Finding passion in high school


Photo provided by Benjamin Liu

TWO WALKS OF LIFE: Junior Benjamin Liu prepares to get into the pool before swim practice.

Helena Zhou, Staff Writer

Northwood harbors a pool of resources, support and motivation that drives its students to success. As a freshman, the large waves of people and information encountered upon entering high school can feel overwhelming without guidance. Here are the stories of upperclassmen who tested the waters and found their passions along the way.

Junior Benjamin Liu streamlines his focus on STEM, participating in clubs like Math Olympiad, Sports Analytics and Physics Olympiad on campus and Orange County Math Circle off campus. Over his years of experience, he found a valuable resource to be the people around him, whether it be his teachers, counselors or peers.

“If you’re unsure about something, ask others,” Liu said. “All of us know the feeling of being a freshman and are happy to help.”

Liu has taken many unprecedented routes to further his passion for mathematics. During his sophomore year, Liu was Northwood’s only USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad qualifier. He also competed in the 2019 and 2020 Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournaments. Outside of academics, Liu finds comfort in Northwood’s varsity swim team.

“Focus on what you enjoy, and make sure your activities have a good balance. For me, joining swim and making friends there takes my mind off things and helps me live in the moment,” Liu said. “Northwood has a lot of activities that can give you that sense of community and purpose.”

Coco Tsaur
TWO WALKS OF LIFE: Senior Paige Mortensen enjoys her time in high school by attending the Back to School Dance.

Senior Paige Mortensen is the vice president of ASB, planning school events and voicing student opinions. She is also the founder and president of the Stop Drowning Now Club, where members spread awareness about water safety.

“I found my passions by trying a lot of different activities such as soccer, piano, dance and track,” Mortensen said. “It’s a lot of trial and error and requires you to get outside of your comfort zone. But in the end, it’s all worth it.”

Beyond maintaining a productive routine, Mortensen finds success in helping others build important life skills and lasting connections as a swim coach and member of her church’s youth group.

“To all the freshmen, you have so much to offer,” Mortensen said. “Try a sport or instrument. Become a TA representative. Join a club. Run for president. High school is the time to explore, experience and grow.”