Jason Bates '17 Finds His Calling

What kind of experience did Jason Bates ‘17 have at Prairie? What kind of impact did this brilliant, bearded, gregarious student make on those around him?

To best understand these questions, perhaps we should talk about the impressive accomplishments that went into his earning the Medal for Academic Excellence: the highest academic honor Prairie can bestow upon a student.

Or maybe we should discuss the attributes that jump off the screen when reading the remarks of teachers asked to comment about Jason  –  giving, generous, accepting, determined, perceptive, leader, respectful.

Or should we focus on his amazing aptitude for arithmetic, which led to his becoming President of the school’s Math Club?


If we truly want to uncover the essence of Jason Bates, we should really talk about…his t-shirts.

“When I first noticed him he was wearing a shirt that proclaimed, Raisins In Cookies Are Why I Have Trust Issues,” says John French, US Social Studies teacher. “Another one I remember said Communists Have No Class. He has a great sense of humor, but is a serious student who does not take himself or his studies too seriously.  He didn’t quibble about points or take courses to pad his GPA.  He was in it for the right reasons –– to laugh and learn, to enrich his mind and those of his classmates.”  

Isn’t that the experience every parent dreams of for their child?

Take the Bates family: when they were researching high schools for Jason, Prairie stood out for the school’s commitment to academic rigor and its persistence in encouraging students to achieve excellence in all things.  Even still, Mike Bates, Jason’s father, was astounded by just how much Prairie ended up challenging, developing and impacting his son.

“Jason’s path to Prairie was different than many,” says Mike. “He had experiences in public, parochial, and other religious-based programs before arriving in Upper School. Here, he finally experienced an environment that could match his abilities, inquisitiveness and interests.”

What makes Prairie different?

This is  a question families ask all the time. And from small class sizes, to a curriculum carefully tailored to each individual student’s needs, to expert educators (at Prairie, every full-time US teacher has a Master’s Degree or higher) there are several reasons why families choose independent schools. Take a quick walk around an independent school’s campus and the tangible benefits jump out immediately; however, what makes Prairie different is more than just beautiful brick hallways filled with art, or a Giving Garden in the center of campus, or Bell, Prairie’s only four-legged faculty member, comforting students.

What makes Prairie different is the shared desire of student, parent and educator – a pyramid of commitment where everyone is passionately invested and working towards the development of the whole child. A Prairie education is strategically well-rounded, an experience designed to help students discover their passions while they develop as scholars, artists, athletes and leaders.

In that environment, Jason Bates not only established himself as one of the top scholars in the Class of 2017, but as a kind and generous friend willing to stay after class to help his peers. It was where he also discovered a passion for Audio Engineering after Sandy Freres, Prairie’s longtime Athletic Director, asked him to serve as the announcer for girls’ varsity basketball.

“Announcing really shaped the path I’m traveling,” says Jason, an Audio Engineering major at Michigan Technological University. “The intro to the soundboard system and sound management piqued my interest. I can’t begin to fathom what I’d be interested in had Mrs. Freres not asked me to be the Voice of the Hawks.”

A Truly Special Place

While Jason was an exceptional student, the moral of his story is not unique. At Prairie, every child is afforded endless opportunities and exposed to diverse, challenging ideas. Further, and perhaps most importantly, each is known and valued, supported and challenged.  An educator understanding that Jason might be a good fit behind the microphone – and taking the time to encourage his participation – ultimately led to the discovery of what has become a true passion.

“Prairie is a very special place that goes far beyond academic rigor,” says Mike Bates. “The transformative, Renaissance-style education is a blessing. Jason came for academics, found community, and leaves with purpose.”

To learn more about what makes Prairie one of the top 50 independent schools in America, contact the Admission Department to schedule a personalized campus tour or to arrange a Shadow Day visit for your child.

Interested in Middle School at Prairie? Come experience how TPS helps students not only excel academically, but also grow ever more compassionate and self-aware, by visiting our Middle School Open House on Sunday, January 28th, 2018, from noon – 3PM. Families interested in Grades 5-8 will have the opportunity to interact with teachers, students, and parents. Register today!