Many people on campus know Amari-Lynn. A junior at Making Waves Academy, Amari-Lynn is the Vice President for the Associated Student Body (ASB), Co-Captain of the Volleyball team, and former Co-Captain of the Cheer team. Her leadership role on campus started early. “I didn’t really expect to be as successful as I am at the school, until I got to fifth grade and became an honor roll student and peer tutor. One of the teachers over there, Mr. Mason, said ‘Oh, you have so much potential.’ I was like ‘Really, are you sure?’ and that’s when I started to realize I could do a lot at this school. It’s small and easy to get to know everybody, and it’s easy to make connections.”
In her former role as Marketing Coordinator for the ASB, Amari-Lynn helped run and promote student events such as pep rallies and dances. She enjoys being creative, such as coming up with the name “The Hearty Party” for the annual Valentine’s Dance. “It’s fun to be a leader. Not to boss everyone around but just to come up with ideas. I didn’t know I was that creative either,” she says.
Outside of her leadership roles, Amari-Lynn is serious about her studies, including the AP Psychology class she’s currently taking. “I want to go into the field of psychology in some way when I get older. Normally I wouldn’t just sit and read a textbook in my free time, but I catch myself reading that textbook in my free time,” she says. “I think it’s interesting to learn about how different people’s minds are working, because no one is the same at all, and no one is perfect.”
Her older brother, fellow Wave-Maker DeMario, inspires her academic diligence. “He’s basically raised me from the ground up because my dad wasn’t really in my life. We go to each other for advice all the time,” she says. “Sometimes he’ll call me and be like, ‘I have this final coming up and don’t know how to study for it, but I can do it. Okay, what about you at school?’ Him motivating himself makes me say, if my brother can do it, I can do it.”
Outside of school, Amari-Lynn is passionate about dance and her Polynesian culture. “I’ve been into dance since I was two years old. My mom is part Polynesian, Hawaiian and Tongan. My Polynesian culture is something I just live for,” she says. “I’ve been dancing for 14 years now—I don’t feel like I ever need to stop. I can’t wait to get to practice on weekends or have a competition for a show. In all our dances we tell stories of our ancestors, and our gods and goddesses. The Hawaiian mythology is super amazing—there are so many gods and people to look up to.”
In addition to dancing the Hula and the Ori Tahiti, Amari-Lynn speaks Hawaiian and Tongan. “It can be confusing, all those languages in my head,” she says. “I’m also taking Spanish. It builds my vocab[ulary] because I get to know three different languages, two of them which aren’t spoken with most people.”
Looking forward, Amari-Lynn is planning for the college admission process. “We all have college counselors, and we are meeting with colleges, mostly liberal arts schools, so we can realize there’s not just UCs and CSUs out there,” she says. Amari-Lynn would like to stay in California for college, but is interested in exploring outside the [San Francisco Bay Area], such as Davis or San Diego.
For now, Amari-Lynn is enjoying the opportunities she has at Making Waves Academy. “I just take it into advantage that I’m here right now, and that I can do so much with this small community. We come from a community where people aren’t really tight-knit. In Richmond, there’s a lot of gangs and violence,” she says. “If I went to any other school, I wouldn’t feel that community aspect as much. I wouldn’t be able to have a heart-to-heart conversation with a teacher.”
When asked what advice she has for her younger peers, Amari-Lynn emphasizes focus. “For the younger Wave-Makers, I want them to realize that your future is sooner than you think. I swear last week I was in the fifth grade, running around the hallways with my big group of friends, and now I’m nose deep in a book on my break,” she says. “Especially when you get to high school, there’s no more time to mess around. I think it’s important they realize the future is now.”