As my grandparents mentioned to me yesterday, “These will be your last few days of just being able to relax for the next 8-9 years.” This feels even more true as I get ready to finally head home tomorrow morning for the first time in 6 weeks.
Starting tomorrow, my life will start to get crazy again with constant activities and work, but to my own surprise, I actually feel ready for it. I’ve never been one to really get homesick, but as a great author wrote in his book, The Light Fantastic,
“The important thing about having lots of things to remember is that you’ve got to go somewhere afterward where you can remember them, you see? You’ve got to stop. You haven’t really been anywhere until you’ve got back home.” -Terry Pratchett
I finished reading this book a few days ago and when I read this line I knew it was time for me to go back home. Time to see old friends again before we part ways once more. Time to pack and get ready for new adventures.
Monday morning I head to school for orientation and then I’m gone again to Scotland with 9 of my fellow Stamps Scholars to kick off the school year. Then I’m only back home for a day before moving in, so I really won’t be home for long at all. So I guess I’ll just have to especially cherish these next couple of days. #EndOfNormal
My “normal” has officially forever changed ever since graduation. While I don’t think life is ever in a state of complete normalcy, because people aren’t normal and everyday is a new day full of new adventures, there is no denying that a lot of things stay constant in our lives for given periods of time. My semi-normal was living at home, going to Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, seeing my friends, doing a ton of theater, working at the gym, performing acro routines, playing the occasional soccer game with my rec team, etc. This semi-normal no longer exists.
After Italy I didn’t go home back to “normal life.” I woke up in New York City and got on a plane to Vermont to visit Zeno Mountain Farms, a collection of friends with diverse needs, where I went to camp for a week and got to be in a movie; that’s not normal. And now (well while I’m writing this even though I won’t have internet to send it until I’m back in NYC), I’m at Capon Springs, our family reunion place in West Virginia that is essentially Dirty Dancing without the dancing (or the dirty as someone also felt we should clarify on our teen hayride last night).
While Capon is kind of normal because we go every summer, it isn’t like the rest of the year because we get to just chill and run around with friends playing badminton and shuffle board and ultimate frisbee and really whatever we want without phone connection and limited internet. Plus I continue to travel after this. Next I’ll be in NYC and then Ohio before returning home for a weekend before orientation and then my first year retreat and trip to Scotland with the other Stamps Presidential Scholars at Georgia Tech. Then we get back and only have a day before I move into my college dorm and my life is forever different, cus college…
It’s just so crazy to think that everything I once considered to be normal life is never fully going to exist again. I will be attending a different school with different some friends, and new activities, and living in a new place all together. And that will continue to be slightly weird until one day I wake up and realize that this new life is my new normal.
Obviously not everything will change, and with being only about 20 minutes from my house, honestly less will probably change than the normal college student; however, it is just weird that it finally hit me that it’s officially the end of normal.
And while all of this traveling has been quite fun, it’s also a little scary to think about how much is going to change all at once, because unlike a lot of other recent graduates I know, I wasn’t as super ready to “escape” as some said. But it doesn’t really matter if I’m ready or not, because now it’s just time to live in the present and adjust to this new normal that’s out there, even if, like this summer, one day that normal becomes constant change. Change in my opinion isn’t always good or always bad, but it is ever present and full of new opportunities.
It’s officially been a little over a week since I graduated high school and it’s still just barely sinking in for me. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t actually gone an entire week without being at the school. Between picking up my siblings and attending meetings for various Innovation Diploma projects that I haven’t stoped even though I have the diploma now- still not use to saying that- I’ve kept myself busy around MVPS.
However, even though I can’t quite imagine it yet, I know that next year I won’t be waking up in my room on the first day of school and heading back to MVPS to see all of my same friends and teachers. And going through old pictures for my mom while at the lake this weekend has gotten me reminiscent of all of the great times I’ve had over the years with some amazing people.
On more than one occasion the class of 2017 has been called the “greatest class yet,” as I’m sure all of the years before us have been told. Despite whether or not our class really will be harder to beat than the years before us, I believe that there is something “great” about our class and I’ve been trying to figure out just what that is and I haven’t been able to narrow it down to one thing. So I wanted to share the top 5 things that I’ve been most grateful to learn from the class of 2017:
Motivation from Healthy Competition
Collaboration is a Necessity of Life
How to Dream Big and Make Dreams Come True
Question Everything and Ask for Help
The Importance of Giving Back
1. Motivation from Healthy Competition
Any teacher who has ever taught the class of 2017 knows that we have always been a highly competitive class. It’s not particularly “normal” for a group of students to turn a simple history debate project into a full blown mock trial complete with costumes and an audience of students and teachers from other classes, but this Mongol trial is still one of my personal favorite projects to talk about because the competitive nature we had made the project more enjoyable and helped me better learn the material. We’ve even called ourselves the Mongol Grade because we learned to love that period of history so much and believe we are often “the exception” to many school norms.
