Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Go Forth and Conquer 06-07

Hey everybody, welcome to the post.

I've been sitting on this one for a while now. I want to go back and analyze my junior year of high school. The ups, the downs, ins and outs and everything between. Maybe it's for me, maybe it's for you. Either way, I'm writing it.

It might have been the best school year of my life. Regardless, it eclipsed every other year in importance and opportunity. You can think of it as a junior year wrap-up, an evaluation of the big stuff in my life. I hope you enjoy.


Junior year was definitely the most challenging schooling of my life, academically speaking at least. With 4 AP classes all peaking the workload at the same time, life got pretty brutal come April.

Seminary- Seminary was an awesome class for me, especially the first semester. Second semester was good and all, but it just didn't stand up next to first. I remember walking in the first few days and missing my sophomore seminary class a lot. Sophomore year I had Brother Pearce, and my class was full of all-stars. It was mostly sophies, with a few solid seniors thrown in there for good measure. We never had any problems getting participation. I was good friends with all the kids, it was just a solid class. That was sophomore year, and my junior year 1st semester class looked nothing like it. I was friends with two or three people in the class, and I knew a few others by name and face, but had never really talked to them. It was apparent really early on that this class was a lot rougher around the edges than any other I'd ever been in. We had lots of kids that didn't want to be there, or who were really interested in sleeping the first period of the day. It looked pretty dire, and I wasn't too excited about it.

Brother Adams was our teacher, and he recognized the situation just as well as I did. He did a lot of awesome stuff for us that first semester, and amazing things started to happen.

We were initially all pretty closed to each other. It took a few hard weeks for us to start warming up to everybody in the class, but once it did, things caught on fire. Adams knew we had a really competitive class body, so he pushed that for us as often as was reasonable. I remember getting up there, Me, Brady, L'il Ashby, Dave, Ande, and Taesha and just working our hearts out to beat the other classes time records or whatever. We pulled together to lay the smackdown and win those bagels at the end of the semester. We started to bond, and we started to get comfortable with each other. We all warmed up and began to really share experiences and ideas. Once we finally got rolling, things were amazing. I looked forward to it every time I went, just because I knew I had good friends in there who were trying to do the same things I was. I gained so much respect for those kids in there. We all came from really diverse backgrounds and situations in life. It was so cool to see us all come together though. I've never felt more welcome in a seminary class ever than I did in there. We all just got really close, it was amazing.

I still can't help but smile inside when I see the people from that class. Most of us got split up at semester change, and that was pretty hard. I see L'il Ashby at the stake center every once in a while, he's a studmuffin. Ande and Taesha, I've got nothing but huge respect for those two. It was just an excellent class, and I really grew to love everybody in there. First semester seminary junior year: Best seminary class to date.

Junior Choir- Oh the love that was Junior Choir. I signed up last year mostly to have a reason to leave Jazz Band. As much as I loved making music with my sweet trombone, I didn't feel like I was up to par with the rest of the players in there, and I really just felt like I was holding everybody back. I didn't want to drag the band down and keep feeling like I sucked so much, so Junior Choir looked like a pretty lucrative option. Add on top of that my desire to learn to sing, and the multitude of ladies who were begging guys to go try out, it was hard not to make the call and try out late sophomore year.

Try outs weren't as bad as I thought, and I actually went in there pretty confident. Not so much that I knew that since I was a guy I'd be a walk-on, but cause me and my dad had worked on the song the night before and I felt like I knew what I was doing. I went in there, did my thing, and T said I'd be a good asset to the choir. Simple as that, I was in.

The first day was a little tricky there too. I didn't quite know what to expect. I had never sung in a genuine choir before. I'd had a lot of practice with church and all, but never anything really organized. I stuck pretty close to Kyle, since he had been in men's chorus sophomore year and seemed to know the ropes.

Warmups the first day were pretty cool. Totally unexpected, full of energy and corn. It was one of those things that people sort of looked around and wondered if they'd really join in, but seeing everybody else leaping in and smiling the whole time made the fears go away. It was fun and productive, I could definitely feel myself getting better and understanding the whole singing thing more. T always made us feel like we were making good progress, and it felt great.

