Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Meet Hunter Holland - Outstanding Senior

A Google search will tell you that Sirius is the brightest star in Earth's night sky. Hunter Holland is also pretty bright and serious - a serious student, musician and thespian, and he is also a seriously amazing guy people can always count on - which earned him the title of Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2018. This lover of outer space says he is “passionate about mathematics and the physical sciences.” He is excited to major in astrophysics at Columbia University in New York City next year.

“I guess the first time I thought space was cool was fourth or fifth grade. I did a camp at The Science Center of Pinellas, and everyone made fun of me for liking the stuff they were talking to us about. I figured, ‘If that’s what you’re going to make fun of me for, I’m totally fine with that.’”

Hunter came to Shorecrest in Middle School when his old school closed. He looks back on Ms. Kelly’s sixth grade math class as the beginning of his interest in math. “That was really the first time I became intellectually curious. Then in ninth grade I took Mr. Nap’s Honors Physics, and that was when I began to think that science was pretty awesome too. Physics is learning about science and space in a more technical way and I enjoyed that a lot.”

Hunter planned to apply to 10 colleges and universities but was accepted early decision to Columbia University before he had submitted most of his applications. “The embodiment of my senior year was ‘theatre' and 'getting into college.' Second semester has been entirely theatre, every single day, but first semester was all about getting into college. The application process dominated all of my time. Ms. Klement was my college counselor, and she was absolutely fantastic. She gave the best advice; I think she sort of got the sense that I knew what I wanted.”

That may sound confident, but leaving Florida behind for a prestigious university in the middle of Manhattan can seem daunting. When asked if he had any butterflies, Hunter said, “I toured Columbia in July before my senior year. That was the first time I had ever been to New York. Columbia is in the Morningside Heights area, which is very quiet compared to Downtown. Our hotel was near Downtown with the hustle and bustle of the city, and we took the subway up to campus. We got off the subway, walked through the gates of the University, and it was just silence and birds. It was just the most magical experience. My dad and I looked at each other and we just said, ‘Wow. This is beautiful.’”
Despite his love for science, Hunter started and ended high school with a commitment to theatre. Freshman year, Hunter volunteered on a whim to operate the spotlight for “Anything Goes.” That musical ended up being one of Shorecrest’s most decorated productions, and was later performed again as the Florida State Thespian competition’s mainstage production. There, Hunter was lucky enough to run the spotlights at the Straz Center’s Carol Morsani Hall.

“It was amazing. I remember load-in was at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, and that took about 4 hours, and then I got to climb up so many ladders and go behind the scenes of everything. It was amazing how far away the stage was and how massive the place was.”

From then on, Hunter was behind the scenes of every show, every year. “I’ve done lighting, sets, sound... I have done pretty much everything under the sun except acting and being on the stage. I’ve had stage fright for as long as I can remember.” But Upper School theatre teacher Bill Leavengood ‘78 had heard Hunter sing, and when the tragic loss of thespian Ari Weiss led to an open role in “A Chorus Line,” Mr. Leavengood asked Hunter to the take on the part. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything - except to have Ari back, of course. It really has been the best experience of my life. I’ve loved every bit of it.”

Hunter credits Upper School English Teacher Jake Seymour with coaxing him out of his stage fright.
“He gives the best advice, and is the kindest, most sincere person. He’s helped placate a lot of nerves that I’ve had, just about school and life. He’s been a rock and a grounding force. He has had a supreme impact on who I am.”
Concert band also brings Hunter to the stage - as first chair clarinet. He started band at Shorecrest in fifth grade with Mr. Glaister. “Mr G. left after freshman year and Mr. Updike took over after him; he just took everything to a whole new level. He’s smart and he’s really good at explaining things so high schoolers can understand them - music things. It's also kind of freaky how similar we look to each other! At the spring concert last week Mitchell [Greene] and I were the two graduating seniors, and he gave us beautifully framed certificates, almost like a diploma, and copies of ‘Mr. Updike’s Guide to College.’ He’s easily one of the nicest and sweetest people I have ever met.”

When Hunter addressed the audience at the Class of 2018 Baccalaureate ceremony, he mentioned that he doesn’t speak frequently in large groups, but builds “fond memories” from one-on-one conversations. Many of those conversations were with Shorecrest faculty and staff. “I don’t know how many people can say this, but in a word, high school, it’s been amazing. I’ve loved every single one of the teachers that I’ve had. All have had their own impact on me. I’ve been treated with such kindness by all of the faculty and by everyone who tries to make Shorecrest the place it is, and I’m really appreciative of that. That’s been the highlight of my time at Shorecrest, my time with the people here.”
“There’s a saying that I like: ‘People will always remember the best of you and the worst of you, and my friends have always been the best of me.’ It’s something that I’ve really taken to heart, because it is absolutely true. Without a doubt. All of the time I’ve shared with my friends over these last seven years has been home to some of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. In going to Europe with Ron [Heller], I made great friends with so many amazing people, people I may never have talked to otherwise. It’s those things that stand out to me as happy times – the best of times."

He is truly one of our brightest stars, and remains lightyears ahead of others his age. Whatever this young man does in the future is likely to be out of this world.
    • As Outstanding Senior, Hunter will return to speak at the Commencement of the current second grade.

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.