Letters From the Class of 2020: Siona Gupta


I don’t even know where to start to give the last 13.75 years of my life justice. Attending Latin wasn’t a choice for me. My sister was a JK green bear in Ms. Jones’ class, so I had to be, too. Sure, I’d go to Romans’ Run every year to get my thick brown pigtails sprayed half orange and half blue, win “free” goldfish at Bazaarnaval, plaster on a smile as the orange and blue teams tied every single year in the lower school olympics, and sing the same five songs every year in the Holiday Program. But I didn’t find my community at Latin through traditions or events in Lower or Middle school. I found it through my relationships with students and faculty in the upper school.

Middle school was tough, but I think it’s what helped me navigate high school. I wouldn’t say I’m still particularly close friends with anyone I was friends with back in lower and middle School, but my elementary experiences helped me discover what I wanted in my friendships. From Mr. Newmark’s lessons on T-O-W-E-R (treat others with etiquette and respect) to the emphasis on self-advocacy, Latin middle school taught me not only to expect and demonstrate respect but also to take advantage of my opportunities.

Once I got to the upper school, I felt like the world was my oyster. Like a kid in a candy store, I made sure to join the tennis team and sign up for over a dozen clubs at the club’s fair. I stared in admiration at the upperclassmen with sign-up spreadsheets open on their laptops, luring boathouse jacket-wearing freshmen over to their tables in the Roof Gym. Model UN, LAW, Girls Who Code, Free the Children, LIFE, Roman2Roman—you name it—I joined it. Of course, I ended up finding what I liked and what I didn’t with time (it was a hard no to coding), and once I did, once I found my communities and my voice—through organizations like the Student Academic Board, close-knit classes like AmCiv, giving tours to prospective Latin families, independent studies with my favorite teachers—I knew Latin was the best non-choice I ever made. I mean, at what other high schools can you design a one-on-one course on exactly what you want to study with support from the teacher of your choice?

I’ll never forget the AmCiv Valentine’s Day allergen-free potluck, where my teachers shared their own high school love stories with us. Or  getting shushed for giggling too loudly with my friends in LR during my AP Chemistry study sessions. Or toasting to my birthday with Fudge Stripes in MESA Lit sophomore year. Or caminar y hablar, where we’d take laps as a class around the third floor while discussing Spanish literature. Or bursting out laughing as I stared at the matching 67%’s my friend and I both earned on our tests. It was in these simple, unforced moments of togetherness that I felt the closest to the Latin community. 

Some advice for current Latin students: discover your community, and find your voice. Latin is what you make of it. There are, in fact, endless opportunities for you to find and pursue what you are passionate about. If there isn’t a club for what you want to do, start one yourself. If there is something you want to study that isn’t already a course, design your own independent study. Most importantly, enjoy the moments of togetherness that will leave you feeling nostalgic.

Siona Gupta ‘20