It was an awesome class. First off, I was in there with all my buddies. Sophomore year didn't see too many great opportunities to have classes with my boys. Here we were, Me, Kyle, Levi, and James. We had been classic in Junior High, but sophomore year had seen us drift a little bit apart. I was glad to be with them, and glad to be with so many other good guys. Kirt, Robert, Joey, Peter, Peter, Austin, Brad, Bentley, Cody, Jared, and the newcomer Shaun Noble, who I'd never met before, but he ended up as my music partner and a cross country buddy, so it was way cool. Just being with all those good guys, hanging out, blending together, it was a great environment.

And then there were girls! Lots of em! And they sounded amazing! And they were all pretty happy to be there, which was just cool. It was always a nice class to be in, because c'mon, there were lots of friends and lots of girls. A winning combination.

More important than that though, was what we were doing in there. T is amazing, and somehow manages to keep us all excited and full of energy and moving in the right direction. It was super cool, the first time we brought all of our voices together after a little practice to pull off a sweet part of a song. It just sounded so good. We were all just smiling about it, wondering if that was really us that pulled that off. We made some awesome stuff happen in there. It was excellent to sit there during TVTV time and realize that we'd just had an awesome rehearsal and made a lot of progress. Those were good days, getting better.

Junior choir just had a winning combination when we did it right. Great people and progress, you can't get much better than that. Of course, it was a double edged sword. Some days we just didn't get anything done because we were talking too much. We still need to work on discipline, but over all it was an awesome experience, one I'm really glad I signed up for.

Litmag- Culture Shock the very first day. I went into this class the second semester, mostly upon Wessman's request. It required a little shuffle of my schedule, but Wessman really wanted me to come in and train so I could do some heavy duty journalism stuff my Senior year. I couldn't fit into the real journalism class, but Wessman was sorta doing half and half in his litmag class, so in I went.

I knew a few of the guys in there, so I was pretty excited about it. Jaron, Nate, Mac, it was going to be good times. I figured it'd be a nice breath of fresh air, considering I hadn't been in a class like that for a few years at least. I was going to be creative and all that. It was gonna be sweet.

Wow. It wasn't what I expected. I mean, I should have figured it was coming, but walking in there I was totally smacked with the wet noodle of culture shock. There were "creative" kids in there. I'd never taken a high school class with "creative" kids. You know, the ones with the fishnets on their arms and the crazy sweatshirts with weird stuff on them and the haiven Glaiven. There were kids in there I'd never seen before in my life. It took a little bit of an adjustment, but it was one that I was willing to make.

The first few days we did some creative writing stuff, just free write stuff, that was good times. Wessman taught us a little bit about newspaper writing and all that, and then we had to pick sides. He wanted to find out which side of the class we'd fall on, the newspaper side, or the litmag side. I think I was one of the last guys to get called on to proclaim my allegiance. I had entered the class fully intending to go on the newspaper side, but the idea of the litmag had really started to be cool to me as I learned more about it, so I called it straight in the middle. "Put me in the middle, wherever you want me to go."

It was an odd class. Huge variety of kids in there. There were the creative types, the talented types, the sleep in class types, the "man, I didn't expect to see you in a class like this types". Wessman was really good about it though, he ran it pretty well. He tried to cater to all of us, keep us all doing work that we wanted to do and that needed to be done. Sure, some periods were spent with absolutely no progress being made, but things eventually picked up.

I still hadn't found my niche in the class when Wessman realized that we really had to start cooking on the litmag or we wouldn't hit deadline. I didn't really know the whole process that the litmag needed to go through, or what work had been done so far. It had been a little frustrating, not knowing what to do. When Wessman would tell us to do stuff, we sort of didn't get it done. We'd make an initial effort but then get sidetracked. It was, as it were, less effective.

