Something is wrong; I’ve discovered a terminal illness
That makes me sit in class with a death-like stillness
Leaving scars on my conscience; a limb must be severed
The remedy is bankrupt, despite my endeavors Continue reading
Schooling is not the same as education education - it is sacred. Here it is commodified - twisted, manipulated, thrown away with every spit bubble lazily popping at your mouth, every glazed over look you give your teacher Continue reading
Not at home.
Well, yes, sometimes I write at home, but if it were my world to dictate, I wouldn’t.
At home, I’ll write in the comfort of my own bed (as I am right now). There’s some comfort in reclining on a fluffy pillow, bare toes wiggling beneath the covers, with easily accessible water and a power cord nearby.
Or I’ll write in the kitchen, in the little breakfast area where I can sit with a plate of food, with my back facing the wall so I can write in private and observe my family members as they sidle in and out of the kitchen for food to eat.
At school, I’ll write in between classes and during free periods like the weirdo I am, because when the urge to write hits you, you have to comply, which often means blogging while other people are watching TV shows. It also means other people glancing over curiously to see what I’m typing, which more than often involves them sending invisible but strong waves of judgment towards me, and less than often involves them striking a conversation about my writing.
If things were to always go my way Continue reading
I’ve gone through twelve miserable years of school, and I’ve got perhaps three teacher friends to show for it. What does that say of me? In junior high, I was much too immature to realize the value of having relationships with those in authority positions. I constantly viewed them as the enemy; foreign people who didn’t know me and wanted my life to be hell, utilizing worksheets and pop quizzes. Sometimes I was right; sometimes I just didn’t click with teachers from day one and had to suffer in their class for the rest of the year. Sometimes, I was the teacher’s pet. I was called on first, people asked me to bargain with them for treats like extra lunch time or an extension of a test. But be aware, this is not nearly the same thing as being friends with a teacher.
Teacher’s pets are precisely what they sound like, little puppies and kitties that like to be petted and fawned over. But friendship operates on a different level. There’s always an aspect of teacher-student inherent in any of these relationships, but these two individuals also see each other on equal planes in a way. You know their kid’s name, you spend time in their classroom when you don’t have to, and you can go beyond small talk without forcing it.
And you can look to them for advice. No, not for how to do this sort of problem, or how to approach this test, but for which classes to take next year, or how to proportion your schedule. It has taken me years to realize this, but some of your teachers are actually human. They’ve got wives and husbands and houses and they go to Chick-fil-a just like you and I. They’re also significantly older, and know so much about life. I don’t want to make a blanket statement here, so I won’t, but some teachers definitely have more to offer than perhaps your parents (only in some aspects though). They’re in high school, and they see the struggles that every student faces. They’re at least a fraction of a percent more sympathetic, unless they just have a bitter and pessimistic view of high schoolers, in which case they have no place as a teacher in high school.
These people decide your grades, but they have so much more to offer. In reality, we are all selfish yet ambitious; we’ve got goals and colleges that we want to reach, and having a genuine teacher-friend can come in handy. They’ve got nothing but positive comments to spill into a college rec, they’ll vouch for you if no one else will, and they have got genuine advice to offer.
That was yesterday. I don’t know why schools have arbitrarily decided to throw their students back into school on random weekdays, but hey, why fight it?
We started off the day with some gate-cheering; the seniors assembled bright and early at the school gates, cheering incoming newbies with signs and noisemakers and elaborate getups. Unfortunately, I was fighting a sore throat and aching joints so I slept in and missed that one.
I have a free first period of the day. I’m not sure if I like this or not, because it could either entail really good things for my productivity or really bad things. We’ll see how that operates. In fact, I’m writing this post during my first period free.
Met my teachers, met my teachers, blah blah blah. They all seem very pleasant and genuine, but hey, it is the first day of senior year, right? I’m sure anything and everything that happens to me will be bathed in the light of seniority. Nonetheless, my teachers all seem optimistic and eager to teach, which gave me this awesome vibe about the strong start that I wanted to get to this year, that I haven’t felt much in years past.
