The Heart & Soul of M-A: Advice From an Involved Senior

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Photo by Uliana Orlova

Over my last four years at M-A, I have been very involved in the school. I’ve participated in two sports, four different clubs, and leadership for three years. I am the senior class president and a 12th MAN. I’ve planned a lot of events, including senior assassin, bonfires, sunrises, rallies, and lunch time events. This year, especially, every time something needed to be done for the class of 2023, I felt like all eyes were on me. 

I have always wanted to be involved in the M-A community in every way possible. I wanted to feel like I belonged. Doesn’t everybody? It’s high school. Whether that desire emerged  from me moving around or living in my brother’s shadow, I knew one thing: I wanted to have my own legacy at M-A. More than just a legacy, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make the school better. 

Leadership allowed me to create connections with some staff members that I would have never known otherwise. For example, Aaron Grinstead, the manager of the PAC and the person who builds almost everything for M-A events. He taught me how to use a drill gun and saw wood safely. He is a retired cop and has millions of impactful stories to tell. I would have never met him if I hadn’t gotten involved. He taught me a lot, and fast forward two years, he is handing me my diploma. 

While looking at Mr. Emmi, many see the person who yells at us to go to class after brunch. However, I see the person who is patient with me while I propose different events. I see the godfather to Ofa’s baby and someone who treats me as an equal. There is a whole other side of M-A staff and administration I would have never known if I had not gotten involved. 

Another person who deserves more recognition is Mr. Oliver. He single-handedly runs this school behind the scenes. He is the care-taker of our school’s campus, always staying after-hours to make sure everything at M-A is clean and ready to go for us. He always goes above and beyond, and is willing to come at six in the morning just to unlock the football field gate for seniors’ sunrise. 

Last, but certainly not least, is Ms. Rigotti, the person who has made this school feel like home. She is a fearless administrator, organized, and always ready to help. She is also the mother of two beautiful little girls who make frequent appearances at Leadership events. She has a superb sense of humor and an open mind. She is always advocating for students’ perspective in any and all discussions, and I know I can always count on her to protect me and the Leadership kids from any slander. She is a superhero disguised as an M-A administrator.

From the outside, M-A looks like any other Bay Area public school. That’s what it looked like to me when I first got here. But after getting involved, I realized it is so much more than that—the people at M-A are what make it M-A. Hundreds of students come and go each year, but the people like Mr. Emmi, Ms. Rigotti, Aaron, Mr. Oliver and so many more are the heart and soul of this campus. Getting involved has introduced me to this part of M-A, and now, as I leave M-A, I have numerous reasons to come back. I joined Leadership and all these clubs hoping to find my people. Not only did I find my people, but I also found a profound love for my school.

Ishy Mishra is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School and is in her first year in journalism. She enjoys writing opinion pieces on a variety of things and about M-A sports teams. She enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and her dog, Monty. She also plays lacrosse, is part of leadership and loves going to all the M-A sports games to support her community.

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