Those who talk to Paul Griswold will likely think, “Here is a guy’s guy.”
“I love sports,” Paul comments. “And I love hitting people in sports. I also like to eat.” In fact, Paul can boast the Fairfax regional record for IHOP pancake consumption, eating a total of 23 in one sitting. But Paul might surprise some, for when he reflects on his life, he observes that, “It all comes back to techno music.”
“The music uses a lot of technology,” Paul comments, “but what I like about is its consistency, and the simple progression of a common theme. The songs build to something, which I don’t find in most other musical genres.” Paul continues, “the music builds tension, and that tension creates an emotional connection that I don’t find in other music. The artists convey a message without words. I feel like I’m on a journey. I feel like I’m going towards a definite goal (or ‘the bass drop,’ as the techno industry calls it).”
Paul has two older siblings, each of which either did homeschooling or public school their entire high school career. In contrast, Paul has gone to several different schools, few longer than one year. “I’m the experiment child,” he muses. “I’m always looking for something new, and I’m rarely content. I always think, ‘there’s something more, beyond what I see.’ I did not enjoy military school because there only the next thing was important, and I could never see a greater purpose beyond the day-to-day.”
The first difficult adjustment Paul made when coming to Ad Fontes as a junior was, “the idea that I would be here two years. I realized that I had gotten used to doing half-way jobs and then moving on, never really making it to the ‘bass-drop.’ Well, graduation will be the bass-drop for my high school career. Paul also discovered that smaller classes meant that, “I had to learn to get along with everyone. Before if I didn’t mesh with someone I could easily avoid them, but here I learned you can make progress with people you don’t immediately connect with. That too can be a journey.” Another surprise has been, “that the teachers here care about you, not just the grade. You can be a ‘C’ student and teachers still appreciate who you are, which has been unique in my many school experiences.”
Though he experienced some academic challenges initially at AFA, Paul found that the classes nurtured his love for writing. “Sports taught me to realize where my talents lie,” he reflects. “That self-awareness has helped me find a niche in my classes. I like that you can craft something to connect with others in words.” Paul can even make the rare claim that, “I am one of the few who actually enjoys Senior Thesis. I like how I got to take ownership of the project and have the chance to argue creatively.” He looks forward to presenting his paper on the relationship between the U.S., Taiwan, and China in mid-May.
For college Paul plans to attend NOVA for the first two years, and then transfer to GMU or JMU to study economics and writing. “I do enjoy writing, but usually about things we can observe. What interests me about economics is not the math, but the human behavior. I want to use the technical stuff of the discipline to better relate to people.”
Paul’s eyes perk up for a moment as he notices a connection. “I guess in the end, it really does all come back to techno!”