Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Whirlwind

I'm writing on a Sunday. Which is weird. I didn't even really sleep in, which while not being weird, but I'm home, which is. Nevertheless, hi. How are you? I haven't written here in a while [since graduation] so here goes nothing:

So you graduate. You pick up your diploma and report card and that's it. It's an incredibly strange feeling to be "done" with something. To me, a person with a constant stream of unfinished projects, it's unsettling, but what choice do you have? So what did I do? That night, I invited some of my friends from high school over to my front porch and we chatted. More people came, and by the end of it, it was 1 in the morning. Then came the parade of graduation parties. I'm a broke college kid, so I can't exactly contribute the money people contribute towards grad parties or whatever, so I do my best to attend every one I am invited to, and share some time.

Graduation parties are very strange traditions. For the most part, the graduate is trying to greet and send off people as they come in and out. The goal, I guess, is to get a chance to speak a bit with everyone. But in reality, the attendants don't actually get to speak with the graduate much. They just kind of show up, say hi, eat food, chat a bit, and then, I don't know, in my case it was usually appear at another grad party. And so if you're in attendance, your best bet is to go with someone you already know so you can talk to them, and then visit with the graduate as much as their schedule allows. This was the philosophy for mine about a week ago. I visited with everyone, that was my point. I cared only that they ate food (because there was so much and like that's what people do) and that I talked with them. Family and the sort insisted on giving cards and while that was nice, it was successful in that I got to talk with everyone in one place for once. It was nice. Exhausting, but nice.

This past Thursday and Friday (25th and 26th of June if you're as lost as me) was spent at my future home, Point Park University for their orientation. What I've found is that anymore colleges have stopped calling their orientations orientation, and Point Park calls theirs the "Pioneer Experience" which I guess hold true. The attendees of PPU are Pioneers, the mascot is the bison, I don't get it but I don't have to. And boy was that an experience. It started mid-day and I wasn't back in my overnight dorm until 1AM. I met several awesome people, and from the time I walked on campus I was pretty okay with spending more than one night there, but like it only lasts two days so I have to wait until August.

The cost of higher education is absolutely insane, and while I don't think any amount of fancy schooliness can justify the pricetag, at least from what I've seen so far Point Park does the best to start you working on your major and in the field now. This was extremely important to me from the start of the college search, and I feel like I made the right decision. Or the best, considering how high and dry we are left after high school. We'll see if it stays that way, but for now, I'm excited and looking to the future with optimism.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Graduation: Go Pick Up Your Diploma

I am neither the valedictorian nor salutatorian, in fact I think I'm like 10th or 11th in the class, so I don't get to give any speeches at graduation. Frankly, if you read my Eagle speech, it's not that much of a loss. Nevertheless, since this is my house and my soapbox, I'm going to say some stuff about graduation and the sort.

The way I see it, it's poetic that the commencement diploma distribution is a lie. We're called up one by one, shake hands, and receive a "diploma" that in reality is just a holder. In order to get the diploma that goes in that holder, you have to go back to the gym to pick it up. So why is this poetic?

Education, or at least public education, is often looked at as a free ride, something that's handed to you. It really isn't. Well, success isn't at least. See, the only thing they hand to you are the bare bones - the four required English classes, the three maths, the very basic classes. And even then, you just have to pass.

The poetry is this - in order to succeed, you have to take another step - you have to go to the gym, or like go and do stuff above and beyond - to actually accomplish something. That's been my experience at Carlynton these past 13 years. The school will support you in whatever you do, but in the end your success depends upon the opportunities that you take advantage of. If you take no action, in the end you just have a diploma holder.

