What activities are you involved in?
-As a Junior I am currently involved in CTA, an afterschool program focused on giving architecture students a taste of how it feels to be an architect. I’m also involved in the film club which brings our imaginations into reality using studio level filming and audio equipment. As a third year, I have also been in the article club and have written articles for the school’s website. I have also taken the responsibility and signed up for Work Learn and Grow, a program run by Saint Nick’s Alliance that helps aspiring teenagers recognize their plans after high school. One of the more fun activities I’m involved in is the Dragons and Dungeons club. A dear friend who is also very invested in Dragons and Dungeons introduced me to this club. This club takes the vision that you have of the perfect being and makes it into a playable character with a story behind it. Whether it’s owning a dragon or fighting a sea serpent, this game has it all and really pushes what you can sculpt your imagination to be.
Why did you join these activities?
-These activities mean a lot to me. They help work on both my weaknesses and my strengths. I decided to take up the responsibility of these activities because they not only pique my interest but challenge me to the point where I gathered priceless knowledge and experience. Another reason I decided to join these activities was simply the atmosphere that I was presented with. For instance, in the film club, if I didn’t know how to operate a certain piece of equipment, my peers and superiors were there to guide me.
What are the benefits of participating in these activities?
-It’s not often someone gets the opportunity to be in the shoes of the position they dream of being in. CTA gives that opportunity to you. In this activity you work with professionals and learn from their experiences as well as get insight to a lot of software that makes these professionals’ lives easier. Film club takes you behind the scenes of how your favorite films are shaped and refined. Film club allows you to use many pieces of high grade filming, audio, and editing equipment to bring your ideas to life. The article club allowed me to share stories that I experience to others. I was able to elevate my writing and analytical skills while simplifying my experience to only the most interesting part of my experiences to better help the reader understand. Work, Learn, and Grow gives me the tools to envision my future. Currently this benefits me because I have mixed feelings on what I actually want to do with my life. I was able to recognize what college majors are in tune with what I like to do l. Whether it’s helping people as a doctor or solving math problems like a mathematician, this program identifies what I love to do best and further improves my decision making skills. Dragons and Dungeons holds a special place in my heart. This club not only gives me a break from school work and the responsibilities of life, but it lets me put down my fantasies on paper. Creating and giving your character a personality and choosing certain aspects that define your character’s personality is something I can’t really explain; you just have to experience for yourself.
How have you grown from participating in these activities?
-Looking back at that shy kid who came into this school as a freshman to me as a junior now, there are some prominent differences. Through the article club I was able to express my thoughts on events I participated in from my point of view. I have given people the rundown of how it feels to be one a participant in an activity some other student might want to join. I have made so much progress in terms of expressing myself and CTA does that for me. CTA either breaks your shell or breaks you. The mentors provide critiques that force you to grow a thicker skin and help you to realize that having a process is key. I was fortunate to only have my social shell broken which allowed me to receive constructive feedback. On a daily basis architects need to deal with clients who might not always have patience or the best attitude, yet architects deal with these people without breaking composure. Film club has a different way of helping me in terms of growth, like every other performance whether it be a play, skit or an entire movie. Stage fright still exists in some of us, even me sometimes. As you become more in tune with the club you start to not care how you look in the eyes of others. As a child I never really knew how I was supposed to help as many people as I could, I just knew I had to. It’s extremely hard to picture now why I didn’t think carefully about my career as a kid, but work, learning and growth changed that for me. I had always thought that doctors were the true healers of the world and that they were the only ones that could help others. Work, Learn, Grow changed that perspective that I had on this world. But DnD is a bit different. This club doesn’t use harsh methods to get you to break out of your comfort zone nor change your views on certain aspects. No, this club surrounds you with people of similar interests. It’s not everyday that an activity does this. Everyone has their own motives for joining but this board game creates an atmosphere of individuals who want to share their fantasies.
What skills do you still want to develop and how could participating in extracurricular activities help you with this development?
-At the end of the day, I want to get to know people and be able to express myself perfectly. I want to know how people think and what certain responses I would get out of them. This is so that when I move on with my life I am further able to predict or expect a response whether positive or negative. And to be completely honest, all these activities help me in some way shape or form. Whether I’m facing criticism from the architects at CTA who try to create an environment where real architects are, or I’m surrounded by people who share similar interests, I want to be able to understand people and understand myself. And the one way participating in these spaces just helps me test the waters for something larger in my life.
What is one memorable experience that you have had from participating in these activities?
-One memorable experience that I had while participating in this program was becoming the big Apple of New York. This was a plan to make me out to be something that represented NY, and no other representation is better than the big Apple. This was an entirely new experience for me both in the places in which it was shot and keeping my act together. I cannot express to you how it felt to be the center of attention yet be around people who appreciate and love doing what they do. I had to try new things and walk to new places without breaking character. The concept behind this experience was the Apple experience, the place that took after him. He went exploring to Central Park and even took his quest on the New York subway. Apple didn’t care for the opinions of others, it just wanted the experience. But this later gets out of hand when he experiences something he isn’t supposed to experience. Overall this was an amazing experience that furthered my insight on film development and all the components that go into it.
How do you balance your extracurriculars with your classwork?
-Balance is no one’s responsibility but yours. At certain times you need to set boundaries and priorities straight. Extracurriculars aren’t meant to impose on your classes that is why they are extra. I balance my extracurriculars with my classwork by prioritizing the completion of my classwork as soon as it is assigned. I was always told that if you leave open wounds that they can slowly kill you. Leaving your work for another day seems ideal but why leave work for your future self when you can get it done now? I believe balance is more than just an initiative, it’s the mentality to get things done so that you’re ready for the next hurdle. Extracurricular activities are activities that you decide to take part in. This means it is your responsibility to ensure that your excuse isn’t “ I haven’t done my homework yet.” My ultimate way of balance in terms of activities and work is to get work done, then do activities. But the real question is how does one balance their hobbies, extracurricular activities, and their work at the same time?
Aside from school, what do you enjoy doing?
-Aside from school I really enjoy cooking. Looking at the smiles someone gives when they like my food is just a different feeling altogether. But I believe that the best part about cooking is the improvisation or substituting certain ingredients and still ending with similar results. This not only gives me confidence but I can learn from my mistakes. I also love practicing my artistic skills. For a long time I have been working on drawing in terms or animating later in my life. Every time I look at animation on YouTube or TikTok I always imagine, What if I added another more exciting scene to this animation? Or how could I if I had the change make this better? I always feel as if something is missing from the animations I watch, and I want to fix it, but drawing plays a key role in achieving this goal. Aside from school, I also enjoy Blender, a 3D software where assets can be created and even realistic animations that make you wonder about the evolution of animation and film.