By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
SPARTA — Call Margaret Butler a renaissance woman.
The Pope John XXIII Regional High School senior can talk politics, play a character on stage, score incredibly high on tests, perform science experiments, speak foreign languages, paint a picture, give her time to others, and the list goes on.
So, there is no wonder why Butler received early acceptance to Harvard University on Tuesday night. She was part of a group of 964 applicants who received acceptances out of a pool of 6,630 total applicants (14.5 percent), according to The Harvard Crimson.
When asked about her acceptance to the university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, even the multi-talented girl couldn’t help but be surprised and humbled that she got into arguably the best academic institution in the world.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Butler said. “I’m still in shock, but I’m ecstatic to get into my dream college. It’s in my dream city. It has an amazing legacy. For me to be a part of that, it’s mind-blowing.”
“Margaret Butler is a student that every administrator would love to have in their school,” Pope John XXIII Regional High School President and Principal Father McHugh said. “As we say at Pope John, she is truly an Honor to the Father. She is one of the finest students in all of my time here. She is exemplary in all that she does. She earned her acceptance to Harvard, she deserves to be there.”
A big reason why Butler will be a Harvard student is because of her all-around success inside and outside the classroom.
Butler has posted a 4.02 GPA while having taken 17 AP and honors courses, including AP U.S. Government, AP Calculus, AP English Language, Honors Art, Honors French IV and Honors Zoology this year. Butler’s success in the classroom has helped earn accomplishments such as scoring a 1460 on the SAT, being inducted into the National Honor Society and the National English Honors Society, and being named onto Pope John’s Distinguished Honor and 1st Honor rolls each year.
Outside the classroom, Butler has been a member of the Pope John Players, American Spirit Performers, Mu Alpha Theta, the Divine Comedians and the Pope John Ski Club. Recently, she was the lead actress in the Pope John Players’ production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” playing the role of Nurse Ratched, and has been a director for the group.
She has also volunteered at Newton Medical Center and taught CCD classes at Good Shepherd Church for the last two years.
Butler attributes her successes to having a natural curiosity about everything.
“I’ve definitely have been that way,” Butler said. “Even when I was younger, I was always interested in art, but I always thought science was really cool. When I got to high school, I realized I love art, theater and English, but I also like government and politics. You could say I’m dabbling, but it’s more than that for me. I am heavily involved in a variety of subjects.”
So, when it came time to thinking about applying for colleges, Butler took on the challenge of applying to Harvard. After all, the application process entails things such as SAT or ACT scores, course grades, two instructor recommendations, a counselor recommendation, a personal essay, a writing supplement and an online portfolio.
“I wanted to do it for myself,” Butler said. “Ivy League schools look for a lot on your resume. I know it was a hard school, but I just wanted to give it a shot and prove that I could do it.”
When she was notified of her acceptance via Harvard’s online student portal, Butler was astounded because she became the sixth family member to get into an Ivy League school. Butler said two of her cousins currently attend Cornell University, an uncle went to Yale University, and an aunt and an uncle also attended Cornell.
Butler said she couldn’t have done this without the help of her parents and family members.
“They have been a big part of it,” Butler said. “My parents have been a huge help with everything I have done and my entire family has been supportive in everything I’ve done. They have helped make me who I am today.”
When her news spread throughout Pope John this week, every student and staff member in the building couldn’t have been more proud of Butler.
“She is so talented,” Father McHugh said. “She is an inspiration to other students. She is highly respected by her peers, teachers and administrators. She is an exceptional woman.”
“I’m not surprised that a school like Harvard would want a student like Margaret,” Pope John’s Supervisor of Academic Instruction Mr. Brian Vohden said. “Margaret Butler really does embody what is great about Pope John kids.”
Now that her college destination is set, Butler said she will continue exploring her options as to her academic concentration. She said she is looking into planetary/earth sciences, political science and art, and she also has an interest in doing Army ROTC because her father is an Army veteran.
But for now, the well-rounded Butler has every reason to be happy.
“I’m thrilled,” Butler said. “It’s more than amazing. It’s just fantastic.”