Class of 2021: Carsen Harrell

By: Tina Howard, Perry Library Faculty
We have had the pleasure of having Carsen Harrell in our Cape Henry Squad since he began in Mrs. Thornton’s class in the fifth grade, where he knew from the start that our school had a positive atmosphere. He has continued to find this as he moved through the Upper School, particularly in his experience in the classes of Madame Old and Mr. Rudolph.

Carsen has appreciated the teaching style of Mr. Rudolph--”a great math teacher, the best teacher of any subject I had.” Under his guidance for two years, Carsen found that Mr. Rudolph’s teaching methods have been “a good match for me personally, with his use of guided notes and open-ended questions.” Mr. Rudolph reflects, “I have had the pleasure of teaching Carsen for two years of math and have witnessed his growth as both a student and person. He has gained great confidence in his mathematical abilities and worked hard to complete some of our most challenging courses. I am so proud of his accomplishments and wish him the best of luck in college and beyond. I will miss seeing him in these halls next year!” Carsen has also enjoyed being a member of the Crew team from eighth to tenth grade and has appreciated his consistent friendship with Jack Simkims, with whom he has a lot in common.

Carsen is grateful as well for the opportunity to learn French under the guidance of Madame Old for three years, where he enjoyed her demeanor: “She's very friendly, open, and patient. She will allow for some leeway and have fun in the classroom, yet get everything done!” Mrs. Old is effusive when describing her appreciation for Carsen as a student and a person. “I was fortunate to teach Carsen for a few years. I really got to know him when he would come in and hang out in my room with my 7th Grade advisory last year. 

“He's quiet, yet get him started on a topic he is passionate about, and he lights up with enthusiasm. He's very smart, analytical and good with computers as well as technology. He once gave a lecture about the new Tesla SUV to my seventh graders, explaining the aerodynamic design. He loves Tesla and has said that his dream job would be to work for that company one day, because they aren’t afraid to try things in a new way. 

“He's a sensitive, caring young man who's very responsible. He's very close to his sisters that are much older than he is. One of his sisters, who lives in Colorado, got him involved in rock climbing, which he really enjoys. He actually learned techniques through his brother-in-law and got a job working at the rock gym prior to COVID,” shared Madame Old.

“When my son Evan had a French exchange student and was at a swimming competition, Carsen offered to take Guillaume for the day. I dropped off Guillaume at the rock gym, and Carsen gave him private lessons. Carsen put himself out there; he made our exchange student feel comfortable and showed him a good time, despite their language barrier. Carsen began cross training challenges during the pandemic, which made him realize how much he could accomplish when he set his mind to do something as well as how much he could do if he had a routine. He's progressed so much that he's done some body building competitions. I have seen such growth in this young man; he's a lovely person!” 

One of the two Cape Henry seniors heading to George Mason University, Carsen was attracted there due to his interest in computer sciences. He began researching colleges with an engineering emphasis and “stumbled across” George Mason, which he realized offered studies focused on artificial intelligence. An area of AI in which he is especially interested is that of automotive vehicles which prevent accidents; as mentioned, think Tesla. Although George Mason is in the midst of a city and the area is known for its concentration on politics, neither of which attract him, his decision was made.

For those still making their way through classes here, Carsen advises addressing their work with less stress. Pragmatic as always, he points out that you will have the opportunity to continue to improve as you study at the university level. We know that you will set a good example as a life-long learner, Carsen, and we wish you the best!
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