What I Learned From the Class of 2017

 

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.

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(The 7 members of the GT Squad! Go Yellow Jackets!!!)

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:

  1. Motivation from Healthy Competition
  2. Collaboration is a Necessity of Life 
  3. How to Dream Big and Make Dreams Come True 
  4. Question Everything and Ask for Help 
  5. 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.IMG_1875.JPG

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!CrDzAPtVYAAIVCE.jpg

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.IMG_7671

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.Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 11.52.08 PM.png

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.IMG_7509.jpg

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…)

A Babies First Steps: “I’m Fine”

IMG_7409.JPGWith the end of senior year rapidly approaching, I can safely say I have not had senioritous hit me. I have been working like crazy to the point where I haven’t been able to blog. However, tonight I don’t care what I’m procrastinating by taking the time to write this post because I’m so happy to have just made it through the most stressful day of my entire high school experience!!!

A year ago I asked the 5 other Thespians in my grade if they would be interested in working on a senior theater project. Little did they know when they agreed that we would end up writing, directing, and performing our own hour length show and putting the entire production side of the show together in under two weeks.

First semester we met once every other week for under an hour to work on writing the script which we then did a live read through of at the semester to get feedback on our work so far. When second semester rolled around, we still only really met on Wednesdays for an hour, but we decided we needed to come in every week not just every other. Then, once our spring musical, The Addams Family, closed, we had 8 rehearsals to put together the set, tech, and blocking for our show. Furthermore, only 4 of these rehearsals really had every cast member present.

Then today was the big day…

To be honest, our show was a mess even just this afternoon. Lines weren’t fully memorized, and transitions were sloppy, and our techies were just recently pulled into the show because we realized we needed more help and convinced some non Thespian seniors to help out. We barely finished by 6 and then sprinted to cars in order to try and grab something to eat before our house opened at 6:30. We had a small turn out, but a turn out none the less, and our nerves were higher than they had ever been for anything.

IIMG_7386.JPGt’s really hard to spend a hundred hours working on an art piece on controversial mature topics to then put it out in front of an audience for the first time. This show is about so much more than our acting because it’s about everything we had to do to bring the show to life, and it’s our final theater production in high school which is a big deal to all of us. We want to go out with a bang to show the culmination of all of our dedicated time doing what we love. For those people that come to see our show, I’ll admit it’s probably not the best show you’ve ever seen, and I’m sure more time would’ve helped the acting quality and stage relationships; however, this show is about so much more than just the acting, which is why we were even more nervous than normal.

I’ve grown to love our show like a baby, and it’s exciting and a little scary to see your baby take it’s first steps.

But today was the day to stand up because whether we wanted it to be or not it was preview night which means we did an entire run through for a live audience of parents and teachers– Man was I proud of the work that happened on the MVPS black box stage tonight!!!

IMG_7309.JPGNone of us felt like it was the performance of a life time, and there are definitely things that can and hopefully will be improved upon tomorrow and Thursday for our opening and closing night. However, like I said before, this was about more than the acting. This run through was the moment of truth to see if all of our hard work would pay off: could we really pull this off?

I think we did.

By the time we got to the last few scenes we knew we were going to make it through and were trying to hold in our excitement like a kid in a toy store who’s told not to touch anything. We had to keep going out into the cafeteria just to do a little happy dance so that we wouldn’t be too noisy backstage during the show because we just couldn’t contain our excitement.

We did it. We made it through smoothly. People enjoyed it! We made people think!!

I can’t imagine a better team of people to have been working with, and I’m so glad to have been a part of this process. I found myself doing lots of things I never had before from writing a script to crafting all of the light cues to thinking through marketing logistics, I really learned a lot from this process and am happy we put up with the stress it took to get here.

I’m still a little stressed and nervous, as one should be putting on a show, and especially one that you’ve directed… However, now I’m finally at a more normal show stress level where I truly believe it’s going to be something amazing, but don’t want to get over confident and not stay on top of my game.

Now we have two more shows left to really pull all of the bells and whistles together and truly make this show a show to remember. As my acro coach says, “The first time is to make sure you don’t die, now it’s time to do it for real with all you got.”

 

“I’m Fine” Live Read Through

At the end of Junior year I had an idea about how I wanted to end my last theater season with the MVPAllstars. For my last year I really wanted to do a powerful show that left the audience contemplating life as they walked away.

A show like this requires a certain type of experienced cast though, so who better to perform it than all of the senior members of the Thespian Society?

I then talked to each of the other five senior Thespians at the end of last year about this idea of mine and everyone agreed, so to make sure we got this last theater moment, we formed “The Senior Theater Project.” Since the end of our junior year, the six senior Thespians have been working on writing, directing, and performing our own show and with first semester now over, I thought it was a good time to reflect on the progress so far.

Semester one was really focused on writing the script. We knew that we wanted a theme around identity, and after some summer interview work we were able to develop a clearer vision during our first semester meeting. The show is about the struggles that students face that don’t really get discussed at school or on social media; the idea is to demonstrate how much goes on in students lives that we don’t always know about.

