Meet our Wayfinders: An interview with Wayfinder Elijah Harris

Posted on Thursday June 25, 2015


happy elijah

Elijah Harris, Wayfinder Schools Class of 2015

Recent Wayfinder graduate Elijah Harris impressed a lot of people at this year’s graduation ceremony with his dapper suit and bow tie, broad smile, warm energy, and his wonderful interview with visiting filmmaker Michael Boucher, excerpted here:

Back when there was still snow on the ground, and graduation day still seemed a long way off, we met up with Elijah for an interview about his hopes and dreams for the future. Here it is:

A Wayfinder Schools interview with student Elijah Harris, Winter 2015

 WS: What brought you to Wayfinder Schools?

 EH: Change. I needed to get away from the environment I was in. The school I was in wasn’t working for me.  It was by chance that I stumbled upon Wayfinder. I was going to guidance to make up a test and they told me to go meet with Joseph (Residential Director) and Pam (Admissions Coordinator), who were visiting my school that day.  I learned that Wayfinder is small and focused on individual students.  I needed that individual time.

WS: What have you enjoyed most about your Wayfinder Schools experience so far?

EH: Just the growth that I’ve seen in myself and others.  It’s so important. Last year I wouldn’t have seen myself in the place I’m in now. I’m more mentally and emotionally stable. Wayfinder got me out of the slump I was in at my old school. My routine has changed and my habits have become better–more focused on what’s important to me.

WS: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far this year?

EH: Probably how to take someone else’s input and actually think about it and apply it to my life, and feel the importance of it and how my actions can affect other people. It makes me think about more.

 WS: What’s your favorite class and why?

EH: Wellness, because when we go to the Y, I get to play basketball, and basketball is my greatest passion. The more I get to play the better!

 WS: What’s the favorite meal you’ve cooked so far at school and why?

EH: General Tso’s Chicken. It was a big hit. The sauce came out perfectly. I grilled some peppers and added soy sauce and it came out amazing. Everyone thought it was great. I wish there had been more. My favorite meal that someone else cooked was the night Fiston made rice with tomato sauce, chicken, and green peppers. It was so amazing I could have eaten it forever.

WS: Where is your internship and what do you like best about it?

EH: Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. At first it wasn’t my ideal choice. I love animals but didn’t have the stomach for the cleaning up part. But I do like the environment there. Everyone is nice and friendly and they’ve been teaching me new stuff everyday. The bunnies and dogs are clean and well taken care of—the cats, too.  It’s nice to see the dogs—any of the animals—get adopted.

WS: What’s been you favorite trip at Wayfinder and why?

EH: Boston. Also a weekend trip to Portland. During the day we got to skateboard all around Portland and we were skating down this huge hill and we skated right to the (school) van. We got to hang out with everyone and explore all day. It was one of my favorite days so far.

WS: What’s been you favorite volunteer project and why?

Working with Tree Street. We mentor there. And I play basketball with them.  We took them to the Roller Dome once. I love working with kids,  I know how to work with kids. It’s nice to help out kids and people who are less fortunate than me but are great people, and I get to hang out with these great people feel like a little kid again.

WS: What do you hope to get out of your Wayfinder Schools experience?

EH: Wisdom, knowledge, help to keep growing and learning to grow by myself and with others. Learning and experiencing new things. I want to be able to get a job and new opportunities and get my life on track and be able to share my knowledge with other people, especially kids who may be struggling in public school.

WS: What are your hopes and plans for after graduation?

EH: Working a lot and making as much money as I can. I’m probably going to go to community college close to home so I can live at home, probably get a loan and a work study, making money while in college to pay off my loan, get books and car. I want to be self-sufficient, not depending on others.

 Editor’s Note:  Since the time of this interview, Elijah has been awarded a scholarship to attend New England College in New Hampshire, where he will be headed this fall.

WS: What would you like people to know about Wayfinder Schools?

EH: It’s a different place than you think it is. It’s definitely not easy, not what I expected. E very student is different but it’s more than worth it. This is the place that will get you to the place you want to be in life. They ask you what you want to be and where you want to go and how can we help you get to that path. Before I came here (STEP Coordinator) Mary Seaman told me to remember: this is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But it’s totally worth it.

WS: What would you like the world to know about you?

EH: That I’m coming for them. I’m gonna get my name out there somehow. I’m going to try to change some of the ways we we’re fighting –shooting –I’m gonna try to bring people together. I want to keep climbing the ladder. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I want t leave my mark. I’ve always dreamed big. At this point I don’t know why I can’t dream big. I’m working hard. Give me some time and I’ll be there.

 A few facts about you:

Where you were born: Lewiston

Your favorite food: Pizza or a cheeseburger with French fries

Your favorite sound or smell: The sound of a basket ball dribbling on the court.  The rhythm, hard then slow, I can get it, I understand it, it’s music to my ears.

Your favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time: Basketball

Your favorite possession: My long board. It’s like my baby.

Favorite book you’ve read recently: Drown, by Junot Diaz. I really like him.

One place you’d like to travel to: I want to travel the word and see every life style there is. I think South America would be interesting– the rainforest the animals, the people. I’ve heard it’s beautiful.

Something you’re proud of: Committing to this school

Something new you’d like to try: Skydiving, because I’m scared of heights. And participate in something for a good cause. Give a voice to people who don’t have a voice. There’ are a lot of things to be part of.

Who would play you in a movie: Donald Glover. He might be the next Spiderman.

Your favorite spot in Maine: Lewiston. It’s so boring sometimes, but the energy I get there is different than I get anywhere else. It has great potential. People talk about it like it’s a bad  place but it’s not. There are beautiful parts and parts that could be better. We could make it a better place, clean it up, make sure the right things are coming.

 The one thing you’re most passionate about: Basketball