Ana Banchs-Rodriguez ’24
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When it came to choosing and applying for high schools I was quite lost at first because I was relatively new to the community. I was first introduced to Menlo through sports and grew to love the small community I was acquainted with which led me to my decision to apply. Already being part of basketball, I felt like Menlo was somewhere I could really “belong” and my interview accentuated that impression; My interviewer talked about the Menlo community and student life concurring with my previous feelings about the community, and he showed me the way Menlo inspires academic, artistic, and athletic performance which ultimately called to me because I think it’s important to be somewhere where you can grow in a variety of areas.
Because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to physically attend Menlo for most of last year. That being said, I think that even through zoom I was able to learn and enjoy Menlo thanks to the understanding and commitment of all of my teachers. I’ve come to mostly enjoy how sincere and friendly everyone is, as well as the many classes to choose from which really highlights the diversity of interests in students at Menlo.
COVID was an obstacle last year, however, it showed me that you’re never alone and that it’s good to reach out for help. The experience was new and interesting because it underscored the importance of communication. At the beginning of the year, I found it particularly hard to reach out to some teachers through zoom. Soon enough, however, I was able to schedule some meetings and I learned that there’s nothing to be afraid of when talking to teachers because they’re there to help you to the best of their abilities.
So far I’ve been involved in a couple of clubs like baking club, reframe, and Latinos Unidos but have been most active with the latter. I really enjoy Latinos Unidos because there’s both seriousness and laughter, and you can express yourself with the safety of a welcoming group around you. As well as clubs, I played basketball for the school last year on the JV team and despite the struggles of a season in Covid I really enjoyed getting back to playing. I also participated in a drama production and it left me wanting to do more in the future. It’s great seeing your friends in a different way, outside of academics.
Outside of school, I’ve been singing in different choirs for a long time, starting in Singapore and now here in the US. I did piano and ballet for a number of years but I decided to leave ballet when I got more serious with basketball. I love music, making music, or anything to do with music, so I would say that choir and piano are my favourites. I think that Menlo gives a great balance of sports and academics and allows students to flourish in many areas which I love because I simply haven’t decided what I want yet and love that I can try and do a variety of different things!
So far my favourite Menlo class has been “How Music Works” with Mr. KG because it was very flexible in the sense that we as students molded the class to fit our liking and even learning styles. The class itself was always full of fun, engaging, and hands-on lessons. I personally love music and have recently been into music-making and I was able to get a lot out of that class because of how open-ended it was. And, of course, the teacher always plays a really big part. Mr. KG always made sure we were actually enjoying our classes and he created really great relationships with each of his students by getting to know them well and giving us ample opportunities to learn well.
The Menlo community to me is a place filled with inspiring unique individuals. My mind was set on going to Menlo after my interview because of the way my interviewer talked so fondly about the community. I didn’t feel out of place in any way and in fact, I felt welcomed to a community that I didn’t even know I would be a part of yet. Thus the diversity and inclusiveness of the community are really what makes Menlo special to me, and it encourages me to be myself and give the best of myself.