Then…came the pep rally. This is where the seniors storm the basketball court in their senior t-shirts with face paint and firefighter helmets (as was our theme this year), and where the awkward kids sort of just lounge around in the back of the crowd. I was towards the back. Promptly after this was over, we all went to go sit in the bleachers, while our class presidents announced the games…
And they called my name. At first, I thought that I had misheard one of them. But then the people around me turned towards me and started cheering. Up I stood, and through the row of people I stumbled over, cursing myself for choosing to sit in the very middle of the row. These were light and silly gamed, half-rigged so that the seniors would win everytime, arbitrarily decided when it came pretty close.
I played the game (dressed up in a feather boa, angel wings, and a witches hat and then spun around with a baseball bat) and turned towards the crowd of seniors and motioned victoriously after the seniors inevitably won (the other grade levels were purposely disadvantaged) and the crowd…just exploded.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get up in front of major crowds very often. Well, I do for things like debate and giving speeches, but not usually in a peppy sense. Maybe it’s because normally sports players get called up, and people in my social group rarely make enough social waves to even be considered for the picking.
Whatever the case, I have no opinion on the matter. The experience was both fun, yet slightly embarrassing. But different in years past, I walked back to my spot in the middle of the bleacher row with more confidence than I usually emanate, and people took notice. I think it was a mixture of newfound seniority and not caring as much what people thought of me. It has taken me a long time, and I’m nowhere close to where I’d ideally like to be in my self-consciousness, but I am on my way to full on not letting others’ opinions get to me. It’s a weird feeling.
Summer is the absolute best season. I know it, you know it, heck, even your teachers know it! But why? Can it be explained chemically? When the thermometer hits 80 degrees, do our bodies go into happy mode? Maybe.
Check out the belated version of this post, 5 Reasons to Love Summer!
1. El Sol
Yes, the sun is a great start. As a symbol of light, it makes us feel as though we no longer face the pressures that we feel during the school year. The days grow longer and the nights get shorter. We have a (slight) tendency to wake up earlier, but we also are tempted to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. And that’s where our self control kicks in.
I think that everyone likes when it’s sunny out. It’s just a fact of life. Especially for young people. Continue reading
In the debate community recently, an anonymous soul started a Facebook account dedicated to posting compliments about people in the debate community (Debate Compliments). The goal was simple: to spread joy to the debate community. Within hours, the person (or should I say, two people?) had acquired over one hundred Facebook friends. Now, they have almost 700. It seemed as though every five minutes, gracious tributes to fellow debaters would show up in my newsfeed. The posts would vary in content. Some people would shout out a whole team (as in, people from one school), and some would send in inside jokes that would be posted. Most, however, are recognizing members of the debate community from both the national circuit and local circuits for traits that are both related and entirely unrelated to their debating skills. People are acknowledged based on their personalities and their achievements of the season. So, the creators say: “if there is something nice you have to say about someone but don’t feel comfortable saying it to their face, inbox away.”
The trend has spread! Less than a day ago, two mysterious individuals at our school started a Facebook account with the same objective, of showing appreciation for the members of our community (Westminster Compliments). Refresh your newsfeed every couple of minutes, and you will see posts with multiple likes, representing the mutual agreement of opinion. At this very moment, Westminster Compliments has 174 friends. WOW!
Of course, everyone has a hunch about who the creators are. However, all of these guesses are only guesses until someone decides to step up and provide proof that they started either Facebook account. I doubt someone will though. If their intentions are genuine, anonymity is crucial to maintain the theme of gracious appreciation for individuals without the annoyance of drama or the hassle of judgment.
The way I see it, the creators of these Facebook accounts are reverse Gossip Girls. Or rather, after seeing the very last episode of the series, perhaps they are just Gossip Girls, since Dan Humphrey ended up using his social power for good.
These accounts all possess the Gossip Girl effect. No one knows who Gossip Girl/Debate Compliments/Westminster Compliments is. And yet people send in their “tips”. Of course, the difference is that Gossip Girl would post reliable and credible gossip, while these other two accounts simply aim to bring happiness to two different communities through compliments. And yet, who knows what the potential implications of these social phenomena could be? Could the creators use their powers for evil instead of good? And if they did, would the public follow along and send in statements that are not compliments?
