Meet Commonwealth Students: Elias ’23

Hailing from Canton, Massachusetts, Elias ’23 loves the problem-solving opportunities he's encountered in Commonwealth's science classes. But this junior class representative, who wants to "be approachable to people," isn't tackling challenges alone—he relishes the range of perspectives he hears as a class representative, guest emcee, and lunch conversant. Learn more about the conversations that guide Elias's days at Commonwealth, and why he thinks we'll see an end to all paradoxes one day. 

Getting to Know You

What do you think is the most intriguing paradox? 

I don't really have a direct answer to this. But there's this thought I was trying to articulate today at lunch: Before the Enlightenment, we didn't really use logic to determine things as much as we do now. But even now, if you look into it, there are still some small things that logic can't cover and reasoning can't explain, such as paradoxes. A couple of millennia ago, before we even thought of all this, they probably had problems like that. Maybe now we're on the cusp of coming up with some new way of thinking about the world that will resolve a lot of our current paradoxes. 

What is your favorite book (or one you've re-read)? 

Recently I finished Knock On Any Door [by Willard Motley]. It's this really interesting book about this Italian immigrant kid growing up in a poor part of Chicago and all the hardships he went through in life just trying to survive and to make it in the world. I don't want to give away too much more, because it's got some twists and turns...

What is your favorite comfort food? 

Honestly, it's macaroni without cheese—including with other things on top, like marinara sauce or ketchup. They don't sound like they would work. But I assure you they do.

Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)

What were your first impressions of Commonwealth? 

It's kind of hard to describe, but the first time I was here, I got this gut feeling: I thought, "I understand these people, and they understand me. I like the teachers; they seem to actually care about what they're teaching. I need to be at this school." Now, I didn't trust it fully at first—I checked some other schools out. But I just never felt that sense of connection with the people and the teachers and the classes that I felt here.

What was/is your favorite class (at Commonwealth or elsewhere)? 

In general, my favorite class was probably Chemistry last year. I really enjoyed a lot of the problem solving and meticulousness of it. Whenever I find a new solution, it always makes me feel very energized—and very proud of myself, to be honest. I just like the whole problem-solving aspect of the class. For example, how do you make a battery?

How do you spend your time outside of Commonwealth? 

Over Project Week I worked with a chemical company on designing plastics to make them more biodegradable. That was really fun. For part of it, I got to make plastics myself and tamper with the materials that I could put in them. I also do a lot of math outside of Commonwealth. Recently, I wrote a [math] paper that almost works; I just need a bit more time to refine it. But once it does work, it'll be really cool. 

Very often, I'll bump into people who are in the math sphere at school and start talking about math with them. Especially one of my friends [Moe ’24], he and I will have these long conversations where I'm just trying to come up with some ridiculous thing that might work. That's one of the things, actually, that I like about Commonwealth: you can just have conversations like that with people.

This year, you're a junior class representative. How do you connect with your fellow 11s? 

I do try to keep a pretty casual atmosphere about it, because I want to be approachable to people. I don't want to put myself on some pedestal where you can only come to me if you have some big grievance. There's someone who just said, "Hey, can we get the windows closed [in classrooms] tomorrow?" and brought it up. Sure enough, windows were closed the next day. 

In the days leading up to a class reps meeting, I'll talk to people and [ask], "Hey, is there anything going on you want me to bring up?" Usually the meetings are on Mondays, so over the weekend, I'll take some time out to write down some ideas, some plans; one time I made a flowchart, which was pretty cool. And then I'll bring up literally everything at the class reps meeting. Even if it's something I disagree with or don't understand completely, I'll bring it up, because I feel like that's my duty as the class rep: to say what the people want to have said and present plans of how to actually get it to happen.

You've also served as a guest emcee for Commonwealth's daily announcements. What was that experience like?

I've always loved public speaking. I've probably made a few too many speeches, to be honest, at recess. Freshman year, speaking for the whole school could be a very nerve-wracking experience, but now it's just fun. And it's nice to hear people say, "Hey, you presented your point well." I wanted to do that for others when I was guest emceeing; I wanted to add my enthusiasm and positivity after they talked.

How has being a Commonwealth student shaped your perspective?

Before [attending Commonwealth] a lot of my ideas weren't really challenged properly. And so it was hard for me to form good concepts of how the world works. Here, there are people who are very open to talking about different models of the world, political ideas, and things like that, in an open discussion, with really strong facts and research. That's definitely a Commonwealth thing. 

What's your advice for prospective students considering Commonwealth?

When you know, you know. You do have to trust your gut, and that's a hard thing to do. But when it comes down to it, you've got to be yourself and know yourself. You'll find the right school for you, no matter where the chips fall.

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