Commentary: How Archer became my imperfect second home


Photo credit: Lizette Gonzalez

This is a portion of my senior page and some of my favorite moments of the past year. My time at Archer has been a rollercoaster, and within my last piece, I wanted to dedicate it to those who have supported me throughout the past four years.

By Lizette Gonzalez, Features Editor

When I was little, I remember staying up late under forts made of pillows and blankets held up by my dad’s legs. My dad would tell me a story of his own making about Pulgarsito y Caperucita Roja. The story was a spinoff of “Little Red Riding Hood,” but this version was in Spanish, and Pulgarsito ate frijoles (beans) and went on crazy forest adventures.

Last December, I was accepted into my dream school, Pomona College, and, consequently, I have been in a nostalgic state of reflection. Pulgarsito has been with me ever since those days, where the only thing that mattered was finding out if he was going to get eaten by the big bad wolf.

Four years ago, I embarked on my own crazy adventure walking up Archer’s front veranda steps, where I had no idea what to expect.

In all honesty, I cannot write this piece without acknowledging how hard it has been to be Latina here. Like Pulgarsito, my adventure at Archer was one that has filled me with empowerment and inspiration, and it has also been one filled with times when all I wanted was to find my trail back home.

Coming to Archer made me realize what my identities meant, but it quickly became my imperfect second home. When thinking about this piece, I debated how I wanted to write it. I didn’t want to come across as ungrateful for all that Archer has given me, but it also didn’t feel right to ignore the not-so-pretty feelings I’ve felt during my time here.

I’ve poured all of my heart into The Oracle, Hermanas Unidas, EBAD and being the support girls of color on campus can confide in. Now, as I’m writing this, I decided to follow what I’ve preached since day one: don’t be afraid to share your truth.

My truth at Archer stems from the reason why my ninth grade self stayed after being so close to transferring. I chose to stay because of the community I was able to carve out for myself — in the classroom and out. I want this piece to be an ode to those who have grounded me and reminded me why I stayed.

I arrived in ninth grade, along with another handful of new ninth graders who became my close friends. All my friends are people of color, and I mention this because I don’t think it is a coincidence. To this day, our identities and experience of feeling as if we didn’t belong were what made us gravitate to each other. I wouldn’t have wanted this any other way; through them, I’ve found people I can be my true self with.

Hermanas Unidas has been the space where my inner Pulgarsito has shined. Every time I stepped into Ms. Geffen’s room, I was able to exhale all the inhales that were bottled up. I cannot thank my hermanas and advisers enough. They became people where our conversations would be so vulnerable, yet somehow, end up being about confusing Bad Bunny‘s real name to former Mexican president Benito Juarez.

I also can’t forget to mention how mesmerized I am by the brilliance of all my classmates. Through harkness discussions in Back to the Future about whether anything is real, being awed by everyone’s definition of happiness in Ms. Deming’s seminar, finding my passion for writing and history with Ms. Keelty and Ms. Niles and exploring a third language with Dr. Nesbitt, I am so honored to have been able to learn alongside Archer girls and teachers.

Additionally, The Oracle has been a space where I’ve been able to literally write about anything. At Archer, I feared becoming the one girl who only talked about was diversity. My heart broke a bit more every time a teacher would confuse me with my other Latina friends, or when I was asked if I did something special to get into Pomona.

However, journalism became a forum where I was able to share my experience and those of others in an empowering manner. I’m proud of myself for learning the skills of a student-journalist, but I’m most proud when someone comes up to me and says they saw themselves in a story I wrote.

Like my dad, I learned to write myself a story at Archer that, even by force, I was able to see myself represented in.

My ranting sessions and Dodgers talk in Mr. Bartha’s and Mr. Hauck’s rooms, the memories with my friends in the courtyard, cries that turned into laughter with Ms. Alcala and the long bus rides with middle schoolers that I soon saw as my little sisters will forever be in my heart.

Thank you, Archer, for empowering me to speak my truth. Thank you for opening a world of opportunities that I never imagined. To my friends, mentors and teachers: thank you for allowing me to represent two languages, two worlds and two flags.

It took me four years to feel comfortable in my own skin, and as I step outside these doors, I hope I can say that I worked so hard, every day, to make sure other Latinas can feel comfortable sooner. It should happen faster.

Now, I pass the baton to my incoming sixth grade sister, and I hope Archer also allows her to become someone who isn’t afraid to write her own version of Pulgaristo and Caperucita Roja.