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'Hounds bound for Harvard

Three 2012 Duluth East High School graduates will attend Harvard College this fall -- an unusual feat that school counselors can't recall ever happening.

The students
East High School graduates Garrett Maron (from left), Annie Harvieux and Sam Wattrus are attending Harvard in the fall. Maron plans to study psychology, Harvieux English and Wattrus the physical sciences. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

Three 2012 Duluth East High School graduates will attend Harvard College this fall -- an unusual feat that school counselors can't recall ever happening.

Sam Wattrus, Annie Harvieux and Garrett Maron are all making the move to Cambridge, Mass., in August to attend one of the most prestigious colleges in the country.

"We always have one (studying at Harvard) and maybe skip a year or two, but to have three accepted at once is a phenomenal feat," said Mark Zawacki, a long-time East counselor.

Each of the three students is driven, seeks excellence and "has a profound vision of their future," he said. "To have three of that caliber in one class go to Harvard is not necessarily surprising, but it is unique."

For their part, the students are happy to be entering their freshman year halfway across the country together.

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"I'm really excited the three of us are going," Harvieux said. "They are already friends of mine; we trust each other, and we're kind of in it together."

The students weren't sold on Harvard as a status symbol, they said; each applied and accepted the school's offer for different reasons.

Maron, who plans to study psychology, applied on a whim at the last minute, after applying to Columbia University in New York and the University of Minnesota.

Harvieux was persuaded after hearing stories about classes and adventures from a ski-team friend who had attended Harvard.

And Wattrus, who was accepted under early

admission, was impressed with Harvard's educational offerings. He's looking at chemistry as an area of concentration.

The students all applied to other schools, being accepted at some and not others. All three were wait-listed at Columbia. But Harvard was a top choice, and choosing it was a no-brainer, the students said.

When Maron received the e-mail from Harvard saying he was accepted, "I didn't believe it at first," he said. "I thought it would say I didn't get in. I had to read it twice."

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All three students have high grade-point averages, but it takes more than good grades to get into a school like Harvard, Zawacki said.

These students "know life is going to be competitive in their generation," he said. "We tell our seniors: Some of you will make it happen, some will watch it happen and some will say, 'What happened?' We tell them to make it happen. You are sorely mistaken if you think others are going to do it for you, and these three have done it probably since kindergarten."

Many students apply to several schools, which means writing lots of essays. Hard work and setting yourself apart from others is the key, the students said, and each poured individuality into essays.

"I wasn't doing everything that everyone else was," Wattrus said. "In 11th grade I took another art class and joined choir rather than advanced math. I pursued my own interests and that made a difference in my high school career, and that showed up in my application."

Wattrus, 18, was an editor of the East newspaper, plays in the popular band Excuse Me, Princess, and was involved in choir and chamber and symphonic orchestras. Harvieux is a Nordic skier, was a member of the National Honor Society, the swim team and worked on the school's Open Mind magazine. Maron was the newspaper's other editor, and he was a member of the National Honor Society and Knowledge Bowl. His internship at the Duluth Budgeteer last summer was the inspiration for his essay, he said, because of how he "got more out of the summer than expected" when he was charged with writing stories instead of running errands.

"But it's not necessarily the particular college a student attends," Zawacki said. "Whether it's Harvard or Lake Superior (College), it's far more important to develop his or her own strengths or talents over the next four years."

The high Harvard price tag --nearly $38,000 for tuition next year alone --is being dealt with partly through scholarships and financial aid for the students. Harvieux said the college has greatly reduced her tuition because of her family's income.

All three have toured the campus and are ready for the fall. People Maron stayed with during his visit said the "Harvard effect" of everyone attending being "a brainiac and overachiever falls away after a couple of weeks," he said. "Then it becomes a community of people who talk to each other. I like that."

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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