Senior Sierra Healy, who returned to Menlo at the beginning of the school year, enjoys the senior retreat. Photo by Alex Perez.
By Silas Stewart and Sid Chari
Four students have transferred into the upper school at Menlo as either sophomores, juniors, or seniors. These four are sophomores Peridot Park and Siraj Bell, junior Bridget Quigley, and senior Sierra Healy.
Park transferred from the Spence School in New York City and is so far loving Menlo. She likes the Menlo culture much more than that of her old school. “Menlo is less "clique-y" than my old school, and people tend to be more friendly and open," Park said. I've also found that Menlo students are more well-rounded and focused than the students at my former school."
Although Park has found that Menlo is much more difficult than her old school, she has welcomed the challenge of her classes. Additionally, Park likes the bigger list of classes that has allowed her to have more freedom of choice. “Menlo also has a more extensive course list than my old school. More specifically, my old school did not have APs, honors classes, or classes such as journalism or mechanical engineering,” Park said.
The general atmosphere and facilities at Menlo are another highlight for Park. “Since I lived in New York City, my former school was in one tall building. It's pleasant to walk around the quad. The facilities are also great, in particular the arts building,” Park said. Beyond academics, Park is excited to be involved in the many activities Menlo has to offer. She is currently running cross country at Menlo and is a member of Menlo’s Junior Classical League, a Latin organization.
Bell has expressed similar positivity with his transition. “Adapting to Menlo was not very hard for me. I like being given the freedom to pursue different academic endeavors with the caveat of being responsible for myself,” Sophomore Siraj Bell said. Bell, one of the several transfer students, is excited to be at Menlo. Bell previously attended Del Mar High School in San Jose.
Although he was skeptical about the atmosphere to begin with, he adapted quickly to the new environment at Menlo. “I was really surprised to see how much school spirit students have at Menlo. Looking back on it, it seems obvious to me that Menlo would have a greater sense of unity and a more legitimate feel to the school spirit, but it was still a shock,” Bell said. The community here is much different, but Bell is happy about that as he loves the new feel much more.
That, in turn, made him feel much more comfortable in a brand new school. Bell also found that it was very easy to adapt to Menlo. Because of all of the new opportunities and people, Menlo seems like the perfect school for Bell and he is therefore very excited to be here. “Everything at Menlo is, in some way, somehow better than at my old high school. There are many more choices for different classes and sports and there are more ways to help others and explore ambitions,” Bell said. In order to fully embrace new people, Bell will be playing tennis and joining the robotics club.
After two years at Palo Alto High School (Paly), junior Bridget Quigley decided to switch to a local private school. “I needed a fresh start, and I wanted to try something new,” Quigley said. Although she was sad to leave plenty of friends, she was excited to have a new start and create new friendships. “The people here [at Menlo] are really accepting and friendly,” she said.
She also enjoys many of the different aspects of Menlo. “I like the smaller class size; it’s more personal with the teachers which is really helpful. The classes are tougher, but there’s less busy work which is nice. The topics we cover are really specific and we go into them more in-depth than at Paly.” She has also grown fond of her teachers. “All of my teachers are really interesting and passionate people.”
It didn’t take long for Quigley to get used to the Menlo environment. “It took only 3 days for me to adapt and adjust to Menlo completely,” she said. Quigley quickly noticed the difference in school spirit between Menlo and Paly. “On the first day of school, I realized how spirited the seniors really were when they were all loud and dressed up on the quad and during the assembly,” Quigley said. She has embraced the Menlo vibe and is looking forward to a good junior year.
After leaving for two years to an Arizona boarding school, Sierra Healy is back in the class of 2018. One aspect Sierra loves about Menlo is the atmosphere. “The students here are much more spirited and more self-motivating,” Healy said. Sierra also loves that Menlo has much more people and is happy to back in a co-ed environment. “One thing that I missed about Menlo is that it is a co-ed school and has a lot more people in general,” Healy exclaimed.
Healy is an avid dancer, and is a prominent member of Knight Life, the Menlo dance team. After being at Menlo for two and a half years prior to leaving, Healy was ecstatic when she saw the new invigorated student center and campus. “The new student center and library blew my mind; it was a lot cooler than I imagined.” Fortunately, Healy did not need time to adjust back to Menlo. “The friendships that I had before I left Menlo stayed intact and are now stronger than ever. My friends really made my switch back easy...Menlo is home to me.” Sierra is really looking forward to her senior year and is glad she gets to finish high school here in Atherton.