HAMILTON — When he transferred to Hamilton as a freshman, Austin Miller never imagined the opportunities, both for extracurricular activities and academics, he’d have at a small school.

Miller, who starts his junior year at Hamilton today, transferred in his freshman year from Northridge High School, Middlebury.

“It’s definitely different going from such a large school to a small one,” he said. “But Hamilton has a lot to offer.”

Like many people, he assumed the larger school he’d transferred from would have more opportunities, but that’s been far from the case.

“Small schools give more of a learning advantage,” he said. “The teachers can get more one-on-one time, give students more help that way.”

It took a few months to make the transition from big school to small, but Miller said for him it’s been a great change.

“After a few months being at Hamilton I just fell in love with the staff, students and the community,” Miller said. “I’ve been able to get to know all the teachers in the building over the time I’ve been at Hamilton.”

Class size and teaching styles have been the biggest differences, he said, between the two schools.

His graduating class at Hamilton will be around 13. Northridge, he said, would have been “a lot more.”

Teaching at Northridge felt more crunched because of the number of students per class. At Hamilton, he said students can all get the one-on-one help, which gives more of an advantage than at a larger school.

Opportunities he’s had at Hamilton include being sophomore class president during the 2018-19 school year, playing on the baseball team and serving as the manager for the boys varsity and junior varsity basketball teams.

He got to Hamilton as a freshman in time to play baseball that spring, his first time ever playing the sport.

“It was a small team but so helpful in helping me learn to play,” he said.

He’s also been able to take classes like accounting, which became a surprise favorite.

“I didn’t expect to like accounting,” he said. “But it taught me budgeting, how to spend money and more.”

This school year, he’s excited about taking introduction to business and marketing classes offered at Hamilton.

Miller has spent much of his summer working in the library at the school, volunteering to help get the library ready for the school year.

His role has included shelving books, cleaning and whatever other tasks he’s delegated to do.

He’s also taken time this summer to redo the coffee shop offered in the library. He’s spent time this summer reorganizing the space, hoping to get it to flow easier and working on storage for the snacks and drinks available in the space.

It’s still a work in progress, he said, but it’s something that Northridge offered as well so he’s familiar with the idea. Last year it was successful and he hopes this year it is even better.

“Hamilton Community Schools has a lot to offer,” he said. “I know a lot of people think that small schools are not the way to go because they don’t offer what big schools do, but coming from bigger schools to Hamilton I can say that small schools do offer the same and even more.”

He’s working on bringing more events to get the community more involved with the school to let them see what great things are happening at Hamilton.

Miller will be enlisting in the Navy in June and graduating in December 2020 so he can go straight to the Navy to pursue his dream job as an air crewman.

“After that, I plan to work at an airport,” he said. “I love to travel and this way I will get to while serving my country and getting more education.”

Hamilton holds a special place in his heart.

“I am a proud Hamilton Marine,” said Miller.

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