August 4, 2020
Field Notes is a collection of articles curated by students and teachers from around the world detailing their academic experiences.
Wow. Where do I begin? This year has been a whirlwind that has driven me from some of my highest highs to some of my lowest lows. I’ve pushed myself to the breaking point, and somehow I’ve recovered.
I began this school year as what some would call a “freshmore.”
Basically, I had not gotten out of the traditional freshman mindset of slacking off and not doing much. In the first two weeks, I was hit with two essays, and multiple projects from all of my teachers. I’m sure at that point I was extremely panicked, largely because of summer break literally frying my entire brain, and some because of the increased workload that came with taking 3 AP classes versus none freshman year, but I managed to mostly push through.
And then came Hurricane Florence. Less than a month into school, and we were bracing for the (quite real) threat that we may not come back to school for a while. As the hurricane approached, school was canceled, and practically everything in town shut down for the rest of the week.
All of us breathed a general sigh of relief two days before landfall as the track for Florence was pushed to the south, and was now not slated to make a direct hit on the Central North Carolina region. However, we had missed three days of school and were now significantly behind where we had planned to be. So, naturally, our teachers decided instead of teaching us the information, to dump all of the missed learning onto us as our own responsibility, and we essentially were required to learn all of the missed material on our own.
With the help of coffee and a good deal of multitasking, I fared well enough, even though I may have appeared to be the most stressed that I have ever looked during that period. This general trend continued throughout the entire year, and every time that I finished everything that I had been previously given, teachers found even more things to pile onto my workload, which just compounded my stress even more.
On top of all that pressure from school, I took an increased role in my robotics team, and I co-founded a Latin competition team. My workload took a sharp increase in January, when robotics season hit a peak. I was consistently spending 3 or more hours after school at robotics and having to complete homework for all of my AP courses on top of that.
To make matters worse, I had multiple competitions that I needed to prepare for, including Science Olympiad, a Intel Science and Engineering Fair project, and multiple math competitions. At this point, I was pretty much at my breaking point and more than ready to give up from all of this. However one of the biggest forces driving me forward in this dark time was my girlfriend. She constantly supported me and I knew that I could count on her to be there when things weren’t going so well.
This stress heading into competition season, combined with new stress from AP exams, led to me burning out mid-April. However, two of the highlights of these few months were that my robotics team qualified for the World Championship for the fourth time in a row, and I won 5th in the nation on a Latin exam. At this point, I was bouncing between feeling immense joy from my accomplishments to feeling frustrated and down from school and pressure from AP exams.
There was a time in April where I just came home from school, and pretty much just did nothing. The thing that snapped me out of this funk was, funnily enough: the thought of not getting a 5 on any one of my AP exams. And I stressed myself out so much (in a good way) these past few weeks leading up to AP exams that I was basically bursting with energy. These few weeks were my most productive period of the year. I would say that I have done almost the same amount of work that I did in 3 or 4 months in these last 3 weeks.
Aaaaand just like that, everything is over.
Here I am, at the end of AP tests, about to go into final exams, and I have survived another year of High School. Here’s to hoping that Junior year doesn’t kill us all!
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