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Student Leadership at Harvard-Westlake

By Davis ’24

When touring prospective families, I often say that my favorite thing about Harvard-Westlake is the myriad of opportunities it presents to students. 

This is no lie. When I first got to campus three years ago, I had high expectations based on my tour, the information I got throughout the admissions process, and friends already attending Harvard-Westlake. And yet, I was still blown away by how much there was for me to try. But with all these opportunities, there were so many choices to make, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. 

Each year, Harvard-Westlake hosts an all-school opening ceremony on the first day. All students and teachers gather on the Upper School field to hear remarks from administrators, see our Middle School Senators and Upper School Prefects sworn in, and hear keynote addresses from the two Head Prefects. 

Walking back onto the buses to go back to the Middle School after Convocation, I felt inspired and emboldened. Watching student leaders take the stage and pledge to better Harvard-Westlake sparked something within me. 

A few weeks later, when Mr. Jordan, the Middle School Director of Student Affairs, spoke to my grade about 7th grade Student Council elections, I became interested immediately. 

And so I decided to run for Student Council. Spoiler alert: I lost. But did I gain something from the experience? Yes. For the first time, I put myself out there. I spoke in front of my 200+ person grade. I became a better speaker, and I understood better what it meant to be a student leader, and leader in general. It was worth it. 

I decided not to lose sight of the belief I could make a difference. I ran for 8th grade Senator later that year. It’s cool to see how seriously Harvard-Westlake takes its elections. It’s not remotely based on who you know or who likes you, instead who believes you can represent them. This time around, my grade chose to elect me. 

Since then, I gained firsthand knowledge of what it means to be a student leader at Harvard-Westlake. Whenever I walk into one of our weekly Student Council meetings, I’m always amazed at how much responsibility Harvard-Westlake gives its class representatives. We’re not just event planners. We have the ability to really make a difference. It’s a part of the job description: “better the student experience at Harvard-Westlake as a whole.”

But student leadership at Harvard-Westlake goes way beyond Student Council. As a student who is still on the Middle School campus, I can’t describe all the Upper School has to offer, but I do know a thing or two about the Middle School. Areas of leadership opportunities can be found within theater, athletics, band, clubs, and so on. Whatever the interest may be, there is probably a leadership opportunity that goes along with it. 

In my opinion, Harvard-Westlake administrators do a pretty great job at running the school. But the fact they create so many opportunities for us students to be leaders and shape our own experience is fantastic. Harvard-Westlake really invests the ability to change the school for the better in the students, not just the administration. 

And Harvard-Westlake really takes student leadership seriously. Whether you’re a Senator or Prefect, a club leader, the stage manager for the musical, a Student Ambassador Co-Chair, an athletics team manager, an editor for a newspaper, or any other leadership position, Harvard-Westlake treats it seriously, as they should, and gives you all the resources you need to be the change-maker you want to be. 

This sentiment applies elsewhere. Whether it’s leadership, or something else, everything you do at Harvard-Westlake is treated seriously, and you’re given the resources and help you need to do it. 

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Tags: , Last modified: September 2, 2020