Name: Ella
Graduation Year: 2025
Middle School: St. Paul's
Hometown: Oakland
Why did you choose College Prep? I decided that I wanted to attend College Prep after meeting students. They were honest, insightful, and embodied the type of person I wanted to become in high school.
Biggest difference between middle school and high school? Advocating for myself and being vocal in the classroom setting was new to me. In high school, classes move through material faster, so I had to get in the habit of asking more questions inside and outside the classroom. I was shocked at how accessible and eager my teachers were to meet, and how classmates and student mentors were always prepared to help. During my freshman year, I went to a student-led workshop that helped me come up with easy ways to decipher Shakespeare's works, spent many free periods studying with classmates for math tests, and met with the physics teachers during finals week. Each of those meetings set me up for success in those respective classes. They helped me build new learning strategies and gave me invaluable connections to other students and teachers. I became more confident and in control of my learning, and got better at taking initiative and getting exactly what I needed in order to perform well in my classes.
What is your favorite place on campus (and why)? The music lawn is my favorite place on campus. It's a grassy area surrounded by lots of seating, and functions like a mini outdoor auditorium. Lots of school music performances are held on the music lawn, and I always enjoy finding a good spot to sit and watch the shows. It’s also a great place to eat lunch and on a sunny day you’ll find plenty of people hanging out, eating, and playing ping pong or spike ball.
What advice would you give to 8th graders applying to high school? 
Don’t let the application process spook you. High school applications can feel like a big obligation that lands on your doorstep in eighth grade, and I recall feeling a lot of pressure to make important decisions. To make the application process feel less daunting and more engaging, view it as an opportunity to figure out who you are as both a student and a person outside of the classroom. What classes, electives and extracurriculars excite you? This is your chance to explore them! It’s a good way to start thinking about your wants, and to start generating questions. (That’s what ambassadors are for– always feel free to reach out to us, we’re super happy and eager to answer your questions!) Second, it’s a chance to show others who you are. The great thing is you already know that half! My favorite way to work on the applications themselves was to put on something comfy, make tea, and play some music while I worked. Find the things that make this process fun for you and you may even enjoy it.
Campus Involvement: I really enjoyed singing at my Freshman year talent show, so much so that I am now in the Advanced Vocal Ensemble and Beginning Dance class, singing and dancing at school assemblies, performing in our fall concert, and caroling in between classes. I am also involved in the school’s Black Student Union and the Volleyball Program.  
What has been your favorite class so far (and why)? Freshman year I took Beginning Photography, and it was a really fun and engaging class. During the course I used both digital and analog cameras, and I developed my own film! I also learned how to use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to edit photos. Additionally, I appreciate that the work itself has plenty of avenues to reach a wider audience. Students have a chance to feature their work in two art shows, which are great opportunities to showcase their own work and admire others’. There are also a few student-run magazines that love to take art submissions from arts students! Photography is a very fun class that pushes you to take advantage of your creativity and explore the detail behind what makes an eye-catching photograph.
What is your favorite thing about College Prep? The community. Teachers are great educators and resources. Students demonstrate incredible initiative and leadership.. On top of that, there are remarkably kind, thoughtful and insightful people throughout the community. I have had a wonderful experience getting to know all the people that make this community such a welcoming and inspiring place to learn in.
What is your favorite character from a movie/book/television series? My favorite movie character is Hei Hei, the rooster from Moana. A survivor against all odds!
Three unusual things about you: 
1. I share a birthday with my grandfather
2. I can chirp like a bird
3. I can fold my tongue into a clover