While this kind of competition has undoubtedly caused some tension at times, healthy competition has helped make learning fun for me over the years. My peers have pushed me to work harder and strive to do my personal best. I’m never going to lie and say that I have found 100% of my schooling thus far to always be fun and engaging- I may be an odd nerdy kid who enjoys learning but school has yet to get to that great a level even for me yet- however, when I wasn’t the most engaged, having my peers pushing me helped make school more enjoyable for me.
2. Collaboration is a Necessity of Life
While competition has helped me try my personal hardest in school, collaboration is what allowed me to do constantly improve “my best.” The class of 2017 has been more than just a group of students working to get through k-12, we’ve been a family to one another. I remember when Google Docs first started to take off as a classroom tool, our grade took full advantage of the sharing capabilities. Back when everyone took pretty much the same classes, we would create study guides that practically the entire grade would help collaborate on in order to prepare for assessments. Our opinion was that everyone would have to study the same stuff, so if we all worked together to compile the information, it would make everyone’s life easier- and it did!
This collaborative nature is evident not just in our school work, but also how we’ve bonded as a grade. During our Baccalaureate one of the speakers mentioned how there is no clear divide between “jocks” or “nerds” or “actors” etc, and that’s because everyone tends to get along with each other and help each other out. Members of other grades have often said that they were jealous of how close our grade has bonded over the years. This year we even maintained a group chat with the entire grade on it all year without anyone just spamming it into oblivion, which is an impressive feat for that large of a group of teenagers. It’s because of this kind of bonding that I know the class of 2017 will always be my family and though we may be moving far away from each other, I can count on these people to be there if I really need them.
3. How to Dream Big and Make Dreams Come True
I’ve had some pretty crazy ideas over the years, and while some people may be tempted to just say “Well that’ll never happen,” my peers have always been supportive to help make my crazy ideas into reality. For example, since freshman year I had been talking about how cool it would be to write an original show, and everyone always said it would be hard and take a lot of time, but no one ever said it was impossible to make happen. Sure enough, while freshman year might not have been the right time, I graduated having helped to write, direct, and perform an original show which wouldn’t have been possible if the idea wasn’t encouraged even back when I was just an ambitious, semi-clueless freshman.
This kind of positive spirit just makes life more enjoyable, and sure enough, we’ve been able to pull of some incredible things because of this “can do” attitude! The first step to doing the impossible is to dream of the impossible, which is truly impossible to do without supportive people by your side letting you know that anything is possible if you try hard enough. The class of 2017 has truly taught me to never let go of the childhood nature of dreaming like anything is possible, and that’s why we’ve been able to accomplish so many amazing things that get talked about as part of what makes us “great.”
4. Question Everything and Ask for Help
The world is changing every single day and changes don’t happen without something first being questioned. Even schools are finally changing because of the people that are unafraid to question the norm. The class of 2017 is constantly questioning the norm and that’s why our class has been a part of making so many changes happen at our school. Members of our class participated in the first Council on Innovation where the Innovation Diploma started to further take shape. Members of our class were the ones to pioneer founding a student designed AP course. Member of our class helped prototype the maker space on campus. And I’m sure there are a number of other things that not only am I not mentioning, but somethings I probably don’t even know about that members of our class helped play an important role in.
Furthermore, we know that when you have a lot of questions about life, you need good mentors to ask your questions to. I’ve truly learned how important it is to not just ask questions, but to find someone who really is good at listening to questions. I have formed some incredible bonds with some of my teachers and peers whom I’ve had the privilege of calling mentors to me over the course of my years in high school, and I know others can say the same. I’ve learned when in life you truly just need to ask for help and thankfully I’ve found people that know how to listen and give advice, with the understanding that when they need advice, I can be that ear for them to rant to. Part of what I love about the class of 2017 is that we aren’t afraid of sharing the stuff that’s hard to talk about and it’s allowed us to form bonds with each other as well as people all around the school that will last long beyond the past 4 years; this is a big part of why I’ll miss my years of high school so much, and I imagine it’s a big part of why other students and teachers say they will miss us.
