Meet Commonwealth Students: Fisher ’25, Hands On 

Sure, Fisher ’25 enjoys the cerebral discussions that blossom throughout Commonwealth’s building, talking about politics, philosophy, film—but he’d much rather be doing, whether he’s making art or making an impact through boots-on-the-ground advocacy work. Already a seasoned activist (he’s been attending protests and campaign events since he was about seven years old), he recently became invested and involved in organized labor, bolstered, in part, by the lessons learned in his history classes. Keep reading to meet this junior from Hull, Massachusetts, and learn more about his union work, woodworking practice, and hot take on coffee.

Getting to Know You

What is bringing you joy right now? 

Hanging out with friends and loved ones brings me a lot of joy. I also like making art and experiencing art. There's this one painting, The Barge Haulers [on the Volga, by Ilya Repin], that spoke to me a lot—just the expressions and the ages and the motion. And I’m really into woodcarving and crafting (more on that below…).

What are your favorite comfort foods? 

I really like apple pie, heated up with some vanilla ice cream. It's just perfect. 

What is your favorite piece of media? 

My favorite piece of art is probably this video game called Disco Elysium. It's beautifully designed, based on oil paintings in this Impressionist style. Most of the game play is just talking with people and trying to get information, and the dialogue is so well written and so beautifully voice acted. It also deals with themes like politics and philosophy that I'm really interested in. A lot of games, especially the indie titles, are exploring the creative limits of the medium. 

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

Oh, hands down my current class with Ms. Haber, U.S. History Since 1865. She always connects history to our present moment. She also makes a topic I'm already interested in—modern history—just so much more fascinating and gives a me so much more of an in-depth knowledge on the subject. She has this encyclopedic knowledge of history. I just love to pick her brain about random facts about America.

When do you feel the most enjoyably challenged?

Whenever we go over films at school. I love film, and in some classes, like U.S. History, we'll watch historical films or films from the time. It's always great to analyze them in the context of the class, figuring out what people thought of certain ideas, certain politics, certain fashions. I always find that enjoyable but also sometimes challenging, because it can be hard to decipher what's really important and what's not.

Forgive the completely cliché question, but what's your favorite movie?

I have to give the completely cliché answer: I don't have one!

What never fails to make you laugh?

My friends, just out and about in the city. They cause a ruckus.

Pen or pencil? 

Pencil. I make too many mistakes for pen to be a viable option. 

Coffee or tea? 

Tea. Coffee makes us work too hard, and I like my free time too much.

Fall, winter, spring, or summer?

I like fall. It's nostalgic for me. And I think it goes well with all the brick in Back Bay.

Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)

What was your first impression of Commonwealth and how has it mapped to your experience? 

Well, my first impression was through the Dive In program, which made me feel very welcome. I found people who were just incredibly intelligent who didn't come from extremely privileged or wealthy backgrounds. 

Using metrics besides grades, how do you define “success” in your classes?

This isn’t exactly answering the question, but I don't really like measuring success as grades at all. I think it just incentivizes students to prioritize testing over actual learning. So, instead, I use the comments my teachers give. Whenever I get comments like, You did great here, or This is something you’re really strong with, it’s really gratifying.

How do you spend your time outside of Commonwealth?

So, woodworking, sometimes playing video games, making art and taking in art. Recently, I also joined this volunteer union org known as the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World]. I've been part of advocacy work for economic reform since I was about seven [years old], ever since my mom has dragged me to my first protests and campaign events. I've always been interested in doing that work. With the recent rise we've seen in unions, as well as what I've learned through my American history classes and my personal research, I've gotten really interested in unions this past year. One of the reasons I wanted to get into union work is that it has immediate local impacts, whereas national politics are more nebulous. Right now we are setting up a task bulletin, and my role is collecting all the tasks from certain officers of the union, and then organizing and formatting them into an email that will be sent out to the entire local branch. Hopefully, this will streamline a lot of information.

Tell us more about your woodworking practice. What led you to this hobby, and how do you develop your skills?

Well, I've only been doing it for about a year. Most of it is simply taking a chisel to wood and making small objects, like, I made a little wooden mushroom. I would be interested in getting into more utilitarian carpentry. For last year’s Project Week, my mentor was a woodworker, and I learned how to use power tools and make more useful things. I made mast hoops for a ship my mentor was building, and I also made kitchen tongs for myself. I learned a lot about how to use certain tools and certain techniques for, like, how to bend the wood, how to fasten everything together, how to finish up with varnishes and whatnot. I just really liked doing hands-on work, which is as interesting as intellectualizing to me. 

When do you feel most connected to other students (or teachers/staff members) in our community?  

I feel most connected with my friends when we’re outside of school, those longer periods where you can just talk and hang out. 

What would you tell your ninth-grade self?

Don’t stress so much about your work. It might seem like there are a lot of pressures right now, both in school and outside. But, ultimately, your grades are not going to be what gives you satisfaction in life. Just build a strong community and find people that support you. And you should talk with upperclassmen! I know we might seem scary, but we're only a couple years older than you. We used to be just like you—and look how confident we are now!

How has your Commonwealth experience colored the way you look at the world? How you plan for your future? 

So this school is very academic and very intellectual, but I've found that I've enjoyed the hands-on work the most. That's why I do woodworking and also why I joined the union, because I really want to help improve people’s lives and build community. I mean, talking about politics and philosophy is definitely important, but, ultimately, it's boots-on-the-ground work that gets things done.

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