From watching from the sidelines as my Facebook friends have eagerly latched onto this new social trend, all I can conclude is that there have only been benefits. I’ve learned things about people that I’ve met that I probably wouldn’t expect. I’ve found out wonderful things about people that I’ve never met.
Many questions remain. Is the popularity of the Something Compliments accounts fleeting? Is this whole thing just a fad? A joke? Or will it become a trend that spreads nationwide?
Hypothetically, if other “Something Compliments” accounts were created, who knows what sort of effects it could have? Could it possibly alleviate bullying? Or would bullies just create “Something Insults” to counter to positive effects?
It could change the way social media functions. Different from Formspring, this group would most likely be operated by someone within the community. That way, it would have a more personalized aspect; perhaps followers and supporters would be more likely to accept, and not immediately judge the effects of such a group.
Whoever you are, I hope you use your powers for good, and not for evil. Keep on doing what you’re doing. I won’t pester you anymore about the subject. Just know that most of the people in either community (whether it debate or school) greatly appreciate what you’re doing. It’s not like everyone has the time to copy and paste messages into status boxes! Even if it were the job of two operators.
To debate is to participate in one of the most beneficial activities that young people could ever participate in. We, the future generation of our country, will be comprised of the professional football players and cheerleaders, the innovative scientists, the actors, the playwrights, the occasional Broadway performer, the cosmetic surgeon, the teacher, the soccer coach, and the list could go on and on. But imperative to the future generation are the politicians, presidents, congress people, and even the educated voter that has acquired such knowledge from something such as…policy debate.
Intro to Debate
Policy debate is a fast paced, excruciatingly intense activity that teaches many different skills. As technology becomes increasingly common in our everyday lives, computers, flash drives, and whatnot have transformed the style of debate into something contemporary and high tech. Debaters talk at high speed, the best speaking as rapidly at 400 words per minute (while the average person manages about 100 WPM). My sister, who has never seen a policy debate in her life, tells me that when I ‘spread,’ (speed read) I sound unreasonably mad. I tell her half-jokingly that it’s more passion than anger.
Before I joined our debate club, I was expecting to walk into a room full of smart, intellectual geeks that talked about politics. In some sense, I was correct. But there’s so much more to the debate community! They are passionate people; I was constantly in awe to hear people speak with such enthusiasm in their voice. Each year I have debated, I’ve learned so much about the topics that are chosen. Who would have thought that policy debate could have allowed me to know so much about military withdrawal, space development, and transportation infrastructure? I have a clear idea of how our economy functions, as well as what’s going on in world politics outside of the United States. I’ve become knowledgeable about presidential debates and various bills that go through Congress, and the effect it has on our country. Who would have thought that the entirety of my sophomore year I’d be arguing that it was imperative that the United States invest in an asteroid-detecting survey system because an asteroid collision was the greatest existential risk to humanity?
I’ve learned risk calculus. I can make better decisions, because I can weigh one choice against another. I LOVE IT. I USE THESE SKILLS IN MY CLASSES EACH AND EVERY DAY!
I love the debate community. I am very fortunate to go to a school that is very competitive and involved in policy debate. I’ve always been surrounded by wonderful role models that consistently inspired me to improve and learn more. I was shocked when junior year started and I started advancing to elimination rounds; younger students that had just started debate would ask me questions and look up to me, just like I used to admire the junior and senior debaters when I was a freshman.
But even greater is the relationship between schools. While most maintain secrecy about new strategies and files that are constantly updated between tournaments, debaters have consistently managed to maintain strong friendships. Despite the extremely (and I mean EXTREMELY) intense competition between schools and even within them, the community is able to stay tightly knit because of the inside jokes that no one else in our schools seems to understand. Whether it be about a funny rebuttal speech or an absurd argument test-driven to observe its effectiveness on a judge, non-debaters at my school swear that it sounds like we’re speaking a different language. In a way, it is a private, exclusive form of communication that few people can speak and write in. I’m constantly asked by my peers to “spread,” the same way that someone would ask me to speak a different language; it entertains and intrigues them.