Then one day things changed. Wessman got up to the board and talked about what needed to be done that day to move closer to being ready. One of the tasks was finding the information on the art that we were going to include in the actual publication. We had chosen the art, but we needed to make sure we had author names, the medium they used, the size, titles, all that good stuff. Wessman told us we needed to get that done, but that he needed to go run some errands or something. He told the class that I'd be in charge of spearheading that department, gave me the nod of confidence, and away he ran.

This was a good day. I was a little tired of not getting things done, and I suddenly had that exhilarating rush of "I'm in charge, let's get this puppy rolling". I immediately set up the task force to go get the information from the attendance office, so we could find out where the people were. I sent those two off, but I was standing up at the whiteboard, and I was ready to get things done.

I have this tendency to hijack projects. Give me an opening, and suddenly I'm at the helm. That's what I did that day. I'm not quite sure why I did, or even how I did it, but suddenly I was telling everybody what needed to happen. For the first time since I'd been in the class, everybody was working on something. We had kids in the class doing work, we had kids over in the computer library. I was doing nothing but running around, making sure everybody had a job and that we were moving closer to our goals. People were asking questions, getting support, giving suggestions, and ultimately getting work done. That day we moved like a well oiled machine. In all the times I ended up being in charge in that class, I'm pretty sure that first day was our most effective.

In any event, I had taken my small responsibility over the art information and transformed it into a medium-sized dictatorship. I wonder if that's what Wessman intended to happen, either way he didnt' stop it once he got back. He sorta stood back and let it happen.

And suddenly, I was promoted from not having a job to being a co-editor. I took the job seriously, because we really needed to haul it to get things done. It was a really gratifying experience, seeing everything come into place. I love the managerial position. It's something that I feel pretty natural about. It took a lot of work, and a lot of times it was discouraging, but working with all the teams, getting everybody's unique talents to come together and publish it, wow, that was a great feeling.

I was really happy with how the magazine turned out. It was cool to get to work alongside Nate and Jaron, who I had been buddies with, but was working with for the first time, and I think we grew to be pretty tight in there. Jaron pulled off a ton of excellent work with photoshop and indesign to make things look smooth and awesome, which was pretty cool to see.

I got closer to everybody in there, we grew as a team and created an awesome product. Yeah, we know people buy it for the extra credit. But that's OK. We pulled something awesome off this year, and maybe next year things will be a little different for them.

I've got a lot of respect for the litmag kids. If I had room, I'd do it again next year. It was a cool class for me to take, because more than real structured "learning" it was production. It was a team with a genuine deadline and a genuine goal. I was in there busting out the leadership, which I really enjoyed doing, and I think it taught me a lot too. Much love for litmag.

Athletics- Cross Country was so amazing my Junior year. Athletics was a PE class during the day where the whole team would go, get dressed, and work out during fourth. It was cool for a lot of reasons. It meant we didn't have to stay after to workout, since we had already done it. We felt pretty important, you know, not learning stuff in order to run. It was fun to be with my team. I have so much love for that team. Going through all that pain with them, you can't come out of that without a lot of love and respect for your fellow athletes. Athletics was good clean fun. I think we all got a little burnt out as the season progressed, but we did our best out there. Once XC was officially over we started having lots of fun with Sock Tag and various other games we'd play while "working out". There's nothing like the sweet satisfaction of thoroughly owning somebody with that sock. Athletics was good, and that's about it.

Precalc- Just a good solid class where you learned good stuff. My first semester class was awesome for me, it was stacked with tons of excellent people. Me, Kyle, Nick, and Taylor all sat on one row, second from the front. We joked around, but always learned the math and did it well. It was sweet to listen to Kyle's Zen when it was seriously time to get to work. One ear plugged, fousing down to a point, yeah, we got some good work done. Kaelin was a really cool guy, taught us a ton of sweet stuff that wasn't part of the curriculum. Yeah, he gets sidetracked a lot, but I appreciated it. More than anything it was sweet to realize that Kaelin's just a normal guy, doing awesome stuff. He had great stories, and it was fun to learn from him. I really got along well in that class, we just had a ton of fun. I always looked forward to it.

