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: Voice behind the story

Shareen Chahal extends stories to her community via performing arts and journalism
“I love using performing arts as a method to positively impact the audience. With every single show I do, I always want to have my performance be moving, leaving the audience with something new to ponder, something for them to take away,” Shareen Chahal (’24) said. (Ananya Sriram)

One final note. Silence. Thundering applause. Beaming under the glow of lights, Shareen Chahal (’24) gazes into a sea of people, perfectly poised in a white wedding dress. Moments later, she rushes back into the wings, welcomed by the completion of yet another successful performance of her final upper school musical.

Performing arts fascinated Shareen from a young age when she witnessed singers and actors captivate audiences with their performances during Big Assembly Day, from acappella to skits. Hoping to emulate the same energy, she pursued some of her first experiences with the area.

“I remember just being in much awe, staring at all of the performers, with all of the talent, energy, and expression that emanated from the stage,” Shareen said. “I really wanted to be a part of that. So I joined the Bucknall Choir in fourth grade, and ever since then I’ve been doing a lot of performing. “

Shareen’s journey with music continued into high school as her love for singing grew with increasing exposure to it, from middle school choir groups to vocal lessons that helped her build fundamental skills. Yet, as a member of upper school performance groups, she found that music conveyed more than just a tune, but rather a message to a broader audience.

“I think that one of the most impactful parts of singing is the message you can relay to your audience with what you’re singing about,” Shareen said. “For instance, in Downbeat, we go on our annual holiday tour during December where we go around the community all across the Bay Area and San Francisco and sing to various communities. Singing is a really great way to connect with your community and build connections with other people who enjoy the same things you do.”

While singing encapsulates one of the most important ways of connecting with those around her, Shareen found a love for musical theater at the intersection of music and storytelling. Her experience with musicals began in sixth grade, when she took part in the middle school production of Xanadu Jr. In a whirl of colors, lights and roller skating, Shareen found herself captivated by the idea of telling a story on the stage through singing, facial expressions and dialogue.

Musicals soon became an integral part of her life, as she participated in school productions every year since. Yet, one of the most transformative moments in her journey took place not at Harker, but rather in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she and the other cast members of the production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee showcased their talents at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

“It was a very new experience performing in Scotland instead of at Harker in the Patil Theatre,” Shareen said. “It was really inspiring to connect with a new audience and see how people react in different environments. We also got to hang out with a lot of other high schoolers who have the same passion we do for musical theater and watch other performances at the festival.”

Shareen’s passion for storytelling extends beyond the stage, appearing in writing and print via journalism. She joined journalism staff in her sophomore year after hearing about the course from her friends. After exploring the defining aspects of journalism, from interviewing skills to ethics, she developed an affinity for the newspaper concentration of the program, where she could put her love for art, design and creativity into a tangible form.

Taking on the role of Winged Post co-Managing Editor in her senior year, Shareen developed a sense of responsibility to relay news and information to the student body through the careful curation of the newspaper.

“As a managing editor of the Winged Post, I feel like I could really pass down that love for reporting and telling the objective story to the younger generations of journalism,” Shareen said. 

Through telling stories on stage and in the newspaper, Shareen learned to branch outside her comfort zone, reaching for the pieces that spark a conversation. Each production, article and song push her to send a message to whichever audience she has.

“I’m personally a very artistic centered person, so I really like to encourage people to try new things and to not spike an idea just because you think it’s too out there,” Shareen said. “I believe in always trying new things and not backing away just because you’re afraid of taking risks.”

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About the Contributor
Ananya Sriram
Ananya Sriram, Winged Post Co-Managing Editor
Ananya Sriram (12) is a co-managing editor for the Winged Post, and this is her fourth year on staff. This year, Ananya hopes to bond more with members of journalism staff and explore creative page designs to modernize Winged Post and help the paper find its essence. In her free time, she enjoys eating spicy food, curating a new monthly Spotify playlist or taking sunset photos.

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