SHS character
Sarah Kessler
Sara Kessler
Aliases "The Machine"
Gender Female
Hair Light Brown
Died The Storm, Part 1 (in May, according to the novel)
Family Paul Kessler (father), Mrs. Kessler (mother), Emily Kessler (sister)
Romance Heart Nick Brown
Friends Friends Cameron, Hannah, Amanda, Linda, Jane
Enemies Enemies Sam Hill
First Sink or Swim
Final Sectionals
I never cared about popularity... Until it became a competition.

–Sara Kessler to Taylor Vale, Homecoming Princesses

Sara Kessler was a student at Twin Branches High. She was the captain of the Twin Branches swim team and was the daughter of the coach. Sara died in The Storm, Part 1 due to injuries sustained from a car accident. Sara's most notable story was her relationship with Nick.


The New Girl

Sara started out as the swim team captain of Centerscore High, daughter of the team's coach, Coach Kessler. Coach Kessler forced Sara to stick to strict diets, hard exercise and strict sleeping in order so that she would improve as a swimmer.

After Sara's first year at Centerscore High, Sara wanted herself to become more outgoing and so ran for Homecoming Queen, but lost the vote. Sara then ran for school president, with Nick Brown as her campaign manager. From their teamwork, the two grew closer and developed feelings for each other. However, Nick was at the same time dating fellow swim team member, Sam Hill. Initial gossip about Sara was posted, stating that Sara never had a boyfriend, which turned out to be true and Sara lost popularity from this. Nick helped her obtain some of her popularity back by setting Sara a TV interview. Realizing that Sara was becoming a favored candidate among the polls, Jessica—who was Ben Kale's campaign manager—became jealous and posted a picture of Nick and Sara, posed like they were kissing from days ago on the Dirty Dish, which lost Sara even more popularity and ultimately the presidential election.

Due to the photo, Sam broke up with Nick and Nick and Sara came to terms that they liked each other, but do not start dating because of her father's strict rules against dating. Meanwhile, Sara grew closer to Cameron Clark who had a crush on Sara, but Sara still liked Nick. Nick and Sara eventually start dating, after sharing a kiss, which Sam saw. Sam considered spreading Nick and Sara's relationship on the Dirty Dish, but was talked out of it by her cousin, Zoe Davis. During the summer, Sara would lie to her father about going on an hour-long run, when she secretly went out to see Nick. Nick taught Sara to drive and weeks before the start of the new school year, Sara drives during a storm, which ends devastatingly—the car had slid on an oil slick and fell off a cliff into a lake. Nick was badly injured in the crash, but Sara died. The Twin Branches students payed their respects at Sara's memorial service.

After Death

Sara has made a couple appearances since her death in the game including being written into one of her sister's dreams out of concern for Emily's emotional state. Her name has been mentioned in and along the series multiple times from other Twin Branches students throughout the seasons. Although not physically present, her sister continually struggles with Sara's death in Surviving High School: The Novel as she begins to unravel more of her sister's past: her secret relationship with Nick and friendships. Emily as a result of this information begins to feel closer to her sister and look up to her more than she did before.


Romantic Interests

Nick Brown

I've never had anyone believe in me the way you have.

–Sara to Nick Brown, The Campaign Trail

Following their brief discussion about how the two of them were outcasts among their school, Nick appointed himself as Sara's campaign manager, although Sara was hesitant of even running in the presidential election. Nick convinced her into running and the two developed their friendship through this. Their teamwork resulted in a budding romance, which led to nearly kissing. However, they stopped themselves, aware of the pain they would cause Sam, Nick's girlfriend, and decided to stop being friends after the election.

A picture of Nick and Sara's near-kiss was posted on the Dirty Dish and Sam broke up with Nick. Nick confessed to Sara that he liked her, but Sara did not respond, afraid of her father's reaction and disapproval. However, during the swim team trip, which Nick accompanied on, they kissed and entered a private relationship.

During the summer, after swimming practice, Sara would tell her father she was going on an hour-long jog, when she was actually meeting up with Nick for a date in the summer. During one of their dates, Nick taught Sara how to drive. Figuring she was experienced enough, Nick allowed Sara to drive during a storm, which devastatingly results in a car crash, in which Sara died in--just minutes after they admitted to loving each other.


Sam Hill

Sam and Sara were initially friends, having been on the swim team together. Nick, Sam's boyfriend at the time, became Sara's campaign manager for the election, leading to a friendship between the two and later on romantic feelings. During her interview with Andrew Grant, in which she was asked inappropriate questions relating to a romantic affair between her and Nick, she defended herself, stating that Sam was her friend and neither Sara nor Nick would do anything to hurt her. Despite this, after the interview, they nearly kissed, which Jessica Blaire took a photo of and posted on the Dirty Dish, a gossip blog meant to bash the candidates besides Ben Kale. Sam is among the students who saw this photo and was incensed to the point that she ignored Sara following the event, causing Sara to feel guilty.