Of course, second semester brought a change of periods, which meant new people. It had its ups and downs. Definitely fewer of my friends in there. Since I was coming in at the semester, I lost my good seat. I had occupied the best seat in the house first semester, but now I was sort of a migrant. There were lots fewer kids in this class, but it felt so cramped all the time for some reason. It was 4th period, so instead of 2nd when we were all finally waking up to be energetic, we were all ready to go back to bed.

There were good people in the class, but there were also a few who weren't at all interested in doing math. That's one thing I really appreciated about first semester. We could joke all we want, Me, Kyle, and Nick, but we still got out work done. I found it a lot more difficult to do my work with certain people around in my new class. I therefore made it a point to move to the other side of the room. Sometimes those people would come over and sit, but mostly they stuck to their side, and life was good.

One of the big ups of the new class was being in there with the ever studly J. Gabbitas. Once things finally got settled he came and chilled on my side of the room, and we got to know each other and be better friends. That was cool, and I'm really glad that happened. With a little work, he could make an excellent Ultimate player.

There were a few select people I was really glad were in the class. It was a good class, and I learned the math and did will on the tests, so things were good. Math is still cool.

AP Action

AP classes had been something that I'd looked forward to as long as I could remember. I knew my siblings had taken them, and I knew they were a lot harder than normal classes. I knew I'd learn more, and I knew that there was a beastly test at the end. All of these things really appealed to me. I love learning everything I can, and I adore a decent challenge on a bubble sheet. I took four my Junior year, something I'm really pretty happy about. Everybody said I was crazy, but hey, it was my choice, and I'm happy I made it.

To be honest, I didn't take the classes for the college credit. I took them for the challenge and the learning. I'm not much of one for credit at this point of my life. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and learn what I could in the meantime. They were the hardest classes I could sign up for, so yea verily, sign up I did.

AP American History- AP history was a brute, but such a loveable brute that you just wanted to give the whole subject a big hug. From day one I knew that it'd be a class I'd really enjoy. It was strenuous and oftentime monotonous, but it was subject matter that I really loved, and learning more about stuff I was interested in always felt great at the end of the day. Rockwell lectured really well, and entire class periods were taken writing notes at breakneck speed. I developed a pretty decent system for taking notes, marking things that were really important and all that.

Really, AP American History was old school, that's all there is to it. No surprises, it was the education system at it's most basic. Here's the lecture, take notes. There's the chapter, read it. Here's an assignment to drill the info in, do it. Here's a test to make sure.

But on top of that was Rockwell, who really is just a comical character. I can see how some people could not like him. He didn't make much of an effort to hide the fact that he didn't know us personally for a really long time. Some teachers get to know their students real well, but I don't think Rockwell was one of those. That's OK though, because it was Rockwell and he didn't pretend. He had old jokes, but hey, he was loveable, and he taught us excellent stuff.

I remember the assignments to read the chapters. A very important lesson I learned from Junior year relates to those chapter assignments. I started off pretty well reading them, but once the middle of the year came I got lazy and busy and didn't read. I still did great on assignments and tests, but it felt like there was something missing. I didn't have as much satisfaction in that class as usual. When Rockwell picked it up and started giving us assignments on every chapter, man, I really started to love that class. Sometimes me and kyle would do the work together, but no matter what, I always had the best feelings about myself and school when I'd sit down and read that book for the hour and a half it took. I learned a ton, and I knew that walking into school the next day I'd be ready for whatever Rockwell had to throw at me. Reading those chapters just had a way of relaxing me, and filling me with a sense of accomplishment and peace. I've got a great love to the history book because of it.

History was really useful everywhere else too. In any situation, it was always helpful to be able to bust out a ton of background knowledge on any situation. I can't count the number of times in English when I'd slow down and be like "Hey, chill, this happened before, it'll happen again. It's been going on forever, historically blah blah blah." It was pro. Reading the news and all that, it was so easy to see all the parallels. AP history started to plug in to every part of my life, and I was really glad that it did. To be honest, I'd retake the course next year if I had room. I would love to hear it all again. I've got a great love for AP History.

