Meet Commonwealth Students: Juliana ’26, A Not-So-Shy Leader

You might be surprised by how outgoing—and “kind of loud!”—Juliana ’26 can be, she says, because she can seem a bit shy around new people. But her already long history of leadership roles pre-Commonwealth corroborates her penchant for stepping up and into the spotlight. Now, she’s in her most visible position yet, as one of two representatives for her ninth-grade class. (Meet her counterpart, Ethan, here.) This first-year student from Newton serves as her classmates’ voice with school administration, cultivating the leadership skills everyone needs—and everyone can have, she adds, if they only listen. 

Getting to Know You

What is bringing you joy right now? 

I really enjoy drawing in my sketchbook and doing digital art at home. And just relaxing and spending time with my family.

What do you think is the most intriguing paradox?  

I remember hearing one when I was really young: what would happen if Pinocchio said his nose would grow? And I heard that when I was really into Disney, so that's one I remember.

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Honestly, anything that my parents make. I really enjoy this soup with dumplings and vegetables my mom makes whenever my brother and I are sick. It just makes you feel good.

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

I've always been a fan of science, so right now I'm really enjoying biology. I also am really enjoying my Latin class.

When do you feel the most enjoyably challenged?

When I'm faced with a problem—whether it’s homework or pushing my boundaries in class, like trying to share my ideas or just figure out a hard math problem—and I’m able to reach out for help if I need it.

What never fails to make you laugh?

My friends. They always make me feel better when I'm down.

What are people most surprised to learn about you?

If you didn't know me, I would seem more reserved, because I’m a little shy sometimes. But I'm actually kind of loud when you get to know me!

Pen or pencil?  

Pencil because I can erase it.

Coffee or tea? 

Tea. I’m not a big fan of coffee.

Fall, winter, spring, or summer?

I think fall, but I also really, really enjoy summer, because not only is that when my birthday is, but it's a time where you get to try new things because you have a lot of free time. And the weather is really nice. 

Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)

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

I have some friends here who are sophomores right now, so that's how I learned about the school. When I was applying, I asked them a bunch of questions, and I also looked on the website. I think my first impression was that, well, it's a very small school and a very tightly knit community of people and also very academically rigorous. My friends here also told me that everyone's really nice and open to helping you with problems, and they said there's no busy work. And it's all been true.

What do you hope to accomplish as ninth-grade class rep this year?

So we're freshmen—we're all new to the school—and I want to create an environment where people are comfortable and feel safe saying what they feel and what they think should be changed. And I want to share that information with the higher ups and try to make a difference in the school. I also like meeting new people in my grade, and I think that is very important. It's only been a few months, so we haven’t done much, but I'm going to try to reach out and see if people have more they want to share.

What inspired you to run for ninth-grade class rep?

Being the person other people can rely on—just being there for people—that's a value of mine. I also really wanted to expand my knowledge on how to be a good leader. I've had leadership positions before, and I find it really enjoyable: I was one of the captains of my volleyball team in eighth grade, I was on the admissions team at my old school, and I'm a junior mentor for Science Club for Girls (we create a place where young girls get to learn about science and, hopefully, come to love it). I was also a captain for an Outdoor Adventures team, which was a good experience because it was different from a sports team but there was still a lot of competition. I think that’s another reason why I wanted to be a student rep: leadership positions are different in their own ways, and I like trying out new things. 

What does leadership mean to you?

I feel like, when you're a leader, you don't have to control everything, but you do have to listen to what other people say and then take that into consideration. That's how you become a good leader, but having that ability is just important in life in general. You can be a leader in the classroom or in your extracurricular activities. I think everyone is a leader in their own way. 

How do you spend your time outside of Commonwealth?

I play the flute for the Berklee [City Music] high school program. (I would take Orchestra at Commonwealth, but I’m already taking two arts [Ceramics, and Drawing and Painting].) And my ice hockey season ended recently. Timing didn't quite work out for volleyball this year, but I plan on doing a little bit of it outside of school, not on a team. Then there’s Science Club for Girls, and I draw in my free time.

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

I've really enjoyed my time at Commonwealth so far. I think the people are great, and I've been really enjoying the work. I'm definitely stepping out of my comfort zone and learning new things, which is always exciting. I don't think it's changed how I think about my future, because honestly, I don't really know what I want to do yet. But I think as I go through my time at Commonwealth, it will end up helping me decide, because there are just so many opportunities. 

When do you feel most connected to the Commonwealth community?

Whenever I'm with my classmates or people from other grades or even meetings with teachers. Just being a part of that small community that Commonwealth is makes me feel connected to the school.

What’s your advice for prospective students considering Commonwealth? 

Commonwealth is definitely a good place for people who want to try new things and want to be challenged, especially in academics but also for arts and even athletics. I think it's a place where you can really be yourself. And that's advice I'd give for the entire application process: just be yourself. I remember during my interview, I talked about Disney for, I think, thirty minutes. That was a very fun memory from the application process. And it’s a challenging process, but it'll pass, and it'll feel really good when you're done.

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