5. The Importance of Giving Back
Last but not least, I’m so grateful that the class of 2017 has taught me how to really show how much people have meant to us. I can’t even count the number of times we have thrown parties for various teachers for birthdays, holidays, and farewells. We’ve gotten the nickname of “the stalker grade” over the years because we care enough to do some deep digging to figure out just the right gifts for people. Whether that means a video of pictures and an original song, a homemade grandmother’s recipe birthday cake, a signed copy of a favorite book, a video of a play we saw in France, a custom ordered hand sticked college bag, or a framed collage of inside jokes in the form of stickers, we have managed to put together some pretty great gifts for teachers where a bunch of us chip in to make it happen. I can confidently say they’ve been great because of the expressions on our teachers faces when they realize what we’ve done and it’s always wonderful to see someone you appreciate so much completely filled of joy.
Even our senior prank was so fitting of our grade because we were a tad annoying while also helping the community. We bought close to 300 cans at least and used them to block off the front entrances to the building, so while it was hard to get into the building that one day, our school went on to beat the all time record for the amount of cans donated to the Community Action Center by the end of the can food drive week. The class of 2017 has taught me how important it is to thank those that have meant a lot to you, and that’s why I never think I’ll be able to thank the class of 2017 enough for everything they’ve taught and done for me.
Thank you class of 2017 for being the greatest class a girl could ask to graduate with! You have all taught me so much, and while our time together may have come to a close, memories last a life time and I will never forget all we have learned together.
(And now for some of my favorite photos of high school…)
Just about every winter break I’ve gone to New York to see my family and I just love the culture of the city. There are so many different types of people that people watching is fun anywhere you go, plus there are so many different art installations, and amazing restaurants!
One of my favorite parts is having the ability to walk outside and get places so easily. When I’m there I’m given a key and a metro card and the freedom to explore the city. However, growing up in Atlanta without good public transportation, I’m still not really use to this freedom, so I don’t go far yet.
This trip was full of adventures because I got the joy of having my best friend come to the city with us for her first time ever, so we had to give her the full experience.
We ate my favorite egg bagels fresh in the morning and pizza the size of your face for second dinner almost daily. We saw amazing shows such as Black Angels Over Tuskegee, The Color Purple, Chicago, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and Avenue Q. We went to the botanical garden and saw a train exhibit made entirely of natural material. We heard my mom yelling at stupid cab drivers in Time Square. We sprinted down street blocks to catch subways on time for events. We went to my favorite museum: an interactive math museum. We played Disney Cranium with the conductor for the Book of Mormon. We rushed between shows to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance. And we finished the trip by spending New Year’s Eve on the roof of my aunt’s best friend.
It was a great and non stop adventure, and I think we really captured the full New York experience.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just a few days when you have the ability to travel so accessible. Whether it’s a bus, subway, train, ferry, or feet, New York has so many ways to get around and it’s the biggest thing I always miss about the city.
My sister is one of my biggest critics, especially when it comes to choreography. The funny thing is, I know she makes me better for it.
Sometimes we need a critic around to tell us that are work isn’t the best and needs work, because that can often be the motivator for us to do better. I know that my work has immensely grown over the years I’ve spent choreographing routines, but I also know it can be so much better. I mean I’m not even a dancer, nor do I have any dance background officially so half the time I don’t even know the real terms for moves I’m asking kids to do.
And as I start to create more routines this year than ever before, my sister has been so kind to point out that some of the routines are repetitive when compared to other routines. Basically meaning that I use a lot of the same poses and similar combinations from one routine to the next, which is something I need to work on.
It’s in this kind of work that I take the book “Steal Like an Artist” to heart. I don’t have the dance background that most choreographers have, so in order to learn I’m constantly watching dance and gymnastics routine searching for new material to mimic. We do what we know, and we know what we’ve been exposed to, so if we hope to do more we must expose ourselves to more.
Next year’s spring showcase may be my last chance for my big choreographed group routines. I hope not, but I want to go out with a bang so I’m already preparing by searching for music and trying to think of new ideas and new techniques I can attempt like involving set pieces and trying to actually tell a story with the dance. I can’t wait to start testing my ideas! So I’m glad for my sister’s criticism because it inspires me to strive for something better.
I personally don’t find myself to be much of a spontaneous person.
I can plan out big random events that maybe other people don’t expect. Like when one of my best friends and I went to all of my friends houses while dressed in cloaks and picked them up to go have a party at a park. Or when I threw my giant Pi-A-Palooza party. Or when my friends and I had a Disney and Pintrest party where we just baked and watched Disney movies.
