Q&A: Orchard Grad Is Purdue Student Government President, Engineering Major and Quarterback

Aaron Banks has definitely kept busy since graduating from Orchard in 2011. He’s Purdue's student government president, an engineering major, a quarterback on the football team and this summer he will be interning at a consulting firm in Chicago.

Last month, IndyStar wrote a wonderful feature about Aaron’s years playing football at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, as well as his current achievements at Purdue.

Aaron attributes a lot of who he is today to the experiences he had at Orchard. Read our Q&A with Aaron as we talk about Orchard’s progressive education, being elected Purdue student government president and his Orchard coach, Steve Thompson, retiring after 47 years.
How have you been?
I’ve been good! Currently trying to organize and stay on top of all of my new responsibilities for next year, but the process has been smooth. Still playing football and love math so not much has changed since my Orchard days. Also, my younger brother [Simon Banks '15] still has never beaten me 1-on-1 in basketball (I don’t count the time he beat me when I had a broken wrist) so that hasn’t changed since Orchard either [haha]. I am still good friends with a lot of my classmates at Orchard so in a sense I guess you could say a lot has changed but a lot has stayed the same as well.
Congratulations on being named Purdue student government president. Orchard is very proud of you. It must be a great feeling to have your peers believe in you.
Thank you! It’s a surreal feeling to be elected into this position and to be able to represent the thousands of high caliber students we have at Purdue.
You mentioned in the IndyStar article about you that as president you have a progressive vision for inclusion and collaboration at Purdue. Did this mindset form during your 10 years under Orchard’s Progressive Education?
I credit a lot of my mindset now to my experience at Orchard. At Orchard, I wasn’t just challenged by the curriculum, but also to approach the world with an open mind. I was introduced to many new perspectives while as I was at Orchard and my teachers challenged me to push myself being my educational and social limits. While I was at Orchard, I was a generally quiet student. However, throughout my time at Orchard I was politely challenged again and again to step out of my comfort zone and without a doubt that experience helped shaped me into the leader that I am today.  
On top of being student government president, you’re also one of Purdue’s quarterbacks, an engineering major and you’re interning this summer at a consulting firm in Chicago. How are you able to balance so many important roles? 
Throughout my entire life the key has been to find a balance between academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities. At one point at Orchard (I think 5th grade) I was playing basketball, finishing up my soccer and football seasons, taking piano lessons, in the chess club, and in the African drum club (still proud of our performance we had at an assembly) all at the same time. Experiences like these, at such an early age, instilled time management into my daily thought process. I attribute a lot of who I am today to the experiences I had balancing everything while at Orchard.

When you’re not busy, what do you like to do during your free time? 
I enjoy playing chess whenever I can find someone to play against. I also watch a lot of Netflix, listen to audiobooks, and hangout with friends.

What advice do you have for Orchard 8th grade students who are about to begin their high school journey?
I would say to remember to keep an open mind and meet all kinds of new people. Don’t be afraid to meet new friends! Also, make sure that you continue the same study habits you learned from Orchard (unless you find an even better approach for yourself). The foundation you received from Orchard will really help you make a smooth transition to high school academically and socially.

What are some of your fondest memories of Orchard? 
Some of my best memories from Orchard were tapping the trees for syrup, roller skating during gym class, playing basketball for Coach Thompson and Coach Kirtz, the wax museum, the 7th and 8th grade trips, staying over night out by the cabin, and Field Day.

Not sure you knew or not, but this is coach Thompson’s final year. I know you won a basketball title with him, and he refers to you as the best player on the team during your 8th grade year. Anything you want to say to coach?
Coach Thompson,
I want to thank you for the lessons that you taught me while playing for you. From helping me become a better leader to your famous sideline comments throughout the games, I made some of my best basketball memories playing for you in 7th and 8th grade. You have left such a positive impact on the entire Orchard community and you are very deserving of all the success you have had as a coach. Congratulations on a fantastic career!

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    • Aaron Banks at his first student government senate meeting at Purdue University.