An artist for much of her young life already, Bonnie ’25 has spent the last year or so delving into digital art, specifically animation. Even in this short time—during which she also moved to the U.S. from Shanghai—animation has become her preferred medium and method of storytelling, displayed to remarkable effect in a recent Project Week undertaking.
Inspired by the song "Change My Clothes" by Dream and Alec Benjamin, and loosely based on real-life scenarios, Bonnie animated a short yet poignant tale of friendship, which she shared with the Commonwealth community at the school’s annual Project Week Assembly. It also happens to be her second animation project…ever. Keep reading to learn more about what animates her.
Getting to Know You
What is bringing you joy right now?
Lots of things! Going to Commonwealth makes me happy in general—just being in school and with my friends. And the teachers are so engaging and so kind all the time. And, obviously, I like the classes; they are all really challenging in an enjoyable way.
I have my hobbies that keep me going, too: I play tennis three or four times a week, so practice is also fun. I spend a lot of time with my family. And I do a lot of art. [More on that momentarily!]
What is your favorite book (or a book you’ve re-read)?
A book that I'm reading for the second time right now is Frankenstein. It was beautifully written, especially how Mary Shelley uses really descriptive words that help me imagine what's happening.
What is your favorite comfort food?
When I feel hungry and don't know what to eat, egg sandwiches are my go-to.
What was/is your favorite class (at Commonwealth or elsewhere)?
Definitely art classes. I love Beginning Drawing and Painting [with Mr. Colpitts]. I also really enjoy English; it's my favorite academic course of the five that I take. Outside Commonwealth I take another art class, which I also really enjoy.
Pen or pencil?
I like pens more. They're just smoother and easier to take notes with.
Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)
What inspired you to pursue animation?
I’ve spent a lot of time watching animation on YouTube over the past few years. The very first one was from TheOdd1sOut, a very popular YouTuber that makes animations based on personal stories and other things. I follow popular artists and illustrators, and I watch animations on YouTube all the time, just for fun. I like to support other artists by just watching and leaving comments. There are a lot of talented artists out there that are just not noticed at all.
What led to the creation of your animated Project Week video?
I've had a lot of experience in traditional art, but I started doing digital art when I got an iPad last year. Making an animation was something I really wanted to do. The very first animation I ever made was in eighth grade. It is definitely rusty compared to this new one! But I wanted to see how much I improved over the past year. Also, the song really inspires and touches me, and I just feel like making animations is the best way to deliver stories to everyone.
How do you want people to feel when they watch this animation?
The story I feel really reflects friendship, which is something that I really value in my life. Making friends isn't an easy thing, and you're going to meet a lot of different kinds of people in your life. But no matter what happens, there's always someone out there that cares and that will help you go through your hardest times. Just believe in yourself. You have to keep on moving. You can't let your environment affect who you are. You need to learn how to thrive, how to make yourself better, how to learn something new every day.
How does animation factor into your future?
Oh, there are some times when I daydream about what my future will be like! I’m still a rookie with animation—I've only done two in my life. I am much more used to doing traditional art, like drawing on paper. I might consider going to art school and maybe even make a career out of it. There are endless opportunities ahead of me. But one thing I know for sure is that I want to keep doing art until the day I die. Definitely.
What was your first impression of Commonwealth, and how has it mapped to your experience?
When my mom and I were looking at schools, we'd never heard of Commonwealth. We were on different [research] websites, and it popped out to us. It seemed like a very academically strong school and very small. We heard a lot of people thrive here. There are several alumni/ae from my middle school that went to Commonwealth, and I actually talked to them. They told me that Commonwealth was the best choice they made in their life. Out of all the schools I got accepted to, I felt like Commonwealth would be the best choice. And I don't regret it. I have never really experienced something like Commonwealth before, because the small community is a big difference from when I was back in Shanghai, with each grade being 150 people. Here, the school is only 150 people!
What’s your advice for prospective students considering Commonwealth?
Choose what's right for you. Commonwealth might be the best choice for some people out there, and maybe not for some other people. You have to really look into what you can bring to a school and how you can benefit from a school and from the community.
I can tell you that Commonwealth is a very tight community where you can thrive. You're going to know everyone in the school, and the teachers here care about you as much as your parents do! If you like a very close community where you can grow for four years without feeling left out, then Commonwealth is definitely the best choice for you.