(From left to right, top row to bottom) Rohan Parekh, Ethan Kabatchnik, Owen Jung, Bailey de Vries, Gursimran Panesar, Kyla Johnson, Téa Bartlett (Seniors) - Interviews Conducted by Phoebe Shin, Rina Huang, Nora Wagner, Araddhya Tibrewall
This week, your Humans of CPS Team interviewed seven lovely seniors—Rohan, Ethan, Owen J, Bailey, Gursimran, Kyla, and Téa, to kick off the first week of Seniors of CPS interviews. These interviews were conducted all on different days—some in person, some on Zoom— 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?
Rohan: The one I always use in icebreakers is that I lived in China for nine years, but I’ve used it in so many icebreakers I feel like everyone knows it at this point. Besides that, I don't know – I feel like I'm particularly nerdy. I’m very into Dungeons and Dragons, and spend at least four to eight hours a week playing with my friends. It’s just a very significant part of my life that I feel like is making more of a resurgence in the cultural consciousness these days, but yeah, that's something I'm happy about and is a little unique to me. Norm does play Dungeons and Dragons! It’s very funny—last Intraterm he was one of the hosts and I wish I had gotten to play with him, but I did not. It would've been wonderful.
Ethan: Hmm…I think the hardest part is what our grade wouldn’t know…I really like the whole concept of working with people—I think group projects are really fun. It’s kind of a bad answer, kind of an unpopular opinion, but they’re fun when everyone is working on it and doing their part, and when everyone is invested in the project. I just like the idea of tackling challenges with a team, and working with a team to make something—I think that’s really cool.
Owen: I feel like I’m pretty much an open book: I think a lot of people know what my idea is—I’m kind of out there doing stuff all the time. I don’t really have any hidden talents or anything, but I guess something that I really care about but don’t talk about a lot is music. Music is a really big thing for me—you know, I’m in band but I also love making beats and making music with my friends, and selling beats in my free time. I feel like it’s the only thing I like to do when I’m alone, otherwise I’d rather be with people.
Bailey: Actually, we’ve been together for so long that there’s not a lot that has gone unsaid…
Gursimran: Um…I think a lot of people assume I was born in California, but actually I was born in North Carolina. Which is kind of a weird state to be born in, because there’s nobody there, but yeah – I think something unique at CPS is probably the fact that I was born in North Carolina.
Kyla: I think maybe that I’ve moved around a lot. I was born in Irvine, SoCal, and until I was in 4th grade (or 3rd grade I think!). I moved schools every single year in elementary school. So I never really had a concrete place to call home. I came to Oakland and stayed for middle school. So, yeah, I think that definitely defines my personality a little bit.
Téa: I guess…I’d say, like, two things. A lot of people already know this, but I’m a state ranked archer. I’m going to be nationally ranked this year! The second thing is that I’m a speed reader. I didn’t know I was a speed reader until someone was like, “you read that book in two hours? I read that book in two days!” Yeah, two fun facts!
Q: Looking back at your experience at CPS, what is something you will never forget?
Rohan: I think throughout the entire four years I’ve been here, the people I’ve met here are obviously the standout. Because like, great education and great classes of course, but being able to meet so many people who are just as nerdy as I am and are interested in the same things as me has been really wonderful. Just meeting people I never would have talked to, being able to forge very strong relationships, and being exposed to tons of experiences I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.
Ethan: I think there are few, some good and some bad. The first one is kind of terrible, but it’s my first finals week. We would go down to College Ave and get lunch, and I had done enough studying, so I was feeling okay. I think it was more fun to have that feeling of being done with the semester, and the feeling of accomplishment following academic stress, and being able to experience with my friends at the same time was great. The second one would be soccer, I’ve played soccer for four years. We’ve never won, but we’ve thought for the last three years that we should’ve won something, and we didn't, but that’s okay. I think the perpetual feeling of loss and wanting to do better the next year is something that will stick with me—to keep tackling challenges even if you get put down. And I’ve also just really liked my classes and my experiences with people here.
