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Q&A with Class of 2023 alumni on their experiences, advice for first-year Archer students

As first-year Archer students wrap up first quarter, they may be facing stress and piles of assignments that cause them to lose sight of what they want out of their Archer experience and why they chose this school.

Archer welcomed 96 new students to campus this year. Back in May, The Oracle interviewed Class of 2023 alumni Paulina DePaulo, Meera Mahidhara and Samantha Garibaldi prior to their graduation.

DePaulo and Garibaldi came to Archer in sixth grade, and Mahidhara came in 10th grade. The Oracle sat down with them to discuss impactful experiences from their Archer careers and their advice for new students.

Describe yourself when you first came to Archer. What was your first impression of Archer, and how different were you back then?

Paulina DePaulo [PD]: I found out about Archer through some random website, and so it seemed like a very big endeavor that I was going into as an 11-year-old, and I was very excited. I wore braids to school every day with purple Converse because I wanted to match my uniform. I remember being so excited about doing Ms. Goldbaum’s Kahoots every single day in history class. I was really excited to be here. It was such a unique opportunity, especially coming from the school that I did, and I wanted to do everything and be friends with everyone.

Meera Mahidhara [MM]: I came when Archer was online, so I was on Zoom my first year. I was living in Indiana during that time, so I was waking up around 11:30 in the morning for school, and I’d finish around 7 at night. I did get a different perspective than most people. Something else I remember was how nice the students were. I remember having Zoom lunch meetings with my friends, and we would all gather to talk, sometimes watching movies together and sharing our screens. That was helpful for me to make friends because when I came on campus the next year, I fit right into that friend group, and I’ve been friends with them since.

How do you feel your identity or your personality has changed over the years? 

[PD]: I became more mature. I learned about the social dynamics of the school. Certain schools, having the social dynamics that they do, can influence how a person evolves and matures, but I’m really thankful for the community that I found here. Being able to have those friendships taught me to be very connected with the people around me. As a learner, I’ve seen myself go up and down. I went through a phase in eighth grade where I was too scared to raise my hand for anything, which was crazy because the sixth grade me was all over the place, but then I got back on my feet a few years later.

[MM]: I was very much by the books. I would’ve liked to be home studying or just lying down in my bed rather than going out and having fun with my friends. After coming to Archer, my friends brought me out of my comfort zone, and I realized that there was more to just studying and being quiet, shy and reserved and that helped a lot.

Samantha Garibaldi [SG]: I haven’t changed that much since sixth grade. I’ve always been open to trying new things, getting involved and meeting new people.

What specific clubs, organizations, events, classes, etc. did you participate in that were a highlight or even a lowlight of your education and time here?

[PD]: The number one thing that comes to mind for me is theater. I joined in sixth grade because I had done it as a summer camp throughout my whole life. When I came here in sixth grade, Archer had an actual theater program, and we could do costumes and lights, and it was really exciting. The musical when I was in sixth grade was “The Wizard of Oz.” I played Dorothy, and it was the best moment of my entire life. I was able to experience that moment right off the bat in sixth grade and make connections with people through putting on a big production. I joined theater every year after that, including this year, and it’s been one of my favorite things about Archer. A lot of different performing arts programs I went in and out of … I did a capella and choir for a few years and danced for a long time, but I’ve always come back to theater.

[SG]: An event that I really enjoyed this year was our first Hispanic Heritage Month festival in the courtyard where we had different snacks and music, and I brought Chocoflan that my grandma made. It was beautiful to share that with the community and have people try it who were supporting small businesses like my grandma’s. Another highlight for me was Archer’s academic curriculum because it definitely prepared me for the future. I feel a lot more comfortable and sure of myself in terms of academics. I’ve heard a lot of people, like previous alumni, who have said similar things that their experience in college or university was a lot better because of their Archer experience.

What advice would you give to an incoming sixth grader about their future Archer experience?

[PD]: Accept the change. It’s going to happen. I was scared of my friend groups changing and my style, personality or even things I liked. I thought I was going to be who I was throughout my entire time here at Archer. Your friend groups will change, but that’s a good thing. Do your best to branch out and meet new people and try new things. That’s one of the greatest things about this place is that you can make friendships and connections with so many different people because we’re all so close to each other.

[MM]: Take everything one at a time because, especially when you’re coming into a new school, whether it be middle school or high school, it’s going to be overwhelming. You won’t know the people, and you won’t know the teachers, so take a deep breath. Realize that you’re awesome and amazing and that you’ll fit into this school perfectly.

[SG]: Be yourself, and don’t let anybody else tell you how to be or change who you are. Be happy, and be the truest version of yourself.

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About the Contributors
Tavi Memoli
Tavi Memoli, Senior Reporter
Tavi Memoli joined The Oracle as a staff reporter in 2022 and is now returning as a senior reporter in 2023. She plays indoor and beach volleyball and is currently in her third year on the varsity team. She loves baking, surfing, and listening to music in her free time.
Lucy Williams
Lucy Williams, Voices Editor
Lucy Williams joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2021 and became the Voices Editor in 2023. Outside of journalism, she runs a Los Angeles food blog on Tiktok and Instagram under the epithet "Little Savvy." She also serves on the Hermanas Unidas club board and the DemocraShe Leadership Team and is passionate about reading and sociology.

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