Sophia ’21

Hometown: Shanghai, China

Most surprising when you first arrived at Groton: How inclusive and supportive the community is. When I think of a typical high school, I think of cliques, popularity, and bullying. However, the social hierarchy, although present, is remarkably unimportant to the likeability of the individual. Every single student at this school has their own thing at which they excel, and everyone is respected and appreciated for their talent. I had so many insecurities and doubts when I first stepped into the school, but I quickly realized that this was not only a community that appreciated both jocks and nerds, but a community where jocks are nerds and vice versa. Every single person here has their own quirks, but instead of hiding them, we show them off.

Favorite classes: Latin and English. Latin class was amazing, with much help from our teacher, Mrs. Bannard. The notion of learning Latin has always been intriguing but also stressful to me. However, with the systematic approach of the course and the fun activities, Latin quickly became straightforward and clear. English class with Mrs. Maqubela was a blast, too. We had many interesting and message-delivering books that were whole-heartedly discussed and understood. We would have intense debates about current issues once or twice a week, some planned and others not. We questioned opinions and tackled current problems, which made English class a unique and eye-opening experience.

Groton activities: Varsity cross country, varsity swimming, track and Field

Most memorable Groton moment: My first parlor at the Maqubelas’ house. It was the first or second day of the year. I hadn’t even met all of the boys, and I was on a know-their-name basis with most of the girls. I shuffled into the house along with the rest of my dorm, frantically looking around trying to be inconspicuous and respectful. I did not know the Maqubelas or my fellow formmates very well so I was extremely nervous and awkward. I almost didn’t shake Mr. Maqubela’s hand, and I was still thinking about that embarrassing interaction afterward, for two weeks. Although my image was not presented flawlessly, I had the best time. I got to know my formmates and realized how lucky I was to be able to live and learn alongside some of the most intelligent and caring people across the globe. I was also able to chat with Mrs. Maqubela, and her fun and contagiously cheerful personality immediately gave me a sense of belonging and confidence.

Favorite Dining Hall food: A hint of lemon on savory goodness is the Dining Hall salmon. It is served once or twice a week, and I always look forward to it from the day we receive the menu for the week in our emails. I don’t always enjoy the Dining Hall meals (neither do my friends), but no one ever complains when the Dining Hall serves its signature salmon.

Favorite Surprise Holiday: My friends and I chatted on the bus ride over to Cambridge on the warmest day of May. We walked to Harvard before turning back to indulge in Shake Shack burgers. Instead of shopping in and touring the stores and sites available, we decided to stroll through the small alleys and talk. In Groton, we would have heated debates about everything, from hot dogs to the patriarchy. However, the feeling of more freedom and real leisure compelled us to talk about small things. We enjoyed a whole afternoon discussing the embarrassing things our siblings have done, and the pure joy and misery of competing and failing in our respective sports. I look back to our conversations, and I still smile. The bus ride back was brutal from a combination of sweaty teens and broken air conditioning, yet I could never ask for a better Surprise Holiday.