Owen: I don’t know, I feel like I’ve had a fantastic time all around. I don’t know if there’s one memory specifically, but there’s a few…One would have to be sophomore retreat—that was really great. Obviously we didn’t get a lot of that stuff near the end of that year, or all of junior year, so that was really fun. I think it’s more like the little things that I remember, like being around campus everyday, seeing the same people everyday for four years now. Lunches, playing sports, doing miscellaneous things throughout the day—it’s kind of sustaining, you know? Even when we went into quarantine, it was great going onto Zooms with people, being able to text my friends everyday…I think the thing that I’ll remember is the fact that… obviously I have great friends, but especially just the fact that they’ve constantly been there, and that’s always been something I can turn to. They’re always there for me and I’m just very thankful, and I don’t think I’ll forget it, because you know, later in life, people have more obligations, but as of now, they’re always there.
Bailey: I think it’ll definitely be drama tech. When I joined, I was the only freshman in the entire class, the entire group. The seniors and juniors who were there when I was a freshman were really formative in who I am as a person, how I work in drama tech. It’s definitely been a very important community to me, and I enjoy being one of the leaders, bringing a new generation in.
Gursimran: Um, definitely all the interesting people I’ve met. I think nobody here really conforms to a certain mold or really fits into any sort of, I guess like, mold of what other people think of them as. I think there’s always something surprising about everyone at this school. Yeah, so definitely all the interesting personalities.
Kyla: Just the people I’ve met and the close relationships I’ve made. And I think, the dance program in general, just because I’ve been in the dance program since I was a freshman, and I’ve just had a lot of close relationships with people through that. We have a sleepover every year, and sometimes we go to museums and stuff—I’ve definitely found a lot of friends.
Téa: I definitely use this story way too much, but it was the start of my freshman year, maybe the second or third day. I was really nervous! I walked into the auditorium for this, like, drama meeting. It was the start of David Copperfield. I just immediately got hugged by four separate juniors. I will never forget that moment. For one, it was my introduction into theater. I’d done a few plays in the past, but this felt like the start. It was also an introduction into the CPS community! It was an awesome moment.
Q: What is one word you would use to describe your four years at College Prep?
Rohan: Kind of hard to compress everything down to a single word but…*pause* Surprising, I guess. Just in everything – surprising to find out who I really am as a person. Exploring myself has been a really big part of this – surprising in like all the wonderful people and all the random facts I've learned, and how much I’ve just gained from being here.
Ethan: Can it have a hyphen in it? …Academically-overhyped. *laughs* Like, going into CPS, I feel like everyone thought, oh no, this school is going to be so hard, I’m not going to have any free time, and then you do your first night of homework. I remember I took multiple pages of notes for my history reading, which was completely unnecessary, I really didn’t need to do that. And then what happens is you begin to adapt to this school, you learn what the school means to you, you get to handle it, you enjoy it, and you have fun.
Owen: Opportunities, maybe? Because I just feel like at this school, there’s so many different things that you can do, and there’s not very many barriers to trying things—at least for me, I know there might be more barriers for other people and I don’t want to assume anyone else’s experience—but for me, I feel like the door has always been open for me to try new things, be it STOak or playing sports, or just going up and meeting people from grades above and below, and in our grade. There’s just been a lot of opportunities at my fingertips, and I’ve tried my best to just to say yes whenever something was offered to me, and see how it goes. And I’ve had a lot of fun, so I’d say that’s a) the one thing I’ve learned, to just say yes if there’s something in front of me and I’m not sure if I should do it or not, since it usually turns out well, and also b) because I feel like something that’s especially there at CPS is opportunities.
Bailey: That one’s difficult. What would I say?...Interesting and unique doesn’t quite cover it, but it’s the best thing; there are so many experiences that just can’t be expressed with one word.
Gursimran: Um, illuminating.
Kyla: Growth. I think I was a very different person in 9th grade than I am now. And I guess, I’ve just changed a lot, based not on CPS alone. I’ve grown a lot because of the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had.
Téa: Oh my god…okay, give me a second. Okay, honestly, the first word that comes to mind is stressful. But that’s not the word I want to go with! I guess this doesn’t necessarily describe it, but I think my word is friends. That’s really the central part of my time at CPS. Stress might be the first word I think of, but once you push past that…once you push past that, you get to the core experience.
Q: What are you looking forward to in the future?
Rohan: Yeah, in my future going into like college and stuff, I think obviously it's melancholic because I'm going to lose touch with a lot of people – it's just inevitably going to happen – but I'm really excited to meet new people and make new connections with everyone, and further find out who I am as a person through those connections. I think that’ll be a lot of fun, and I can't wait to have that be part of my college experience.
