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Clara Spars

Class of 2016

My course-load is pretty tough this year--AP Physics, AP Calculus BC, Mandarin 4.... I'm also an All-Star and on the SLC as the arts coordinator. I'm one of the leaders of the Diversity Club.

I’ve been part of the Diversity club since freshman year. I liked the mission statement of the Club--I wanted to be part of that. I was able to go to the People of Color Conference with the school, which was an eye-opening and moving experience. It was crazy that you could connect with such a large group of people, you could feel that there was a connection with everyone throughout the room. One really amazing part was there was a microphone at the front of the room where people could say whatever they wanted—people were coming out, speaking about parts of their lives that they hadn’t shared.

Afterwards we broke up into affinity groups. I went to the multicultural affinity group. I hadn’t realized that being multiracial was a problem for some people, that they struggled with how to identify themselves, whether they "belonged" to one race or another. I guess I've been sheltered. I hadn’t experienced that kind of racism—in my life, being multiracial has always been celebrated. Whereas some people were ashamed of parts of themselves.
 
I’ve always liked drawing and painting, and I love music. I ran for SLC Arts Coordinator because I wanted to share my passion with the rest of the school. I had a lot of ideas about murals and ways to incorporate art into the community and the campus. I’m really interested in photography—for intersession I chose “figure it out” so I’m going to learn how to shoot film photography and use my digital camera. I don’t have enough time to take all the classes I want to take!
 
Before I came to SA, I had played sports a little bit in middle school, but I didn't feel invested in them, the way I do now. I’m co-captain of the Girls Varsity Basketball team, I play Varsity Volleyball, and in the spring, I play lacrosse, which I'd never played before coming here. I’d heard from the upperclassman that it was a lot of fun—and I figured I wouldn’t be the only one not knowing what I was doing, so I joined the team.

Last summer, I was awarded a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship for 2014-2015. I spent 6 weeks in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China to study Mandarin Chinese for the summer. The NSLI-Y program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly-taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. The goals of the NSLI-Y program include a sparking a life-long interest in foreign languages and cultures, and developing a corps of young Americans with the skills necessary to advance international dialogue and cross-cultural opportunities in the private, academic, and government sectors.

This year, returning from China, I decided to participate as an international student mentor; as a continuation of my experience in China. Also, I feel I have a lot to share with the international students--having been recently in a similar position, trying to navigate a foreign culture, in another language, and being away from home. I was also just accepted to the 2015 Reischauer Scholars Program. This highly selective program is an online course sponsored by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). They accept 25-30 high school students throughout the U.S. I will learn about Japan and U.S. - Japan relations with a diverse group of students while interacting with ambassadors, scholars, and diplomats. RSP involves students in online lectures and engages in live discussion sessions. The outcome will be a high level of knowledge about Japan along with historical and contemporary issues involving Japan and the U.S.

Speech and Debate is a big thing  for me too. It helps with speaking, confidence, education. I learn so much hearing other people’s speeches.

All of these experiences have helped me develop an interest in international relations--perhaps even as a career. 

Awareness is a big part of what I’ve gotten at SA. I had sort of vaguely known about the possibilities—but all of the opportunities that are presented here have been mind-blowing and incredible. I’ve discovered interests that I hadn't known were there.
 
 
"Before I came to SA, I wasn’t as motivated as I am now. Seeing my peers succeed—or trying all these different things even if they don't succeed—is really an inspiration to me. And they’re inspired by others. It's a big circle. Being inspired by others around you."


2500 Farmers Lane 
Santa Rosa, CA 95404 
707.545.1770 
info@sonomaacademy.org
 

Sonoma Academy is...

The only independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On its beautiful 34-acre campus nestled at the base of picturesque Taylor Mountain in South Santa Rosa, Sonoma Academy students are able to explore their interests and passions in a challenging environment that prepares them for college and life beyond.