Amy Zhou

Not Pictured
Elementary School: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School (K-2) & Peabody School (3-5)
Upper School: Rindge Avenue Upper Campus
Upcoming Plans: Harvard College
Area of Study/Interest: Government, History, and Education
Career Aspiration: Undecided, potentially teacher/professor, writer, or lawyer

Favorite subject at CRLS

Why is it your favorite subject?
I truly loved taking classes in all subjects at CRLS, but history stands out for many reasons. Historical education is absolutely necessary for developing critical thinking, understanding our present lives, and creating a better future. I’ve always been interested in history, whether it be personal family history or well-known global events, but CRLS history took everything to another level. Every single history class I took—Modern Global Conflicts, AP African American Studies, to name a few—was deeply engaging, and I always felt like my worldview was growing every day. My history teachers always pushed us to analyze and qualify historical narratives through debates, discussions, and so much more, and it was in those history classes that I felt myself growing the most both academically and personally. Additionally, the history department at CRLS is composed of the most brilliant, passionate, and hilarious educators ever, and paired with the wide ranges of classes offered, the CRLS history department is quite simply GOATED (Greatest of all Time).

Favorite CRLS Staff Person
Throughout my time at CRLS, I have had so many incredible educators, all of whom have had a tremendous impact on me. While I cannot name them all (this would go on forever), I have to shout out my main crew—Caroline Berz, Benji Cohen, Duncan MacLaury, and Rachel Otty—alongside many other wonderful educators.

What makes that staff person so special?
Caroline Berz (AKA Berzy) — As a shy, self-conscious freshman, being in Ms. Berz’s World History class was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Practically every time she posed a question or made a comment, the next words to come out of her mouth were, “What do you think, Amy?” While I was incredibly uncomfortable with being put on the spot, Ms. Berz always made sure to follow up with a comment or corny joke, turning my spotlight into a casual conversation. I became braver and braver after each class, and that courage spread to other aspects of my life. Ms. Berz taught me the most valuable lesson of them all: Growth only comes from risks. Additionally, Ms. Berz was also the person who introduced me to Level Up and educational equity work. While there was no way she could’ve known that this would become one of my greatest passions, she had the intuition to set me down that path. I am forever grateful for Ms. Berz, and I could not be more thankful to have her as an ally, mentor, and friend, now and in the future.

Benji Cohen (AKA Codawg) — While it breaks my heart that I never got to formally be a student in Mr. Cohen’s class, I’ve had the gift of having Mr. Cohen as both a CM (Falcon Block) teacher and graduation project advisor. If you ever spend a day at CRLS, you will hear at least one funny story about Mr. Cohen’s class and crazy antics. Of course, biggest thanks to him for putting in so much time and effort into the Level Up Program and educational justice work. The GOAT! Also, ask him about his beloved dog…

Duncan MacLaury (AKA DMac) — Mr. MacLaury spends hours every single day finding resources for students, grading and regrading work, and chatting about anything (mostly Star Wars). It’s clear he puts his students first, especially since he and Dr. Lam are tied for “most organized teacher.”

Rachel Otty (AKA Rotty) — Ms. Otty is the powerhouse of everything global at CRLS, from running the Global Studies Certificate Program to teaching international-centric classes. With her guidance, I can confidently say that I have grown as both a global citizen and a humorist.

Additionally, I’d also like to thank several other teachers (in alphabetical order). Ms. Jenny Chung (AKA Chungster), the best advisor for Students of Color Coalition and work/procrastination buddy. Mr. Thomas Cosgrove (AKA Beard Guy), who sat through a million drafts of my college essays. Ms. Xiaoshu Jing, who reconnected me with my Chinese culture and language. Mr. Andrew Kreuser, for his hilarious haikus and dedication to both students and staff. Dr. Eva Lam (AKA Doccy Lam), for her deadpan humor and witty comebacks. Mr. McGlathery, who is now retired but remains the highlight of my sophomore year with KenKens and electric bikes. Ms. Elizabeth Menges (AKA Mengie), who is the most mindful and pure-hearted human being and artist on Earth! Ms. Sam Musher (AKA Mush Mush), for helping youth-led initiatives succeed. Ms. Alexis Regan, who is the best, most caring co-CM advisor. Ms. Tobe Stomberg (AKA Stomby), for having a contagious passion for the environment. Mr. Mike Tubinis, who is the best guidance counselor I could’ve asked for. Ms. Nora Watson, for spreading her passion for math with joy and love. Ms. Rachel Williams-Giordano, for changing my perspective on education and pushing us all to be our best selves.