AP English- I hated AP English for a really long time. I walked in the first day and got sat down on a table that had nobody I knew on it, people I'd never even seen. I was in the front of the class, and yet the desk was oriented such that there was absolutely no comfortable way to sit and see the teacher or the board and any of the rest of the class. Harward came off early as a serious butthead. He came in the first day and started ranting off on these big words that none of us had ever heard of before, and he wouldn't tell us what they meant. That was a big problem for me, because I'd never really been placed in a situation where words were over my head. He kept giving us assignments to analyze these rhetorical strategies on pieces, and that didn't sit well with me at all. Everything about him and that class bugged me. His logic seemed so flawed, his goals and everything else just so irritating. The fact that a lot of my friends had a fairy tale first term with Parrish made me want to leave really bad.

It just bugged me, the way he used words that didn't mean a thing to all his students. I figured that if a word didn't mean anything to me, it wasn't really even a word. Because what is a word? It's just a tool to convey an idea from one person to the other. Both people know what the word means, so they both have the same idea. All the leadership training I've ever had talks a ton about two-way communication and how important that is. Yeah, there was none of that in the beginning. He would go on and on about logos and pathos and ethos and all sorts of other words that I can't remember right now. It meant nothing to me, and it just irritated me. It bugged me that he just jumped right in, didn't give us any intro, just did it.

And then there was Latape. Oh how I despised latape. It was some sort of mnemonic device to help us remember how to start paragraphs in our AP essays. Start with the author's last name, then do some sort of adjective, then blah blah blah. It bothered me. Of course, he had started the year with some diatribe about how terrible the five paragraph essay was, and how templates that you just plug things into are horrific. Then, two weeks later, he gives us this latape template and demands we use it. The hypocrisy killed me!

I had serious issues with the class. I'd never disliked a teacher as much as I disliked Harward. I wanted to rant a rave every day about how much I disliked the guy. The only thing that kept me from posting an angry argument every night on the blog was that I was pretty sure he'd magically read it.

One of the big problems I had was with analyzing rhetorical strategies. He would make us find out how this person accomplished their purpose in writing this paper. It felt, to me, that he skipped the whole "purpose" part, and that really bugged me. That's what had always been important to me. The first question, what's the purpose, and the next question, did he succeed? That was all I cared about. I didn't care how they wrote it, just whether or not it had the intended effect. It took me a long time to get over that.

A lot of things had to happen in order for me to fix the problems I was having in there. First and foremost it was a pride issue. I needed to stop believing that Harward was a nincompoop. I got moved to another desk, which really made me happy, because now my back wasn't always having issues trying to see anything. I finally started catching on to all the big words he would throw around like candy, and suddenly it didn't seem like he was just spouting crap to try to impress us, we were honestly having academic discussions.

When things changed, they changed big time. I started to love that class, look forward to it like crazy every day I had it. The class, after the initial "we hate Harward" days, really came together. It's amazing how that always happens. But we all respected each other, and we could joke around with each other and with Harward too. I really became a better writer in there, because once I started understanding where Harward was coming from he really helped me out. It was fun to have discussions in there, those were some of my favorite days. You put Me, Kent, Austin, Sam, P-Burn, and April in one room, there's nothing but good times there.

English took a total 180 for me. Right now I treat Harward just like one of my buddies. We joke around and have a good time. I can't believe I used to hate the guy, he's a stud! If I had room, I'd go TA that class. English taught me a lot about analyzation and about writing, but it was a mean first few months in there. It was trial by fire at first, but once we all came through it, things blossomed and became really awesome. I went into that AP test super confident thanks to Harward. Yeah, multiple choice was still a little sketchy, but man, those essays came out like molten gold spewing from my pen. Na na na na, can't touch this.

