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Featured Avonian: Saagar Motupally '21

 

Saagar Motupally ’21

When senior Saagar Motupally shared his Chapel Talk with the Avon Old Farms community during the winter, he let everyone in on a secret: he fears being average.

He began his talk with some beautiful imagery: waking up on a late summer morning, padding down the stairs to his kitchen to prepare a quick breakfast, and then taking his laptop and dog out to the back patio to sit and read the news while breathing in the aroma of freshly cut grass and listening to the gently gurgling spillway of the pool. “At this point, you’re probably asking, ‘Where is the adversity? Where is the challenge?’ It never comes,” he said. “To this point in my life, I have been extremely fortunate.”

Therein lies his challenge: given all that he has, being anything but excellent will not do justice to the life his parents made for him. In fact, the lack of adversity pushes him to be extraordinary in everything he sets his mind to, and he believes the culture at Avon has helped him do that.

“The thing is, I don’t want to let anyone down,” he says. “Given everything that I have going for me and the countless people who only want to see me succeed, being average is simply unacceptable.”

However, when talking with Saagar, one gets the sense that it’s not just a fear of letting people down that drives him but also a deep-seated curiosity about the world that keeps him asking questions, seeking knowledge, and striving for more. He recalls sitting in the back seat of his parents’ car as a young child and musing about the world as he passed through it. What causes those smokestacks to smoke? What exactly goes on inside a car that causes exhaust to escape through the tailpipe? That inquisitiveness doesn’t stop with questions. Saagar uses his resources to find answers, whether through his own research or appeals to the people around him.

“At Avon, I’ve taken note of how the faculty play to my nature,” he comments. “They know I am always hungry for knowledge, and they find a way to challenge me each day. Something much larger than studying has happened here over the past four years. The culture the faculty has created of raising good men of strong moral character has shown me what my true passions are and how to fulfill them. It’s something uniquely Avon that I am indebted to for allowing me to grow— not because of my fear of being average but in spite of it.”

Unlike many of his classmates who grew up with a knowledge of boarding schools, or even Avon Old Farms specifically, Saagar had no long-term plans to attend private school. But six years ago, his family moved from Milford, Conn., to Avon. Enrolled at the local middle school, Saagar befriended a boy named Brian Dowling ’22 and began to hear about our small, village-like high school tucked away in the woods.

“Brian and I became great friends, and I knew how excited he was for the opportunity to attend Avon. Then his dad started speaking with my parents about what an Avon Old Farms education looks like, and we decided to give private schools a closer look.”

Saagar shares that although most middle-school boys in Avon knew exactly what AOF was about, for him it was an unknown. Being from the shoreline, he hadn’t ever played sports on the AOF fields or attended summer camps on the school grounds. Driving by on Old Farms Road, nothing was visible except a few stone walls through the trees.

“When we visited for an admissions tour, walking through Diogenes Archway and entering the Quadrangle was like being transported to another world. It was almost therapeutic the way the place exudes a sense of wonder.”

Months later, when Saagar’s acceptance letter arrived in the mail, his jaw dropped when he learned he had not only been invited to attend the school but also would receive the Gordon Family Scholarship to help him do so.

 

 

“That I had not only been accepted but that the school trusted in me enough to sponsor my education heightened the sense that I had been given a special opportunity. I needed to prove that I was not only worthy but would excel.”

Excel he has. As a senior, Saagar’s list of accolades is long: he is an elite scholar with a GPA routinely above a 4.1 in the most rigorous courses Avon offers, has won eight book prizes recognizing the top student, was recognized with the Yale Book Prize, and shared the Academic Excellence class honor last year. He is making indispensable contributions to the Avon community life outside academia as a varsity soccer player and captain of the swim team, a president of Avon Outreach, a head monitor, an admission ambassador, a Diversity Council member, a Riddler, a tutor, and more.

Put simply, Saagar is a young man with extraordinary talent who directs those talents toward achievement not only for himself but also in service to others. That is the mark of a good man, a good leader. People like Saagar are what make Avon such a special place.

When Saagar was a freshman, his classmates also recognized his leadership potential and elected him to the Student Council as a class representative. He has served all four of his years at Avon, an honor he does not take lightly.

 

“As a freshman attending Chapel, playing JV soccer, or training with the swim team, I listened to the seniors—only three years older than me—and saw how they commanded such respect from their peers. They became strong role models for me, and I set a goal that first fall to run for Student Council so I, too, could become such a leader on campus.”

Saagar also shares that it was his unique class he was eager to represent: Avon Old Farms opened the 2017–18 academic year with 408 students from 28 states and 24 countries, 307 boarding and 101 day students, 149 new students, 74 legacies, and 21 sets of brothers. Seeing such a diverse group come together in meaningful ways was inspiring.

“I put my heart into Avon, and it has given me so much in return,” he says. “That’s the sentiment I find so hard to share with prospective students as an admission ambassador: it’s hard, but it’s the most rewarding experience if you apply yourself and are willing to try new things. Instead of vocalizing it, I’ve learned to demonstrate the values of an Avonian through my interaction: I showcase Avon’s openness, kindness, and empathy and hope that our approach says more about Avon than I could put into words.”

In December of 2020, Saagar’s accomplishments earned him admission into yet another dream school: Yale University. “Growing up in Milford, New Haven wasn’t far away. We’d take an afternoon drive and have dinner in New Haven sometimes, and I always noticed the students walking around campus. It was so close physically but so far away tangibly. It was a dream school that I never knew I could reach.”

Returning to his innate curiosity, Saagar plans to study chemistry at Yale. “Once I got into a high school chemistry class, I began to see that everything I’ve ever questioned leads back to chemistry. It answers all of the mysteries of the world, and it’s most exciting because there are no limits to what I can learn. Chemistry is unending, so whether I choose to become a doctor or an engineer, I know that chemistry is a good place to start.”

As he sets his sights on the next big thing, Saagar leaves Avon with four years of memories. From his orientation tubing excursion on the Farmington River to his final year at Avon being governed by a global pandemic, from the night he struggled with the varsity soccer team’s loss to Northfield Mount Hermon in the NEPSAC Class A quarterfinal to winning Avon’s stickball tournament, he says there are life lessons in each experience that he’ll carry forever.

See this article as it appeared in the Spring 2021 Avonian.