Humans of Harker: Embracing all outlets

Shray Alag dips his toe into performing arts and research


Saloni Shah

“Don’t look for a time to enjoy your life, don’t look for a time to have fun. If you’re going to keep on waiting for the perfect time to do something, you’re never going to get that time, so always try to enjoy and to live,” Shray Alag (12) said.

The lights dim and the audience quiets in the theater, eagerly waiting for the upper school dance show to start. A hum of silence lingers around the room, dancing with the anticipating buzz of excitement. Loud, upbeat music greets the audience’s ears, and the performers dance their way onto the stage, evoking energy and emotion through each movement. Among the joyous performers, Shray Alag’s (12) calm smile stands out, a true expression of the excitement, joy and relaxation he feels while performing on stage. 

Performing arts is one of the joys that has defined Shray’s life ever since fourth grade. After singing in the choir in fourth grade and watching one of the upper school musicals while in middle school, Shray felt inspired, and throughout middle and high school, he stayed involved. From singing and dancing in flash mobs in the middle school’s Concert Choir to performing in shows at the upper school as a member of Downbeat, Kinetic Krew, the musical or as a Conservatory Certificate member with a focus on musical theater, he has enjoyed the feelings that come with being on stage. 

“I thought it was always really cool how you can tell a story and emotion through written notes and ordinary expressions and things like that,” Shray said. “And I always felt like whenever I performed, I could just detach myself from all of the stresses and things of normal life.” 

Performing has become an outlet for him to destress and enjoy himself. It’s easy to feel pressure, especially in high school, but Shray focuses on having a balance and being able to enjoy while still working hard. 

“[My motto is this quote by Oscar Wilde,] ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’ So it’s that philosophy of living your life and enjoying every moment. I’ve striven to take [it] on to other parts of my life, whether it’s playing soccer at lunch with my friends, or having random Zoom calls or sending jokes to friends,” Shray said. 

One of the aspects of Shray’s personality that stands out to his friends is his ability to make jokes and always help others have fun. 

“For every conversation that we’ve ever had, Shray sends an abundance of memes and GIFs,” Gabriel Yang (12), who has known Shray since freshman year, said. “It’s always fun to just be talking to him, and we would never be ending a conversation without at least sending five or even a dozen memes or so.”

His friends also note his caring personality and the fact that he is always there for them. As a new student to Harker in second grade, Annesh Ghosh Dastidar (12) knew that Shray was caring when he offered to help show him around even though he needed to help his own buddy. 

“My impression of him [as kind and caring] has stayed the same. Over time, I’ve had a greater appreciation for him as a friend because I recognize those moments,” Annesh said. “Relating to the first impression, besides being a caring friend, he’s also super helpful. He’s always there to help you out.”

In addition, Shray participates in the Honor Council, in scientific research and in volunteering, all of which are extremely important to him. As one of the senior representatives in the Honor Council, Shray plays a large role and contributes to the Honor Council greatly. 

“I realized that [the Honor Council is] not [only] making decisions and leading, but it’s more than that. It’s having these kinds of discussions with your peers about what really are the backbones of our community,” Shray said.

He also brings his fun personality and strong beliefs in honor to the Honor Council. Since he has been a member of the Honor Council for four years, he truly has made an impact on the council. 

“He is passionate about honor, he’s passionate about good moral judgment,” Anthony Silk, upper school math department chair and Honor Council adviser, said. “But beyond that, he is relaxed. He’s easygoing, he listens to other people, he works extremely well with his peers. He’s funny. So he brings a great sense of community to all of our meetings [and] keeps them lively, which makes us all want to have a good time and do a good job at the same time.”

Through teaching class and reading Shray’s research papers, Dr. Eric Nelson, middle and upper school computer science department chair and teacher, has seen Shray’s personality and his growth as well. 

“I’ve found that he is an excellent self learner, guided learner, adapts quickly. He works well with others, and individually, he is incredibly polite and respectful, which is amazing,” Dr. Nelson said.

Outside of school, Shray enjoys playing the sport of cricket with his father and brother. Despite having a busy schedule, he always finds time to play this sport and enjoy himself, highlighting his key values of finding a balance between work and play. 

“I always play cricket on the weekends, or on the weekdays for 30 minutes or an hour or something like that with my dad and my brother, so that’s something that I really enjoy,” Shray said. “Playing cricket with my brother and my dad or hanging out with my friends or meeting up with them for hikes and things like that, that’s always been instrumental to me.” 

Resilience has also defined Shray’s experience, as the world of scientific research can be extremely competitive. By not giving up and continuing to work hard, Shray has accomplished many scientific achievements, such as writing a peer review paper and being named as a Regeneron scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. 

Amidst everything, Shray continues to maintain a balance and enjoy himself, either through performing, spending time with friends, sending memes or playing cricket with his family. 

“Don’t look for a time to enjoy your life, don’t look for a time to have fun. Because if you’re going to keep on waiting for the perfect time to do something, you’re never going to get that time, so always try to enjoy and to live,” Shray said.