Finding my place

By Sade Tavangarian

When I was 9 years old I decided I must go to Harvard-Westlake. I did not know anything prior about the school but I remembered riding the school bus in third grade and hearing the older kids talk about how they wanted to apply because it was so “cool.” I did intensive research throughout my final years of elementary school and finally the day arrived where I was applying for middle schools. I vividly remember receiving my application. I opened a shiny red locker folder to find a booklet describing different activities the students did. I was amazed to think how students could be involved in sports, debate, start a radio station, and learn new languages while maintaining strong academics.

I walked confidently into my first class at Harvard-Westlake, math first period with Dwora Inwood in my Limited Too jeans, pink Converse shoes, black headband, and my “Trust me I’m a Lawyer” T-shirt. I wore shiny plastic glasses and snagged a seat in the front row ready to go. Little did I know I was getting onto the biggest roller coaster of my life.

I had a rough time at the middle school, I struggled fitting in and my closest friends were the walls of silent study. I thought I could meet friends through sports teams but I got cut from the girls’ tennis and field hockey teams. I tried out for Mock Trial and made alternative witness which gave me minimal time to spend with teammates. I barely said a word to my classmates and teachers. For example, in my Civics class seventh grade, my history teacher wrote in my comment, “It would be nice to hear Sade speak more than once a semester.” I was incredibly awkward and didn’t know where I belonged until I was forced to talk in my eighth grade Human Development class by teacher Eric Walker. I began communicating with my peers and built up the confidence to join the Middle School Debate team. Luckily there were no cuts and I started to push myself out of my comfort zone to join all the activities I read in the catalogue prior to coming to Harvard-Westlake.

In ninth grade I joined the school paper along with being a Lincoln Douglas debater and in Mock Trial, I started to get internships over the summer, I volunteered at a preschool for underprivileged children, and I was a student ambassador. When I came to the upper school I was drowning in extracurricular activities and didn’t know how to manage my time. I loved all my activities and felt like I belonged in a lot of different groups, but I struggled keeping my grades up. The biggest flaw I overcame was my confidence. I was always ambitious, but I never had the social confidence to interact with my peers and put forth my ideas. Now my friends would describe me as fearless. I will wear giant bows in my hair, start a dance party in the quad when no one’s dancing, and my history teachers tell me to hush up. I took a complete 180 degree turn from my seventh grade self and through the good and the bad times I don’t regret one moment of it.