At the end of first semester we had a live read through of our script in order to gain feedback about our story thus far. This was a hard goal to meet-having an entire script done to a point where we could share with an audience-and we even knew that it wasn’t finished when we presented; however, I’ve learned over the years how important it is to get feedback early on if you want the best possible final product.

Our team was working until the last second, literally creating the title, “I’m Fine,” for the show about 30 minutes before going on stage. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a complete story that made sense, and the feedback was amazing!

Everyone in attendance seemed to really enjoy the show and where it is headed, and on top of boosting our confidence, they also provided helpful feedback about things that they still didn’t quite understand and suggestions for our next edits. It was useful having outside people give feedback on our show, because those of us who have been writing the script have been so involved in the world of the show that we don’t know sometimes if we are showing enough backstory on parts of the story and characters.

Since then we have been continuing to meet and plan because we officially have less than 20 days of rehearsal left before we perform the show in full! It’s been a crazy process so far, and it’s insane to think how little time we have left. While the show doesn’t go on stage until April, we only meet once a week until two weeks before preview night so we’ve been trying to think through everything from blocking to set building to our photo shoot. (Sometimes I forget just how many little things have to happen for a show to be put on stage, but being the director and co-writer of a show makes that impossible to forget…)

However, despite how stressful it’s been at times to try to work on our show on top of school, college, and other theater productions, we all know that come this April when we take those last bows, it will all have been worth it. To be able to say that we created our own show and it actually went well, will be amazing! It’ll be even more amazing knowing how much work we have put into this brain baby of ours.

The Future is Here

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For the past four years, and even longer than that really, the year 2017 has been talked about as this mystical year in the future. This great year that we’ve worked so hard to get to. The year I turn 18. The year I graduate high school. The year I go to college. The year so much changes.

It’s always seemed so far away; a distant future. The end of the line and the beginning of a new era.

Now it’s only hours away.

2017, the year of my future is so close I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that I turn 18 in a mere two days and I graduate in a few months and I go to college in less than a year. So much is about to happen in my life, so much that has been talked about for all of the years of my existence.

Everything has always been “leading to 2017”- well now it’s here and not slowing down.

First semester has gone by so fast. Life has been crazy to say the least. Between home, school, work, and friends there has been a lot going on. (So much that I’ve not been able to blog nearly as much as I’ve wanted due to so many late nights…)

I’m told that second semester goes by even faster for seniors. After accounting for breaks, trips and events, and senior work days, there are hardly any school days left for seniors. Graduation is just around the corner and sometimes I feel incredibly ready, and other times I feel incredibly not.

But 2017 will come all the same. It is here. It is now. It is time. Image result for 2017

Time for 2016 to be over and time for things to start changing. The new year is here; class of 2017, good luck, because our future has arrived.

 

Sometimes We Need a Retreat

CrCWoiyW8AAPE1J.jpgIt’s been a long week for me, and one that was blog-less. A lot of things have been happening in life not just for me but for several of my friends as well which has created some extra stress, so I think it was good to retreat from blogging.

And it was great to have our senior retreat this past Sunday-Monday! We desperately needed a break from the world. My grade is honestly just wonderful; I couldn’t imagine a better group of peers to have gone through high school with. I love how everyone get’s along so well and we all feel comfortable with each other enough to start conversations with anyone. It makes team challenges way more fun and successful which I always think is a plus.

Though we did less activities than past retreats- swimming in a wave pool and paint ball this time- the trip as a whole was exceedingly meaningful to every senior at our school.CrDzAPtVYAAIVCE-1.jpg

There is one particular activity we did as sophomores that we did again now as seniors that was heart wrenching both times, which we just call “circle time.” We pick our own small group of people to go out anywhere around the site, then we sit in a circle with one person in the middle. That person then goes around and every person on the outside says something they appreshiate about the inside person that just needs to be shared.

As sophomores, this activity meant the world to my friend group. The next 3 years of high school were strongly built on the moments we shared in that circle.

As seniors, some people were almost in tears before we even started; just the thought of the love that was about to be shared between family (we’ve long passed mere friendship) was enough to cry happy tears about for the past, and sad tears for a future not as connected to each other.

Everyone was a happy mess by the end of the night. And as we circled around the Cq_2WBkWEAAlX1e.jpgcampfire, gazing at the stars and each other by the light of the fire, everyone left their own hopes and burdens aside, if only for a moment, to appreshiate the community of support we’ve built up over the past 4 years.

Sometimes you just need to have those deep, thoughtful, and appreciative conversations with others. We all just need a break sometimes. Time to let go of all of the stress if even just for a moment, and to appreshiate the supportive people around us that inspire us to be better humans each and everyday.

Our senior class bonded in ways unmeasurable by any school scale in these past few days. We were already close, but this retreat was well needed and invaluable. To think that we almost didn’t have this retreat (this year only seniors got a retreat) is inconceivable because I can’t describe just how much it meant to all of us. Everyone came home and started texting on the group chat we created for all of the Cq_NKBDXEAU-3zg.jpgseniors about how we loved the trip so much that we want to plan another for later in the year; even if not school related, most of the grade is interested in going camping, or having some sort of all senior retreat part 2.

