It was a cold fall evening; right after I had gotten home from one of my varsity football practices, and that was the moment I knew that I would be staying at Fenn for another year. Think about living life with no memories at all. If I imagined my life without Fenn, it would almost feel like this. I have created so many memories that I will cherish forever at Fenn, and who knows, next year during Ninth Grade I will probably make even more. This year, by far, has been my most successful year of writing. Right off the bat I started to struggle. Literally, I almost missed the first assignment, and it has been like this all year; a constant struggle to get it done. But, once its done, it is impeccable, and now in ten minutes, I could write the same amount that would have taken me an hour to do last year, with the same, if not, better quality and grammar. If I could put a scenario to this year, here is what it would be. Let’s say I never properly learned how to swim (I did learn to swim properly at a very young age. I am also an extremely confident swimmer and have been on a swim team or two, but lets say that I did not for this scenario.) So, every day my parents would bring me to a pool or the ocean or something, and they would just throw me in there, even though I did not know how to swim. This way, if I wanted to live, I would have to swim, until it got to the point that year that I became a very talented swimmer. This was kind of like Fitz's class for me, except, his class was not as harsh as this scenario and he would always offer help if I really needed it. I will also never forget winning the Fay hockey tournament, which would defiantly be one of my highlights of this year and Fenn memories in general.
This has been my writing experience from my one-year in the upper school, but for this essay, to start off, lets throw it back all the way to the beginning, back to fourth grade. There have been so many teachers that have had to put up with my antics in and out of class, and I only found it fitting to start off with the first teacher who had to put up with them, Mr. Smith. As soon as I came to Fenn in the fourth grade I knew that I would have an amazing time in Mr. Smiths class. He was by far the funniest teacher I had then, but he was also one of the nicest. He was always there when I needed help, and he is always there for me now if I need it, even though I am in Eighth grade. I will always remember the class picture that we took on field day, and how I looked like such a fool. Also, he has the same sense of humor. I remember around two years ago or maybe it was one year ago, a couple friends and I were goofing off. Afterwards, Mr. Smith came up to me and said, “I taught you back in fourth grade, and your maturity hasn’t changed since.” Fifth Grade was still the same. I remember missing a number of school days due to my Grandpas 80th birthday party in Virginia at the Homestead. I remember the hot water springs and skeet shooting for the first time. I also remember how in Ms. Wei’s room we would move the desks around so we could dance in the middle of the desks. I also remember this intern, Mr. Mckeown, coming and getting fired because he would always bully us when we played gym soccer. He was also incredibly rude at times and was always quick to give out recess recalls. I remember I got one for my shoe falling off in gym soccer.
On to the middle school; middle school was probably some of my best years at Fenn. I remember in the beginning of sixth grade, I would struggle to get my work in, and I would not really put enough effort into it. Then, one teacher really helped me through it, well, two actually. One was my advisor, Mr. Morrison, who would always offer help when I needed it. He also gave me amazing advice by saying, “don’t think of yourself as a dumb jock, think of yourself as an intellectual, because you are one.” At that time, I was not very sure what an intellectual was but I knew it was good and I will always remember him saying that. But, Mr. Carr was the one who really got me working. He talked to my parents, talked to me, and told me what I needed to do, straight up; no ifs, and or buts. I was in his science class and I was struggling. When time came for the final exams, which we had back in sixth grade, I aced it and that was what helped me learn that I could do it. I could get good grades. Also, on that topic, I have still never really gotten over the fact that my grade was the last sixth grade to have to take final exams.
Seventh grade was not the best. As soon as the year started I could tell that I might not be the best match for my advisor, Ms. Youksee. If there were one person in the school who was the exact polar opposite of me, it would be her. In this essay, I mean no disrespect to her; she was just not a right fit for me. Soon, Ms. McCarthy found that out also. Here is the story, I had misplaced my Spanish binder, and it had gotten to the point where I had not been able to find it for about a week and I was starting to miss assignments. One day, Ms. Youksee, my advisor, the person who is supposed to help me, comes up to me and said, “Christian, I found your binder.” And I said, “That’s awesome, thank you can I please have it?” And here’s what she said: “No no, I know where it is, but I’m not going to tell you because you need to find it on your own. You need to learn how to find it.” I shrugged it off and kept on searching. Another week had gone by and I had been searching vigorously but still had not been able to find it. I went up and begged her to tell me where it is but she still would not tell me. My grade was dropping lower and lower in Spanish because I didn’t have this binder, and Ms. Youksee would not tell me where it was. It got to the point where Ms. McCarthy found out and helped me find it. Ms. Youksee said she was trying to teach me responsibility, but I felt it was a weird way of teaching it. I also remember the highlight of that year being when I got a 93 on her math exam. But, nevertheless, that year was still great, and I will never forget the Washington DC trip, although it was delayed because of snow and some parts of it were shortened. It was still amazing.
