Marquize Barmore throughout his time at Schenectady High School would occasionally have a hard time making it to all of his practices, games, club meetings and other activities.
He made sure to stay busy and between football, wrestling, Junior ROTC, and the school’s peer mediation program, his calendar was usually crammed.
“It definitely keeps me busy, keeps me out of trouble,” he said in a recent interview.
But this year things were quieter for the Schenectady senior: JROTC was limited to virtual meetings, peer mediation was put on hold, wrestling was canceled and the football season was shortened and game attendance limited.
After countless hours in the weight room and roaming the halls of his school, Barmore spent most of the school year sequestered in his bedroom for virtual classes – “I’ve been there all year,” he said of working from his bedroom. Barmore did make it back to the wrestling room, which the football team used this year during practices.
“That’s as far as I have been in school,” Barmore said of his final year.
But the long resume of activities and the academic drive he said was helped by his broader involvement in school paid off in a big way for Barmore this year. Barmore in March was offered a full scholarship to St. Lawrence University, where in the fall he plans to study psychology and pre-medicine. He also plans to join the football team. He earned a full scholarship through the Higher Education Opportunity Program, which supports promising students.
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“It was amazing, it was crazy, because I will be graduating with little to no debt,” he said of hearing about the scholarship earlier this spring. “It was crazy, it was life changing. I started dancing.”
Barmore – who football coach Carm DePoalo refers to as one of his “example guys,” meaning a good example for other students – said he is interested in pursuing a career in psychiatry. He developed that interest while working as a peer mediator in a program at the high school that enables trained students to mediate discussions between students involved in altercations and conflicts of different kinds.
“Mainy peer mediation inspired me,” he said. “You get to talk to people, you see how people’s lives are, most of the problems don’t even come from school, they come from home life.”
Barmore said many of his classmates have turned to him when they are in need of someone to talk to and that he enjoys playing that role.
“I love to help people out, make sure people are ok,” he said. “A lot of people come to me if they are upset.”
He said peer mediation taught him how to better listen and understand the perspectives of different students and that his role is not always to offer advice or attempt to solve someone’s problems for them.
“It forced me to listen more and see how people are feeling, not just from one person but both perspectives,” he said. “You don’t always have to give people advice to try and solve their problems, sometimes people just want someone to listen.”
Barmore’s grandma and grandpa both served in the military and inspired in him a love for the military. Barmore can’t join the military, though, because he is partially blind in one eye. But when he saw members of the high school Junior ROTC program recruiting at his middle school, he thought, “Why not try it?”
Now, as a senior, he has been promoted to corps commander, the highest-ranking student position in the program. The club continued to meet virtually this year, but they have been limited in their ability to participate in flag ceremonies and volunteer activities, which usually leave the students with scores of volunteer hours by the end of the year.
“I was in charge of the whole program, but I couldn’t really do anything to improve it,” he said.
His wrestling season was canceled outright, which means he had to miss out on some rematches he had looked forward to. He remembered being assured after disappointing losses last year not to worry, because he always had another season. He said he wished he got that season.
“If I had one more season, I promise I would be Section II champion,” he said.
He’s no slouch on the football field, either: As a junior after the 2019 season, he was named a Section II Class AA first-team all-star and a Daily Gazette All-Area first-team all-star, and landed a spot on the all-state honorable mention list. His accurate center snaps to then-quarterback Seven Terry and pass and run blocking helped Schenectady put together a 6-3 record after the Patriots won one game in each of the two previous seasons. He said he was happy to have a season this year but sad that there wasn’t the chance to fill up Schenectady’s football stadium on a Friday night.
“I feel like nothing can replace Friday night lights, there’s something energetic about being under the lights in front of the whole school,” he said.
Barmore said he saw some positives in the remote school format, highlighting the increased flexibility in his day-to-day schedule. But he also missed the in-person interactions with teachers.
“It gives you more freedom, more flexibility to do what you need,” he said. “Academically, I missed being one-on-one with the teacher. I miss actually going into the classroom and talking to the teacher.”
He also missed the social interaction high school students come to crave.
“I miss hanging out with friends during lunch,” he said. “I miss hanging out with friends.”
He said surviving his busy high school schedule came down to time management and being open with coaches, teachers and club advisers about potential conflicts.
“It came down to a lot of communication,” he said. Sports and all of the activities taught me a lot of discipline and kept me out of trouble, because I didn’t have time to do anything else.”
He said his coaches have been mentors throughout his time in school. They always emphasized that “students comes before athlete” and pushed him to succeed in school.
“The one thing they taught is grades are important, grades are how you make money in life, grades are how you change your life,” he said.
Barmore said he thinks that other students can benefit from joining a club or sports team but added the school needs to find more activities that students will be interested in.
“Keep on giving people opportunities, because maybe people aren’t doing things because they aren’t interested in it,” he said. “I would tell my classmates to try at least one afterschool activity, because it will help you out a lot.”
Looking back on the year, Barmore took away a lesson that many of his Class of 2021 classmates share: don’t take anything for granted, your schedule may look a lot different next week.
“One lesson I learned from COVID is just take everything in the moment,” he said. “You can’t assume you are going to have a next year, you never know when it’s going to be your last game.”