Chloe, High School Student, CA

"What is happiness? I think it’s just being able to enjoy life, and whatever you’re doing it’s something that doesn’t feel like work, you’re contributing in some way, and you don’t feel this sort of melancholy sort of emotions, and you’re enjoying yourself."

Chloe is a student at Palo Alto High School (Paly). She was interviewed by a peer and one of our student Catalysts--Larry--for the RE-ENVISIONED collective visioning project at Paly in Spring 2017. Check out other #SchoolSpotlight interviews for Paly by following #PeopleofPaly.

What do you think makes a "good" or successful life?

I feel like there’s success in the traditional sense, in which you have a lot of money, a lot of wealth. I think that definitely plays a role in what I want, like a career that’s sustainable enough to support myself and my family, but other than that, success-wise, I think it would be nice to have happiness and fulfillment. That’s kind of general, but anything that falls into that category that makes you feel happy and fulfilled, and, obviously, a sustainable enough life, where you have enough money where you’re not living paycheck to paycheck, like comfortably.”

What do you mean by happiness? 

What is happiness? I think it’s just being able to enjoy life, and whatever you’re doing it’s something that doesn’t feel like work, you’re contributing in some way, and you don’t feel this sort of melancholy sort of emotions, and you’re enjoying yourself.

What do you think might get in the way of that good life? Anything that keeps you up at night?

I feel like what could get in the way is crisis, or issues that arise, which they do and they happen, and they will for people again, and I think it’s being able to get through those. You need to be able to do that, and also getting in the way of a happy life, maybe, having to decide between doing things that you enjoy and doing things that make money.

What do you think the role of school is in creating that good life? 

I think it plays a really important role, because you’re learning life skills, how to manage time, how to work with other people, obviously you’re learning, since you’re in school, that’s the point.

"You’re getting good education so you can get good grades to go to a college so you can be able to get a job and just continue with that system of things."

In high school, you also make a lot of friends, and I think that plays a role in success because you’re happier with friends that you like and generally enjoy.

Is Paly playing that role for you?

For me, yeah. We don’t really learn life skills, but I guess by doing schoolwork you learn how to manage your time, and you learn information, and I’ve made friends throughout school that I really like, and just work on your skills.

Do you think your family and friends agree with your answers?

I think they do. I think my parents, what they want for me is they want me to have enough money to be able to survive, to be happy, and to have a job that suits me. And, I think my friends agree with me on that, like, they have similar goals and aspirations, even if it’s in a different workforce, they always want the same end-goals. If a teacher is invested in what we want, I think they want similar things, or they just don’t care, like either way.

What do you think is the role of school for society, more broadly?

Well, I think there’s the obvious answer, where it educates us, and then it’s also just a place to go and where we are, like, the majority our adolescence, so

"I think we grow up in school and it socializes us and it educates us, and it keeps us going in the right direction."

If we didn’t have school as a sort of guideline, we could do whatever, and that wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial.

Tell me about an empowering learning experience that you've had.

I was in Sociology this year, and we went on a field trip that was volunteering and learning about the homeless epidemic in San Francisco. So, we went there and we learned a bunch about how they’re treated really unfairly, and people look down on them.

"It made me really grateful that I have a roof on my head, and it really put things into perspective, that even if I complain about, oh, ‘my house is too small’, or ‘my door doesn’t work’, you know, at least I have a door and at least I have a house. So, it just put things into perspective and it was empowering because it made us all want to help the community more."

Did this change your views on homelessness?

Well, I didn’t have any negative stigma surrounding them, but I know certain people did, like they thought that they were lazy and stuff. But, they taught us some statistics about perhaps, something in their life just went wrong and now they’re here, and that could easily happen to anyone. Anyone could lose their job, anyone could have a family crisis, like your parents, or your boyfriend, and you’re on the street, so it could happen to anyone.

I had already learned these things before, but I think it was really eye-opening just to see it, really, in action, and I there is an extremely large population of homeless people in San Francisco, which is a place that we think is really, really accepting, but they’re really alienated here in society, and there’s certain rules in place, like laws where you can’t lie down on the street, and those laws are obviously made with homeless people in mind, so it’s like they’re personally attacking them, so it was just really eye-opening that San Francisco, I mean, I think it’s a great place, it’s just interesting that that particular group of people was ostracized, and like, singled out.

Who has been your favorite teacher?

I like Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bolaños both a lot. I say they both have strong morals, they’re helpful and you can tell that they genuinely care about their students, and they’re invested in the student’s learning but they’re also invested in the student’s growth, and their skills and stuff, and they’re really passionate about what they teach. Mr. Bolaños teaches sociology and he’s really passionate about every aspect of it, and Mr. Wilson is obviously really into journalism, he’s really great at it, and they’re both good teachers, and they’re not just doing their job for the income, like, they care a lot.

Is there anything else you would have rather done in high school?

I feel like maybe I would talk to people outside of my friend group more often, because for the first two years of high school, I was pretty shy, and I made my friends and stuck to that group, and I love them so much, but sometimes in a class when you don’t know anyone else it’s a little awkward. So, if you talk to someone that you wouldn’t necessarily talk to, you can meet cool and interesting new people. I think that I’m starting to do that this year, but if I could have done it for the past 2 years, I would have so many more experiences.


10,000 Stories. One Shared Vision.

RE-ENVISIONED is a national movement to redefine the purpose of school.  We believe schools should foster flourishing individuals and a thriving democratic society.  But what does it mean to thrive or flourish? 

To answer this, we're building the world's largest collection of stories about what it means to live good lives and the role schools should play in helping create them: 10,000 stories from people across the country.  We'll use the stories to learn about our shared values and dreams to create a new vision for why we send our children to school. 

We work with people like YOU across the country: Catalysts - individuals, classrooms, and whole schools - who interview people in their communities and foster empathy nationwide by sharing them on our website and social media:  Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (@reenvisioned). 

Learn more and join the movement.