Christ Church Episcopal School experiences have prepared graduating seniors for whatever comes next and to make a positive difference in the world. Each week, we will put the spotlight on a graduating senior from the Class of 2020. We hope you enjoy getting to know these amazing CCES students!
Cici Zhao is that rare person who is as smart as she is funny; as friendly as she is talented; as good-natured as she is astute. Whether it is her commitment to learning, her determination to overcome challenges, or her positive attitude, she is a witty, confident, and outgoing super-achiever if ever we have seen one.
Cici came to CCES in her freshman year of high school, the same year she came to the United States, and what an exquisite four years it has been. Often times it is hard to cultivate close connections as a freshman in a new school. Not at CCES and not for Cici. “I feel very lucky to be part of this community,” she says. “There is always someone who is here to support you, and you get to know most of the people. It really feels like a family.”
Just a little over three years ago, Cici was struggling with the English language and her immersion in a college preparatory curriculum. By the 10th grade, Cici was taking multiple honors courses and will graduate CCES with five AP classes! Art at CCES has been instrumental in Cici’s growth and has enriched her academic experience. Theory of Music, with Dr. Robin Garner, has made her love music even more and, she says, in a more profound way. She is a four-year member of our Upper School Choir, is a frequent soloist at our annual Foreign Language Chapel, and she choreographed a group dance that brought down the house at last year’s Young Artist Series. “Dr. Garner inspired me to do Young Artist Series, she's always been so supportive and kind,” Cici says.
She credits Mr. Bruce Halvorson for showing her the “attitude of acting” and Cici has earned a role in almost every fall drama and spring musical. “I’m thankful that he (Mr. Halvorson) taught me so much and gave me chances to perform. Those were unforgettable experiences that I'll always remember.”
Cici studied at Tulane University’s Pre-College STEM program in 2019. After that, she knew Tulane held a special place in her heart. Not only was she swept away by the green wave and the tremendous spirit, broad-mindedness, and inclusivity of the student body, (the excellent food in the Bruff and LBC dining halls helped too!), but upon learning about Tulane’s innovative psychology courses, intimate class sizes, environmental-consciousness, volunteerism, and student research opportunities, she made it her goal to become a Tulane University student in the fall of 2020. She plans to major in Psychology with a minor in Music.
“I want to tell those students that are afraid to step out of their comfort zones — CCES is where you can break free and try things you like but never tried before,” Cici says. “You will never know what comes next until you try. Youth is about falling and trying again, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Cici’s good nature and kind heart are a welcome contribution to our school community,” says Lindsey Waters, Associate College Counselor. “She is incredibly kind, funny, and hard working. I’ve seen what Cici can do in a new country and a new school, in only a little over three years. I’m so excited to see what she is capable of in college.”
JUST FOR FUN!
What is your favorite place you have traveled to? My favorite and the most special place, and the furthest place I've been to, is Antarctica. It was a scientific research trip. We stayed on the icebreaker for almost 20 days.
How many AP Classes are you currently taking and which is your favorite? I'm currently taking 3 AP classes. I love all of them, but I would say AP Music Theory is a class that brings me to a whole new world.
What does your art aim to say? All of my original songs are in Chinese, some of them tell stories of Chinese history, and the rest of them are about different kinds of love. Love for teachers (appreciation), love for parents, and love for friendship.
What is your favorite childhood toy? Most of my friends know I play lots of mobile games and video games, I started playing when I was a child. So my favorite childhood toy is my PSP!
Name something this world could use a lot more of? Kindness. If people can treat each other with more sincere kindness, our lives could be a lot better.