By Emily DeRuy
Torrey Pines High School graduating senior Jessica Brown is involved in a multitude of organizations and activities on campus, but she's truly passionate about one — the Be The Change club. Brown is the president and has made it her goal to promote compassion and acceptance at the school.
"We promote challenge days, which advocate tolerance and respect on campus," she said. "We break down social barriers. Kids should feel comfortable and safe."
A Challenge Day actually entails three days of intensive introspection and community building. Attending students are granted permission to miss class for the duration of the program.
"The whole point is to break down cliques," said Brown. "We focus on fun in the beginning and then, later, more serious topics." Adult facilitators oversee the activities, and national representatives of the Be the Change club meet with students.
Brown was concerned after witnessing a young man become upset about his experience at school and wanted to do something to help. Her counselor, Jayme Cambra, guided her toward the club, and she was immediately hooked.
"I took over Be the Change the second half of my junior year," she said. "I started planning events in the summer and really acting on those plans in the fall."
She has planned Torrey Pines' Challenge Day and helped Canyon Crest Academy's fledgling Be the Change club develop theirs, as well. She created a marketing plan to promote the club on campus, and it's working. The club has grown this year, and Brown is confident it will continue to flourish. "We have a really good foundation. I'm really excited for the future of the club," she said.
Brown also makes room for sports. She played JV soccer her freshman and sophomore years, and field hockey all four years, making the varsity team the past two. She serves as vice president of the Torrey Pines Young Democrats club and is involved in an array of other student organizations including everything from Spanish to community service.
Brown enjoys all of her activities, but is most proud of her involvement in Be the Change.
"It's great that you can participate in sports and other things, but you can get so involved in that that you don't stop to say to yourself: Am I nice to people? Do I have a righteous character? And I think that's so important to do in life."
The graduating senior will attend Duke University in the fall, where she hopes to enroll in the School of Ethics.
"I'm excited to graduate, but I have mixed emotions. I'm the youngest of three. I've had the same best friends for 13 years. But the change will be awesome!"
Fellow Torrey Pines High School graduating senior Patrick Galvin serves as editor-in-chief of the school's newspaper, the Falconer. It's currently the No. 1-ranked high school paper in the nation.
Galvin's involvement in journalism came about by chance. The summer before his freshman year, he took a health class to fulfill a requirement for the private high school he planned on attending. When he decided on Torrey Pines instead, he was left with a free period, which he decided to fill with a beginning journalism class.