Like I have had said before, I have had so many amazing years at Fenn, and sure, there have been my ups, and there have been my downs, but, the good has by far, out weighed the bad, and I am really looking forward to next year. I can only imagine what is to come. I know that I will have a great advisor because we can choose our own advisors. The smaller class will mean fewer distractions, and, as ninth graders, sports will be amazing because everybody looks up to you. But there will also be more responsibility. I remember when I had just arrived at Fenn and I was in fourth grade, how I looked up to the ninth graders. They also looked so big, and somehow, I had this feeling, that I would be sitting in those senior seats someday. Back then, those were the seats in Robb Hall, so I won’t be sitting in those exact seats, but I will soon be sitting in my own one in Ward Hall. Hopefully some fourth grader will look up to me as I did to the ninth graders when I was in fourth grade. Yes, it will be very different next year, with so many of my great friends leaving, and no longer going to school with me every day. Who knows if I will ever see any of them again, but you know what they say, “Nothing gold can stay.” But sometimes, when the gold leaves, you just have to move on. What might come after the gold may even be better that the gold itself, but you never will know unless you give a damn and get over the gold. But always be open, just incase the gold comes back one day.
Have you ever been so close to some people, whom you may have only known for a month or so, but you are already risking your life for them on the battlefield? Welcome to a day in the life of a soldier on the Western Front. In this gruesome war novel All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, there are many themes portrayed. The one that affected me the most was how young some of these soldiers were, and also how the war would tear holes in people's families. Another thing that comes to mind when I think of war is what will you die for? Are you willing to die for your country and or for your cause? If so, why are you willing to die for it? Are you trying to prove a point? What do you die for? What do you kill for?
You first meet all of the characters from a German platoon during World War I. They all have different personalities, but most of them share one. Most of the soldiers are in their late teens or early twenties. Except for one, who is in his forties. All of them have known each other for a short amount of time, but yet, they are willing to fight, and to die together in this war. I wonder if the reason they became so close to each other was because they were fighting for their lives together. They need to know that they can trust each other in this war; they need to know they have a friend. This piece affected me in a way that I feel I have not experienced before. In other war novels I have read, they were great books but they were different than this book.
In this book, you get pulled in right away because the first chapter pretty much introduces all of the characters to you. It makes you feel like you were a new recruit in this platoon and that they were the ones that you would be fighting and living with. But, still, these questions linger. Why do we fight? Why do we kill? Is it a part of who we are, are we born killers, or are we shaped into killers? Or, maybe we are just forced to be killers. But, on the battlefield, you do kill with a cost. Every soul you take on the battlefield there is a chance that somebody else will claim yours. But is that really the cost you might pay? Or is the cost just that every time you claim somebody else's soul, it warps your own.
Some say that you decide your own fate, but not here, not on the western front. Out on the western front, you have your specific time, and when that time comes you have no choice to accept it. You do not control your fate, the western front does. It controls when you die, when it does not need you to fight anymore. The western front can turn man, into monster, but it can also work in reverse and turn a monster into a man. Even if your fate is the day before the war ends, a day before you get to go home and see your family, you must accept your time to die, even if it is at the worst time; and if you do survive, don't consider yourself lucky, consider yourself spared by the front.
The book also does such an amazing job describing the ways of the war, but in my eyes, all I see is that every soldier is a pawn in the war, it all plays its certain part, not questioning whether its right or not, just going along with the war. In chess, pawns are the most popular piece that you would sacrifice, on the western front, so many people were sacrificed, just pawns of the war, doing their job.
I refuse to let exams control me
Its important to keep in mind, the exams can only control you if you let them. A lot of people let exams control them by blowing off studying to do what they want, then the night before the exam comes and they are up until two studying, and then they wake up in the morning, nervous and tired. That is not a state that you want to go into exams with.
For me, it sort of feels like school is pretty much over once exams are over, and it probably feels this way to many other people also. But, sometimes, those days after the exams aren't exactly the best when you do not get the scores that you hoped for on the exams. When time comes to study for the exams, don't blow it off, it is incredibly tempting, trust me, I know. But, that week where you blow off studying for fun costs much more than you think it does. Even if you are leaving next year, the exams still count towards your GPA, but that’s not my point. Exams are kind of like the last lap in a big race, you go all out, and if you go hard enough you win, and you earn your reward, in this case, the reward would be a great summer with no regrets on what you have gotten on your exams. Studying seems like no fun, but if you don't study it will cost you, but it usually helps me to study in moderation, so it does not feel like I am studying for ever, and also take breaks, and still not forget to do fun things also.
