lives as GA students; it demonstrates the transformative power an education can have on a person, as well as the importance of doing something with the things you learned.

It reflects on the daily choices we make and the many different paths that our lives can take. I wish that we as a school had read The Other Wes Moore along with Brunswick, if not for its social significance, than for its relevance to our lives.

I am now inspired by Wes Moore to make my high school years count and to “make sure it mattered.”

[1] http://my.brunswickschool.org/page/News-Detail?pk=728323&fromId=177566