Emily Kessler

Emily and Sara shared a close bond as sisters and due to the relationship between the two, Sara would often get defensive and protective over Emily when their father would start to push her too hard. Sara brought out a more relaxed side of Emily where she would encourage her to let go and have fun while swimming and training. Sara's death devastated Emily who spends the better part of her freshman year getting over her death and continuing to follow in her sisters footsteps. It comes as a later blow to Emily when it is revealed to her that she did not know as much about her sister as she thought she did such as her secret relationship with Nick Brown and other friendships. Emily goes on a journey throughout Surviving High School: The Novel in order to discover Sara's true identity and private life.

Emily looked up to Sara as a role model and admired her for her abilities and strength while Sara was often worried about the well being of Emily. Sara was shown to have been keeping watch over Emily even after death by appearing in dream sequences where she tells Emily that she approves of her relationship with Ben Kale.

Coach Paul Kessler

In the remainder of Sara's final years of life, her and her father's relationship was strained greatly. Sara disliked having a swim-oriented lifestyle, due to the fact that it prevented her from completing several tasks she wishes she could have done as a teenager. Also because of his strict nature, Sara had done several things behind his back, such as sneaking out in Girls Night In and, specifically, dating Nick Brown.


Cameron Clark

Cameron and Sara first met each other in The Candidates. Aware of his womanizer reputation, she brushes him off, giving him the cold shoulder. Further conversation seen in-game show Sara doing this, however, during the swim team's trip to nationals, Sara began to suspect that Cameron has feelings for her and starts to reciprocate these feelings back, until dating Nick. While their relationship is portrayed much more negatively in-game, Surviving High School: The Novel proves that the two were much more closer than seen. Cameron told Sara's younger sister Emily that Sara knew multiple secrets about Cameron that he had told her, although she never disclosed any secrets of her own.


A girl should always have some secrets after all.

–Sara to Taylor Vale, Homecoming Princesses

Sara was a sweet yet determined girl who at first followed her fathers strict rules. She was fiercely competitive, as she had even told Taylor Vale that she hates losing and was firmed about winning. This all comes from her father, who raised Sara, as the swimmer he hoped she would grow up to be.

Many of her decisions stemmed off of her father's approval. However, over the course of Sara's junior year, Sara had became more rebellious and outgoing, as well, having ran for Homecoming Queen, president and started a secret relationship with Nick Brown, despite her father's approval.

Sara was also depicted among students, as a very secretive girl, who kept to herself, which in fact was true; Cameron, who was one of Sara's closest friends had not even known about Sara's relationship with Nick Brown. Furthermore, Emily, Sara's sister felt in Surviving High School: The Novel that because all of these newly discovered secrets, Emily was led to believe at one point that she truly had not even known her sister.



Sara's first look.

Sara had two looks:

  • Sara's first look was given to her from Season 5 of The New Girl, Prom, until Season 11, The Election. Sara had auburn-colored hair in a low ponytail and lipstick. She had tan skin and button nose. She wore a lime green tank top.
  • Sara's second look is entirely contrasting from her first look, which she was given to in Season 11 of The New Girl, The Election. As opposed to the auburn hair she used to have, Sara's new hair was light brown in a high ponytail and wore a light pink lip gloss. Instead of the tan skin she had before, Sara had a much paler skin color with her second appearance and had a nose which was detailed to a greater extent. She wore a cadmium green tank top.


One year after Sara appeared at Centerscore High, Howard said that Sara was a Sophomore. However, in the novel, it said that Sara would have been a Senior if she hadn't died, meaning that she was actually a Junior the year Howard said she was a Sophomore.


I don't want to be like other girls. I know I'm different, and I'm proud of it.

–Sara to Taylor Vale, Homecoming Princesses


  • Sara's death was used as a gateway method to a new, mature theme and era to Surviving High School.
  • Surviving High School: The Novel states that Sara died in May before the school year ended, but The Storm, Part 2 is set during summer break.
  • Sara's death was in fact planned up to two years before Surviving High School: The Novel was released—before Sara had even been introduced in the game.
  • Sara's diet consists of two cups of almonds, a canister of yogurt, bananas, a bag of raisins, a pint of milk and two peanut butter sandwiches on wheat toast.
  • Before being surpassed by Dominique Clark and later her sister, Emily, Sara held the national swimming record of 28.3 for the backstroke.
  • Until losing the Homecoming vote to Zoe Davis, Sara had never lost any competition since she was four.
  • While the initial decision was to cut The Storm, Part 1 off right when the car crashes, the Surviving High School team decided it was important to show Sara's final moments. The smile on her face is to show what she was thinking about and how happy she was with her life. Additionally, Sara is depicted smiling on the episode graphic because the team knew it would be the last time they would post her picture.
  • The writer for the episode, The Storm, Part 1, Austen, stated that writing the episode was very emotional for her. She went further to explain that because she could relate to Sara's experience and struggles in high school, writing for Sara was very important to her and wanted to make her life full of experiences and love.