UPDATE: This article originally appeared in the summer edition of The Light magazine. Since publication, Ruby was accepted to attend the University of Oxford! Congratulations, Ruby!
From the beginning of time, which—to be clear—around these parts is 1867, there have always been many entry points to BFS. Whether a student comes for their final two years of our Upper School, or is a Lifetime Friend, the phrase “We Are Brooklyn Friends School” applies forever, no matter the length of time spent here. It certainly applies to Ruby Luzzatto, who seemingly crammed a lifetime into her two years at BFS.
When Ruby’s family arrived in Brooklyn from Washington, D.C. in 2019, her two younger siblings—Emerson ’25 and Maeve ’27—enrolled at Brooklyn Friends School. It wasn’t until 2021, in her junior year of high school, that Ruby arrived. However, to say she has made up for lost time would be an understatement.
From the day she walked into Lawrence Street, Ruby immersed herself into school. In addition to excelling academically in the rigorous IB Program, Ruby was in two school dramas—She Kills Monsters and Trouble With Dead Boyfriends—as well as playing jazz piano and singing in a band. She was the team captain of the Varsity Basketball Team—one of her favorite activities—and, as a senior, won the Coach Mike Petelka Blue Pride Award. She was also a leader within the Social Justice Committee, and—at her graduation ceremony—performed a piece of music that she had written herself.
“I always feel I want to get as much as I can out of life,” Ruby said. “It’s a lot, but the best advice I have gotten is to be present. That means no thinking of homework when you’re at basketball practice. Just be where you are and do what you’re doing at that moment to the best of your ability. That’s what I attempt, at least.”
The intentional choices that Ruby has made about what activities to participate in have been a big reason she can be successful, despite the long days.
“I mostly do things I like, so I am not really ever unhappy with what I am doing at any specific time,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and I am having fun.”
One of the things Ruby is most proud of is the work she has done on the Social Justice Committee at BFS.
“I have been to three private schools, I am a white girl in Brooklyn, and have had this position of extreme power,” Ruby said. “I feel like I have to do something. I can be pretty vocal about things, but the biggest thing that the Social Justice Committee has taught me is when to not talk. And that sometimes my ideas are not the most important. Learning how to support an issue without drawing attention is something that I think everyone needs to learn how to do.”
Former BFS Head of Upper School, Kamaya Prince Thompson said Ruby serves as an example to her classmates and all students at BFS.
“She is the epitome of a BFS student,” Kamaya said. “We can certainly see the light in her, and she sees the light in everyone else.”
While it seems perfectly clear that Ruby has an impressive workload for an 18-year-old, school is actually just her day job. Even before turning 18, Ruby challenged the New York City system and petitioned to be a County Committee Representative for her neighborhood. In New York state, the County Committee is the most local, ground level of party governance. And in New York City, each borough has its own County Committee. Brooklyn’s is the Kings County Democratic Party. Among a County Committee’s responsibilities: attend meetings, elect party leadership, help fill judicial vacancies, and vote on matters brought to committee, including party rules. Ruby wanted the job.
“I actually had to go to court because when the campaigning process started I wasn’t 18 yet,” she said. “It was actually kind of fun. I had to have my parents get the signatures on my petition and I walked with them to advocate for myself. When I went to court on Zoom, I had no legal representation, so I represented myself, and they eventually agreed to allow me to run.”
In June of 2022, now 18 and running unopposed, Ruby was elected to Rep her block, actually a four-block within an area known as Council District 35.
“It was really the culmination of a lot of work,” she said. “I will say though, the meetings can be insane, with people shouting at each other. You think you know what bureaucracy is, and then you come to one of our meetings.”
This is, however, just the start of what Ruby hopes will be a robust political career.
“I want to reform government,” she said, matter of factly. “I want to make democracy work, that is my goal. We call ourselves a democracy, but we have to act like one.”
As she looks back on her two years at BFS, she will think of all she has learned, the powerful teachers she has had, and the friends she has met. However, make no mistake, Ruby Luzzatto is ready to move forward. This October, she will be taking her talents overseas and will attend the prestigious University of Oxford. There is little doubt that she will continue to make an impact on the world.
“I’ll miss it—both BFS and childhood,” she said. “I think leaving high school is a call to action.”