Before graduating in May, senior Pete Freeman is changing the culture at Noblesville High School
Noblesville High School senior Pete Freeman is inspired by the concept of sawdust. In the 1950s, when wood was the main material of items, mills discarded the material by the truckload until one person decided to sell sawdust. Today a 5-pound bag of sawdust can be purchased for $20.
“It’s the most useless thing but I’m obsessed with sawdust,” said Freeman. “What resources do I have that I gloss over like sawdust? What can I do that’s unique to help people or help the community? I’ve been given a leg up and I owe it to others to give them a leg up.”
Besides the numerous extracurricular activities, organizations and teams Freeman is a member of, he has created groups to gauge the culture of NHS. Miller Message is a collection of six second vines where students answer, “What’s your message?” MillPulse is an online journal for real-time delivery of student news and opinion in video and digital format.
“It’s a utility for change,” he said.
Freeman also created ThinkBank as a way for students to show appreciation to mentors and community members.
“It’s predicated around thanking the unsung heroes of Noblesville – firefighters, stay at home moms,” he said, adding one example is an 8-foot by 8-foot mural hand painted by students for a longtime community volunteer. “It is a creative way to say ‘thank you’ because so many people deserve a thank you that don’t get one. It’s just such a cool feeling.”
Freeman said his involvement with the Sparrow Program has been the most rewarding. The student mentoring program began with nine students at one elementary school. Four years later the program has 120 students and is in all Noblesville elementary schools.
“I got very lucky because C.J. Fritz, who started the program, brought me aboard very early on – in the first couple weeks my freshman year. We never expected it to turn into a not-for-profit,” he said. “It was in many ways the leg up I needed to look around and see that there is a lot of opportunities like Sparrow that I can take advantage of in high school.”
Freeman said he is driven by gratitude.
“Gratitude is the No. 1 motivator that gets me up in the morning. The chances of winning Powerball is only 0.001 percent, but being born in America you’ve already won. There truly is no losing. I also have amazing parents that I’m grateful for,” he said.
Within the classroom, Freeman said a science teacher inspired him when his class was told, “Politicians talk about solutions; scientists find and implement solutions.”
“I became obsessed with this – the difference between executing and dreaming. I wanted to stop talking about all the cool things but do them and make the change,” he said.
One piece of advice Freeman shares with younger students is to take advantage of high school opportunities.
“I’m surrounded by people paid to help me succeed,” he said. “This is the last time in my life to try anything I can dream off and if I fail I can land right on my feet. That ends in a few weeks and that’s scary.”
On March 28, Freeman was surprised in his calculus class by NHS Principal Jeff Bryant with the news that he was chosen as one of four Hamilton County recipients for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. Freeman will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship at any accredited public or private college or university in Indiana. The scholarship also provides $900 annually for required books and equipment.
“When I received the Lilly Scholarship it felt like finally stopping after walking a very long, winding road. I took a breath and thought for the next four years I am covered and I could not be more thankful,” he said. “This is huge. I owe everything to my teachers, friends, coaches, and most importantly my family.”
While he hasn’t committed to Notre Dame, Freeman said he is 90 percent sure that is where he will attend school in the fall. His future goals include working to extend life expectancy.
“I want to live forever. More than anything I want to live forever,” Freeman said. “Why? Because we are a little spec of sand on a big beach and it would be very fulfilling to try to understand why it’s all happening, where we are going as a people and why we share the love that we share. I would be very happy if I could see how it all goes down.”