Roots: Alexandra Douglas

Hannah Herbst

At the root of a community are the people in it. Each cycle, one student from our community is chosen to be our root. Today’s root is Alexandra Douglas, a junior who recently moved to Marin from San Diego. 

Hannah Herbst: I moved to Marin from New York around six years ago, so I can completely relate to the challenges that may come with this type of change. What has your experience been like?

Alexandra Douglas: My dad moved here around three years prior to my mom and I. So we were already pretty familiar with Marin. My dad’s work partner has two daughters who went to Redwood, so I was very familiar with the school. I decided to start at Tamiscal because I’m a ballet dancer and I thought that the hybrid school model would be good for me, [but] I ended up not liking it. I did it for maybe two or three weeks, and then decided I wanted to transfer to Redwood around October. 

HH: Tell me a bit more about your experience at Tamiscal.

AD: I had a meeting with the principal first, and she made it sound like a good fit for me. She said it’s very focused on the students. It had very small class sizes, which I was used to at my old school. But there were only around five kids per class. It was crazy. I’m a very social person; I love chatting and talking to people all the time, so it just wasn’t working out for me. I also wasn’t really learning anything [because] I was doing all the work from home, and not much in person.

HH: Were you able to make many friends in that environment?

After the move, dancing helped me feel at home, especially after feeling so lonely from the change. It helped me make friends and feel supported.

— Alexandra Douglas

AD: I think there was definitely a sense of community at Tamiscal. On Fridays, there was no learning, it was like a social hour with team bonding activities, which was fun. But a lot of the other students there had different needs from me in terms of academic support, which made it challenging. Students call teachers by their first names, which felt very casual to me, especially coming from a private school.

HH: I think it’s definitely challenging if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.

AD: Yes. It was also hard to make that decision to leave because I had just transferred as a junior. And then having to move to a huge school three months into the school year felt like a lot. 

HH: How was that transition for you?

AD: I had already met a couple of people, though by the time I transferred most classes were full. I only take four classes. Honestly, I feel like it wasn’t too bad.

HH: That’s great. Earlier, you mentioned that you’re a dancer. How has this helped you through all this change?

AD: After the move, dancing helped me feel at home, especially after feeling so lonely from the change. It helped me make friends and feel supported. Dance is a type of therapy for me; not having to talk to anyone and being able to move was so nice.

HH: How else have you found community after the move?

AD: I participate in NCL [National Charity League]. I did it in San Diego and transferred to the chapter here. We had a meeting the Sunday before I started at Redwood. It was a nice introduction to the people and the school.

HH: What do you do in Marin when you’re not at school or dancing?

AD: I do a lot of hiking. There’s so much natural beauty here. 

HH: What’s your favorite place to hike?

AD: I love the Tennessee Valley Trail. It’s so nice. 

HH: What’s been the biggest culture shock since moving to Marin?

AD: I think the people in Marin are incredibly different from San Diego. My mom and I talk a lot about this. People are kinder here. Everyone’s always shocked when I say this. I feel like in Southern California, especially the school I went to, it was always just very fake.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.