When I was an eighth grader, confused and unsure of where I wanted to take my life after middle school, I knew I was looking for several things. First, I wanted a school that was well-rounded in arts, academics, and sports (this is more difficult to find than one would think). Secondly, I wanted a place where the students were paid attention to and the teachers were dedicated to the success of every person that they taught. An extraordinary number of our professors have PhDs, but they aren’t at all snobbish about it- in fact, we talk to all teachers on a first-name basis, and I consider a great many of them to be my mentors and friends. During the application process, I searched for a place where I could try new things (read up on the Independent Study Program…it’s amazing!), scouring the SF high schools for a space that could lead me to future greatness. Not only did I choose UHS because I wanted my passions to be nurtured (note that UHS is very professional about the caliber of the academia we teach here), but I wanted a place that was friendly; a place that would make me truly happy.
Below are a few memories that have made my experience at UHS so memorable:
When I was still applying, I decided to test the validity of UHS’s art program by attending the 2013 Fall Play (I recommend attending our Spring Musical, Into the Woods). It was Hamlet, and the protagonist himself was played by a senior girl. She was exceptionally talented (as was everyone in this performance), and I was blown away by the quality of the light and sound design of the show. Since then, I have been very involved in the theater program at UHS, and my most recent and last role was playing the male lead in the Winter Play, Six/Eleven. So, in a mere five years, the cycle seems to have come full circle, and I could not be happier.
Something wonderful about UHS is that I was never confined to doing just one extracurricular activity. Although theater has made me very happy, and I even had the chance to write, direct, and stage manage my very own one-act play, the rest of my school-day afternoons have been taken up with the Cross Country and Track family. I say family because that is truly what the vibe of these teams would suggest. Not only has my experience on them been essential to my development as a fighter with the confidence to run any adversary into the ground, but it has helped me find some of my lifelong best friends. Being on a UHS team is a defining experience of my life here that I don’t think I’ll ever, ever forget. Trying new things, from 5Ks, to hurdles, to sprinting, to 1600 meters on the track, has connected me to about the fourth of the entire school (our team is big!), and I’ve even become extraordinarily close with my adversaries from other schools.
Classes that have changed my life…unexpectedly, one of these would have to be Spanish. I am a native Spaniard, fluent in the language, so why did I take the class again when I got to high school? Good question. The reason is…teachers. Our department is the wonder that it is because our teachers barely speak a lick of english to their students. From day one, they are determined to fit in as much speaking practice into the year that they can (most of the classes are purely discussion-based, and often student-propelled). My favorite teacher, Ernesto, taught me literature- something that my Spanish mother never had time to do. I am now familiar with the classic works of Borges, Lorca, Allende, Unamuno, and Marquez, to name a few. I carry that knowledge with me always, and it makes me love my heritage all the more.
In an interest turn of events, taking Spanish at UHS taught me to appreciate movies by incorporating foreign films into the class. Today, I am in such an advanced seminar that we only study the movies of Almodóvar, and I am enjoying myself immensely. Writing for Screen and Television is the profession that I hope to pursue in life, and I have the Spanish department to thank for sowing the first seeds of the dream. Without Spanish, the Theater, the fantastic English classes at UHS, and the short stint I did in Photography/Visual Literacy 101, perhaps my passion for creative writing might have died some silent death in a badly nurtured part of my teenage brain.
A word about mathematics and sciences (if that is your jam): they are fantastic here… truly fantastic. Although these are subjects that my bookish self never really considered to be among my strong suits, I have spent countless hours in the offices of my math and science teachers, trying to perfect my skills. I have had fabulous experiences in Precalculus, Statistics, Chemistry, and Physics, among others, and I’m glad that I was able to do them here.
Social life at UHS is far from dry (some people think that we are too busy to do anything fun). I assure you that this is not the case, and that the school provides many fun and exciting events, like school dances and concerts, that are markers of my experience as I have performed in several of them. Battle of the Bands, in particular, is a fun event that brings out all my friends in support every year. I try to dedicate a slot once per weekend to go on an outing with my friends, and that’s because we are very healthy, well-rounded human beings. I’m proud to say that the phrase well-rounded can successfully encapsulate my entire experience here. I wouldn’t trade it for anything (unless I had a chance to join even more clubs, teams, and classes)!
I hope you choose UHS like I did. You will not regret it!