Time to Head Home

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

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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.

 

Real Work Now

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I love a good productive day!!! (#ThursdaysRock) Today we had our first official client meeting for PB;J our project team in ID that is working with the City of Sandy Springs to decrease traffic.

For the past few weeks the team has been working on data collection and research, and today our goal was to present to our clients the information that we have gathered and make them aware of our next steps in the process. I’m pleased to report we blew them away!!! They even said:

“The work you guys have shown us is amazing is amazing despite the fact that you are students; it’s honestly better than some of the other work we’ve been presented with from adult consultants.”

The pictures above on this post show a map that I created that pin points where all of the 662 MVPS families live to help us figure out how people get to school and what roads get most congested. They were very impressed with this visual and found it very powerful, so powerful that they want us to take it even further so one of my next steps is going to be adding onto this map where the locations of different public transportation systems are.

This was a mutually beneficial meeting, because it helped everyone get clarity on the potential and path that this project is taking. We were able to define clear data that we’ve collected and also work with our clients to determine goals for our November meeting:

  1. further develop the map visual to include public transit
  2. identify some focus groups to get the community involved with ideating and getting on board with the importance of reducing traffic to gain early support
  3. continue to work on our digital tool for counting the number of cars coming in and out of MVPS on a daily basis
  4. reach out to specific external experts we’ve identified on the topic to help further our work

To be honest our team felt greatly un-prepared all week. We had to have some serious hard talks as a team about everyone not being on the same page and needing to really step up to be ready for today. Even this morning we were stressed out getting last minute things together. I think what was most helpful to our team was our quick feedback session we set to have with the full ID cohort about 45 minutes before our meeting. This session allowed us to get that last minute feedback we needed to feel more confident in our work and make sure we were communicating in the best way possible. Somehow our team pulled it together and I think this successful client meeting has helped to clarify our internal vision and set clear goals for us to work on in the coming weeks.

I’m so proud of our team, and still so pumped about how excited and impressed our clients were about the work we’ve been working on in ID!!! Students CAN do “real world” work NOW- and do it well!  

Breathtaking

Ever have those moments when you see something so breathtaking that you just can’t quite describe it in words? Those moments where you realize that even when you try to frame a million words you still don’t have the full picture.

I saw a brilliant play tonight called, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” that left me speechless.

Fifteen-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain; he is exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.

The show masterfully combined a compelling plot with a simple set that took advantage of the wonders of technology and people alike. The only actual set pieces beside 3 floor to ceiling tech paneled walls (I honestly can’t describe them much better than that), were about 10 blocks that were used to create different settings and could glow different colors when not in their neutral all white state. There were lots of scenes where there was minimal talking, but intricately choreographed stage fights and moments of confusion or “insanity” where people would appear to be walking on walls, flying, or even just imitating the chaos of a busy London street.

I don’t want to give much away about the plot itself, but the last line was something to the extent of, “So I can do anything, right?!” It’s such an intriguing question because as a optimist I might want to say, “Yes!”, but as a realist I might want to say, “Well, no there are somethings you just can’t do, but those are things no one can do.” But at the same time, I could also be a realist by saying, “It’s all just a matter of time.” Who knows what may someday be possible? Maybe there are things we can’t do now, but in years to come flying in a jet pack may be as normal as talking on a cell phone.  Who’s to say what can and can’t be done? Is it ever reasonable to say without first trying?

Flexible Schedules

images-1.jpgWow it was a crazy weekend of late nights. I saw West Side Story Friday night and then right after drove to a friends lake house where we arrived at 1am. Then the following night one of the parents stepped on a copper head snake, got bitten, and had to go to the hospital where he spent the night. Then the following night the power went out and we had no battery operated fans, but we couldn’t get the car out of the garage so we called a friend to do a late night run to Walmart in PJs. And then last night we just watched a family movie and afterwards I fell asleep reading.

