Los Altos High School Graduates Encouraging Community, Inclusion | Schools
Throughout her time at Los Altos High School, Isabel Berny took on a leadership role on campus, striving to bring students together, and she didn’t let the pandemic stop her.
A member of the student government since her sophomore year, Berny, who graduated last week, served as Associated Study Body Treasurer in her first year and this year as Wellness Week and Week Coordinator. of diversity.
In this role, she worked to help students stay connected during online learning, tailoring an annual ‘Gifts of Gratitude’ event so that students could always participate and send gifts to their friends, even at home. .
“I think people’s morale was a bit low, so we definitely didn’t want to jump on ‘Gifts of Gratitude’ this year,” Berny said. “Even though it took a lot of planning… I was motivated to do it just to give people something to look forward to.”
In a typical year, “Gifts of Gratitude” gives students the opportunity to choose from a selection of small gifts – such as fluffy socks or stress relief toys – to send to a friend, along with a note. personalized. The ASB students then collect the responses, purchase the gifts and deliver them to recipients during the school day.
Berny ran an adapted version this year, where she then wrapped all the gifts at home and created detailed driving routes so that ASB students could deliver the gifts to hundreds of student homes.
Berny’s commitment and high level of focus is something English teacher Michael Smith said he has seen since his first year, but during his high school years he also saw his leadership skills develop.
“It’s a good thing to see her find her voice and to be able to be confident, to contribute, to lead and to do things positively in the community,” said Smith, who taught Berny for his first and first year years. “I’m just excited for his opportunities in the future.”
A naturally reserved person, Berny said she never thought she would get involved in student government when she arrived in high school. It wasn’t until her first grade Spanish teacher suggested she would be a good fit for ASB that she decided to apply.
“I walked in, and from there, right away, I was really drawn to it,” Berny said.
Through her involvement in the student government, Berny said she was more comfortable talking to people she didn’t know and had learned verbal communication skills, as well as how to cope. to new situations. Last school year, Berny took the lead in organizing the school’s annual reunion parade.
Now that she has graduated from Los Altos High, Berny is heading to Stanford University in the fall, where she plans to major in computer science, with an interest in studying political science as well.
Berny wants to pursue both areas because she said IT intrinsically cuts across public policy, as technology now has an impact on almost every other area. In order to be able to use IT to help others, Berny said it’s important to understand how various groups have been treated over time.
One example Berny pointed to of how IT has overlooked people is data showing facial recognition software is less effective at identifying people of color because the datasets used to train artificial intelligence were disproportionately made up of white males.
“This is one of the important things that I think IT people really need to think about because you are completely ignoring this huge population of people,” she said.
Over the past year, she worked on a new diversity and inclusion subcommittee within ASB. The group’s work consisted of surveying students on how to make the school’s curriculum more inclusive, as well as teaming up with the Mountain View High ASB to host a series of ‘frankly speaking’ events. , where students come together and discuss issues of race and culture.
Beyond ASB, Berny has been involved with other groups on campus, including the Girls Who Code club. As chair this year, she led weekly meetings, where members would learn about women in STEM, do coding activities and work together on projects.
Regardless of what she was working on, Smith said he always saw Berny as having an inquiring mind and taking a “holistic” approach to learning.
“She has always been a joy to have in class: always participated, always encouraged and worked with just about everyone who was thrown in her path,” Smith said. “There isn’t a time when she isn’t trying to absorb information or pass it on to someone.”