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Portraits of Young Friends: Charlie Hills

Artistic baking entrepreneur and BFS lifer Charlie Hills ’16 has been especially busy this year, both in and out of school, but this nostalgic student still makes time to reflect on where he’s been and what might lie ahead. “It’s a very strange year for everyone because we all know that next year we’ll be spread out across the US,” he said.  “There’s a different energy because people are excited  but I also think people are realizing how much they’ll miss in Brooklyn and at BFS.”

This fall the senior class went on an overnight trip to Powell House,  “the Quaker retreat center that we go to in both our freshman and senior years,” he explained.  “We all open letters that we wrote to ourselves in freshman year so it was really interesting to see how we all changed and grew.” He confesses that his overwhelming sense of nostalgia isn’t likely to fade soon as he spends the rest of the school year facing down his lasts. “The last Quaker meeting, the last high school class, the last time the grade is all going to be together.  I know it is going to be very hard for me…that’s what’s been hardest for me this year.”

One thing that helps is keeping focused on the final academic challenges.  “I’ve actually really enjoyed working on my 4,000-word extended IB essay,” he said.  “It’s one of the first times that we get to write about essentially anything we want. I chose to research federal governmental failures before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.”  He felt aware and educated about the disaster already but he encountered a lot of surprises once he scratched the surface of the tragedy.  “I realized how many federal governmental failures there were and how little I actually knew about it.  There are a lot of primary sources and interviews which have been extremely helpful.”  Not surprisingly, Charlie is the co-leader of the Upper School’s Environmental Activism Club.  “We work to make the school more environmentally sustainable.  We’re currently working to get rid of the plastic cups in the cafeteria.”

As a senior, he threw his usual inhibitions to the wind and sank his teeth into the Upper School’s fall production of the McNally, Ahrens & Flaherty musical Ragtime, adapted from the Doctorow novel.  “I had never really done any theater and I usually played sports in the fall,” Charlie said.  “It ended up being really fun.”

Outside of school, Charlie has become a community celebrity (see him elaborate in this video interview) as the founder and sole employee of a thriving home business, Smith & Dean Cakes.  The modest endeavor is now entering its third year.