Max, High School Student, CA
Max is a student at Palo Alto High School (Paly). He was interviewed by a peer and one of our student Catalysts--Molly--for the RE-ENVISIONED collective visioning project at Paly in Spring 2017. Check out other #SchoolSpotlight interviews for Paly by following #PeopleofPaly.
What is a normal day at school like for you?
So I usually get to school around 7:45 and I hang out with either Ms. Angell in her classroom or I go and hang out in the Social Studies Resource Center. Class is class, it’s whatever. Brunch I usually spend outside of the P.E. offices with some friends, class is class, whatever. At lunch I’ll go across the street, get an apple, go hang out in the choir room, sometimes i rehearse, sometimes I just watch Netflix. Class is class, whatever, and when school is out, I get out as fast as I can.
What do you think is the most important thing that you are learning in school? And it does not have to be from class necessarily.
I guess I’d say social problem solving skills … ohh and it’s kind of I’m learning that in the way you throw a kid in the pool and say, “swim”. And you learn pretty quick how to swim. But yeah, just learning, especially in social situations like talking, and I started implementing this and it doesn’t go well but that because the people...I don’t know. When you know whenever someone tries to talk behind someone else’s back, to me, I say, “Why are you saying this to me? Go say this to them”... “I’m not involved in this, don’t involve me, this is between you two, go talk about it and solve the problem”. And yeah I guess that’s the most important thing that I’m learning.
So, what do you think makes a good life?
*whistles* That’s a big question. Ummm… what makes a good life? I suppose … you want to be successful, however you want to personally define success …
How would you define success?
I would define success as being happy with what you do, liking what you are doing, liking the people you do things with, and being able to just sit back and say, “I like where I am, and there is room to grow”. So I think, I think that is the most important part of a happy life, you’re contented but there’s always opportunities to keep moving.
How do you think our school should support you getting this “good life”?
I’d say diversification of offered classes, what AP's there are, grading systems, the weighted GPA thing… it seems like Paly and also the spreading the focus of what the school focuses on the most pointed thing that, for sports we have, for kids who sign with schools and are going to go do sports there, we have this whole big, elaborate ceremony with balloons and I just say, “We don’t have that for arts kids!” I mean I’m signing a thing with Lewis and Clark to sing there, I don’t get a ceremony. I just go there and I sing and then I sign a thing. So I think varying what the school priorities are and offering more diverse courses I think because I, you know, every English class that I’ve had, a teacher will have told me, “oh I could teach an entire semester on this,” or like, “I could teach a year on this,” Why don’t you? Why don’t we offer those classes for kids who really like that and want to focus on that and want to excel at that.
And do you think that the people in our community, our parents, our teachers, agree with you? That that’s how we should give people a good life?
I think teachers agree. I think teachers would agree with me on that one. Parents, no. I think parents, the Palo Alto parents, they have created and live within this culture of defined success and defined happiness to a point that it’s become an equation. Which speaks to our love of STEM. But I mean, we are Silicon Valley, science! And technology! And all that nice stuff. And when people try to deviate from that equation it’s seen as bad or dumb or you know, you’re gonna end up unhappy and dead and you know, ridin’ the rails! And something like that. So I really think that the parents would not agree with me.
But I think teachers would, because I think teachers are able to view it from an outside perspective at the same time that they are able to view it as, “this is what’s actually happening to these students,” Because parents can say, “Oh, if you do this, you’ll go off and do this,” But teachers can say, “Okay, but based on what I’ve seen personally, because I actually work with your kids in this field, and they actually do these things, that’s not how it works,”