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The Jacobsen Family

As the youngest sibling of four Gunn graduates, sophomore Robin Jacobsen’s high school experience has been shaped by her predecessors. Robin Jacobsen’s eldest sister, Nicole Jacobsen, graduated from Gunn in 2013, and Robin Jacobsen is currently in the middle of her sophomore year, marking a 13-year history between Gunn and the Jacobsen family. From this longstanding relationship comes a wealth of information about the school, its teachers, its technology and its approach to mental health, aspects of Gunn that have changed considerably over the years.

According to Robin Jacobsen’s elder brother Brandon Jacobsen, who graduated from Gunn in 2016, having other siblings who went to Gunn helped when it came to course and activity selection. “I think one of the coolest things about having all of us go to Gunn was that we were able to relate and help each other out when we had the
same teachers,” he said.

At the same time, the siblings were able to explore different activities. Robin Jacobsen’s elder sister Maren Jacobsen, who graduated in 2021, carved her own path in high school. “I definitely got a variety of things I could get involved in, but I also found my own interests,” she said.

Beyond advice on classes and extracurriculars, having siblings at Gunn also allows the Jacobsens to share experiences with one another. For example, Robin Jacobsen’s elder sister Camille Jacobsen, who graduated in 2019, participated in track her freshman year with Brandon Jacobsen. “It was something completely out of her comfort zone, but I encouraged her a little to do it,” Brandon Jacobsen said. “We ran in meets together and got to share those experiences.”

On the other hand, Maren Jacobsen and Robin Jacobsen both enjoyed choir. According to their mother Julia Jacobsen, a long-term sub for English teacher Ethan Halter, the sisters had fun singing together and brought joy to others during the pandemic. “It was like a bright light in that time,” she said. “It was just so inspiring
that they could still be making music. It was definitely not like singing in person at all, but at least they were able to do something they loved.”

However, Camille Jacobsen found that going to the same school as her siblings could foster unwanted pressure. “Sometimes, I’d have some of the same teachers and they’d compare me to my older siblings,” she said. “That was annoying sometimes.”

From a broader perspective, the Jacobsens’ long-term relationship with Gunn also provides valuable insight into cultural changes over the past decade. One major paradigm shift the Jacobsens have observed has been in the school’s approach to mental health. According to Brandon Jacobsen, this transition began to occur when he was an upperclassman and experienced one of the suicide contagions at Gunn, which included someone he knew. “That year, they spent a lot of resources and time trying to help students,” he said. “I think that period of time was when they realized that they needed to shift in focus to actually helping kids with mental health.”

This shift is evident from Robin Jacobsen’s experience at Gunn thus far. “I think that Gunn’s definitely gotten better about putting people’s mental health into the equation,” Robin Jacobsen said. “When my sister [Nicole Jacobsen] was going here, I don’t think there was any of that [mental health support].”

Another change in the past decade has been the usage of technology at Gunn. Maren Jacobsen, the second youngest of the five, cited an increase in dependence on technology in the past decade. “I remember when my oldest sister was there [at Gunn], iPhones were just starting to become a thing,” she said. “They weren’t using a ton of technology for school. Now, we did Zoom school for a whole year, and we were using our computers
for everything.”

Although there may have been many changes over the years, including the unexpected twist of the pandemic, one thing has stayed constant: the siblings’ connection to each other. According to Camille Jacobsen, it’s always comforting to have someone familiar on campus. “It was fun to have somebody that I could relate
to with all the stuff that was going on,” she said.

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