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Seniors of CPS: Leda O., Gracie P., Elliot B., Yonas B., Brandon K., Kalia L.

(From left to right, top row to bottom) Leda Oddo-White, Gracie Paterson, Elliot Beamer, Yonas Belay, Brandon Kim, Kalia Lai (Seniors) - Interviews Conducted by Phoebe Shin, Rina Huang, Nora Wagner, Araddhya Tibrewall

This week, your Humans of CPS Team interviewed six lovely seniors— Leda, Gracie, Elliot, Yonas, Brandon, and Kalia, for our second week of Seniors of CPS interviews. These interviews were conducted all on different days—some after Intraterm meetings, some on Thursday afternoons (anticipating the Senior Boat Bash!)— but they all held the same purpose: to share fun facts about our seniors and memories from their past four years at College Prep. We hope you enjoy!

Q: What is something unique about you/a fun fact that your classmates might not know?

Leda: I work at a bookstore! That's like the only thing I have…It’s called Bookshop West Portal—it’s in SF. Um, I started working in June of summer, so not long! But yeah, it's fun.

Gracie: Um…Oh gosh, let’s see. I’m really into cooking with my family. Recently I created a tradition of cooking at least one family dinner per week, and it's just a nice way to catch up with my family and bond. But just in general, cooking and baking is something I find really enjoyable, and I think my classmates don't see that very often.

Elliot: I would probably say that I have four siblings. Yeah, two of them go to this school. My twin—Claire—and my younger sister, Adele. It’s just nice to have my family go to school, take some of the same classes as me…y’know, we can help each other out. Talking to each other about our shared experiences is nice. But, y’know, growing up with four siblings…I’ve always had someone to do something with. I can find someone to hang out with, I don’t necessarily have to go out of the house and meet a friend. It’s been really nice to have them.

Yonas: Definitely a few classmates already know this, so maybe I’m cheating a little bit. It’s kind of weird. I’ve always said that I’m left-handed, but there’s some things I can do better with my right hand. Apparently it’s called cross-dominant or something like that. Yeah, just a weird little thing. People make fun of me!

Brandon: I guess that in my free time, besides doing gymnastics, that I make music with Owen—I think that’s something that I don’t really share that often with the CPS community.

Kalia: I’m learning Russian right now, because I like languages and I think Russian is a very unique language, and it’s been very fun.

Q: Looking back at your experience at CPS, what is something you will never forget?

Leda: Oh gosh… I mean this is on my mind because we just had Intraterm meetings, but probably Intraterms! Other schools do it, but I never had anything like that in middle school—I wasn't really, you know, expecting it to be as fun as it was. And yeah, a lot of random experiences I wouldn't have gotten in another way. Freshman year I did a circus one, sophomore year I did a theater one—so we got to watch a bunch of different shows which was sick—junior year…oh boy…oh! I don't remember what it was called, but we basically did art and hiked around and looked at pretty views. For senior year I'm going to do Mendoscenery, so we're going to go up to Mendocino.

Gracie: Definitely the people I've met. I think that's a pretty normal answer, but I think that the size of our grade really allows for a close knit community. Everyone at this school is insanely talented and smart, and they all are super passionate about what they do—I’d say that everyone in my grade has impacted me in some way. It’s just been a really cool experience growing up with these people.

Elliot: Probably one of my favorite experiences at CPS has been being a part of the different teams I’m on. Specifically the soccer team—it’s been a really great experience for me. Everyone on the team is super close, so we have a lot of fun out on the field. Same with debate. I’ve really enjoyed, y’know, learning with the rest of the team as we got older. Helping out some of the younger members of the team to improve their skills has also been a really enriching experience. I’ll never forget the spirit of collaboration and community that CPS has.

Yonas: Probably sophomore retreat. It was just super fun, and I feel like that was a defining moment for my friends. We got really close. The retreat just solidified our group.

Brandon: I’d probably say sophomore retreat—that was definitely one of the more memorable things we’ve done. Especially before the pandemic, I think that was the most fun thing that CPS had to offer at the time.

Kalia: I would say…the first dance back (after quarantine) was really fun. It had been so long since we had a big social event, and it was really fun to do something despite all the challenges—and the same with Spirit Week!

