Students participate in school activities, travel over mid-semester break

Konnie Duan ’23 participates in a fencing tournament during mid-semester break in Torrance, CA.

Lucas Cohen-d'Arbeloff

Upper school students engaged in a variety of activities throughout Los Angeles and beyond over mid-semester break, which lasted from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15. Most sophomores and juniors participated in the school’s PSAT/NMSQT administration on Oct. 13 before departing for the break.

Gisele Stigi ’22 said that she, like many of her fellow seniors, traveled to tour colleges during the break. Stigi said while most colleges did not allow students to enter buildings due to COVID-19 precautions, she still was able to understand more about each school, even getting to take a voice lesson at Williams College.

“[Having to stay outside] is a shame, but we still were able to get the vibes of campuses from outside tours, and tour guides have generally been great,” Stigi said. “I wasn’t expecting how much actually getting to walk around campus and be around students who go to the school would give me a real impression of what it would be like to be at that school. So that has been helpful.”

Stigi said she appreciates the time the school builds into the schedule for seniors to tour colleges, both through frequent upper school off-days and College Application and Recommendation Writing Days, as well as letting seniors miss a few days of school.

“Especially as a first-semester senior, school days are precious,” Stigi said. “You really can’t miss too many of them. So I’m glad Harvard-Westlake has a lot of off-days for the seniors to tour or just break days in general. They allow seniors to [miss some school]; they’re not going to penalize us for missing school to tour, which is nice.”

Other students, like Kiki Cooper ’23, stayed closer to home during the break, making plans or attending events. Cooper said she enjoyed watching a friend sing in a performance at the Orange County School of the Arts and having the opportunity to engage more with fellow performing artists.

“I love supporting the passions and endeavors of friends whenever I can, and over fall break I got to do just that,” Cooper said. “One of my close friends performed at her school, and I was able to go enjoy her lovely singing and the other acts as well. As a fellow musician, I valued having the chance to be inspired by other singers my age, as it motivates me to continuously work on my craft.”

Julia Im ’23 said she felt overwhelmed by her workload and instead chose to spend mid-semester break catching up on schoolwork and finalizing her application to the National YoungArts Competition.

“This break was a good opportunity for me to finish work that I was behind on,” Im said. “After Homecoming, I found myself putting off a lot of homework, so I’m glad we had this time to ease back into classes without too much stress.”