Alumnus of the Week
James (Jamie) Barber
Class of 2012
Jamie in his service uniform
What have you done since you graduated?
"After high school, I took a little bit of a hiatus. I was going to go to Western Connecticut State University then I changed my mind. I took a break for a year and then joined the Navy and I have been part of the Active Duty Navy for the past eight years. I'm currently stationed in the Great Lakes area, a little bit north of Chicago."
Jamie and the SEAL Team FOUR Combat Support Service Team
Where have you been since you enlisted?:
"First I was in Guam, the Pacific Island area and south of the Philippines, close to Japan. From there I did a little bit of traveling in Japan. 
The second place I was stationed was down in Virginia Beach. From there, for deployment I ended up in South America a little bit. I was attached with Seal Team Four and I saw some cool places, including Panama, Columbia, and all sorts of neat stuff along the way."
What is your current rank?:
"I am an E6, Petty Officer First Class. I currently work at a boot camp."
Photo Collage from an educational class Jamie was a part of for the National Park Services Junior Ranger Program (Guam Chapter)
What do you remember from your time at Gilbert?:
"I had a really great time at Gilbert. As I was growing up, the school was like home to me. Especially because my grandmother, Janet Hall, worked at Gilbert for a very long time as an acquisitions manager. Even as a child, when I went to Hinsdale School, I would end up going to Gilbert in the morning when my grandmother went to work. I would hang out there for a while and walk down to Hinsdale when it was time for school. I grew up at Gilbert."
Do you have any other family members who also attended Gilbert?:
“Pretty much my entire family. My grandmother Janet (Thibodeau) Hall, 1956, went to Gilbert, along with my mother Tracy Hall, 1982, my father James Barber, 1969, and both of my sisters, Brittney Barber, 2004, and Haley (Barber) Wheeler, 2006.”
Jamie educating Navy Seal Cadets Program (Guam) members on naval equipment.
What lessons from Gilbert did you apply to the real world?:
"I would say it gave me an open mind. When I started at Gilbert, I wasn't always the best student. It took me a while to find something that interested me. Pretty much at the midway point of my time in high school, I started to discover the Arts was what I really took a liking to. Then, my whole mindset really changed at Gilbert. I attribute the Arts to really helping me find myself and my passion in everyday life. 
Even to this day, while I have been in the Navy, I have been associated with the Arts. I've done different charity events with the Red Cross that were associated with acting and performing.
Even though I have been around the world, I still try to keep in touch with people in town, including people at Laurel Music Camp. Now that I am a full-fledged senior staff member, I try to make it out to as many seasons of camp that I can. It keeps me in touch with the Winsted area and the arts that I love."
Why did you get into the military?:
"I was going to attend Western Connecticut State University for musical theater. I wasn't really ever in the top of my class academically and it took me a while to really apply myself. When it came time for me to go to college, it was tough because I didn't have any money of my own and I didn't have any scholarships. I remember looking at the loan paperwork and starting to forecast that it would take me quite some time to pay off these college loans. 
I made the decision to go into the military, not in a regretful way, but because it was a way to do something new and interesting. If I didn't like it, my thought process was that I could very easily leave at the end of my contract. I could then go back home and I would have some money for schooling if the military did not interest me further."
What advice would you give current students?:
"Be open to the world around you. Be very receptive. Your life plans can change from what you originally thought, but that's never a bad thing.
I really thought that I was going to go to college for acting, because it was a passion of mine. At first when I joined the military, as any kid would be, I was apprehensive about the change, but the adventure has been nothing short of amazing. I've done things most people never do in their lifetime. I've been to places I didn't have to pay out of pocket to see. It really is one of the major life decisions that I really am proud of.
Looking back at things I could have been, or I might have been, I really appreciate what I have been able to do and the person I have become from the experiences that I have had. My advice is to be openly receptive to that, to making changes, and to not being scared of those changes. Your life may go down a wonderful track that you never would have imagined."
Jamie taking part in Junior Ranger Day