Faces of Roger Bacon
Class of 2025
For Junior Claire Merkle, becoming a Spartan was almost a foregone conclusion. Claire is a fourth-generation Spartan, coming from a long legacy that includes her father, Sam, ’99, her grandparents Tom and Sally (Kelsey) Merkle, ’74, her great-grandfathers, Robert Merkle ’33 and Pete Kelsey ’48, as well as countless aunts, uncles, and cousins. With those strong family ties, it was easy for Claire to fall in love with Roger Bacon. “Growing up around RB, I always knew this was where I wanted to go, but my shadow day just confirmed it. I loved that you got to shadow with a student, and spend the day seeing what the school is really like, and how friendly everyone is. That wasn’t the case at the other school I shadowed,” shares Claire. “I always knew I’d love it here, but it has still far exceeded my expectations. I just love how everyone knows each other, and the close connections you make with students and teachers. It makes every day a great day,” shares Claire.
As she begins her junior year, Claire has made the most of her time at RB. Claire is an Honor Roll student, a Spartan Leader, as well as one of the leaders of the student ambassador / shadow program. Claire is also a member of the varsity volleyball team. “Although I am really proud of my grades, I am maybe most proud to be part of the volleyball program. The program has such a great history, being one of the winningest programs in state history, and I just love my teammates,” states Claire. With a strong roster of returning players, Claire has high hopes for a strong season. “I definitely believe we can compete for a state championship over the next two years, and that would be a dream come true for me. I can’t imagine anything more special than to win state here at Roger Bacon of all places. It would mean a lot to me, and a lot to my family,” explains Claire.
Claire’s favorite subject is history, but her favorite teacher is Mr. Steven Smith in the Science department. “I love Mr. Smith because he brings so much energy to class. There is never a dull moment, and he always puts a smile on your face. I feel like his students really connect with him, and we all have our own inside jokes with him, which he never forgets, and that helps you realize how much he really cares about you not just as a student, but as a person,” says Claire.
Among the other highlights of Claire’s first few years at RB has been the unending support of Mr. Tom Burke, ’69, Roger Bacon’s former school president and current major gifts officer in the Advancement office. As Claire explains, “Mr. Burke is a great example of the people that make Roger Bacon so special. He is always there to support ‘his kids’ whether it be a volleyball game, a school play, or writing notes home to the students to let us know how proud he is of us. Mr. Burke is always letting us know how important we are to him.”
With her junior year underway, Claire has started to focus on life after Roger Bacon. She intends to study marketing or business, and has set her sights on heading south for college. “My dream schools right now are probably Alabama or Tennessee. I always knew I wanted to go away, and I really like the environment at both schools, especially what they have to offer academically. There is also just something I have found appealing about the culture of southern schools,” says Claire.
As one of the leaders of the RB student ambassador program, Claire will help guide hundreds of students as they shadow Roger Bacon this fall. For those students making their own high school choice, Claire has sound advice. “Roger Bacon is just a special place. It is impossible to be in a bad mood here, because everyone knows who you are, and people will always be there to lift you up,” explains Claire. “I also love that we have so many opportunities for students. We have everything a big school has, but have the advantage of being a small school that just feels like a family. There really is something for everyone here, and I am so happy I chose Roger Bacon!”