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Turn of the Tassel: Manse Jennings
Gainesville High School
Manse Jennings

Manse Jennings must have been an enigma to most of his high school teachers.

As a stellar student, an athlete and a well-rounded humanitarian with interests in community and environmental issues, most teachers might have expected Jennings to spend this fall settling in at some Ivy League school, or at least a school.

But Jennings’ teachers said they weren’t too surprised to learn that he wasn’t planning on going to school this fall at all.

Instead, Jennings, who will graduate a year early from Gainesville High School on Friday, is planning to take a year off to travel the jungles of Brazil, the ancient archaeological sites of Peru and explore the surf of Costa Rica.

“Right now, my plan is to go to Costa Rica, probably this fall,” Jennings said. “I want to take language classes and learn how to surf.”

Jennings said he plans to return to the United States to spend Christmas with his family in Colorado before he sets out for another adventure. He’s planning that trip to be to South America.

“I want to backpack around, travel and learn from the cultures, and possibly work there,” he said.

Although Jennings will take a trip to Scotland this summer with the Gainesville High School drama department, as well as a separate trip to Italy with the school, he will be traveling through Central and South America by himself.

“It’s just me,” he said. “I know I want to go to college, but this year is for me to mature. I know a lot of kids in college who went because that’s the next step — you go to high school, you go to college and you get a job. I have no clue what I want to major in, not a clue. I’d rather be a little more comfortable with what it is I want to do.”

Jennings said he has looked at several schools, including Harvard, Yale, Wake Forest and the University of Virginia. But first, although it might sound cliche, he wants to find himself on this trip.

“It’s an opportunity in front of me, and I want to take advantage of it while I can,” he said. “The most thing I hear from adults is do it while you can. I’ve been blessed in life, and I’m taking time to notice that.”