So yes, I do odd things, but they are often planed. However, I enjoy spontaneous things. A lot of my family will do spontaneous things like go on a weekend zip lining trip, going to New Jersey for an afternoon to see a bakery, going to Tennessee for Easter just because.
I sometimes wish I was able to be more spontaneous. I’m often that person to come up with ridiculous ideas, but I always seem to need for someone else to get on board with it in order for the idea to follow through. I have so many things that I’ve never followed through on, but I think they’d be so cool if I did. I don’t understand why I have such a hard time following through with things, but it constantly aggravates me. I know there are things I need to do, but I just can’t seem to go actually do them. So instead, these to do items stay listed up on my whiteboard in my room or on some long forgotten blog post in the endless sea of consciousness.
However, this weekend I was oddly spontaneous. Yesterday I invited a bunch of friends over and we just talked and started to learn how to swing dance. (Because we all feel that it’s way more fun to do some epic dance then awkward middle school slow dancing, even though most of us don’t like school dances anyway). Then today a bunch of us decided to meet up to do a chemistry lab assignment and that also ended up being surprisingly fun and random.
Things often become so much more fun when we just decide to go do something. Yes, some things take planning, and some things can be more fun because of planning, but other times you just need to be like “let’s go!”
School started today for many people, but I’m lucky enough to get this Monday off, which means tomorrow will be our first day back.
It’s funny how everyone spends this last day differently. For many, the last day of break means that it is time to prepare and catch up with stuff you know you have to finish before school starts. I’ve talked with people using today to work on lines for drama, finishing up homework, sleeping, planning for tomorrow, blogging, starting their post break diet, trying to stay true to their new year’s resolutions for as long as possible, etc.
Personally I spent today going to bed around 1am in New York (that’s being generous I think) then waking up at 6:25 in order to get to the air port. Then, as usual, there was air port drama, and since it was the holidays everything was especially complicated and people didn’t really know what to do. Finally we (my brother, sister, and myself) got home to find the Christmas present that we were told was waiting for us at home. We got 2 adorable rescue puppies!!!!!!!! Then I looked at my lines for drama some more before acro practice. (I’m going to be so sore tomorrow after 2 weeks of no practice.) And now I am finally home and frantically trying to make myself feel ready for school tomorrow. (Hopefully I’ll get some rest soon…)
Getting ready for things just always reminds me of how unique and different everyone is. So while I know there is no way I could possibly truly be prepared for the adventures of tomorrow, I hope I am able to at least reach an acceptable point of semi-ready. And I wish the same for everyone else as well.
Today I turned 17, and it was a pretty great day; actually, it was an overall great week! I’ve been in New York (my technical hometown even if I only lived here for three and a half years), and man I just really love this city! Every time I come there are more interesting things to see and do, and I leave with so many fatardo (awkward and random and usually crazy in the best way) stories.
We’ve seen at least one show everyday except 1 and they have almost all been fantastic!! (There was one show that personally wasn’t my thing just because it was more like listening to a podcast live and I just really need visuals to focus.) The last few days were especially great because we got to see School of Rock and Les Miserables on Broadway and that was super fun!!!
I also went to my first real New Years Eve party with my aunts which was interesting. Everyone felt old about that because just the fact that I’m now old enough to be going out till 2am in the city was kind of weird.
Plus I’ve also been walking around the city on my own more this year. One day I even went to meet up with an old friend for lunch, then her parents stopped by because they were in the area and we all had a moment of “Woah, you guys are so grown up. Going out to lunch by yourselves. I remember when you were so little!”
Then today, with it being my birthday, everyone was talking about how I’m almost 18 and everything I can do once I’m 18. And of course “Where do you want to go to college?” has been asked about a million times…
I don’t know where this is going, but it’s just weird getting older. I remember I use to just love when it was my birthday and I didn’t really think about getting older, but now that I am older it feels so much more noticeable. Being a kid is pretty awesome, but I’m not such a kid anymore which is kind of weird to think about.
(Also exciting news, the video of my MoVe Talk from fuse15 is now finished!!!)
I had completely forgotten that I would not have Wifi for the week of Christmas while I was up at my family’s cottage in Pennsylvania. Therefore, I was sadly not able to blog, but I was writing down ideas through out the week so now it’s time to catch up!
It was weird not having wifi because so much of what I would typically work on, when I finally have time, requires the internet: blogging, twitter, reading articles, researching things, etc. However, it was kind of nice to not have the internet because it forced me to just relax with family since there was no way for me to do that kind of stuff. Plus I got to spend a while reading, which I haven’t really gotten to do in a while!
