Don’t limt the limitless

We were led to believe that opportunity was limitless. And then we were accepted into this school, hundreds of students with an expansive variety of skills to fill that limitless opportunity.

So then why are we so limited? Not in participation, no. We’re all encouraged to be active and fit as many of these great organizations as we possibly can into our after-school lives. It is in leadership positions that the school limits its amazing student body.        

Take for example Stephanie Deutsch ’08. Deutsch was forced into picking between Peer Support and Chronicle in the spring of her sophomore year. She was picked to be a trainee, conditionally, that is — only if she would give up her Chronicle Editor in Chief and managing team aspirations for senior year. 
Deutsch was forced to make a quick decision in a meeting with Peer Support head Dr. Sheila Siegel. She chose Chronicle, and did end up on the managing team — and out of Peer Support. 

This should not be the case. High school should be about sampling different activities. It should be about self-discovery and learning one’s strengths and weaknesses, not about a marriage-level commitment to one organization that precludes participants from active membership in others.

Harvard-Westlake’s greatest gift is also its greatest curse. Everything at the school, every team, rhythm section and organization is of the highest caliber, or is in the process of getting there, but leaves no room for deep involvement in multiple organizations. 

There is a level of commitment required in every field that leaves little room for deep involvement in the potpourri of great activities offered. 

Ariana Sopher ’09, a Junior Prefect, is also a member of the girls’ varsity volleyball team.  Volleyball often has tournaments that require Sopher to miss school and sometimes Prefect Council functions. She feels the tug of both organizations constantly.  

“Every organization or group at Harvard-Westlake thinks they should be your first priority, and it’s hard to juggle them all,” Sopher said. “Eventually you have to decide.”

Sopher worries she will have to pick between the Prefect Council and volleyball next year.

Sopher, Deutsch and countless others like them deserve the chance to realize the limitlessness they were sold as sixth graders.  Harvard-Westlake is the great place it is because of the countless choices offered to students.  But why make us choose?