Meet Commonwealth Students: Sol ’27 Looks Closer

Close reading a text makes Sol ’27 feel like Sherlock Holmes, she says, “just dissecting each sentence and figuring what you can from those small words.” Meticulously unpacking meaning in a text has been core to Commonwealth’s curriculum for decades, and it’s part of what attracted Sol to the school in the first place. Now, as a first-year student, she gets to dig into close reading books such as Romeo and Juliet in her English class—though she’s still waiting to tackle her favorite, Homer’s Odyssey. Born in Korea, she now calls Winchester, Massachusetts, home and finds joy in picking apart problems with her Geometry class, practicing the piano (well, anything but “Für Elise”!), and having heartfelt conversations with her friends, classmates, and teachers. Keep reading to get to know Sol just a bit better…

Getting to Know You

What is bringing you joy right now? 

Making my mom laugh. She has been going through a lot, so I would take any opportunity to make her smile. Sometimes, I say something and she laughs out of nowhere, and that brings a smile to my face as well.

What is your favorite book (or a book you’ve re-read)? 

My favorite book has always been the Odyssey, since I was little. In fact, I’m currently rereading it! I think I was about six or seven [years old] when I first read it, and as I got older, I understood it better.

What do you think is the most intriguing paradox? 

Definitely the liar paradox. It’s very simple yet so paradoxical.

What are your favorite comfort foods?  

They all come from my grandma, who's a terrific cook. My favorites are homemade pasta and Korean soup noodles. Also, most types of kimchi. 

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

Content wise, it's been U.S. History, which I learned in middle school. But now, I can say I like Geometry a lot, mainly because Anna [Moss] is a terrific teacher. I think she really does a lot to help students understand the material. I used to really dislike math, because it never seemed to have any leeways or multiple solutions that require creativity. However, Anna taught me that math can be creative—and feel exciting for once. In a way, geometry at Commonwealth doesn’t feel so different from the things I learn in history or English.

When do you feel the most enjoyably challenged?

Close reading in English brings me a lot of challenge, but it's also pretty fun, mainly because I've always liked reading. Just dissecting each sentence and figuring what you can from those small words brings me a lot of that Sherlock Holmes feeling. And photography is enjoyable as well because I get to work with different mediums to capture a moment and make it tangible.

Pen or pencil?

Erasable pen. 

Coffee or tea?

Herbal teas, because I have no tolerance for caffeine.

Fall, winter, spring, or summer?

Summer, because it’s so vibrant and sunny—and I also get to visit Korea during the summer. 

Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)

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

So my mom and I were scrolling through a list of potential private schools in October 2022 when my mom found Commonwealth. It was small—smaller than any other school I've ever been to—so it was definitely kind of intimidating. Then I was scrolling down through the school website and found a lot of humanities programs, like the concept of close reading and Shakespeare, which I was really interested in. And then I had my first interview here and realized it was right in the middle of Boston, which is close to my house. And I thought, why not try?

I think those qualities stood out when I was first learning about Commonwealth. And I gotta say, now I get to experience it firsthand, Commonwealth is way less scary than I thought! Sure, the teachers give you challenging materials, but they're not too pressuring. Because it’s small, I can see that I’m cared for as an individual, and there's a protective community built around every person. Words travel fast, also because the school is small, but that can be an entertaining part of it!

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

Knowing when to ask for help, because it means I have a good understanding of where I am at and what I need support with. On a related point, being able to discuss the material with your peers and exchange information and opinions—that’s also a sign of success for me, because I wasn’t always able to do this.

How do you spend your time outside of Commonwealth?

Obviously, I do homework, then I mostly spend my time with my family. We watch TV together and make snarky comments—sometimes about the news and sometimes reality TV shows. I also read a lot; as I’ve said, I'm currently rereading the Odyssey. I also play the piano. These days, I'm playing Beethoven's “Für Elise,” because that's on my piano exam held by the Royal Conservatory of Music. It requires memorization, but it's not too bad. I'm just sick of playing it!

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

When I'm talking to them in person, whether it be faculty or staff members or fellow students. I was learning virtually during the pandemic, so speaking to people face-to-face was one of my goals when I started going back to school. It turns out, at Commonwealth, you can have a heartfelt conversation with anybody.

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

Because the school offers a plethora of experiences, I've been trying out many things to see which one fits. I got to do interesting stuff, such as being elected a class rep, joining the Marketing Advisory Group, and planning a club; it reminds me that the world is a somewhat flexible place, so I don’t need to be too scared about trying something new.

Obviously, I think it’s too premature to determine what I will do post-Commonwealth, but I believe I can use the confidence acquired in Commonwealth to figure out which path I should take.

What’s your advice for prospective students considering Commonwealth? 

Don't be afraid to show yourself during the admissions process. You can be confident that the school can discover who you are, look closely into your nature, and determine if you're the right fit. 

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