Q: What is one word you would use to describe your four years at College Prep?

Leda: Um, interesting. *laughs* I mean, in both senses of the word. Like, I learned a lot which is interesting, and there've also been some strange experiences, which is interesting! There you go.

Gracie: Maybe like, I don't know, impactful? I just think that if I compare my freshman self to my senior self, I feel like I’m a completely different person. Maybe not appearance wise or anything, but like mentally I think I’ve definitely grown up a lot, so I think this has definitely been… it’s changed who I am.

Elliot: I’d say exciting. There’s a new, exciting thing to do everyday here. Y’know, you can have the basic things you do: your classes and the clubs you’re a part of. But there’s always going to be, like, a new event or a new leadership opportunity that you can get involved with. There’s no lack of things to do.

Yonas: Hmm… maybe unexpected. I definitely came in with a lot of expectations of what College Prep would be like. If you don’t go to College Prep, I feel like a lot of people have…y’know, some assumptions about the school. *laughs* I had those in mind, but the school has definitely been a lot different than what I thought.

Brandon: I would say…maybe undervalued? In the sense that I didn’t utilize everything that was offered to me at this school. Like, I feel like there were lots of opportunities to learn and engage with the community that…not only did I not get to do, I kind of couldn’t because of other things outside of school. So, I don’t know if undervalued is the right word, but I feel like there’s so much stuff that this school had to offer that I wasn’t able to take on.

Kalia: Growth. Just seeing how much we’ve all changed as a class is great, and I think we’ve all really grown into ourselves.

Q: What are you looking forward to in the future?

Leda: Um…I think learning how to live on my own. I feel like CPS is definitely a bubble, and I haven’t seen much of the world. Then also just not having my parents there to support me is going to be interesting, so we’ll see how it goes.

Gracie: I guess just like finishing out the rest of this semester with my classmates and hopefully bonding, because we know our time is coming to an end. Probably just like this summer, just spending my last time with these people before we go our separate ways—that would be really nice. I think that knowing we might not all be in the same place again is like, a really good reason to spend as much time with them as possible.

Elliot: Yeah, this is now my last semester of high school. I just want to make sure that I continue to foster connections with my friends here. I want to ensure that those are friendships and connections that I’ll have for the rest of my life. It’s obviously been a very unique experience to go to a school where everyone is so close to each other. That’s a tool I can use to make sure that I’ll have people that are there for me for the rest of my life.

Yonas: I mean, obviously college. I’ve always been kind of nervous about moving far away. I’m the only kid in my family—I’ve got three siblings—that will go to college away from California. I’m definitely nervous, but I’m also excited to see what else is out there.

Brandon: I think more than college, I’m looking forward to the end of this semester, as well as the summer, just because I feel like during that time, you know, everyone’s in the same position where we all know that this is our last semester together, and the last summer that we’re all going to be at home. So I feel like that’s kind of a drive to create more memories together and it’ll be a memorable time to look back on in the future and be like, yeah, that was a good time in high school.

Kalia: Packing in the most I can do this semester, making more connections, enjoying myself, and making sure I take part in my community.

Q: If you could say one thing to your grade as you begin to close out your CPS journey, what would it be?

Leda: Good luck with everything, and thanks for a good four years!

Gracie: Um, I guess it's been really cool watching all of us grow up and come into ourselves. I’m really proud of everyone in my grade, and I’m really excited to see what they all do. They mean a lot to me, even the people I'm not super close with – I admire everyone in my grade. I’m just excited for the future for all of us.

Elliot: Let’s have fun this last semester! I want to make more memories, just like we’ve done these past three and a half years.

Yonas: Honestly, just that it’s been fun.

Brandon: I think I would just say thank you, for being so understanding, and accepting, and not only that, but just… I think our grade has done a really nice job of coming together, and not being too cliquey to the point where people won’t approach each other. Like, I feel like I can approach everyone in our grade, at any time of the day for any reason and have a conversation with anyone. I think the accepting environment that our grade has created and the open communication we have is really great.

Kalia: It’s been so much fun, and you’re all very cool people, and I can’t wait to spend the last five or so months with all of you!


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