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Morristown valedictorian to attend Hanover

Morristown High School’s valedictorian is a metalhead who wants to work with corpses.

“I kind of found out about the field of pathology, and I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds cool,’ like figuring out about disease and illness and all that,” Aidan Stoner said.

So he did more research on the topic.

“I decided I didn’t want to be a clinical pathologist who kind of just analyzed tissue samples all the time,” he said. “That didn’t sound interesting to me. I found out about forensic pathology, and that just kind of made more sense to me.”

Forensic pathologists are the people who perform autopsies – hence, working with the dead.

Stoner will attend Hanover College in the fall. He said he chose Hanover because he felt what it had to offer lined up with his academic goals.

“I’m really into science and they cater a lot to that,” he said. “Their science building is also a natural history museum. The have one of the only undergrad cadaver labs, which I plan on going into forensics, so that was a big hit for me.”

Except Hanover doesn’t offer forensic pathology as a major, so Stoner will major in psychology. He said he chose psychology because there wasn’t another major that peaked his interest.

“I’m just really interested in the human mind,” he said. “It’s just really fascinating to me how it works, how our behaviors form and are influenced, how personality forms – just everything to do with the brain and behavior is always so fascinating to me.”

He emphasized how much he wanted to learn about personality.

“We don’t know a whole lot about it, but there’s a lot of theories, and so it just – learning about all that and figuring out how our environment works with our inborn traits to develop into our personality,” he said. “I just love learning about that.”

Stoner said he researched personality a little bit for English papers, but he has yet to take his first psychology course.

He also chose Hanover because he liked how the campus was embedded in nature, he said. He added that driving through the entrance at Hanover felt like driving into a state park.

“The campus is gorgeous,” he said. “You’ve got hundreds of acres, and not even half of it is the college campus, so there’s just tons of trails that you can hike on, which I love doing.”

Stoner said his love for nature comes from spending a lot of time outdoors as a child.

“My Dad and his dad – my grandfather – are both pretty big on the outdoors, so they made sure that as a kid that I got out,” he said. “So it’s just a place I feel really relaxed.”

One way his family exposed him to nature was by taking him to his grandparents’ cabin in Maine. He said they’ve gone every summer since he was 5.

“There was one year, where – just because of different commitments – my dad, my sister and I ended up going up there alone,” he said. “We always climb to the top of this mountain, Mount Borestone, and so we did that, and we just got to the top, and there was just this beautiful view over the entire lake that our cabin is on. I think it was kind of that moment, just being with my family, overseeing that, that I just really felt connected.”

Stoner’s dad, Brant, also introduced him to heavy metal.

“My dad is a big Metallica fan, so he made sure that as a kid, I listened to them,” he said. “From there, as I grew older, I went searching for more bands like them. I just branched out to different heavy metal bands and different heavy metal subgenres.”

His dad took him to see Metallica in March when they performed at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It was Stoner’s first concert.

“Just to be there in this big crowd of people, who all felt the same way as me, who had the same love for this music, and just to see the people who had made something that I really loved, to see them playing the music and having just as fun a time as the rest of us – it was just such a great moment,” he said.

He also listens to bands like Slipknot, Disturbed, Avatar, and Five Finger Death Punch.

“It’s sort of the intensity of it that matches with my feelings of being stressed and sort of, I guess, overwhelmed,” he said. “That’s something I can really relate to, and it just kind of acts like an outlet. I just kind of feel like I’m really connecting with the music.”

Stoner said his connection to nature and heavy metal feel the same, like one is floating and can focus solely on being outside or listening to the music.

His treks outside and his passion for heavy metal taught him how to deal with stress, a lesson that will be valuable at Hanover, he said.

“If I ever need to disconnect with anything, I can just go out in nature and feel totally free and unburdened,” he said.

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