My High School Experience: in the Context of Girls Write Now
By Leslie Pantaleon
Why do college admissions view a holistic picture of a candidate’s eligibility? Why is “contextualization” a key part of the College Board’s grading in AP History tests? Why do people say “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?” As writers or friends of writing, we value narrative. But more important than narrative is understanding it in the context of every other thread of narrative occurring simultaneously. As the one program that followed me through all four years of high school, Girls Write Now has the unique ability to measure my growth in the context of the rest of my high school life. My digital media piece is inspired by this.
During my four years at Girls Write Now, I was the captain of my high school debate team, a debater on the local and national circuit, a member of my local circuit’s Youth Leadership Board, and an intern at the Jewish Museum. In making this video, I tried to encompass everything that mattered to me in high school, but as you can see, it is very hard to do in just under two minutes. I especially tried to use Girls Write Now as stops in time that measured my growth, and I hope that in watching this you can understand how dearly I hold this program that so intimately facilitated my growth as a writer, an artist, and a woman.
Meet the Pair
MENTEE LESLIE PANTALEON & MENTOR LAUREN HESSE
Leslie’s Anecdote: Losing the café that we started at this year was a sentimental event that I think other pairs can empathize with. For Lauren and me specifically, it was an opportunity to reflect on our favorite memories there and together. Graduating feels a lot like the same process; Little Skips was never what made our mentor/mentee pair relationship special and neither was Girls Write Now, although both were important facilitators. Lauren and I made our time together special. I’m grateful to have had a mentor who allowed me the agency to make our time our own.
Lauren’s Anecdote: A few weeks ago, I sat across from Leslie, talking about what mentoring will look like for me next year, after she graduates. I fought back tears (poorly) as I explained to her how special our relationship was to me. When we met, Leslie was at a new high school with all new students, without her friends, something that would scare me as an adult. Even then, Leslie was thoughtful, kind, and driven. I’ve seen her grow into a young woman with passion, conviction, grace, and an intelligence beyond compare. I am so thankful for Leslie; she is one of the most important people in my life and it has been an honor to be her mentor.
Leslie Pantaleon is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in Brooklyn, NY.