The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: Kicks and code

Alex Guo strides through high school, living life to the fullest
“Instead of taking things deep to heart, I change my perspective to see life as a game where you go out and do things to have fun enjoying all its aspects. When people ask, ‘is there a meaning to life?’, I always tell them it doesn’t matter if there is some overarching meaning because I’m here to enjoy life,” Alex Guo (’24). (Katelyn Zhao)

High school life can be competitive, be it in regards to academic achievement or even extracurricular commitments.  However, Alex Guo (’24) chooses to live life to its fullest, striding through the ambitious hallways of Harker with cool. Whether he is engaging in deep existential questions with his friends, playing soccer or whacking a rubber ball for the youthful game of wallball, Alex is always living life at the moment, riding the waves of life to wherever it takes him. 

One of his favorite activities, soccer, started as a recreational sport and hobby for him to move around and exercise. Over time, soccer evolved into a method to relieve stress from the school day and a refresher for his mind. 

“Soccer has been an outlet for me to let go and release myself from the things that I worry about,” Alex said. “If I’m stressed, I go to soccer practice, it gives a place to physically let go of those things for at least for a while and refresh your mind.”

Apart from the thrill of the sport, Alex’s love for soccer extends to the strong connection he has built with his teammates over the years. His shared experiences with his teammates over the numerous soccer tournaments they have attended together have fostered a sense of closeness and mutual support.

“I’m really close with all of my teammates, because they’ve been with me for all these years.” Alex said. “We hang out, have fun, and work together towards a common goal of being a better team. It’s that sense of camaraderie.”

Aside from excelling on the pitch, Alex engages in the academic community at Harker as a teaching assistant for coding, helping lower-level competitive coding classes. Alex has been participating in coding competitions such as USACO since sixth grade, attributing his love for coding to the exhilaration of applying concepts to quickly solve problems. 

“It’s the thrill of solving problems,” Alex said. “You have to read the problem, understand the problem and then think about ideas of how to solve the problem and see if it’s efficient enough. Once you get the code, you start coding it, and of course, there’s going to be issues. But once you figure it all out, you have a working piece of code and it’s accepted, it feels good.”

However, after feeling overwhelmed with the increasing amounts of work he had to put in to learn concepts which felt exponentially harder, Alex took a break from competitive coding to focus on teaching younger students. Alex’s break from coding also shifted his ideologies into his beliefs today. He credits his change in perspective on life to the support and help he received from his family. 

“In middle school, I was kind of on autopilot, I felt I wasn’t sentient,” Alex said. “I was going through life, going to school, coming home, doing coding and playing video games. But after that, I really started thinking about the emotions I felt and what I wanted. For my parents, my mom understood that I had to live my life too, and my dad has been a supporting figure throughout this time.”

Alex was able to question what he truly wanted in life and began developing a viewpoint of life centered around his desires, independent of society’s influences. With this new approach to life, Alex entered high school with a more open mindset, allowing him to build deeper bonds with his friends and navigate high school more stress-free.  

“Instead of taking things deep to heart, I change my perspective to see life as a game where you go out and do things to have fun, enjoying all its aspects,” Alex said. “When people ask, ‘is there a meaning to life?’ I always tell them it doesn’t matter if there is some overarching meaning because I’m here to enjoy life. If there’s a lot of things that I need to do, it’s what life is, has been and is right now. That’s helped me a lot with coping with stress and anxiety.”

Along with his mental shift, Alex also finds that his friends have shaped him as a person. Alex developed a majority of his friendships in the tenth and eleventh grades and now understands his friends on a deeper level.

“It’s having long conversations with each other at night and talking about how we feel about things and how we see things, just being there for each other,” Alex said. “It’s given me a sense of belonging and feeling like there’s no need to worry about any of those things. There’s always somebody I can talk to, there’s always somebody that’s there for me.”

Close friend Justin Chao (’24) finds Alex to be a great conversation partner and someone to talk with. He admires Alex for his deep and diverse outlooks on life. 

“He’s such a nice person to talk to you,” Justin said. “He’ll try to understand your perspective while also offering his own so it’s not a one way street.” 

Close friend Vardaan Ghai (’24) also echoes these sentiments. From lighthearted late night conversations of games to deeper ones touching on topics such as their viewpoints on the world, Vardaan finds that he has been influenced by many of Alex’s mindsets.

“He genuinely has no regrets,” Vardaan said. “Because a lot of us, we feel we have regrets. But one of his viewpoints is that he has no regrets. I’ve seen that he’s created a really unique way of thinking that has changed throughout the years.” 

Life mentor Dr. K also vouches for Alex’s emotional and mental maturity. Alex’s thoughtful actions on a trip to India impressed Dr. K as she applauded Alex’s ability to stay calm and inquisitive despite extreme heat conditions.

“We went in the middle of the summer when the temperatures were high, but Alex didn’t complain once,” Dr. K said. “He was excited about everything. I would say, Do you want to try this? He will say, yes. You want to eat this? Yes. He also got really close with our driver. The driver was a young Indian person that couldn’t speak English too well, but Alex would always figure out how to have a conversation with him.”

A powerful and free-willed individual, Alex wishes to change the world in significant ways in the future. Having experienced the competitiveness of the American school system first hand, Alex takes issue in the intrinsic grade-based and achievement oriented school system and wishes to start a school of his own where he can help younger students pursue their desires and fuel their true curiosity and passion for learning.

“The way I’ve grown up to learn, I’ve simply gotten good at remembering things,” Alex said. “Being able to play in the system, being good at studying. Those are the skills that I’ve learned instead of having a drive for wanting to learn new things, and being really interested in new things. And I want to provide that for the next generation.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Katelyn Zhao
Katelyn Zhao, Humans of Harker Co-Editor-in-Chief
Katelyn Zhao (12) is the co-editor-in-chief of Humans of Harker, and this is her fourth year on staff. Katelyn aims to honor each of the stories within the Harker community this year, especially those of the graduating Class of 2024. Outside of the newsroom, she enjoys biking, drinking coffee or matcha and reading recommended books from her friends.

Comments (0)

All Harker Aquila Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *