Wielding a stick, Betty Boatwright has starred in three sports for Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, as a captain for the Cubs’ field hockey, lacrosse and ice hockey teams.

The member of Visitation’s class of 2022 has also been a leader off the playing fields and ice rinks, joining classmates in organizing a pandemic relief effort for health workers, and also earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, that group’s highest honor, for a project encouraging online safety for teens.

After the COVID-19 shutdown and as the rising rates of the virus’s spread impacted people’s health and livelihoods, Boatwright was among a group of Visitation students who formed Cubs for Compassion, and they raised funds to buy gift cards to local restaurants for health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“At that time, there wasn’t an end in sight. Health care workers were working so hard… It was so stressful (for them),” she said, explaining that the effort was designed to support area restaurants, and also provide a “pick-me-up” to the health workers and their families.

Later, the Cubs for Compassion raised more than $700 selling homemade candles to purchase socks for homeless people. With those proceeds, the Bombas company provided 1,000 pairs of socks that were then distributed to Washington-area programs serving the homeless, including the Father McKenna Center, the CCNV Shelter, Georgetown Ministry and the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen.

“We were just trying to find out different ways to help,” said Boatwright, who noted that Cubs for Compassion recently donated backpacks to the Father McKenna Center’s McKenna Academy, a six-month program that provides homeless men with education and life-skills training so they can find good jobs and stable housing.

Betty Boatwright, a member of the class of 2022 at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C. (Stone Photography)

For her Girl Scout Gold Project, Boatwright developed a website called Mind on Media addressing online safety and proper social media use for teens. 

Boatwright, who had started on the project before the pandemic, said after that crisis hit, “the topic became more relevant, because kids were on the screen all day” as they had virtual classes amid their personal online and social media use.

An article on the Georgetown Visitation website about her Mind on Media project quoted Boatwright as saying that she chose that topic “because as the world starts to rely more and more on technology, I felt it was important to educate myself and my peers about the different uses, dangers and aspects of digital media.”

The Visitation article noted that her Mind on Media website addresses topics related to teens’ digital media use, like online messaging, physical and mental effects, online reputation and digital footprint, social media and digital privacy.

In an interview with the Catholic Standard, Boatwright noted that, “What you are putting online always stays there, so you need to make sure what you are putting online is the best reflection of yourself and doesn’t hurt others.”

Regarding social media, she said, “I learned you want to balance what you’re putting out or doing actively on social media with absorbing information… So you are expressing yourself while taking in what other people are sharing.”

Boatwright, who is 17, is a member of Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.. She is the daughter of Mona and Wes Boatwright, and her younger sister Virginia, is graduating from Our Lady of Mercy School in Potomac and will be attending Connelly School of the Holy Child.

The Georgetown Visitation senior said she has especially appreciated the community spirit and traditions at her school, noting that as a freshman there, she appreciated how older students would greet younger students in the hallway.

Another aspect of Visitation life that she has appreciated is how prayer is woven throughout the school day there. Days begin with a morning prayer. “I think it’s a really great start to the day,” she said, adding that “during the day, different classes will start class with prayer. It gets you in the mindset to focus on the class.”

As if on cue, as Boatwright was being interviewed by the Catholic Standard in a parlor at the school, a student’s voice came over the intercom, praying, “My God, I give you this day.” The student praying over the intercom encouraged her peers to “open your heart to God” and concluded her prayer with the motto of the Visitation Sisters who have sponsored the school since they founded it in 1799: “Live Jesus.”

Boatwright was interviewed on May 11 just after finishing her AP Spanish exam, her last high school test at Georgetown Visitation, and before her lacrosse practice later that afternoon. As a Visitation student athlete, she played center in ice hockey, midfield in lacrosse and midfield in field hockey, a sport where she earned all-league honors in Independent School League competition.

She said balancing her time between her studies, interactions with her fellow students, and her sports practices and games helped her learn time management. She used her free periods to do her school work, and added, “I would try to balance my time between getting to know my classmates and going to the library.”

The Visitation senior said that when in-person classes resumed there during the pandemic, it meant a lot to her to say “hi” to fellow students in the hallway again, even if initially they were all wearing masks. Boatwright said she had missed seeing her friends and classmates at school, and one thing she learned after the pandemic separation was the importance of “just cherishing the time we have as a community together.”

This fall, she will be attending Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where she might major in economics and minor in law, justice and society, and she will also play field hockey and lacrosse.

Boatwright said a key lessons she has learned as a student athlete is “never count yourself out when competing,” and she pointed out that the day before, Visitation’s lacrosse team had mounted a come-from-behind victory.

As for her future career, Boatwright said she has considered teaching. She added, “I think whatever I do, I want to see how I can help others through my occupation.”