Long story short, I haven’t blogged in a while. I realized today how it’s surprisingly a lot easier to blog during the school year. I remember after school started during my original 100 day challenge, one of my teachers had said that he expected me to be writing less after school started because I would have less time, but I actually wrote more. I believe this was for a number of reasons. At school there are constantly people you are having intellectual conversations, despite if it is by  choice or not. Plus you often find things that bug you which are some of the easiest to blog about. And furthermore, over the summer you stay up later with friends and family because you don’t have school in the morning to worry about so you can actually sleep in!

However, summer isn’t only about staying up late, playing with friends and family, and sleeping in. In fact I like to say summer is when I can finally work on all of the things I don’t typically have time for during the school year. Currently I’m working on 4 different project teams, have almost finished my 4th book, have made over a dozen gymnastics songs and routines for next year, have practiced an entire new music book of songs on flute/piccolo, have coached at fuse16, have coached summer camp, have/will have several conversations with schools around the country and Grant Lichtman about the future of education, and to top it all off I have intensely researched over 20 different colleges and will be touring some later this summer while visiting family in the north east.

Summer doesn’t just mean fun time, but it also can mean fun work time. And this isn’t like a teacher trying to be clever and trying to make homework sound better, because this work is often self assigned.

It’s amazing what we can get done with a more flexible schedule.

Changing Time

Not going to lie, I definitely watched tonights last episode of Dance Moms with Maddie and Mackenzie and it was pretty stinking sad. It’s just another big change for next year to add to the list.

It seems this year so many things are changing and everyone just keeps thinking about next year and how I’ll be graduating and it’s all just flying by so fast. I can barely even believe our current seniors are leaving! Just today at our honors assembly we were honoring our 2 first ever graduates with the Innovation Diploma, and it made me realize, “Wow this all started just two years ago, and it now life feels like yesterday and tomorrow all at the same time.”

I know we (as a human population in many different contextual situations) always seem to bounce back after we think we won’t possibly be able to continue without certain people being constant members of our lives, but that doesn’t make it any less sad to see them go. I’ve been friends with members of the current senior class since my 7th grade and we’ve been through so much since then. Especially in theater, I still can’t imagine a world without our amazing techies who have been there since my freshman year always working and having fun with us, and all of the thespians who have joined us along the way.

Plus some of my favorite teachers are leaving, and in general the school is just going through such a rapid period of growth like one I’ve never before experienced.

We are in a period of immense, undeniable change not just with the graduation of another class, but in life in general. Everything around me seems to be changing all at once and it’s kind of a crazy time. In some ways I’m ready for this school year to be over, and in others I’m not at all ready for the next one to begin.

With AP exams, last assemblies, year books, and graduation all happening right about now, these have just been some thoughts circling my mind.

Telling Time Through the Arts

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I always am able to tell that time is passing based on the arts in my life.

This week is my last theater performance before I’m a senior, and ironically it The Lion King Jr. which the middle school is performing and I have a cameo in. Ironic because it’s a middle school show, and because it is The Lion King which I was begging to do during middle school but we didn’t have the rights for, so instead the cast of Willy Wonka (my 7th grade year) would sing all of The Lion King Songs all of the time in band and on the way to rehearsal. It’s been so nostalgic for me to work with the middle schoolers and remember what it was like back when I was their age in theater.

Then today I got to go to a Georgia Tech band concert and I started to feel old there as well, because it was one of the first times where we saw something like that and were talking about how many of the seniors are going to be those kids in the concert just next year. Then it’s only one more year for me until the end of high school…

Plus this weekend is our annual theater banquet where we give out awards for shows this year and also induct new National Thespian Society members. This is making me feel like time is passing because it really signifies the end of the year for me, and also it’s weird because everyone keeps coming to me with questions about it. I’m not use to being the one people come to for theater banquet questions because I still get confused about what to wear or expect as well. (In fact, I’m still often texting my friends that were former MVPAllStars to ask about theater banquet questions.)

