December Senior of the Month: Natalia Leaf


Arcadia Hinton-Cooley, Managing Editor

Scaling sixty foot walls is not for the faint of heart, but Natalia Leaf is up to the challenge. As a current GRHS senior, Natalia is an exceptional student, involved in school activities, and captain of a competitive rock climbing team. She is passionate, driven, and a valuable member of the community.

Natalia has earned straight As and high honor roll throughout high school. She explained that she has “taken a pretty rigorous course load throughout high school and had to dedicate a lot of my time to school.” This course load includes nine AP classes. Her hard work has paid off; she was even named a commended student in the National Merit Scholarship Program for being one of the top 50,000 PSAT scorers in the country and earned membership in the National Honor Society. 

Still, Natalia says “I have also found ways to create time for my passions outside of school.” Not only is she an outstanding student, she is also a valuable contributor to the communities she belongs to. She is co-editor in chief of In Between, the GRHS literary magazine, as well as an active member of French Club and Girls Club of Glen Ridge.

Outside of Glen Ridge, she is involved with her Jewish community. She is a member of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and volunteered at the Jewish Community Center. Natalia stated “I worked with special needs children and participated in activities with them to foster their confidence and build real world skills and connections.”

The extracurricular she is most involved in is Team Gravity Vault Hoboken, the competitive rock climbing team she is captain of. “Being captain of my climbing team has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my high school career,” she told me. In this role, she leads team practices, coaches the advanced and intermediate teams at her gym, and coordinates team-bonding events beyond the gym. She has excelled at her job, and this competition season her team doubled the number of members who qualified for divisionals, and doubled the number qualified for nationals from the year before.

Natalia’s numerous accomplishments and activities might sound like a lot to manage — and it certainly is — but she has “learned how to manage school and extracurriculars in a way that works for me.” As a result, she has grown into a talented young woman with a strong work ethic and dedication to her passions. Furthermore, she told me “by finding this balance, I feel I have been able to make the most of my high school years.”

Natalia’s commitment to school and climbing has paid off, having earned a spot in the University of Virginia’s class of 2026. She currently plans to major in psychology but is open to exploring a minor or double major in other fields. No matter where college takes her, Natalia is bound to change her college community for the better, just as she has done inside and outside of Glen Ridge.