I see this happen on a small scale: debaters that live within one state congregate at parties and have fun. I also observe the astounding relationships that are able to be maintained all over the country! Who would have thought that a high school kid living in Georgia would be able to create wonderful friendships with people from Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Illinois, California, or New Jersey? Perhaps it’s because we are all engrossed in our computers doing research, but we have also become accustomed to emailing, chatting, and video-calling each other. I’ve always feared the possibility of becoming socially awkward when being forced to speak face-to-face with people after spending so much time online, but I feel as though debaters are an exception to this phenomenon. We spend so much of our time eloquently persuading others why our point of view is correct that there isn’t much of a reason to worry.
Just like great relationships that emerge from sports or other extracurricular activities, debate friendships are made to last. From those of us that will grow up to be politicians, diplomats, or ambassadors, or even those that pursue another career but are educated in politics, we won’t look back at our debater days and remember “that one round where we won/lost against that one team on that one argument with that one judge;” chances are, we will remember fondly those who shared those special moments with us. Debaters tend to accept each other for who they are, continually learning new things from each other. It’s more than an extracurricular activity; other after-school activities cannot compare with the lessons we learn and the bonds that we form. It has become a way of life for so many people.
Education and Skill Set
Wow, am I a better public speaker or what? I’ve developed so much in public speaking through the years. My palms don’t sweat as much, my voice doesn’t shake as easily. I can give a final rebuttal with confidence in my tone, which really can set me apart to the judge, when he/she must decide which team was more persuasive.
Now, I’ll rant about the internet. One of the greatest benefits of policy debate is the information that accumulates in your brain over the years, all thanks to the World Wide Web. It’s free, unlimited information that obliterates many of the barriers that certain schools used to face when it came to doing research. While some people live in different regions where the judges can be drastically different, I’ve always remembered a very short but simple quote from Jarod Atchison: “On any given day, anyone can win.” The sole purpose of this activity is to convince the judge, not dispute the other team. When it comes down to it, the ultimate speech stems from all the confidence and knowledge you’ve acquired from camp, debate practices, and other debate rounds. I think that a good debater should be able to adapt to whatever the judge has ideologically engraved in their mind.
Disadvantages to Consider
On the other hand, whilst I love the activity with all my heart and soul, there are obvious disadvantages to pursuing such an activity. I can think of one major setback: the time commitment. Oh man, does this activity grant me so many sleepless nights! I finish my homework at 11 PM some nights, glance at the block, and mentally ask myself: Sleep, or debate work? The answer is the same every time: Debate, duh. If you want to be a good debater, you can’t expect to have the skills and information innately. I’m sure colleges will be taken back when a resume portrays four years of hardcore debate, but they probably wouldn’t expect you to provide much more in other extracurriculars if you were truly invested. Debate is the single most time-consuming activity you will ever know. Some people start at zero ground, knowing nothing about the topic. Some people might start at negative ground, disadvantaged by lack of funding, strange geographic funding, etc. But no matter where you start, there is ALWAYS the possibility of ending up at the same place as any other team, even the most prestigious team in the nation. The only thing standing in your way is the question: do you want it badly enough?
One last question to ask: Do you have the passion? If you’re doing debate simply for the opportunity to put it on your college apps, go sulk in a corner and rethink your decision. If you’re doing it because you don’t KNOW whether or not you have the passion, then I salute you! Whatever the future has in store, good luck. Whatever happens, happens. Being passionate about debate is crucial to bring you above and beyond. You can transform from this technical-debating robot that wins some debates by simply making more arguments than the other team into an emotionally wax-poetic lunatic that tugs on the judge’s heartstrings, allowing them to ponder the debate works. This is how to acquire the highest speaker points! This is how you earn your reputation in debate as being extremely persuasive.
I think today was a good day. Pretty productive, I might say. She came home, slammed the heavy backpack right next to my left cabinet on the floor, and only watched 30 minutes of randomness on Youtube before she opened a new tab and started her Spanish homework. She only took two half-hour breaks before returning diligently to her work. She had enough time to finish before midnight, and with a satisfied half-smile on her face, proudly turned off the lamp and dragged her feet to her loving bed, just a few feet away. Continue reading