On Thursday, April 26, students from all grades gathered in the big gym to listen to Redwood alumnus Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco. Newsom talked about his journey throughout high school, his college experience and his career in politics.
A panel of students asked Newsom questions, and the conversation later opened up to the entire student body. Questions mostly revolved around Newsom’s high school experiences and any advice he would give to current high schoolers. Although students were advised to stray from political questions, Newsom was asked about gun control.
According to Principal David Sondheim, because Newsom is a public figure, it was meaningful to have him share some of his personal side with students. Sondheim thought that the crowd seemed eager to ask Newsom personal questions about his high school experience.
Newsom’s biggest piece of advice for students was to reduce their levels of stress.
“In my high school days, I always had this pit in my stomach. I was stressed out and had this constant pressure all the time to perform well academically that created a lot of anxiety,” Newsom said.
Newsom said that looking back, those stressed out feelings due to school weren’t totally necessary.
“You want some anxiety and fear in your life, to show you care, but you have to manage it,” Newsom said. “The hardest part in high school is that there is so much external pressure that we collectively place upon ourselves.”
According to Newsom, it is important to have expectations, but sometimes people give up when the pressure is too tough. He emphasized that students should simply take a deep breath and be themselves.
“We are living in a world where employers don’t want someone that is like someone else. They want originals, people that are unique and authentic,” Newsom said.
The process of bringing Newsom to speak for the students was facilitated by the Leadership class.
According to Leadership Advisor David Plescia, there was some debate a few months ago in class about whether or not have a guest speaker come this year.
“We ended up getting some mixed opinions due to the guest speaker that came earlier this year and money issues,” Plescia said.
According to Plescia, freshman Tali Callan, Newsom’s niece, came forward and suggested that Newsom come and speak to the school.
“During the next ASB meeting, we threw out the idea and they really liked it. He has come back and spoken twice before,” Plescia said. “I was here about 15 years ago or so when he spoke at the graduation.”
According to Plescia, it’s fairly rare to have a highly successful graduate revisit their high school, making Newsom’s visit even more meaningful.
“It’s a really unique, cool opportunity for us to have him speak for us because he was able to share a lot of important things to the students including what it was like for him to be in high school,” Plescia said.