Like Fitz said in the very beginning of the year, eat your cow. The exams are like the cow, but a lot of people forgot the part of the story where the guy was supposed to eat his cow, and if he could eat it, he would get to marry the Princess, marrying the princess, is the reward for eating the cow. But, he forgot about the cow and it grew, and grew, and when he finally decided to eat it, it was too big, and the king ended up chopping his head off because he couldn't eat the whole cow.
Like the cow, if you do not study for the exams, what you don't know, but you need to know will grow, and grow, and grow; and when time comes where you realize that you really need to get your studying on, there is way to much things that you need to know but will not have enough time to learn, or memorize. Hence, you will get a bad grade on your exams because you didn't know the topics, and then your parents will chop of your head because of your grade. But, if you eat your cow, and finish it clean, you will gain that great grade, and you will earn that summer that is oh so close.
Rejection only stings for a little bit, but regret can last a lifetime
What's the worst that could happen, you get rejected, how bad is that really, compared to thinking about something that you wish you did but you didn't for the rest of your life. Rejection comes from risks, and risks are two-way things. You could either take the risk and succeed and gain that goal, or you fail and don't gain that goal, how bad you fail is up to you.
In my last journal entry, I wrote about a time where I had a little controversy over whether I was going to tryout again, and I ended up trying out and making it. But, that isn't the only time rejection could come up; it actually comes up many times in a person’s lifetime. But usually people don't take risks because they are afraid that they won't do it. In one case, this kid from my town who I knew as a lifeguard at the local pool, and one of the swim team coaches when I was on the swim team, probably one of, if not the smartest person I know, he also was extremely athletic. He was a senior in high school and he got into his college and was preparing to go there, but all he talked about was the college that he really wished that he was going to, and I said to him, “Oh I’m sorry to hear that you didn't get in.” and he said “No, no, I didn't even apply to the school.”
He didn't apply there because he was afraid that he was not good enough, he was afraid that they would reject him. But, who knows now, he could have gotten in, but we will never know because he did not apply. All it would have cost him was a little time to write the application and stuff, and maybe a little money. But so what, then he would have known if he had what it took to go there or not. So, whether its trying out for a camp, or applying to a school, or even asking out a girl, its always good to take those risks, sometimes even if you know they might not work out, because usually, you do have what it takes, and the only thing that is stopping you from getting it, is your own fear of rejection. Its always important to remember that whatever the risk is, if you take it, and earn what you hoped to earn, it will feel a hell of a lot better than if you didn't even take that risk at all and you were still thinking about taking it for a while, maybe even the rest of your life. Even if you do get rejected, it will only sting for a little bit.
You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky
Sometimes, people don't take that shot because they are afraid to miss. But, if you look at the bigger picture, if you miss the shot, there will always be a chance to score again on the rebound, whether it bounces of the boards or the goalie.
This year, a kid on my new hockey team (The Minutemen Flames U14 Elite) told me that I should try out for the CCM USA Hockey camp. The camp is for one week during the summer and you stay at a boarding school. The problem was that I was not sure if I would make the camp, there is only one of these camps on the east coast, then another on the west coast. But, I decided that it was worth a shot.
There were five tryouts I believe; my friends from my new team and I only went to one. Some of the kids at that tryout were insanely good, and I was starting to have doubts about if I would make it or not. One day, a while after the tryouts, my mom brought it up, and said she got an email saying that four hundred and eighty different kids had tried out over the course of the five tryouts, and only about a hundred made it. There were around seventy forwards, thirty defensemen, and some goalies. Then she also told me that I had made it, as well as two of my other three teammates. I was so ecstatic; I had never notice how badly I had actually wanted to go to this camp.
I realized that it would also give me a little taste of boarding school because we are staying in dorms at a boarding school. We got a schedule and all day everyday we would be playing hockey, and working out. This may not sound fun to most people but to me this was amazing news. Also, it said we are going to test all of the new gear that all of the hockey companies have come out with, before they are released to stores. But, the best part is, the coaches for the U16 and U18 USA World Junior teams are going to be scouting the players, and the whole camp is essentially you trying out for them and them watching you and seeing if they like you or not. This was the most exciting part for me. But I never would have gotten these opportunities if I hadn't gone to that one tryout, just because I was scared of getting cut. Its always important to keep in mind that rejection stings for a little bit, but regret can last a lifetime.