Retreats are something everyone needs every now and then. I’m so glad that our grade got the opportunity to go on a retreat every year of high school because each one meant so much to me. They were some of the high lights of each year because they were moments where my friendships strengthened in ways I couldn’t imagine possible. I’m so grateful for our teachers who fought for us to keep this tradition alive at least for seniors; I already know it will be a notable moment for the entire year still ahead of us.

One Last Time

CqOTaazWEAA8wH8.jpgSenior year has a lot of exciting moments, but there are also a serious of emotionally sad moments because in order for us to embark on a sea of new adventures, we have to sail away from our home land. We have to say good bye.

Senior year is full of “Aww this is our last ______!” So far we’ve had our last first day, last time reading the same syllabus we’ve grown up with, last first chapel, and just today was our last Convocation.

CqOSnBeWIAEu0qg.jpgConvocation is a time when the entire school comes together to listen to a few speeches focused on getting us into a collective mindset to help us tackle the year ahead of us. To be honest, while it’s a great ideology and concept to bring everyone together, from a student’s perspective one of the take aways I hear people say every year is, “Ow my back hurts so much from sitting on the gym floor for so long!” It’s kind of sad that this is the biggest take away, but without a doubt it happens every year. Though, at least during the event everyone sings during the praise band portion and cheers when their grade is called (especially the senior class). We’re also always very supportive of our student speakers, because every one knows that an audience of your peers is the hardest to perform in front of.

What I’ve realized though is that not all last moments during senior year are particularly sad ones. For example, no one was too emotional much about our last convocation. And yet, it’s still weird to process that these are some of our last timesCqOxf4VWIAAvEC3.jpg at some of these events or having some of these experiences. We have one last year, one last time to imprint a little of ourselves into the community around us. I wonder our legacy will be. When people think back to the class of 2017 what’ll they remember? What do we want them to remember?

For one thing our class is highly collaborative. Currently we even have a group chat with just about everyone in the grade on it. Plus in the past we’ve been known for making intense and well organized study guides with a bunch of people collaborating on them. The way our class bonds together always makes me happy and I definitely think it makes our grade better off when working together so often. But I wonder if that’s how we’ll be remembered. I hope we’re remembered. A legacy is important to me, though I haven’t thought deeply enough on the topic to understand why quite yet. I guess it’s because in order to be remembered you had to have made an impact.

 

(Side note: This post’s title and theme was highly inspired by Hamilton the Musical. I just can’t help but think of the Hamilton song “One Last Time” when thinking about senior year because it’s all about George Washington deciding to step down from being president and telling Hamilton that he needs to teach the people how to say goodbye.)

Starting Strong

images.jpgToday was spectacular!!!! I just had such a good day in general! From the first day of senior year with all of the senior privileges and enjoying all of my classes so far, to having my first acro practice which is now for a full 2 hours rather than what ended up being 45 minutes, everything seemed so smooth and fun. I know things won’t stay this way for long, but I’ll take what I can get and milk it for all that it’s worth!

I love it when things just work out in a way you were hoping for. It’s a pleasant change from the normal insanity of life.

 

Senior Bootcamp

I’m officially starting to feel like a senior after our first Senior Bootcamp day of the year. I don’t know what that means quite yet, but I guess calling myself a senior seems a little less weird. 

There’s no exclamation point after either of those sentences because I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I actually really enjoy most parts of school, which not every student can say honestly. So it makes me sad in a way to be a senior because I don’t feel ready to leave just yet. I feel like there is so much more I’d like to do and contribute to the school community, but mostly I feel like so much of the excitement about some of what I do is just because I’m a high schooler. What happens when I stop being a high schooler?

Plus on top of that there is the whole application process, which honestly frightens me…

I know it shouldn’t be that scary, but it seems like I’m just constantly learning more things that I don’t know. I don’t like the feeling of feeling like I don’t know everything about what I’m working on. I definitely learned more today at bootcamp where we discussed everything from the nuts and bolts of how to use different websites to discussing the art of storytelling and how everyone has their own story for an essay.

In short, there was a lot talked about today from 8-3 with the class of 2017, and also a lot of laughs too which is good. Yet, there seem to be so many unknowns still.

I am excited for this next school year, but the whole “being a senior” part only kind of excites me. I am terrified for that moment when I start loosing my motivation. I know it happens to pretty much every senior because the end of the school year after being accepted just seems to stop being so important. As one of my friends who graduated said, “You’ll want to continue to do well but you won’t want to have to work for it.”

I’d like to say that I’ll be the person to not fall into that stereotype, but who knows. I already wish so much of school, and sadly a huge current motivator for half of it just has to do with getting into college; and I love learning, but that doesn’t change much.  I don’t want to loose motivation, but what if I do? What if my drive leaves? What is my motivator to do well in school? Not theater, ID, band, extra projects, or those kind of things, but just the nuts and bolts of school: classes.

These are the questions I wonder while going into my senior year after a day of learning about the college process.