A Reflection on the Preuss Experience


Haley Gonzalez Diaz, School News Writer

After being at the Preuss School, UC San Diego since the sixth grade, I, Haley Gonzalez Diaz, am finally graduating next week. I have faced plenty of academic challenges throughout my time here, but I’ve also learned to overcome those challenges and others. I learned that everyone at Preuss endured similar circumstances, connecting us all through our unique experiences. Although there was a lot of complaining on my part about attending Preuss for seven years, I am sad to part ways with the teachers and friends who have shaped my middle and high school experience as well as made me the peer and student I am today.

During my middle school years, I learned a lot about how to organize myself and my schedule. I wasn’t doing terribly in school, but I was definitely not doing my best. By the time the 8th grade exhibition came around, I was able to compose myself and know who I wanted to be as a high school student. I admired each of the subjects of the classes I was in–even though they weren’t always my favorite, I admired how hard each of my teachers worked to make the incoming students feel welcome and comfortable in class.

Meeting new people and teachers when I first got to Preuss allowed me to create new relationships and open myself up to others. Although it has taken time, developing strong relationships with my teachers throughout the years has encouraged me to be confident in myself and my abilities because I knew that I would have someone I could count on to help me.

In the 6th grade, I was lucky to be assigned to Mrs. Greco’s advisory class. She was a new teacher when the class of 2021 began at Preuss, so we were figuring out life at Preuss together, as a class. It was with her, first, that I was able to develop strong relationships with my peers and teachers. I’ll be honest, our class wasn’t the best or most well-behaved in middle school, but I like to think the reason for that is because we all had a unique bond from the beginning. In high school, we initiated a tradition called Feel Good Fridays where we would sit in a circle, create a judgment free zone, and share our highs and lows of the week. Having this experience and sharing it with my advisory class has become one of my favorite things at Preuss because we got to really know and support each other.

As I previously mentioned, I did a lot of complaining about staying at Preuss for another four years after middle school, wishing I could go somewhere else with more extracurricular activities and new students. Today, I’ve come to realize how easy the transition was for me, staying with the same people I knew and having created strong friendships with, throughout high school. Knowing that I have to part ways with the same friends I started my middle school years with is tough because they’re the same people whom I’ve explored my newfound interests with. High school at Preuss has led me to discovering part of myself as a person. I’ve discovered new interests such as drama, working behind the scenes and acting, learning math, though I was never good, writing and learning about the different aspects of it.
When I first started drama in the 9th grade with Mrs. Ippplito, I was extremely anxious because I was a very shy student. I joined because I wanted to explore new activities and try to get out of my comfort zone. Having Mrs. Ippolito as my first drama teacher was an amazing experience; that was when I first participated in the Tim Burton themed Fall Festival. Shortly after, in small groups, I participated in a quick performance of Mamma Mia where I played Sophie. That was when I felt I was breaking out of my shell. Performing is still scary to me, but I find it liberating and exciting to have an activity helping put myself out there. My favorite and last performance with Mrs. Ippolito was our rendition of 13!, made 16! because a majority of the drama class was 15-16 years old and in high school. Participating in this musical was the event that inspired me and my friends to sign up for Musical Theatre, hoping that we would be able to convince the new drama teacher, Mr. Rocca, to start that class. Being a part of creating something that has been a big part of my high school experience is staggering because even if musical theatre does not continue after I leave Preuss, I am so proud that I was able to be a part of that and having teachers who are willing to take the next step in encouraging their students to create something new.

Graduating after completing my entire senior year online has become a bittersweet event I am looking forward to sharing with my best friends and family. Having overcome an entire isolated year of school has made me grateful for all I’ve experienced at Preuss. Despite my worst days in school, they were heavily outweighed by the good days I got to share with my friends and favorite teachers. I will forever be grateful for the time that I spent at Preuss and I will cherish all of the memories I made as well as the lessons I learned while being here.