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Coming into HW at 9th grade

By Natasha ’23

When I first got my acceptance to HW, it didn’t seem real. Harvard-Westlake had previously been a distant dream away, one that I didn’t want to entertain. To me, a new school meant new possibilities, but also leaving old friends behind. Not to mention, I had just started hitting my stride in 8th grade, so it seemed really mean on the universe’s part that I’d have to be the “new kid” again. I tend to be pretty shy around people I don’t know, so meeting my grade of over 300 sounded like a nightmare. What’s the coolest way to say hi to someone? How can I convince people that I’m someone worth knowing? Questions like these raged in my mind all summer. Everything was moving way too fast, and I was nowhere near ready to start school when it finally came around.

The night before the first day, I desperately searched for the perfect red and black outfit. Harvard-Westlake has this tradition where we wear the school colors on the first day, and 9th grade me desperately wanted the HW community to accept me. I went as far as to try and find a shirt with the same exact shade of red as the logo. Even though the day was scorching hot and we had to sit in the blazing sun, I faithfully wore black jeans and the red athletic shirt I found at the bottom of my closet.

As I immersed myself in HW life through activities and clubs, I slowly started to feel like I belonged. Although a dramatic movie moment would’ve definitely been cool, that’s not why I became more comfortable with HW. To me, it was all the small things: Complaining about homework in between class periods, frantic group study sessions for a test the next period, and even suffering through 2 mile uphill workouts for cross country. It was only then that I really became a HW student. 

If someone had told 8th grade me what waited at HW, I wouldn’t have believed them. Last year, I met so many people that ended up being my closest friends. I experienced what it’s like to fail, for probably the first time in a while. Harvard-Westlake has challenged me like no other school has before, but has also helped me grow.

And I’m not done growing. Between 8th grade me and you: You won’t regret applying.

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Tags: , Last modified: September 22, 2020