Aiming High with Ben Kopjanski

RMA Aim High Award winner Ben Kopjanski

On Thursday, June 2, 2016, Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) graduated the eighth grade class of 2016.  Among these students was a young man named Ben Kopjanski who has made a great name for himself here on top of the hill.  He is a remarkable young man with an incredible work ethic and a deep understanding of what it means to have knowledge, leadership, and character.

This past school year was his first year at R-MA and he made the most of it by excelling in academics and playing a sport in every season available to him.  His efforts both inside and outside of the classroom earned him the most prestigious award R-MA Middle School has to offer, the “Aim High” award.  This award is given to the most well-rounded student who exemplifies outstanding behavior, maturity and an overall commitment to excellence.

Randolph-Macon Academy strives to help students find their passion for learning and the teachers are energized every time they welcome a student like Kopjanski.  It is safe to say the feeling is mutual for the 2016 Aim High recipient.  “It is much better than my previous school,” said Kopjanski.  “The academics are better and the classrooms are smaller… I also like the staff here.” 

The faculty members feel the same way about this young man.  “I cannot say enough good things about Ben,” said Joshua Illnicki, a teacher at R-MA Middle School.  “Ben works hard and holds himself to the highest standards. He is always willing to volunteer and to help when needed.  Ben is the epitome of a great student.”   

Other faculty members are inclined to agree with Illnicki.  English teacher Bill Curl commented, “Ben is mature beyond his years.  It was a pleasure to have Ben on the middle school golf and boys’ basketball teams because of his constant hustle and willingness to learn both games.  In the classroom Ben is a model student who thrives on learning and performing to a high standard.”

Kopjanski’s accomplishments extended beyond the classroom as he received the Most Improved Player award for the boys’ basketball team.  “Ben originally wanted to be a manager,” said Illnicki, “however, during a drill where we needed one more player, Ben graciously volunteered.  From that point on he became a pivotal player for our team, usually being the first person in the game off the bench.”

The faculty of R-MA often see Kopjanski making decisions that reflect just how mature he is.  When the spring sports season came around he decided to run track with the Upper School rather than play flag football or tennis with the Middle School.  He made this decision knowing he could have been successful in both tennis and flag football and knowing he would not run in any competitive meets on the track team.  However, Kopjanski wanted to make himself stronger and faster by practicing with the Upper School track team.

Kopjanski’s hard work ethic is found not just on R-MA’s campus, but on his family’s farm as well.  He raises cattle and has competed in regional fairs, proving his ability to raise great bovine.  He is also starting to farm flowers and self-sustaining crops. The extent of Kopjanski’s knowledge and work ethic both inside and outside of the classroom is truly remarkable.

Kopjanski has expressed great excitement to join Randolph-Macon Academy’s Upper School and hopes to become part of the “High Flight” program.  The High Flight Program is geared towards those Randolph-Macon Acade students who aspire to be a career military officer along with attending one of the United States service academies.  In Kopjanski’s case, these service academies include the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York.

Kopjanski is confident that he will be able to reach the goals he has set for himself with the help of the High Flight program and everything else R-MA has to offer.  “This place just gives you more opportunities in general,” said Kopjanski.  “It has great academics and smaller classes which makes it easier for me to learn…  It helps you to develop socially.  You are constantly around THIS group of people, you can’t get away from THIS group of people, and you have to learn to deal with THIS group of people.  You are a part of a community here.” 

Kopjanski exemplifies R-MA’s core values of knowledge, leadership, and character on a daily basis.  He talks the talk and he walks the walk.  R-MA is looking forward to welcoming Kopjanski to its Upper School and cannot wait to see the wonderful things he does over the next four years.