Winter 2015


Six students—one from each grade—prove that rebellion isn’t necessarily about going against the grain, but rather about finding and exploring one’s passion and creativity without intimidation.

by Bailey Shiffler

When Chris Zaro ’15 talks about his experience at Prep, the idea of a liberal arts experience comes up often. Prep faculty pride themselves on inquiry and critical thinking across all subject matter, skills that Zaro has honed throughout his time at Prep. No matter what he’s doing—whether it’s taking reps as fullback and linebacker for the football team, playing the guitar in the jazz band, leading the 8th Grade Buddies mentoring program, acting the lead in the school musical or taking notes in honors physics—he’s finding the through-line. “I love the idea of a liberal arts education,” he says. “Football and acting are not competing interests, I find that those worlds help each other. It’s expanding, rather than limiting.” And rather than stressing about college applications—he plans to study psychology, continue acting and is still contemplating being a walk-on for a football team—he has loved the introspection and can’t wait to see where his classmates end up. “College counseling has been so nice,” he says. “They provide a great safety net while still teaching us to be independent throughout the process.” And even more impressive is the fact that despite his full slate of hobbies and extracurricular activities, Zaro still finds time to surf, hike and cook—his specialties are ribs and fresh baked pies.

Francesca Song

As many young girls do, Francesca Song '18 took ballet. From a young age, she loved learning about movement, and her ballet foundation set the stage for a deeper love of dance, movement and music. Inspired by watching dancers on stage, online and on TV, she started to discover more about urban dance styles and different genres. She learned to play the piano and then taught herself to play the guitar. Says Song, “I love music and being active, and dance combines those things.” But she takes it one step further, adding that another component of dance is discipline, and Song has never been one to shy away from a challenge. Her favorite subject in school is science, and it’s not because it comes easy. “Science is difficult, which I think tends to make people draw away from it,” she says. “But that’s actually why I like it.” Song has a unique perspective on challenges, as her family emigrated from Korea when she was in the 3rd grade. With English as her second language, the transition to Foothills Middle School might have been difficult, but Song seems to have handled it with ease. And just a few months into her first year at Prep, she appears to have found her footing. She’s on the cheer and dance team, enjoys her classes and loves the help she gets from her Peer Counselor and her 9th grade advisor. “When I came to Prep, I really felt what it was to be part of a community. It’s not exaggerating to say that everyone here is an important part of a whole group, and you’re supported by everyone here.”

Ryan Huntley

They say some leaders are born, and some leaders are made. It seems like 8th grader Ryan Huntley '19 might be both. The gregarious class president appears to be a natural mentor—he’s the oldest child in his family, and he’s always been interested in student government, running in his first election in the 5th grade at St. Mark’s. But he also knows that leading takes dedication, which he has offered in spades. “I think you have to be willing to put in the hours,” he says. “There’s a lot of self-motivation, but I also just really love my class and I want to give back to them.” In Middle School Senate, Huntley has helped schedule events, like the 8th grade dance, and he has helped host mini-perks, including the celebration of National Cookie Day. He enjoys learning about the innerworkings of High School Senate, watching and helping the student leaders plan and execute even bigger campus events. As class president in 7th and now 8th grade, Huntley has helped his classmates form a strong bond that they will carry with them through Promotion and on through Commencement. Next year, the class will double in size, and though Huntley says he’s a bit nervous, but he’s mostly excited about the new members joining them to truly become the class of 2019.

Amari Dennis

Amari Dennis ’17 doesn’t get ready for school in quite the same way as most 15-year-olds. It took her a while to realize, but the way she looks at her clothes—many of which she designed herself—is actually quite unique. She’s not dressing for the weather or even to a trend, rather Dennis sees fashion as a form of expression, one she hopes to explore for the rest of her life. And also unlike most high school sophomores, Dennis is well grounded in her knowledge of how difficult it is to have a successful career in fashion. So she’s already putting herself ahead of the game. She has taken sewing lessons and founded a sewing club at Prep, looking to faculty members with experience for advice and technique. She has tackled even bigger projects in making Halloween costumes for herself. Dennis is also already researching college programs that offer a broadbased education while still focusing on fashion. “I like balancing academics with my interest in fashion to create a more well-rounded educational experience,” she says. Case in point: her favorite subject is science—in biology this year, Dennis is particularly fascinated with genetics. Perhaps it’s the patterns.

Sarah Abou-Rass

As a 7th grader, Sarah Abou-Rass '20 has only been at Prep for a semester, but it already feels like home. “I feel like I’ve known my class all my life,” she says. The rest of the class must feel the same way, as they’ve elected Abou-Rass to serve as their voice, picking her as both class president and as the 7th grade homecoming court representative. At Prep, students don’t fit into categories, so it’s no wonder that Abou-Rass defies categorization. She’s a natural leader and athlete, and her interests are far from streamlined. At the very beginning of her middle school experience, Abou-Rass is excited to try everything. When asked about what she’s excited about in the years to come, she runs the gamut: “Maybe drama, definitely basketball and maybe volleyball. Music seems fun.” She explains that at Prep, she doesn’t feel boxed in. “You can lead your own life here,” she says. But despite her love of variety, Abou-Rass is sure about wanting to continue in Senate, and she knows she loves basketball, hoping to make the varsity squad one day. “It motivates you,” she says. “You know it’s about teamwork and not just about winning.” And when it comes to academics, she’s still figuring out her interests, though much like basketball, she seems to enjoy and understand science on a deeper level. “It’s a lot of fun getting to learn how life was morphed, studying cells and bones and muscles,” she says. “I like to see how we work.”

Dean Hathout

Dean Hathout '16 is polite, kind and happy to talk about his interests, hobbies and his experience at Prep. And then you ask him about math, and his mood shifts. “There’s an art to problem solving,” he says with energy. “It’s all about clever manipulation, and I love arriving at that ‘Aha’ moment.” Hathout has had a passion for math since he was young—he has constantly explored math outside of the classroom, delving further into how theories and methods were developed and how math is used to solve realworld problems. “In math, there’s usually a straight forward way to look at problem, but what’s often a better route is to take a step back and see if there’s an alternative view,” he says. This way of looking at a math problem has been applied to many areas of Hathout’s life. Instead of following a traditional school trajectory, in the 6th grade Hathout decided he wanted to learn Arabic, the language of his Egyptian family. So he took a gap year and did just that. He entered Prep in the 7th grade a year later after a sojourn in Egypt and extensive lessons with his grandfather. In that same year, Hathout also took on an untraditional sporting interest. He’s a big Lakers fan, and he enjoys watching boxing, but he opted to take after his father, Gasser Hathout ’80, and pursue squash. It’s clear that Hathout has no problem walking unpaved paths, and as a student leader in the Multicultural Student Union and the Spanish Honor Society, he’s laying the brickwork for other Rebels to follow in his steps.