While I know this is asking about CRLS staff, I have to highlight my 7th grade ELA teacher, Ms. Amy Gonzalez, at RAUC. She’s been my cheerleader for what feels like forever, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her support.

Extracurricular activities, clubs, school-related activities
At CRLS: Students of Color Coalition, Varsity Girls Ultimate Frisbee, Level Up Teaching Assistant, Level Up Program Research, Global Studies Certificate Program, National Honor Society, Youth Equity Summit, Community Pride Day, 9th-grade Mentoring, One School One Story, Writers Club, Literacy for All, and more. 

Out of CRLS: MA Commission on LGBTQ+ Youth, MA Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission Youth Council, MA GSA Student Leadership Council, LEAH Knox: Data Science & Biomedical Research Internship, LEAH Project Youth Leader, Coalition or Anti-Racism in Education Leadership Next Gen Fellowship, and more.

What were some of the out-of-school time (O.S.T) programs that you participated in anytime between grades 6-12?
In middle school, I went to the Gately Youth Center for O.S.T. programming.

How did being enrolled in any O.S.T. program(s) contribute to your success both in and out of high school?
While my time at Gately was many years ago, I still feel the influence of the amazing staff I met there. Having a space just for pre-teens to do fun projects, finish homework, and have fun is so critical for creating positive middle school experiences and building relationships with adult mentors, both of which prepare students for high school and beyond.

What did you like most about CRLS? Why?
There are so many things I love about CRLS, but I’ll keep it concise. Firstly, if it wasn’t obvious enough, I think the highest of CRLS faculty. There are so many talented, passionate, and empathetic educators at CRLS, and without them, Rindge would simply not be the same. Next, CRLS is crazy diverse. We hear this a lot, and it’s easy to take this fact for granted when we’re living it. It took me a while to realize that this high level of diversity in various categories is so rare for a high school in the U.S., and I’ve become much, much more appreciative of it. Finally, the students. CRLS students are some of the most active, funny, and social people out there. There are so many student-led initiatives, events, organizations, and more, and I’ll really miss the community CRLS students have created.

What is something people unfamiliar with CRLS should know about the school? Why?
The Media Cafe has good food and shorter lines. The walk up to the 5th-floor will never be easy. The Ultimate Frisbee team is the best, most spirited sport at CRLS.

Okay, I’ll be serious. After these four years, I’ve come to recognize that CRLS is truly a unique place. There are few schools in the nation that have the same level of diversity in students, teachers, classes, opportunities, and more. We’re incredibly lucky to have all this opportunity, but at the same time, there are still disparities, whether that be class demographics, friend groups, or access to resources. But in my mind, as long as there are passionate students, teachers, and other community members working toward justice and change, I trust that CRLS gets better and better each and every day.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen about CRLS?
Take risks! As you enter high school, there is an endless supply of daunting scenarios, many of which have the potential to be very rewarding. It’s easy and desirable to remain in our comfort zones (believe me, I know! In middle school, I hid in a bathroom to avoid presenting my portfolio), but we grow the most by trying new, scary things. Regardless of if it fails or succeeds, you leave it all the wiser. Join the clubs that sound interesting, talk to the people you want to befriend, and sign up for that event!

As cliché as this sounds, believe in yourself and be kind to yourself! It’s very common for people to berate or insult themselves, and I have definitely been guilty of this before and sometimes now. That kind of behavior gets into your subconscious, even if you mean it offhandedly, making you both perform worse and feel worse. If you trust yourself and accept that mistakes are okay, getting through the day will feel a lot more gratifying.

Don’t ignore your interests! My biggest regret in high school is how many classes I didn’t take, like Mr. Cohen’s Urban History or various RSTA courses. I was definitely swept up in AP/HNs courses, but I wish I had gotten to experience more of the unique opportunities CRLS offers. Do what you love!

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