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Nigel Naulls met the late Neil Matzen while attending St. Philip’s School and Community Center, but as his time there drew to a close, Naulls was left wondering where he would land next. Fortunately, Matzen was always one step ahead of the curve, had plans of his own for Naulls, and in 2008, Naulls charted a new path at the Episcopal School of Dallas.

“During a summer math camp at St. Philips, Mr. Matzen encouraged me to fill out an application to attend the Episcopal School of Dallas,” Naulls says. “I would have never thought of applying to ESD had it not been for him. His telling me to submit that application has changed my life forever.”

Naulls, now a junior, impressed his teachers in his first two years here so much, that, he was encouraged to apply for the school’s Dwight and Vera Dunlevie Endowed Scholarship – an honor that exemplifies students with outstanding academic achievements and the highest standards of personal character.

Established in 2000 in honor of retired ESD Middle School Head, Dwight Dunlevie, the scholarship has been further enhanced by memorial gifts from family and friends in recent years. Today, it provides two competitive scholarships for Upper School students. A new recipient is selected every two years.

“I am so thankful for receiving the Dunlevie Scholarship and for everything ESD has provided me,” Naulls says. “This has been a great community for me to learn and grow. I have matured and developed skills here that will last me for a lifetime.”

“While he has been at ESD, we have seen him become more responsible and self-motivated,” Nigel’s parents, Deborah and Gary, say. “ESD has embraced and supported not only our son, but our entire family.”

Outside of the classroom, Naulls, who is now halfway through his junior year, has also proven himself on the turf as a quiet, but intimidating presence for the ESD varsity football team. In his three seasons with the Eagles, he has posted an impressive highlight reel, but like so many athletes, it was his first touchdown that stands out the most.

“I caught an interception and ran it all the way back to the end zone for a touchdown,” Naulls says. “It was my first touchdown on varsity, and will always be my favorite memory from ESD.”

“He seems like the weight of the world is on his shoulders, but with his 6'0" 220-pound frame, he can easily handle that task,” Clayton Sanders, the head coach of the ESD varsity football team says. “However, he is not a verbose self-marketer, but more of a gentle giant that seeks greatness. He knows with every breath, comes the opportunity at capturing something amazing.”

This season, Naulls notched 78 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one interception and a touchdown in Sanders’ first season at ESD.

But when the helmet and pads come off, that 6’0’’ frame can be found gracefully weaving a bow along the delicate chords of a cello. Sure, Naulls can tackle and block among the best, but it takes a special young man to balance the bravado of football with the finesse of musicality.

“He’s a bit of an anomaly,” Sanders explains. “His playground is the weight room, football field, and classroom, but his oasis is the moment when it is just him and his cello.”

“The ESD community has helped me strive for excellence both in the classroom and on the football field,” Naulls says. “It’s also a school that allows students to cultivate skills, promote their individualism, and pursue their future in a Christian-based environment.”

That Christian-based environment, Naulls says, was another reason enrolling at the Episcopal School of Dallas was so appealing. Every day, students attend a chapel session together. Students are also required to complete one religious studies credit during their four years in the Upper School.

“My parents and ESD have taught me not only to be successful, but to put God first in my life,” Naulls says. “Through Chapel and my classes I have learned to live my life by the simple concept: ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’”

All of Naulls’ favorite things are somehow related to ESD. Besides his favorite classes (history and physics), one of his favorite activities is ESD’s Diversity club. There’s little surprise in learning his favorite sports team is the ESD Eagles.

“There is more to Nigel than his muscular athletic build and intimidating stare,” Sanders says. “Within those eyes lie greatness. Nigel is what ESD is all about.”