Student recognized for leadership at State Capitol

Will Zhou, Author

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Senior Claire Liu, the other finalists, and the California Department of Education superintendent met to discuss issues at public schools. “If the opportunity arises, I think students should definitely apply for the program,” Liu said. Photo courtesy of Claire Liu.

Senior Claire Liu, the other finalists, and the California Department of Education superintendent met to discuss issues at public schools. “If the opportunity arises, I think students should definitely apply for the program,” Liu said. Photo courtesy of Claire Liu.

A Palo Alto High School senior was recognized as the first alternate for the U.S. Senate Youth Program and met with other finalists and representatives from the Department of Education to discuss school climate at the State Capitol this Wednesday in Sacramento.

The recognized senior was the Associated Student Body President and Campanile editor-in-chief, Claire Liu.

According to a December press release, students must be nominated by their high school principal to participate in the program. A selection committee later reviews the applicants and selects based on strict criteria.

“I went to Sacramento and had lunch with the superintendent [of the state], Tom Torlakson, the other finalists and people who worked at the Department of Education to talk about issues at public schools and the changes we can make,” Liu said.

During her visit, Liu learned about the passions of the other finalists.

“I was so humbled to be selected with three incredible intelligent and conscious young men,” Liu said. “Dahkota Brown [Argonaut High School] works on an Native American issues, Benjamin Beltran [Nevada Union High School] works on the achievement gap and Dustin Chiang [Mission San Jose High School] is the two-term president of the California Distributive Education Clubs of America. I learned a lot and was inspired to sit with people like that.”

At the meeting, Liu noticed the advantages that students at Paly have.

“While we were talking to the superintendent about the college guidance programs, it was so clear the advantage Paly has to other schools in the state and nation,” Liu said.

According to Liu, Paly has more resources that can help students during the college application process.

“We have a teacher advisor for every 20 to 30 kids, guiding them through high school whereas other schools may only have one advisor for 100 kids,” Liu said.

Another advantage Paly has is the ease of access to technology, according to Liu.

“Dustin’s school didn’t have enough computers to administer a standardized test,” Liu said. “That made me realize we never have a problem like that.”

Liu said the experience made her appreciate what she has at Paly.

“Being in the Associated Student Body and journalism, you look for things to change but you forget what’s already around,” Liu said.

While Liu has not decided on a college yet, she has an idea of what she will pursue in the future.

“I’m interested in maybe studying Economics or Public Policy and going into business with a focus on corporate social responsibility, and maybe further down the road looking into government,” Liu said.