Ethan: I think I’m looking forward to (hopefully) leaving California, for a second, and getting out for a few years, as well as also starting my life and career independently. We’ve been coddled for the last 17-18 years, and I think it’s kind of that time for everyone, or most people, when you kind of get to the point where you feel like you’ve been here, and it’s time to try something new.
Owen: I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of this semester, especially since I have Covid right now, and it’s pretty much my fourth vaccine at this point, so I’m excited to have a redo of last summer, when the vaccines were first coming out and you had this sort of invincible feeling—I’m looking forward to having that again. Also to spend more time with the people that I care about, as much as possible, before I go to college…I don’t know if I’m excited for college. There’s definitely trepidation, since I feel like I’ve settled into a really good group at CPS, and I kind of know what I’m doing, I have my people, I have my stuff that I do, and obviously going to college is going to be really new. It’s like starting fresh again, and obviously that has its benefits, but at the same time, you don’t have as much credit built up for yourself. But I am also excited, because it’s going to be a whole new level of living around people and just spending your time immersed with your friends and peers. So yes…I guess I am looking forward to it. But I’m more excited for the next six-ish months.
Bailey: I’m definitely looking forward to the last semester—it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to friends, start getting ready for the new, more adult world out there. I’m also looking forward to starting my new college experience, figuring out where I want to go in my life.
Gursimran: I’m looking forward to going to college, meeting new people, learning new things… Just sort of diversifying my interests.
Kyla: As for the last semester, just having fun with school. I think the last few years have been pretty stressful in the school environment, and now the year is coming to an end, just learning for fun, fostering those relationships that I’ve had for the past four years, and cherishing all those memories—before we all go away.
Téa: I guess I’m really looking forward to this last semester. I want to be with people. I feel like my grade has gotten super close right after quarantine. We’re just all coming together for this last semester. It’s sentimental, because it’s our last semester. It’s also awesome, because…it feels like a solid end. I’m excited for moving on from CPS, even though it’s a little bit sad.
Q: If you could say one thing to your grade as you begin to close out your CPS journey, what would it be?
Rohan: Um, if I could only say one thing to my grade…I feel like I don't have good advice to give since everyone has lived through these four years as well. Probably along the lines of “Don’t forget these experiences,” because I feel like they’re very valuable. Like, remember all the people you've met and all the friends you’ve made and how it’s shaped you as a person, because I think this has been a very valuable four years to learn about yourself, about other people, and the diversity of human experience or whatever, and how other people have influenced you.
Ethan: Thank you, you’re all kind of weird… but thank you.
Owen: Ooh that’s a good one. I would say…this is your last chance to get to know people better, and build connections and strengthen existing bonds, say goodbye to people, and make sure that you’ve built stuff with people that’s going to last you into college. I mean, obviously that’s a lot of pressure, but we have a lot of time with each other, where we can coalesce and build our grade into something that will last far past high school. And I feel like I’ve built a good foundation for that, but I also want to make sure that I have a positive memory with everyone in our grade, and be able to remember every individual as an individual, because I feel like that’s something valuable to take away, especially at such a small school. So yeah, I guess if I had one thing to say it would be that we do have time left with each other, but we don’t have that much time, so if there’s anything you’ve wanted to do the last four years, now is the time to do it—there’s time now, but there won’t be any time if you don’t do it now. That’s what I would say.
Bailey: *contemplates*... Thank you for all the great classes, the great time we’ve had together as a grade. Thank you for giving me the space to grow and become the man I am today.
Gursimran: One thing to my grade, hm. I would say…be careful. *laughs* Just because I feel like there are a lot of things in this world that sort of cause you to change who you are, and I really think everyone in our grade is super unique and individualistic. So definitely, I think I’d like everyone to stay who they are.
Kyla: I think just that I’m so proud of everyone and how far they’ve come. Just like me, I think so many people have grown in so many ways and that so many people are completely unrecognizable, both in personality and you know, how they look from when we first met each other. I’m just very proud of how far everyone has come and have high hopes for everyone in this grade.
Téa: I love all of you! Thank you so much for giving me an awesome four years. Thank you for being a part of my high school experience.