Feeling the love: school community after all

By Ashley Halkett

I hate it when people say Harvard-Westlake has no community. I would say this is the sentimental senior side coming out, but I’ve felt this way for a long time.

Community spirit is the subject of countless Prefect speeches, event proposals and Chronicle editorials. It often provides platform material and column fodder (mea culpa), though it rarely seems to be positive commentary. I could take that road. However, after my experience this spring, I don’t have it in me to say anything negative.

When I was waitlisted in April, I honestly thought it was the worst thing that could have happened to me, excepting rejection. It was January-through-March all over again, with no guarantee of a notice at the end. But there was a plus side. When I got off that waitlist on May 6 at 1:58 p.m., the sheer number of people shouting their congratulations was incredible. Within seconds of finding out, I had multiple missed calls. When I interrupted my mom’s history class to tell her, several juniors stood up and clapped.

People I’d spoken to maybe three times in six years came up to me in the quad to hug me or tell me how happy they were. I received more laudatory text messages than I had on my birthday, and all were from Harvard-Westlake students who were honestly, truly happy for someone else and more than ready to express it.

I don’t mean to imply that I’m über popular—I’m not. But that’s what makes that moment so incredible.

If your idea of community is a school where every person supports everyone else, then of course we lack a sense of community. That’s an impossible standard. With any school, let alone one as large and competitive as ours, there are going to be conflicts or people you just can’t stand. That doesn’t mean that nobody is supportive, nobody cares or nobody truly does love Harvard-Westlake and the people who go here. A lot of people support, a lot of people care and many, many people love our school, and it really shines through in senior year.

It’s true our community spirit could be better; I don’t deny that. But it could be a lot worse too. We share common workloads, common stresses, common enemies, common friends.

That binds us, indelibly, whether we like it or not. We have a lot of community – there’s proof everywhere – and I think it’s time we recognize it.