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Local community leaders, students share high school experiences

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Darin Chase, chairman of the board of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, talks with students in a government class during Burbank Unified School District’s “Senior for a Day” at Burbank High School. Community leaders are paired with a senior high school student to spend time attending classes, touring the campus and learning about the challenges of being in high school in 2019.
(James Carbone/Burbank Leader)

Several community leaders from Burbank spent this past Thursday morning learning about the typical daily lives of local high school seniors.

For several years, the Burbank Unified School District has organized an event called Senior for a Day, in which representatives from the business community and nonprofits as well as elected officials tour the campuses of Burbank and John Burroughs high schools to chat with students about what it’s like being a senior.

Darin Chase, a local Realtor and chairman of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, took a trip down memory lane when he visited Burbank High.

Chase graduated from the school in 1983, and his first stop of the day was visiting a government class taught by Richard Sarquiz, who went to school with Chase during their grade-school years.

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“Part of being a good person is giving back to people and showing them the right path or a path that has less potholes for them,” Chase said.

During his time in Sarquiz’s classroom, Chase fielded questions from students, which ranged from his knowledge about real estate to how to become successful in life.

A key piece of advice that Chase told the students about success was to keep learning something new every day.

Chase said he had a lot to learn when he first started out in real estate and having the drive to be successful inspired him to learn as much as possible about the profession early in his career.

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That pursuit of knowledge, Chase said, continues for him to this day.

“There are organizations out there that help you to broaden your thinking, and things are constantly evolving,” he said.

Being a high school student in the early 1980s was much different than today, Chase said.

Students didn’t have cellphones with them, the campus was much smaller, and the student population was less diverse. Also, more students are taking up additional advanced-placement courses during their four years of high school, he said.

While having AP courses on one’s high school transcript is good, Chase said students should take those kinds of courses if they enjoy them and if they can help them in their future careers.

Two students who have embodied Chase’s advice are seniors Leo Tahmasian and Anthony Petrossian, members of Burbank High’s Associated Student Body, or ASB, who participated in the Senior for a Day event.

Petrossian said he’s hoping to get into USC as a business major to one day work in the financial field.

To better his odds to get into the prestigious private university, Petrossian said he has focused on taking the necessary advanced-placement classes that will apply to his major.

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“I saw what [Burbank] offered and crossed-referenced it with what USC had and chose the classes I needed,” Petrossian said.

Tahmasian is in a similar situation. Along with being on the varsity basketball team for all four years of high school, he has managed to take several advanced-placement classes each year to better ensure he gets into the school of his choice.

Tahmasian said being a student-athlete and being involved in ASB is a lot of work, but, like Petrossian, to avoid unnecessary burnout he narrowed his focus on the classes he needs that will also give him options to get into college.

“When you play sports, you create another pathway for yourself, but not everyone is going to get into college with a sports scholarship,” Tahmasian said. “You want some academic success to fall back on just in case you don’t get to where you want to athletically.”

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