Students celebrate their differences, embrace the diversity
All voices at Heritage High School should be heard.
That’s the philosophy of the ASB president.
“At lunches, some of us seniors will sit at random lunch tables, talk to people, see how their high school experiences are going so far,” Kulbir Singh said. “See if we can help in any way.”
This is his second year as the student body president.
“I’ve had a really good opportunity to talk to and meet almost everybody in the school,” he said.
Katie Peneueta, a junior, is one of the most known students at Heritage, excelling in basketball, track and field, and volleyball. She has even represented American Samoa in women’s basketball in international tournaments.
While she has received a lot of recognition for her athletic performances, she remains grounded because of all of her friends at Heritage. She loves having so many peers from every walk of life.
“I think what makes Heritage special is the amount of diversity that we have and we truly accept everyone there,” Peneueta said. “Our school is very positive and very accepting of everyone who comes there.
“I just love the diversity of our school. I want to make sure … everybody in our school is proud to go there.”
The key is mutual respect, Singh said.
“I see that a lot of people have their own groups, but not in a bad way,” he said. “Everyone has a place to fit in. The groups feed off each other in a good way. You’ll have people going from group to group, based on their interests. It’s really open and welcome.”
No longer hanging out in those groups can be difficult.
“I miss being able to interact with so many different people on a daily basis,” Singh said. “Different perspectives, different opinions, they are very interesting to me. School is a good opportunity to socialize and hear other people’s views on the world. Being out for six weeks is disappointing. You don’t have those same interactions, and you’re kind of stuck with yourself in a way.”
Singh is missing his senior season of soccer. Peneueta is missing out on track and field.
“It’s a completely different sport than basketball and volleyball,” Peneueta said. “Track, I get to go outside. I was really looking forward to trying to make a comeback at state this year.”
When school does resume, when we are all able to go out again, Peneueta and Singh are looking forward to seeing Heritage colors, of seeing the Timberwolves, throughout their community.
“I just feel really proud to be part of this school,” Peneueta said.
“I’m a very big fan of our mascot and our colors,” Singh said. “When you see it out in public, random people wearing it, it brings out a lot of pride.”
As the school’s president, he knows Heritage is not perfect — what school is perfect? — but he loves when non-students wear Heritage gear.
“To see other people support our school, it’s a belief that we can always achieve and do better,” Singh said.
Advice to other students during the shutdown:
“Try to keep in contact with your (extended) family. Make a lot of calls and make sure everybody is safe,” Peneueta said. “For athletes, try to stay in shape. I know it’s pretty tough.”
Singh noted how stressful it can be for some to not be around others.
“Stay in contact with all your friends as much as you can,” he said, referring to phone calls, messaging, and/or social media.
“Athletes, keep working on your craft.”
After all, he said, there still might be an abbreviated spring season.