By Josette Keelor
High school freshman Rosie Randolph of Front Royal knows all about hard work. It earned her a full four-year scholarship to Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island. It earned her a month-long literature and architecture scholarship to Oxford University in England this summer. It also earned her a jazz award for acoustic bass at the first musical competition her school has ever entered.
Having achieved so much in a short amount of time might be daunting to other teens, but it hasn't seemed to faze Rosie, who spoke by phone recently from her Catholic Benedictine boarding school in Rhode Island.
The fourth of five children, Rosie said her older sister plans to graduate from Oxford this semester, "and [she] has a job there so she's going to be staying there a few more years." Older brother Max Randolph attended boarding school before deciding to finish his high school career at Warren County High School this year.
Their mother Laura Randolph said Rosie not only works for what she wants, she searches for it.
Rosie wrote an essay for the Oxford study program this summer, Randolph said, "but I never saw it. She actually did that all by herself."
"She's like a little rocket."
Said Rosie, "That was actually something I did by myself. I was looking into summer programs."
Formerly home schooled, Rosie said she wasn't on a path to achieving much if she stayed at home, so she sought out learning opportunities elsewhere.
The school she attends is associated with the English Benedictines, but her mother said the school combines the tradition of its religion with more modern facilities and technology.
"It's a beautiful place, and she always had this feeling about Rhode Island," Randolph said. Rosie's father was born about three miles away near Newport, R.I., she said.
"It's a really beautiful place; it's like 500 acres," she said.
Randolph said her daughter started working on her application for the scholarship contest a year in advance.
"They invited 13 kids to compete and you have to be a pretty top student to compete," she said. Rosie was the second choice, but her mother said the first student chosen elected to attend a different school. She's still staggered by her daughter's admission to the school as a freshman. "That was amazing; that was like a miracle," Randolph said.
Last month was the first time Portsmouth Abbey competed in the 45th Berklee College of Music High School Jazz Festival, held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. A press release from the school said Portsmouth Abbey took home more awards than any other school in the national competition.
"It was pretty exciting," Rosie said. "I got to interact with a bunch of students. There [were] a lot of schools from around the country."
Overall, 3,000 high school students competed.
Rosie played acoustic bass for her group, which she said included seven seniors. The group won third place in the vocal ensemble category, and Rosie won an outstanding musicianship award for her individual performance on bass. She said out of 3,000 people, only 40 earned that award.
"This is the school's first music competition," Rosie said.
She credits her father with helping inspire in her a love of music. He took her around to bluegrass performances and competitions in Virginia and neighboring states -- "100 of those, all told," she said.
"I was sort of collecting instruments," she said. "I started out with the violin and the piano and then the guitar came in later." Then her father bought her a bass.
"I have five or six instruments that I play on a regular basis."
For more information about Portsmouth Abbey School, visit www.portsmouthabbey.org.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org>