CHESHIRE — Cheshire Academy announced the recipient of its town scholar scholarship earlier this month – eighth grade student Avery Fowler.
The Town Scholar Award gives winners a full, four-year scholarship to the academy and is meant to highlight their achievements and academic excellence.
Fowler, a student at St. Bridget School, was chosen from among 20 applicants this year. For her submitted essay, the youngster wrote about her aspirations to become a science communicator much like scientists Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who have created educational programs to teach people of all ages a variety of scientific concepts.
She will be joining the school in the fall semester as part of the Class of 2027.
“I'm pretty shocked about it. I really didn't expect to win, so this has just been a really exciting experience for me. I'm just really excited to be able to go to Cheshire Academy,” Fowler said. “I think Cheshire Academy is a wonderful school and they'll help me to succeed and they'll help me to go to college and just fulfill my dream.”
Fowler was motivated to apply to Cheshire Academy several years ago after taking a tour of the school with her sister, Allison, who also attends. Hearing more about the positive experiences her sibling had motivated her to apply for Town Scholar once she had the chance.
Her passion for science took root after watching science-based videos in class, leading Fowler to pursue her interest in the field and consider how to share her enthusiasm for the subject with her peers.
“I would always get so excited whenever we would watch like a Bill Nye video or when I would watch the show with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I was just like, ‘Wow, that looks like something that I would want to do.’ They get to do all this cool stuff and talk about the things that I love. And I just thought that that was really interesting,” said Fowler.
She has already received several accolades for her work in the scientific field, receiving eight awards at the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair held at Quinnipiac University last year.
Her parents are the owners of Yippee Farms in Cheshire, which has led to Fowler working extensively around farm animals for most of her life — namely goats. However, two of the goats on their farm are twins, making them difficult to tell apart. To solve the problem, Fowler developed and coded an identification system for the goats that, after scanning their tags, allows the user to immediately pull up their name, date of birth, and other information on file.
For her work on the system, she received approximately $1,110 in prize money and recognition from Stanley Black & Decker, Lockheed Martin, the Petit Family Foundation, and others. Fowler has continued to update her system, making it a portable touchscreen able to scan microchips so she can also use it for her dogs and cats.
“It was hard to remember which animal had which chip ID. So I thought, what if there was something where you could show their name, their birthday, their breed, their vet records all while (keeping everything) cheap, unlike the very expensive systems that are already online,” Fowler said. “I'm really excited to see where my project goes. I was really excited to receive the awards and the next step for this project is to be 3D printing a case for the system to make it a bit easier to move around.”
Fowler has received accolades in many other science competitions across the state and nationwide, having placed first on a team for the United Launch Alliance National K-12 Student Rocket Payload Contest last year.
Rebecca Brooks, the interim director of admissions at Cheshire Academy, who was the one to interview Fowler for the scholarship, noted how she made an immediate impression with her essay and passion for the sciences. Seeing that, and her previous accomplishments, made Fowler a strong candidate for the award.
“I had the privilege of interviewing Avery for her Town Scholar interview. And I will say before I even met Avery, she stood out right away just from her essay. She talks about wanting to be a science communicator, and I wasn't sure what that meant exactly, but she did such a wonderful job of bringing it to life,” Brooks said, noting how Fowler came into the interview with ideas of how she could use Cheshire Academy’s social media to become the school’s science communicator.
“She's so personable and she had so many fun facts and fun stories to share about growing up and living on a farm that I felt like I could have talked with her forever. There were some really strong candidates, but for me, immediately she was someone I felt strongly about,” Brooks added.
Cheshire Academy is a boarding and day school, which allows the students there to have smaller classes to explore their topics of interest more deeply. The Town Scholar program, which started in 1938, gives children in the local community a chance to attend the academy that they may not have considered otherwise.
“I think it's a lot as a 13 or 14-year-old to put yourself out there and say, ‘I want to do this.’ And I think that takes courage,” Brooks said. “It's a wonderful thing that Cheshire offers and I'm just excited to be a part of it and to have a voice in the process. And Avery is incredibly deserving … She has a lot of life experience already and a lot to offer, and I'm just really excited to see that play out next year.”
“I'm just so lucky to be able to receive this award. I'm really glad,” Fowler said.