On Community and Leadership, from the New Kid on the Block


By Farah L., ‘21

I still remember my first visit to the Downtown School. It was a rainy day in late April. When I arrived, I was immediately intrigued by the school’s unique quality. There aren’t a lot of high schools in Seattle that have a student body of less than a hundred students. It’s true: The Downtown School is “small by design,” and fosters a shared sense of community among students. This is what convinced me that this was the place for me. 

While I knew about the school’s value of community, I didn’t know what to expect in the first few weeks of school. The whole experience of transferring into a new school as a junior was  unfamiliar. As a new junior, the first week of school seemed strange. I was unfamiliar with almost all the students in my class, and in the entire school for that matter. I didn’t know how to use Canvas (our online learning management system) or my email properly. 

Even when the school’s atmosphere felt slightly unfamiliar, I reminded myself of the important value of “community” that attracted me to Downtown in the first place. Not only did I want to be a part of the school community, but I also wanted to help lead it. However, in order to achieve this goal of mine, I had to transform thoughts into action.

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In my second week of school, the perfect opportunity for leadership appeared: student government elections. Immediately, I knew I wanted to run for a position. In past experiences, I’d never won any sort of student council election. However, my desire to serve as a change-maker for the student body compelled me to compete. Even though most students didn’t know who I was or what my name was, I gave my speech, did my best, and eventually won. 

After being granted this exceptional leadership opportunity, I immersed myself in student government. I learned from my other peers that served on student government last year, and met new friends. While I was one of the only “new kids” in the group, this idea didn’t scare me; it intrigued me. I found it interesting how even though I was new, I could still come to meetings and share my thoughts. Everyone welcomed me with open arms. 

While serving on student government, I also started the Downtown School’s very own newspaper, called The Downtown Post. I believe that, through journalism and media, students can voice their opinions and express themselves. The Downtown Post was well received, and I am excited for what students will write.

I’ve always wanted a sense of place. I think everyone does. Even as the “new kid on the block,” I never felt I was excluded. While it took some getting used to, I never thought I was any less a part of the community. The acceptance of others and their diverse opinions and backgrounds, is clearly one of the Downtown School’s strengths. This is what creates “community.”