Growing Friendship Reflects the Incredible Diversity at Swift Elementary School
21 September 2023
Aahna and Sushant exemplify their school's core values of inclusivity and acceptance.
Swift Elementary Specialty School on Chicago’s North Side welcomes students from all over the world, and Principal Margaret Alhasoon’s advice to new students is simple: jump right in! The school has a wide variety of extracurricular activities that are inclusive and fun, from Battle of the Books to art club to Chinese club. It also organizes social events such as a school-wide potluck to ensure that everyone feels welcome and like they belong.
Principal Alhasoon characterizes Swift’s students as both empathetic and passionate, and Aahna and Sushant (left to right in the photo above) are two sixth-grade students who embody the school’s core values. Both of them joined the Swift community as emigrants from the other side of the world—Aahna is from India and Sushant is from Nepal—and are taking full advantage of all the school has to offer. They’ve also become good friends. Get to know both of them more below.
What are your interests both inside and outside of the classroom?
Aahna: I really like language arts because I’m good at writing essays. I love writing about debates. In fifth grade, I wrote a persuasive essay about why plastic water bottles were harmful to the environment.
I enjoy both basketball and badminton outside of school. I’ve been playing badminton since I was four years old. It’s really satisfying to focus on the shuttle and watch it fly.
Sushant: My favorite subjects are math and science. In math, we’re learning about fractions, decimals, and absolute value. In science, we’re learning about microorganisms, such as bacteria that are harmful or helpful to your body.
Outside of school, I like to play soccer. A lot of people say I’m pretty good, but I don’t know if I agree. I also study a lot. In Nepal, I was used to studying hard and getting good grades.
Can you describe your favorite parts of being a Swift student?
Sushant: There are so many opportunities here. We have sports, reading, and art. It’s really fun to get to do all of those things with my friends. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people here who make it fun for me.
Aahna: I think that everything is good at Swift. It is the best school that I have ever gone to. Like Sushant said, that’s because of all of the opportunities we have to participate in different activities.
What is a goal you have for yourself academically this year?
Aahna: My goal is to work on my math. Many people say fractions are easy, but they’re not that easy for me.
Sushant: I think I need to work on reading and writing because I don’t really like reading chapter books and find them a little boring. I also want to work on my vocabulary so I can understand more words.
What is it like to attend such a diverse school?
Sushant: It’s really fun to have friends from so many different countries. When I was living in Nepal, I would have never expected that.
Aahna: I like learning about the different countries and cultures here. For example, I made a friend last year who was from Mexico, and she even taught me a little bit of Spanish.
Could you share some advice for other students who are looking to make more friends at school?
Aahna: Don’t get nervous. I was really nervous when I first came to Swift, but it’s easy to start making friends because everyone is very nice.
Sushant: Start by participating in different things and becoming friends with the other students. They can help you with what you need, and you can help them.
If you had to describe your time at Swift in one word, what would it be and why?
Sushant: Fun. Everything that is fun is at this school. There are fun friends who like to joke around. They help me out when I need it. And the after-school activities are really fun, too. I was in Battle of the Books, and every part of it was fun for me.
Aahna: Different—in a good way. It’s so good to see that there are so many people from different countries who have gone through similar experiences as me. That makes me want to help others.
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