Time flies when you’re telling stories.

Waiting for Thursdays

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I haven’t blogged in a while. Partially because I’ve been busy and already up too late, but also partially because I haven’t had anything happen that makes me think, “I have to blog about this,” and I didn’t feel like writing more posts about how I’ve been feeling this way for a little while now.

However, today was different. Today was exciting. Today was productive. Today was noteworthy. Today was a Thursday.

It seems that every week we have 3 days of more just planning, responding to emails, trying to organize meetings, then Thursday comes around where we have the first half of the day to work in ID and that’s when we really get to be productive. The last several Thursdays have ended in some kind of big success moment; using the laser cutter to design our logo, having feedback interviews with teachers, going to Georgia Tech to see their facilities and get feedback from a professional,  and then today when we made large strides in the process of having two full scale prototypes done by next Thursday. (Go figure, it’s another Thursday…)

This pattern isn’t just true of the ReSpIn team either. The other teams in ID also had really productive days. One team got pictures taken of everyone and started using makey makey to design a way to visually represent the strengths of every ID cohort member. Another team made huge head way on their design driver and sketch up model for their design brief venture working with  S.J. Collins enterprise to design a pocket park for the new Whole Foods being built in Chamblee.

By the end of the day, everyone was ringing our metaphorical progress bell (we had a physical one, but it always disappears and then shows up randomly). Also today, over half of us even decided that we will come in next Wednesday, when we don’t have school due to a conference day, just so that we can have time to work for a long period of time on our projects.

You know a program is successful when you have students planning for themselves to come in on a day off in order to keep working.

I just wish we there were more Thursday’s in a week. More days where we had large amounts of time to put towards our work. It seems every other day is just waiting for Thursday because that’s when we have the time to go off campus, or schedule meetings with people that don’t have the same schedule as us (Small tangent: it is amazing how hard it is to bridge the gap between school and the real world when the real world runs on such a different schedule. Everyone wants to make meeting appointments for hours and half hours, but most of the time that means we’re in the middle of a class or at the very end or beginning.), or use machines that take more than 50 minutes to get what you want from them.

Sometimes it feels like we’re just constantly waiting for Thursdays, because those are the days we always leave feeling like we actually were really productive and successful in making progress towards a bigger goal in our journey.

Start of Something New

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Last night was the 10th year anniversary of High School Musical, and you bet I watched the movie with the cast commentary last night on Disney Channel! It’s crazy to think that movie first played 10 years ago. It feels like it was only yesterday…

That movie, while extremely cheesy, makes me so happy. I mean it was a part of my child hood. (Even though technically I only started to like it after a little while of it being out.) I still know just about all of the words and several of the dances too.

One song that has been stuck in my head all day is “The Start of Something New”  (which is slightly ironic because I missed that part of the movie last night).

The song has seemed fitting today though because many new things have happened. I got my new piccolo!! (I had never played one before today and that was interesting, but I’m excited to learn!) Our ReSpIn team in ID worked with the laser cutter and made huge progress in terms of design concepts and connects. Kat and I have been working on planning a big discussion around the “American Dream” and success, which we made a lot of great progress on today in AP Lang.  And tomorrow is my first meeting with the MViFi team now that we’ve actually announced that I’m the first MViFi Fellow, and I’m so excited! (I finally put my shirt on today that we joke about being a bowling team shirt, and it’s kind of giant on me considering there are only guy sizes, but it makes me laugh in a happy way anyway.)

I don’t know why exactly, but it just feels like a lot of “new” is coming soon to my life. It hasn’t quite hit yet, but there’s something in the wondering air…

(I feel the need to explain the term “wondering air,” it basically means “breeze” but it became a joke in Latin today because when we translated a piece literally it said “wondering air” which we all found funny and I thought it was fit in this situation for some reason.)

Starting a Story

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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?”