Learning from the Legacy: Younger Siblings at Lawrenceville

Celestine Sutter ’27 (Features Associate) in Features | April 5, 2024

          “Always go to consultation. Take advantage of the Bowl. Join clubs early. And please, don’t be annoying in Harkness.” These are just a fraction of the “hot tips” older siblings at Lawrenceville are so keen to share. The topic of legacy students remains widely discussed in a school where the maintenance of tradition is a large focus, but what comes with being a younger sibling at a school filled with high-achieving individuals, some of whom are your own kin? How does being a legacy student affect one’s thought process and success at Lawrenceville?

          First and foremost, a more obvious advantage rings true in all aspects of a Lawrentian’s life: advice. While older siblings must utilize a trial-and-error system when they navigate through a new environment, younger siblings get the luxury of learning from experience, and not just their experience. As Blair Bartlett ’27 puts it, “by watching [her sister Brooke Bartlett ’26] thrive, [she has] learned how to manage [her] time, join clubs, branch out, and work at [her] sports.” 

          Siblings can set an example of a model Lawrentian or accidentally demonstrate what not to do— something that others must do without. Sam Vachris ’27 has also been able to learn from his brother Charlie Vachris ’24, whom one “can see at the [Bunn Library] or at home, sitting in his room, closing the door, and just getting his work done, [which is] something [Sam tries] to replicate.” The shared attitude among younger siblings describes “watching and learning” as the best way to master the balance demanded from Lawrentians. 

          However, younger siblings don’t always follow in their older siblings’ footsteps. The ability to think independently and get to know oneself are some of the defining qualities of a true Lawrentian, regardless of the sage wisdom offered by older siblings. Although Gabriel Vermut ’27 pursues many of the extracurriculars that his sisters, Jordyn Vermut ’22 and Joelle Vermut ’25 have, he remarks that he is “interested in them too,” but sometimes he “[tries] to be different.” Being compared to an older family member motivates a legacy student to make Lawrenceville special to them. Bartlett feels more neutral: “Having such different interests [from my sister], it’s easy to find my own path while also admiring [her’s].” Stepping out of the trail blazed by older siblings remains a motivator, yet it is not a priority for everyone. 

            In a tight community like Lawrenceville, an interesting side effect of having siblings is that complete strangers will have a solidified idea of who you are without prior introduction. Some enjoy this occurrence more than others. Vermut revealed his stance, saying he “sometimes [doesn’t] like being known for [his] sisters.” Younger siblings often feel as though they are associated with the qualities and interests of their family members, but this does not stop them from seeking out what they enjoy. As Vermut puts it, younger siblings are “doing [their] own thing.” 

          In every aspect of life at Lawrenceville, siblings show that students apply themselves fully. Out of everyone spoken to, the most potent influence older siblings have on their younger is on their perspective. Legacy Lawrentians arrive on campus, prepared to be inspired by the talents of their classmates and energized by the vitality of the environment, in classes, athletics, the arts, and even the Tsai Commons. Vachris reflected on the importance of “branching out:” he learned from his brother to “sit with someone new each dinner and be friendly to everyone you meet.” 

          Every student is distinct, vibrant, and wonderfully ambitious, so younger siblings, equally as unique as all other students, find individuality in their own Lawrenceville career as well. While it is difficult to speak for all legacy students, nearly all of them see their position as positive—but with the price tag of having something to prove.