Grace Christenson

Every school day for the past 14 years, Grace Christenson has gotten out of bed in the morning, gone to Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, and said hello to many of the same faces that she has seen throughout her childhood.

“Growing up here, there is a sisterhood,” she said. “A sense of family, not just community…there is so much love and support in that.”

Next year, Christenson will move on to attend Boston College as a part of their Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program, which provides a full four-year scholarship as well a summer program each year, starting with service, then with international experience, and finally a professional internship the summer after students’ junior year.

Christenson has gotten involved in a variety of academic and extracurricular pursuits during her time at Stone Ridge, including helping to develop the school’s Honor Board, because she said she wanted to create a community with integrity that respected each other’s ideas.

The Honor Board is made up of students and faculty who are each elected by their peers, who focus both on discipline and prevention of honor infractions. If someone does commit an honor infraction, the Honor Board works with them to prevent that from happening in the future by ensuring that they know who they can ask for help and what resources they can turn to.

The Honor Board, Christenson said, emphasizes “recognizing each student as a person, knowing that this is just one moment in her life” and allowing her to “continue with the community, not having it be a defining moment.”

Christenson participates in the Model Organization of the American States, where students represent countries and work on solving global problems together, and is also the editor of Stone Ridge’s literary and arts magazine, Callithump. The magazine, which showcases student work, “is really a great way for us to celebrate the literary and arts community,” she said.

“The students who are published love it, but even more students who get to read their peers’ work love it,” she said.

As a part of her interest in art, Christenson participated in a high school seminar at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, where she and other students learned about working in a museum and met with professionals who helped them understand the fine arts. As a part of the seminar, she crafted a gallery talk about how political figures are depicted in art, based on two pieces in the gallery.

“There is so much power in helping people understand mutual experience even when they come from different backgrounds,” she said. “What museums do is they really emphasize humanity.”

Christenson said she enjoys seeing how people create art in times of disruption and unrest, and “how people translate their own experience into something more ubiquitous.”

Among her many ideas for what her potential career may be, Christenson is interested in restoration of master paintings, so she could “preserve the history and preserve the experience” for people who go to see them.

Christenson said her 14 years of education at Stone Ridge has “been so integral to my life,” particularly the school’s “focus on learning and applying that learning to helping other people.”

One way in which Stone Ridge emphasizes this is through their Social Action program, where every-other Wednesday students leave the campus to go serve in their local community. Christenson has served with an organization called Earth Sangha for the past two years, where she and other students helped work toward environmental justice by replacing invasive species of plants with native species.

Christenson said Stone Ridge has helped her align her faith and Catholic social teaching with her experiences, which she thinks will carry on through her education at a Jesuit college by “simultaneously rooting my learning and my experiences in Catholic teaching.”

“I am so privileged to have the education and resources I have,” she said, adding that at Stone Ridge, she learned to appreciate “learning not only for the joy of learning, but [also] to use it to create something positive and lasting.”