I love the feeling of finishing a book, especially when you have another already waiting to be read. With it finally being winter break I’ve actually been able to read just for fun for the first time in forever!!!
Back in the summer, which feels like so long ago now, I had started a rather easy book called “Kingdom Keepers” which is about Disney World after hours and these 5 kids that have to battle evil Disney villains. I started the book because it looked interesting since I love Disney so much, and over the summer I had been reading a lot of “thinky” books as I call them because they were those kinds of books that you can only read for so long before needing to stop and digest, so I wanted to read something fun and easy that didn’t make me think so much.
However, I started the book so late into summer that I didn’t get a chance to finish before school started, and then I didn’t have time to read my fun easy book. But once winter break started, I decided I would read nothing else until first finishing that book.
And I did.
In 1 day.
(I did say it was an easy book… Those last 150 pages I had left felt like nothing.)
After finishing that book (which is actually the first in a series, so I really want to start the next one…), I decided to start The Great Gatsby since I need to read that before school starts again. Reading this book is actually the only “assignment” I have for the winter break. The funny part is that I self assigned it along with Kat for our AP Lang course. We both wanted to read the book because everyone is always talking about it being a great book, so naturally we got curious as to what the big fuss it. Plus many English teachers often end up assigning it, so we thought it was a book that we definitely needed to read.
When I started reading the book I actually thought the main narrator was a girl. I don’t know what lead me to this belief, but it wasn’t until about 3 pages in that I finally went, “Wait a minute. This guy is a guy. This changes everything!”
My instinctual conclusion made me wonder if we naturally assume a narrator is like ourselves; therefore, in my case that would make this narrator a girl at first. I mean the role of the narrator is to help move the story forward and converse with the audience. They are the one character that always is breaking the 4th wall and typically they can be played by any type of person. This is because who the narrator is, is often less important than what the narrator is saying. So it makes sense that we would naturally want to relate with the narrator as much as possible.
However this isn’t always the case. Some stories have the narrator being a person who is actually in the story, making every narration like a mini soliloquy where the character tells you about how they were feeling on the inside, during or after a particular situation occurs.
The type of narration can really change a story because it changes the perspective in which you hear a story from. When you change the perspective you get an entirely different story. That’s why stories like Malificent and Wicked are so popular, because they tell you an old story from a new perspective, which changes the story in ways that make you question what is the “truth”.
The beginnings of stories fascinate me because in those first pages you can discover what type of book you are about to read based on the perspective it is told from. In The Great Gatsby, the narrator is also the main character, Nick. Right from the beginning you are able to tell that this story will be a reflective piece about a time in Nick’s life where exciting and life changing events took place.
However, not everything about the beginnings of a story is so great. In fact, they are often long and sometimes drag on without much excitement for a while because the backstory has to be set before the story can really get interesting.
The Great Gatsby has been one of those books that hasn’t gotten too terribly interesting yet. I haven’t reached that point where I can’t put it down until I finish it quit yet. So I am still on the hunt to figure out “What’s the big deal about The Great Gatsby; why has it become such a staple in high school literature?”
Last night I did not get to blog because I WAS AT OUR NEW HOUSE!!!!!!!!!! We officially have closed on the house, have the keys, and have started moving!! Last night I was there until midnight painting my room with primer which was really fun! The only reason I even went back at midnight instead of 1am with my mom and sister was because I still had a little packing to do, because now I’m in New York city!!!!
Yesterday was my last day ever at the new house and that was a little weird to think about after living there for 9 years. The funny thing was I spent my last night the same way I spent my first night: with just a mattress on the floor. It was kind of sad to say goodbye, but I’m excited to move into the new house!
And I had a fantastic day in New York, all starting with my first plane trip in what seems like forever where something didn’t go really wrong. The interesting thing is this is also the first trip where nothing really interesting in an exciting way happened either. I often say the biggest mistakes can make the best stories, and I guess sometimes without the mistakes and problem the stories just aren’t as good.
I got here and got to read in the park some which was really nice. I’ve finally gotten to restart reading Moonwalking with Einstein which has been super interesting learning about memory stuff. I think one of the most interesting parts is how they describe memory as a test of creativity more than anything. Then my aunt met up with me and we climbed a tree and I told her all about the book and the memory stuff and we talked for about an hour up in the tree. It was great! Plus we ended the night at my favorite restaurant!!
I love being back in the city. Sometimes I really just wish Georgia had better public transportation, so we could just decide to take a walk to a park to read and climb a tree every now and then.