The stage is where Zach Ade thrives.
“My biggest passion is public speaking, by far,” Ade told the Pilot. “I’ve always loved acting, and I realized how much power comes with words and how much power comes with a voice.”
Ade has used that voice well in his time at Whitefish High School, which comes to an end when the senior graduates on June 2.
He’s amassed a list of speaking and acting highlights in the last four years, performing with in Alpine Theatre Project productions and helping lead his speech and debate team to a second-place finish in state in his final year. He’s also been president of the school’s DECA club, captain of the speech team, president of the Drama Club and the Montana State Thespians Club. He’s also a National Merit finalist and member of the National Honor Society, Model United Nations, band, choir and even put on the boxing gloves for the Cat-Dog Smoker last summer.
As he says, he has trouble sitting still.
“I am a very busy person. I like to do a lot of different things, and I’m really happy when I’m really busy,” Ade said.
Ade is hoping he’ll stay plenty busy at the next stage of his life.
Come fall, he’ll start his undergraduate studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California, a small liberal arts school about an hour east of Los Angeles. While he looked at some larger schools across the country, Ade said the intimate size of Pomona attracted him.
“I got into a handful of colleges and some of them were 40,000 undergrads, and I don’t know if I can do that, I’ve just gotten so used to the small school,” he said.
It’s bittersweet leaving Whitefish, but he’s excited for future opportunities to come in Claremont.
“I talk about how much I love Whitefish, but I’m definitely ready to branch out, to get into the real world and experience what it’s like to be on my own and to find my own path,” he said. “Especially in a liberal arts college, I’m excited to still study — because I have to take a class in every single subject — so I still get to experience my love of learning.”
It’s not the first time he’s navigated a big move.
Born in Philadelphia, Ade lived in Pennsylvania for a short time before moving to Florida. In 2010 his family packed up and moved to Whitefish, and he came out of it a different — and better — person, he said.
“I was a very shy person. I didn’t put a lot of effort into a lot of things because it was a new place for me, I was really nervous, but high school really changed me a lot,” he said. “ I could’ve just spent all my time in school studying 24/7, but I chose instead to experience a lot of new things, which turned out to be things I fell in love with and now want to do for a career.”
Branching out and finding what his passions truly gave him goals and incentives to improve.
And he’s proud of how far he’s come, he said.
“I went from competing in one event and not really ever making finals in speech and debate and small roles in theatre to, by the time I was a junior and senior, being successful in speech and debate, winning tournaments and getting larger roles in theatre,” Ade said. “I always think, ‘What can I do to make myself better?’ As cliché as it sounds, I’m always driven to better myself.”
Success in speech and debate tops his list of highlights for his four years at WHS.
Both as a team and individually it was a successful season, he said.
“Me personally, my partner [Ian Caltabiano] and I did policy debate this year and won about seven or eight tournaments and that was a big highlight. He’s one of my best friends and he’s an amazing partner. We just had a very successful season that I was proud of,” he said.
What’s next for Ade? He’s not sure.
He’s got some ideas, however, and naturally public speaking plays a big role.
One idea is to pursue philosophy or economics with the intention of going to law school and maybe one day becoming a judge. Going into politics is also an option, he said.
The main goal is that he does something he’s proud of and helps others.
“Whenever I think about what I want to do in life, because it still is dancing around in my head and I don’t know — the thing that I still think of all the time is, ‘What are my priorities?’ And one of my biggest priorities is to do something that will make a difference, no matter how small, but that’s the goal,” he said.
“I think public speaking, for me, is my tool to get that. It’s something I couldn’t live without, honestly.”