The best part was, I totally used Latape. I did. The one I vowed never to use, yeah, I used it. Which just goes to show, maybe Harward wasn't a total jerk that managed to change his ways halfway through the year. Maybe the problem lied with me (yeah, duh, of course it did). But I'm glad that me and Harward started getting along. Whatever changed, it was a sweet change, cause I really loved English class. We had a treat bucket! We just had a great time. One of my favorite memories of Junior Year, starting to get along with my English class. Mmm mmm good.

AP Physics- What do you get when you add two parts mullet with three parts awesome shirts, shoes, and watches, and another 4 parts sweet jokes? That's right: Olsen. AP Physics, the next step in the relationship. Now, Sophomore physics and AP physics are completely different animals. Normal honors physics is cake. You go in there, and half the class doesn't want to be there. Olsen knows that. He knows they just don't really want it. The class is easy for you because you want to learn and work hard and do well, and so you do. You really shine in that class. You learn a ton, which is just awesome. Honors physics is pro, but compared to AP, it's the little sandbox next to Kennecott Copper Mine.

I thought I was tough stuff in the physics department, because like I said before, I had owned normal physics. AP took everything that we'd already done and added a million new parts to it. What used to be simple and elegant was now brutally complex and elegant. The same basic ideas applied, but suddenly we had to apply them to a million different things at once. I was totally surprised at how difficult it was.

It was really rewarding though. Figuring out those real complex problems, mmm, that's amazing stuff right there. We honestly felt like the elite in there. It was a small class, and it only got smaller as time went on. We were the cream from the honors classes. I got a lot of respect for everybody that stuck that class out. It was cool to have Olsen teaching us all this stuff. I don't know why, but I think Olsen's just a stud. There were like, 11 of us, and he just totally taught us. It'd be easy for somebody to say 11 kids aren't worth it, but our class was worth it to the school and to Olsen.

It was hard, wrapping my head around it all the time. It always felt so good afterwards when I finally got it. Like most classes though, it was a real two sided deal. When I got stuff I'd walk out of there full of energy and happy as could be. When I didn't understand something, despite trying super hard, I'd be way depressed and tired once school got out. Whether I got it or not really governed how I felt about it.

Harmonic motion was a brute, and so was radial motion till we all got the hang of it. All the calculus stuff really wasn't that difficult, but considering the lack of background I had in calc it made it a little trickier.

It was a hard subject, but one that I'm glad I took. We had a lot of fun joking around together and learning. It was a challenge, but with the challenge came great rewards. Much love for my AP physics class. There's nobody in there I don't respect and smile when I think about them. Bahaha, just good times.

AP Chemistry- I saved this one for last, as it's the best one. The Grandpappy of AP experiences. The keynote speaker, the big one. AP Chemistry takes the cup for junior year.

Imagine this setup: Last year you took normal chemistry, and did well in the class. You understand everything pretty decent. You decide to take AP chemistry, because, well, why not? You want to learn more because it interests you and you think it'll be useful.

You walk in the first day and find a class of 14 or so other students. You know all but one of them from previous experiences together. Your teacher is your cross country coach, who you've spent the entire last summer running for. You respect him a ton, and you know that he respects you a ton as well. You're excited to learn. Some of your best friends are there right by you, it's going to be a good year.

You get your book and your assignments. You realize very quickly that they are all exactly the same. Read the chapter. Do these questions. Test on it afterwards. Every single time.

Sometimes we'd wait to have a test on a few chapters at once. But that's how it went. Read the chapter, questions in the back of the chapter. If you can't figure something out, we'll talk about it as a class.

It got old fast, and we could see a few people falling by the wayside. Luckily the whole first semester was stuff we had done last year, so it was mostly a review plus a few fairly mild new concepts. Hansen, who I respect a ton to this day, wasn't spoon feeding us. In fact, he wasn't spoon feeding us to the extreme. It was the furthest from it possible. We had our books, we had the assignment. We were on our own.

Sure, we'd talk about stuff in class. But for whatever reasons that rarely ever helped. In fact, it mostly just confused us more.

