Humans of Harker: Big heart, bright smile

Claire Newman radiates positivity and empathy

%E2%80%9CA+lot+of+people+come+into+the+high+school+with+huge+friend+groups+that%27re+very+set+and+think+that%27s+not+going+to+change.+But+friends+are+going+to+switch+out%3B+not+everyone+grows+the+same+way+throughout+high+school.+Be+open+to+everything+and+try+new+things.+Don%27t+be+set+on+how+your+high+school+life+specifically+will+go.+I+feel+like+coming+in+from+eighth+grade%2C+I+very+much+had+a+set+plan+of+how+I+was+going+to+progress+throughout+high+school%2C+and+that+plan+changed%2C+and+it%27s+okay+for+those+ideas+to+change%2C%E2%80%9D+Claire+Newman+%2812%29+said.
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Humans of Harker: Big heart, bright smile

“A lot of people come into the high school with huge friend groups that're very set and think that's not going to change. But friends are going to switch out; not everyone grows the same way throughout high school. Be open to everything and try new things. Don't be set on how your high school life specifically will go. I feel like coming in from eighth grade, I very much had a set plan of how I was going to progress throughout high school, and that plan changed, and it's okay for those ideas to change,” Claire Newman (12) said.

“A lot of people come into the high school with huge friend groups that're very set and think that's not going to change. But friends are going to switch out; not everyone grows the same way throughout high school. Be open to everything and try new things. Don't be set on how your high school life specifically will go. I feel like coming in from eighth grade, I very much had a set plan of how I was going to progress throughout high school, and that plan changed, and it's okay for those ideas to change,” Claire Newman (12) said.

Helen Zhu

“A lot of people come into the high school with huge friend groups that're very set and think that's not going to change. But friends are going to switch out; not everyone grows the same way throughout high school. Be open to everything and try new things. Don't be set on how your high school life specifically will go. I feel like coming in from eighth grade, I very much had a set plan of how I was going to progress throughout high school, and that plan changed, and it's okay for those ideas to change,” Claire Newman (12) said.

Helen Zhu

Helen Zhu

“A lot of people come into the high school with huge friend groups that're very set and think that's not going to change. But friends are going to switch out; not everyone grows the same way throughout high school. Be open to everything and try new things. Don't be set on how your high school life specifically will go. I feel like coming in from eighth grade, I very much had a set plan of how I was going to progress throughout high school, and that plan changed, and it's okay for those ideas to change,” Claire Newman (12) said.

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Thoughtful. Wild. Creative. Funny. Driven. The list goes on.

Her effusive energy seen during class meeting and spirit rallies, her creativity and relentless dedication on and off the field and her exuding confidence on the cheer team all reflect a fundamental aspect of Claire Newman (12): she approaches life with an open mind.

Decked out in yellow from head to toe and always cheering on her class, Claire outwardly expresses her dedication to her community as the spirit coordinator of the class of 2019.

“She’s so extroverted because she feels so strongly about everything she’s interested in,” Claire’s close friend Julia Amick (12) said. “As spirit coordinator of our class, she’s very ‘in your face’ about being involved in spirit, and that’s because she wants that strong connection within our class; she wants everyone to feel like they are involved. She just exudes passion.”

As the younger sibling, Claire followed older sister Marina’s footsteps all throughout elementary and middle school, delving into the world of theater and performing arts. But as her middle school years came closer to an end, Claire wanted to differentiate herself from her sister, discovering her own niche: cheer.

“Moving into high school, I decided that I didn’t want my whole high school experience to be based on comparing me to my sister,” Claire said. “A lot of the time, siblings do the same activities, and I wanted to find a sport that I could get really involved in and have all to myself. I wanted something that was fun but was also very involved in school spirit, because that was very important to me.”

Former cheerleading head coach Jill Bettencourt first met Claire at an upper school Open House event in seventh grade and received a handful of student emails inquiring about the upper school cheer team before Claire’s eighth grade graduation. Claire’s enthusiasm and drive made it apparent to Bettencourt that Claire would not only be a part of the growing cheerleading team, but also an individual whose actions would shape the team into what it is today.

“I have watched her grow into a knowledgeable team leader. Claire truly wants what is best for her team and her friends. That’s a difficult task when you have a big heart, and you’re working with a big group of student athletes,” Bettencourt said. “She still continues to learn daily how to lead her team into success and how to navigate around the challenges that come with it. I commend her for being relentless when it comes to her growth—she never gives up on her goals and has the very best intentions.”

Her teammates and coaches recognize her consistent hard work, perseverance, and spirit. Though she wasn’t originally placed as a captain this year, the staff at the summer cheerleading camp recognized Claire for her leadership and she attended some of the captain’s classes. After the school year commenced, her coach placed her as an additional captain.

“I was really proud of that, because I know I worked really hard for the last three years,” she said. “It was really cool for that to be recognized and that to come into fruition.”

Whether she’s on the field in her cheerleading uniform, or in the stands cheering her friends on, Claire can be counted on supporting her fellow athletes at sports games.

“I’m very much about hyping people up. I think spirit, especially when it comes to sports and everyone cheering for one team, provides a strong sense of community,” she said. “When you have down days, you need to have something that also lifts you up, so I feel like spirit is very much constant positivity. Spirit is all about our community and coming together.”

Her passions go beyond the Harker campus, especially her concern for animals. She has undergone a lengthy journey in altering her diet: quitting red meat in seventh grade, becoming pescatarian in eighth and switching to a vegetarian diet ever since ninth, even attempting veganism for six months. In the interest of protecting animal rights, Claire created the United Against Animal Cruelty (UAAC) club alongside her friend Anusha Kuppahally (12) at the end of freshman year.

“Since I am such a spontaneous person, UAAC has taught me how important organization is in leadership and how it takes a lot more organization to plan meetings and organize events, which has been fun to take on,” Claire said.

She exhibits creativity in her friendships and even in her school projects.

“While everyone else did PowerPoint presentations, she wrote a rap for an [Emily Dickinson] project; she did an entire music video about [Dickinson]. It’s that kind of energy that comes out of her,” Julia said. “She’s not boring in any way — no minute I spend with her is ever boring, and time actually passes so quickly.”

Even from a young age, Claire’s positive energy has had a lasting impact on everyone around her. Long before her Dickinson rap in Ms. Miller’s English class in junior year, Claire already channeled her creativity and positivity into creating music videos, which her longtime friend Elise Mayer (12) still remembers.

“We used to always make these silly music videos when we were little. I remember that so vividly because Claire would be so funny in them and really creative,” Elise said, smiling at the memory. “She’s not afraid to be silly, and even though it sounds simple, it’s a pretty important quality.”

Regardless of the situation, Claire strives to be someone who people can talk to without judgement. On the cheer team, she makes an effort to get to know the underclassmen and prospective cheerleaders.

“I truly believe there is good aspects to everybody,” she said. “And I hope that comes across in my interactions with people.”

Maintaining an open mindset, Claire reflects on her own high school years when offering advice to underclassmen.

“A lot of people come into the high school with huge friend groups that’re very set and think that’s not going to change. But friends are going to switch out; not everyone grows the same way throughout high school,” she said. “Be open to everything and try new things. Don’t be set on how your high school life specifically will go. I feel like coming in from eighth grade, I very much had a set plan of how I was going to progress throughout high school, and that plan changed, and it’s okay for those ideas to change.”