When Madeline Taylor '21, affectionately known to everyone as Maddie, was an eighth grader, she was actually convinced she was going to go to another Catholic high school.
Then she toured IWA.
"Oh, IWA was way better!" she said. "There was just something different here. You could feel it. What we say about the sisterhood is really true."
That spirit of connection and community is one that Maddie hopes to help continue as vice president of the student body. She, along with with classmate Dana Theroux '21, head up IWA's student council. They're responsible for the morning announcements and devising a host of programming for IWA students.
Maddie's desire to connect with others doesn't end at StuCo, though. She's also a member of the cross country team, the Campus Ministry Team, National Honor Society and the Falcon Ambassadors.
"I'm part of the tour guide team," she explained about her role in Falcon Ambassadors. "I love talking to parents and students, and being able to share my own story about coming to IWA."
That story culminates with her freshman year retreat.
"That's one of my favorite memories. We were this giant red mob walking through downtown from the bowling alley. We were all singing some Katy Perry song at the top of our lungs; even [biology teacher] Mr. [Stephen] Comer got into it. It was funny, but it was so IWA, this feeling of belonging and being part of something together."
During her four years at IWA, Maddie has made togetherness a priority for herself and the school community. As a captain on the cross country team, she encouraged and empathized with her team mates, noting that practices and disappointments on the field mean you see your team mates at their worst and, as a leader, have to help them push forward.
"Our pre-race pep talks and prayers are so great, where I want to help them see they can really give it their best."
Last year, the cross country team finished third in its division in the state, a fantastic achievement that showcases not only individual skills but also the team's bond with each other.
As she looks to her future, Maddie's interested in studying biomedicine. Her love of biology began freshman year in Comer's class. She took AP Biology last year and this year is studying anatomy. Her current goal is a pre-med track in college.
"My experience in IWA's YLP (Young Leaders Program) has actually helped me in thinking about my college essays," she admitted. "And it's been great to be part of learning how to manage projects, figuring out all the components you have to consider and plan for."
Maddie's looking forward to planning ways to keep the IWA student body together, even in the current remote learning environment. She and Dana dreamed as freshman that they might lead the school in these roles, following in the footsteps of alumnae Libby Diamond '16 and Maddie Ripp '16, who tag-teamed as student body president and vice president the year Maddie and Dana entered IWA.
"I'm so excited to get to do this!" she said. "IWA is such a special place and I want everyone to feel part of it. I'm really looking forward to being back in person. That's going to be so great!"