Senior Profile – Brandon Leevy
Senior Profile: Brandon Leevy – Perseverance and Resolve
by Sheryl Blunt, AFA Parent and Freelance Writer
Brandon Leevy admits that it wasn’t smooth sailing when he started 8th grade at Ad Fontes Academy five years ago.
“It was kind of a struggle at first,” said the senior, who is graduating this June. “I had some discipline issues. It took me a while to understand how to be a successful student.”
After attending public schools and then being homeschooled for three years, Brandon had to adjust to the structure of the classroom environment, higher teacher expectations and more rigorous academics.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking for a classical school,” he said. “I didn’t think I could get in at first.”
Brandon first learned about AFA through his basketball coach, Jerry Cuffee, who had coached one of his previous teams. When Coach Cuffee became AFA’s head basketball coach, Brandon said, “He brought me with him.” After playing on AFA’s jv basketball team, Brandon joined the varsity team his sophomore year. He attributes his coach’s tough love for helping him rise to his potential and grow in self-confidence.
“He really holds me to a high standard,” said Brandon. “He’s always getting on me if my grades aren’t good or if I’m not working hard. He expects me to do my best. He’s really helped me to mature and turn into an adult.” One particular game early on made a big impression.
“We were playing a DC team and were down by two points,” said Brandon. “One of our best players had fouled out. I hadn’t played in a game that whole season, and coach said, ‘You’re going in. You’re going to take the last shot.’ It meant a lot to me knowing that he had the confidence in me to do that.”
Brandon went on to win a host of Player of Game awards, an All-Tournament award in a Shenandoah Valley High School basketball tournament, and was selected three times –each year he played varsity—for the end-of-the-season’s all-star conference team. His last season was especially rewarding. Not only was his last game one of his overall best, he said, but he also helped defeat Virginia Academy earlier in the season. “No one’s ever beaten Virginia Academy in our league, but we did,” he said. “They underestimated us.”
“I’ve had the fortune of knowing Brandon for the past seven years as a coach and mentor,” said Coach Cuffee. “Throughout this time he has distinguished himself by being one of the finest young players I’ve ever coached. He met the challenges of shifting from being a homeschooler to a full-time student at AFA and has prospered as a basketball player and student-athlete.”
Cuffee added that Brandon’s self-motivation, hard work, and commitment to growing spiritually, academically and socially are attributes that “have become the exception rather than the norm in much of our youth population today.”
Brandon said while the transition to AFA was difficult at first, he is glad he stuck with it.
“The classical Christian school environment was so completely foreign to me,” he said, “but it was also good for me. I realized that it was a good group of people to be surrounded with.” Brandon said he was also thankful for teachers with whom he felt he could talk to openly about life and the challenges of living out his faith.
Asked about favorite classes he said, “Any class taught by Mrs. [Linda] Mathwin! She’s always so encouraging. Her passion for her subjects is obvious.” Brandon said he also enjoyed having many conversation-based classes where the Socratic method is employed, which has helped him develop his thinking and speaking skills.
He has further honed his speaking skills through Toastmasters International. After attending a meeting Brandon was encouraged to participate in the district tournament. He did, performing well, and decided to become a member. He’s confident the additional public speaking experience will benefit him when he presents his senior thesis—the capstone of an Ad Fontes education when seniors present and defend a research topic before a three-judge panel.
An aspiring rap artist who writes his own lyrics, Brandon recently returned from Austin, Texas, where he performed at South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual music and film festival. The festival draws musicians from across the globe and is becoming known as one of the top venues for both established and emerging rap and hip hop talents.
Brandon hopes to continue writing and performing, and said he is encouraged by the new-found popularity his music has received. “I’m really thankful to my friends in the business and to my fans who helped me get my name out there and showed me so much love,” he said.
He said he is also thankful for other opportunities that have pushed him outside his comfort zone, particularly the two summer trips he took with AFA students to the jungle region of Peru to work with children with disabilities.
“It was like nothing I’d ever done,” he said. “Seeing those people as happy as they were, with the little that they had was really awesome.” During both trips Brandon said he got to spend time with Daniel, a boy about 4 years his junior. “He was really good at soccer and I can’t play soccer at all,” he said. “He couldn’t play basketball, so we kind of taught each other.”
Brandon is headed to High Point University in North Carolina this fall where he plans to major in Business Entrepreneurship. At High Point he is looking forward to joining Sam Berlin, another AFA alum with whom he played basketball. Coach Cuffee said watching Brandon embrace dreams of being a top tier entrepreneur and business person has been inspiring.
“When I first met him he was this little 80-pound kid whose sights were set exclusively on being a professional basketball player,” he said. “I’ve watched him mature into a dynamic young man with a future full of endless possibilities. … High Point will benefit greatly having him as a student.”
Brandon said he realizes he’s come a long way from the 8th grader with a poor attitude who didn’t care much about school, to the goal-oriented senior he is today. Mr. Blunt, who teaches Senior Seminar and Apologetics at AFA, concurs.
“Brandon, perhaps more than almost any other student I’ve taught, embodies the concept of ‘upward trajectory,’” he said. “I’ve watched him grow from an older boy into a young man who exhibits maturity of choice and self-discipline. I’ve seen his faith in God become gradually more real in the everyday parts of his life. Being on that kind of good, upward trajectory is what I watch for as these students head off to college and life.”
Brandon said hopes that younger students will also come to learn the value of perseverance and the importance of being a good role model.
“Your success has a lot to do with your attitude and how you look at things,” he said. “If you have a negative outlook on school it won’t be good for you. You need to find the things you like and stay focused on the positive things.”
“You can really have an impact,” said Brandon. “Make sure it’s a good one.”