Class Secretary emphasizes student mental health

Junior Class Secretary: Justin Lau


Daniela Contreras

After two years of student leadership, Junior Class Secretary Justin Lau has much to say on self-improvement and improving Armijo’s campus culture.

Maya Adimora, Co-Editor-in-Chief/Beyond the Gates Editor

After a year of being the Sophomore Class Secretary, Justin Lau decided to run for reelection and continue in his role as Class Secretary for the Class of 2024. “What made me run for the secretary position wasn’t particularly the position,” he said. “It was more of me getting elected for a position within class office, because all the class officers essentially do the same thing. I’m glad to have gotten a spot and to continue to aspire to do great things as a class officer this year.”

Lau’s previous experience with Leadership in middle school kept him from joining Armijo’s Student Leadership class in his freshman year. It just wasn’t his “cup of tea”. In fact, he wouldn’t have decided to join Leadership in his sophomore year if it weren’t for his mentor and current Associated Student Body (ASB) officer Josh Rusit introducing him to the class. 

“If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be here today and my entire high school experience would’ve been a whole lot different,” Lau said. “I’m glad and grateful to have been integrated into such a wonderful program; for if it weren’t for this program I wouldn’t have made the unforgettable memories or friendships I have today.” For anyone interested in joining Leadership or running for an officer position, he says not to be afraid to put yourself out there because you’ll be surprised of what you are capable of.

Being a class officer allowed Lau to learn new things about himself, especially his potential for leading others.  Playing basketball forced him to step up, break out of his shell, and speak up on the court when a leader was needed. Although he doesn’t have the time to coach kids in basketball anymore, the skills he learned from that still help him now. 

Starting off high school with a year of distance learning in the middle of the pandemic caused him to lose touch with loved ones and his social skills. “My social bubble was closed out completely and [I] felt as though I was alone. It wasn’t [until] I slowly met the people I know today [that] things started to change. Now here I am, alongside with people I love and trying to meet new people every day,” he said. “I also think, mentally, I’ve changed a lot as well.”

Although his leadership skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he’s ready to change the world… In the meanwhile, he’s planning on impacting Armijo’s campus culture in a huge way as a class officer and aspiring ASB officer. “Using my position as a class officer, I want to be able to make sure everyone is welcomed and included,” said Lau. “I think this a great opportunity to show what I’m capable of and I’m at a place where I’m able to make positive things happen; giving it my all to be the best ASB officer I can if getting the spot” 

He recognized that students suffer from social and academic expectations, so he wants to transform Armijo High School into a safe space for all Royals. Students have to deal with being divided into different social groups “like IB kids, band kids, sports kids, etc.” while having to deal with the intense stress of taking difficult classes and planning for the future at a young age. In this regard, Lau would like to change how teachers interact with students who are struggling with their mental health.

“We, as students, should work hard for what we want, but should be able to do it without it attacking our mental toll”

— Justin Lau

Lau advocates for these changes from personal experience of being a stressed junior. “I’m currently in the difficult [International Baccalaureate] program,” he said, “which makes every day a struggle and gives me very minimal [time] to have fun and relax.” However, he still tries to make the most of his limited free time by hanging out with his friends as much as possible, playing video games, watching movies and TV shows, and coaching basketball. 

Lau doesn’t have concrete plans for his life after high school, but he does have several dreams to aspire toward. He wants to get a scholarship to play basketball at one of his dream schools (Duke University, UCLA, and Gonzaga University). An alternate path is to become a doctor or lawyer, or work for Google as a computer scientist.