Things got progressively harder. The subject was picking up, and we were ultimately responsible for ourselves. This wasn't like History where Rockwell lectured every day, with the book as a supplement. Nope. The book was your only friend in that class. Nothing else would help you. Your only chance was the book.

The semester break approached, and the class took a serious blow. James and Jason and Tania were leaving us. Now, to most classes that's not a big deal, but to a class of 14 or so, losing three of your members is a big deal. Hansen was a little sad about it, he felt like he'd messed up and that's why they were leaving.

One day around that time I stopped into Hansen's room to tell him I wasn't going to go to practice or something of that nature, and me and him ended up having an hour long discussion about the AP Chemistry class and what needed to change. It took a while, it was kind of a difficult thing to talk about, but we made good progress. We discussed how it didn't really do us any good to have Hansen kind of read the chapter to us, and that we needed more class participation and more support together instead of strictly from the book. We talked about ideas for gearing up for the test and how to prepare. At the end of that little meeting we both came out of there with a serious plan on how to make the class work better, and for the first time in a long time I was excited about AP Chemistry again.

Semester change came, our numbers went down, and all the sudden we were into new material. Everything before had been hard, but it had been things we were comfortable with from the past. We were launched into Chemical Kinetics, rates of reaction and all that business. Molecular Geometry, brutal stuff like that. It was brand new. The class changed a little bit because of what me and Hansen talked about, but it was still the same basic concept: This is your class, I can't feed it to you, it's your responsibility.

A few students "died" in those months. They didn't really get the new material, and they decided that they wouldn't take the test when it came up. I got pretty discouraged for a while, got a little tired of it, but I was still in it and knew I'd be taking the test. We moved along. I'd get excited when I'd learn something new and understand it, but I was still a little dormant.

Now, important to note here is the presence of Levi. Levi was one of the guys that was ready to leave the class at semester. We knew that we his plan. I was disappointed, but that's what he had decided to do. The first day of second semester, there was Levi. He had had a change of heart, and said he was determined now to stay and pass that test.

It was a few months later that I really started to notice how determined Levi truly was. Hansen had bought us the princeton review and the Barrons prep books. I saw Levi studying them, taking notes of things he didn't understand, and then raising his hands and asking questions for Hansen on stuff he didn't know. I saw him studying in junior choir! It was amazing, I was really impressed.

Best of all though, it was contagious. Levi was so determined and excited and ready to go at it, that it was impossible for me not to catch the spirit. He'd ask me a question, and I'd mostly know the answer, but I was content with that. I couldn't give it to him for sure, and that wasn't good enough for him. He needed to know. What had once been good enough for me, that foggy idea, just wasn't good enough anymore. I had to study! I had to go and learn everything I could! The test was coming up, and if it killed both of us, Levi and I had decided to be ready. We vowed that we'd pass it.

We both set out studying hard from that point. We knew that the situation was pretty critical. Hansen, who I respect so much, simply wasn't going to give us the info. He knew it, that's for sure, but he didn't quite know how to teach us everything. He had given us the tools though. We had our text book, the princeton, the barrons, and the whole class to use as resources to figure things out. During class times we had mostly taken to doing practice tests, everything we could get our hands on. We did so many of them. While that was going on it was up to us to study and figure out the stuff that we didn't know that we needed to.

It was definitely sink or swim time. The test was only a few weeks away. Then a miracle struck. Hansen busted out some amazing teaching. We need desperate help on equilibrium, thermodynamics, and electrochemistry. It was brief, and really close to the test date, but it was needed relief, and I think we all appreciated it greatly.

The test grew neared. I still had three other tests growing nearer, but none worried me like chemistry did. It was the big show, the real one. Everything else, if we passed, we passed because we worked hard and had a lot of help. With AP Chemistry, if we passed, we knew we passed because we earned it. It was the test to beat. If I could do that, I could do anything.

