Speakers share insights about essential skills in annual LIFE sessions


Ella Yee

Sophomore students rise in response to youth advocate Charis Denison’s opening prompt, “Stand up if in the last few weeks you reacted [to a situation] and then went home and went through all of the things you wish you had said or done rather than what you actually did.” In her talk, Denison taught students about how to connect their feelings, thoughts and actions.

by Ella Yee, Co-Asst. Multimedia Editor

Additional reporting by Isha Moorjani and Lucy Ge

Upper school students explored various topics from course planning to safe driving in interactive sessions coordinated by the Living With Intent, Focus and Enthusiasm (LIFE) Board on March 22.

The freshman LIFE session involved a Q&A panel led by seniors Aaditya Gulati, Melody Luo, Anika Mani, Ayan Nath and Anya Warrier, giving them the opportunity to learn from the upperclassmen’s experiences gained throughout their high school years. Topics that the freshman discussed included course plans, Advanced Placement (AP) tests, management of grades and sufficient sleep. 

“[The seniors] talked a lot about choosing your own path and not going off of what other people want you to do,” Stefan Maxim (9) said. “Listening to those people talk about achieving their own dreams [made me think] that maybe I should be going for what I want instead of what other people want from me.”

Meanwhile, the sophomore class heard from youth advocate Charis Denison from Prajna Consulting about developing skills for handling uncomfortable social situations. Denison, who spoke to juniors in November, explained how it can be easy for students to overlook such skills when pressured to excel at school.

“[The main lesson I hoped to impart was] sometimes, when it matters most, your GPA will fail you,” Denison said. “Students get on this track where they are convinced that if they just keep getting A’s, they’ll be happy. This just isn’t true: they need another skill set in order to thrive after they get out of high school and into college.”

In the juniors’ LIFE session, Chris Miceli, consultant at Impact Teen Drivers and Harker parent, talked to students about the dangers of driving. Through describing hypothetical situations and sharing informative videos, Miceli shared that seemingly harmless activities, such as joking with passengers of the car or playing distracting music, can lead to serious consequences.

“I find that oftentimes, [the LIFE sessions] bring up issues that I wasn’t particularly considering beforehand,” Alisa Grebin (11) said. “You often get taught about the dangers of not putting on your seatbelt or drinking and driving, but you never really get taught about how even just having your friends in the car can already cause issues and distract you from driving.”

Lastly, months away from graduating from the upper school, seniors attended a “College: Ask Me Anything” Q&A session with Academic Dean Kelly Horan and History Department Chair Mark Janda, who both shared advice and anecdotes on various topics related to college and adulthood.

“[LIFE sessions] prepare you for what’s out there in the real world,” Aditya Tagore (12) said. “It’s good to go beyond Harker and get some advice about life, especially as we go to college next year. It’s good to get some advice from people who have already gone through that experience.”