I don't have any deep and profound wisdom for anyone - after all, I'm only a recent high school graduate - but I do have this one quote I found a few years back. It's a quote from the autobiography of Walter Cronkite that I read in the 10th grade, and I've used it as my email signature ever since.
I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this game of life everything he's got
That's it, you just have to give this crazy game of life all you've got. Take opportunities, meet awesome people, and just keep doing things. It's cliche to say that this is just a beginning or whatever sunshine rainbow quote you usually hear at these things, but I guess it's true. In a less abstract sense, it's the beginning of your own choosing. The last thing you do as a high school student is to walk out of here and pick up your diploma to put in that holder. But that's also the first choice you make as a high school graduate.

So don't forget to go pick that up, you earned it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

And I'll Tell You All About it When I See You Again

It's been a long time since I last posted, life has been moving at a ridiculous pace and I haven't really had the time to write much outside of AP English and Gov work.

Last week I finished high school, and tomorrow I graduate. WHAT?!

Last time I posted was in April, so here's a whirlwind update, the next post should be a reflection on graduation and all that.

At the end of April I was on a panel at WESA about the future of education and its relevance from the point of view of a student. It played May 6, and you can check it out here: It was interesting being behind a mic talking about a subject that I felt passionate about but also being EXTREMELY LIMITED in how much I was allowed to talk so I had to make what little I said count. You can listen for yourself. It was overall a really enjoyable experience.

A week after the forum (May 5th) I took the AP Calculus Exam. It was, in a word, INTENSE. The reason I took AP Calc was that my teacher said I could do it. I was, and am, pretty skeptical, but I took the test, and in about 25 days I'll see if I actually could. The next day brought AP English. Again, intense, but I took it because I was essentially told to. We'll see. AP Gov was the most manageable, and that took place a week after AP Calc.

Standardized tests are less a true test of knowledge as they are a test of endurance and stamina. How long can you concentrate on this task you've worked all year (and in some cases several years) towards. It's intense, there's a lot of pressure but you do it and it's done with and at the end you might just have college credit for it.

The weekend following that brought the band trip to Washington DC. I made the t-shirt design for it, which was a project I somehow completed in the midst of AP madness, and the rest of it. But yeah! DC was okay. I'd rename it the King's Dominion and oh, yeah, there goes DC trip. We were in DC for about five hours total. The Saturday was spent at the Kings Dominion amusement park. I'm not really a fan of amusement parks, but whatever.The following day I did get into DC and saw Arlington, the National Mall (which I really want to visit again because WOW AMERICA), the Air and Space Museum, and several other things. If you want to see what all I was able to capture in like 5 hours, check out my flickr:

L-R: Cassie, Jarod, Makayla, Natalie, Mikaela, Dan, Clay, and Half of My Face
L-R: Dan, Me, and Clay

The following Friday brought Prom (yes, this list keeps going....). I had gone back and forth about going to prom, and I did actually ask Becca (long story behind that, but for both our sakes I'm glad it worked out the way it did), and I did end up going solo, and I had a blast. It was a LONG night though.

 The following Wednesday brought the Gettysburg 2015 Trip. I've been to Gettysburg 4 times now, so I have a good grasp of what went on there, but I went anyway with my class, to see the (actually pretty great) pictures from then, check out the flickr album here:

Somewhere in there was a chorus concert, the band banquet, and the last Court of Honor for Troop 831 ever, and like a whole mess of other stuff, but that's the shortened version.

I took my finals June 3rd and 4th. June 3rd also brought the senior recognition assembly in which we get our caps and gowns, and several (okay, like 30) awards are given out. It was long, and painful, but I have my cap and gown now, and I received recognition for several things (morning announcements, AP courses, I was awarded a Carlynton Federation of Teachers Textbook Grant, the OYC thing). But above all else I was privileged to be awarded one of the inaugural Maggie Scholarships. The amount? $5,000. After grants, and federal loans, and all that jazz, MY FIRST SEMESTER OF POINT PARK IS PAID FOR!!!!!!!!!!

Guys, I can actually go to college and for the first half of the year I don't have to worry about it. I'm still stunned.

Up next? Graduation reflection.