Me and Levi kept studying. The day before the test Levi came home with me and we spent four hours or so going over stuff. We got online and looked at 2006's free response test. We did it all, piece by piece. We went through it and figured it out. It was a big confidence builder. We had studied like mad and here we were, actually making it through 2006's best shot.

As a team we knew we could do it. We felt confident, but we knew that tomorrow would bring a whole new animal. We'd be separated, no more consulting each other. Tomorrow was the day. We figured we'd done everything that we could. We parted for the evening, as prepared as we could possibly be for what was to come.

The day of the test was strong. This was it. I didn't care about anything else right then. Those three other tests didn't even matter compared to chemistry. We got to the library early and chilled. It was a very small group taking the test, only eight or so of us. Me, Levi, Glen, Landon, Lydia, Rachel, and a few others. It all came down to this.

The test opened up harder than I expected for the beginning, but it was multiple choice, and everything we'd learned and process of elimination moved me forward. It felt oddly surreal. The whole year had really been building up to this point. This was it. The big show, right here. I was doing the test. I couldn't hear angels singing or cosmos spiraling away. It was surreal in the fact that it was just a normal day, in the normal library, filling out that normal bubble sheet. It wasn't epic. And yet, to me, inside, it was the most epic thing I'd done all year.

I pushed on, and once multiple choice was done came the free response. The same feeling. This was it! I was here, doing it! The real deal! The test! Everything went into it. I pushed as hard as I could.

And then it was over. The symbolic test was finished. I sealed the packet and signed my fate over to the AP graders. A whole year of studying. All the bonds (ha!) that were made between me and Levi over the stress of the test just finally free to be happy. We were all happy for each other. We were survivors.

Now, I know I have gone on forever. But I fear that I haven't quite made this point epic enough. In any good hero story, one must overcome incalculable odds to win the day. If Hercules' twelve tasks had simply been to mow the lawn seven times, he wouldn't have been a very good hero. The fact was that his twelve tasks involved slaying a hydra, kidnapping Cerberus, obtaining some girdle and some cows, stealing some apples from some other mean guy, and all sorts of other insane stuff. This was no walk in the park. Because it was so insanely difficult, it makes a nice epic.

For a hero to kill a dragon with a tank, well, that's not so cool. For a hero to have to kill the dragon with nothing but his sword? Yeah, that's princess-saving material right there. It was just like that. For our class to go in there and beat that AP test, it was kind of like slaying a dragon with toenail clippers. We weren't handed the victory. But the truth of the matter was that we had the clippers, and that's all we needed. It was whether or not we were going to use those clippers.

Levi and I made the choice that we would slap that dragon up and down with those clippers. We put in the work, and we were rewarded for it. I know of several others that did similarly. I know of some that didn't. A few gave up. That was their choice.

But me and levi? Oh no, we're in it for the big show. No questions about it. We played that test hard, and we kicked the crap out of it.

That's why I have such a love for AP Chemistry. It wasn't handed to me, and that makes all the difference in the world.


I will finish the rest of this post at a later date. Hooray!


Taylorsville Ultimate-

Taylorsville Alliance-

Cross Country-

The Blog-

Junior Jazz-

Jello Staple-


Good Dates-

School Dances-

Formidable Aroma-

Favorite Places-


Journalism Vs. Madrigals-


Closing Remarks

On the Horizon


Nick said...

Mm-mm, good. I can't wait for the rest of it.

Nathan said...

That was a great year, indeed. Lit mag especially was awesome; I loved working with you and Jaron. Like you said, we became pretty tight.

Good post. I look forward to the rest.

Rebbie Becky said...

omg. what a great summary of our junior year. I cannot wait for the senior edition!! hey check out my blog at

Anonymous said...

Iam a current BHS senior who took AP Chemistry my junior year. I never thought the class to be very difficult. The general sense I got was that the sophomores in the class were very challenged, yet the juniors seemed to be hardly challenged.I believe that students should make the most of their time in school, by taking the classes that interest and challenge them most, but should always keep in mind ''never to let school get in the way of your education''. Hope this helps. BHS Senior