REPORT FROM THE FRONT LINES

Winter reflections

CCHS Class of 2022

The school year is almost half done, and Concord-Carlisle High School is well into the holiday swirl. Because I had too much extra time on my hands, I’ve started running track, which keeps me in the dark and tired. I’ve gotten to test my skills at throwing heavy things and pointy things and jumping fences, but I think I’ll end up running the longer distance events. Meets are far away, so I get to spend hours on school buses, but the team is a fun group.

I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve learned in school, and which of those are still true, and which will be useful for my future. World Studies is history.  Latin, which I’m enjoying very much, is unquestionably dead. In English, which I’m also enjoying, we haven’t yet read a living author. In math, we’ve learned to program the TI-86 calculator, which was discontinued the year I was born. 

In my biology class, my teacher gave us a bleak vision of the future. She explained the concept of entropy, and how everything in the universe is heading inevitably toward increasing disorder and chaos. I didn’t hear anything else after she said that. My thoughts for the rest of that class centered on disorder and chaos.  What is that exactly? Had my teacher seen the inside of my backpack after the banana incident? I’ve complained before that I’m not getting enough sleep. Now that I’ve learned about entropy, I may never sleep again.

Last summer as we thought about entering high school, the CCHS administrators and counselors sent us a summer reading list.  Some of the books were easy because they were right up my alley in terms of what I like to read. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, tells the story of Wade Watts, who spends his days in the OASIS, a virtual utopia immersion game with very real rewards and threats in the real world. I didn’t think it would be appropriate for my fifth-grade brothers, but they saw me reading it and read it anyway. 

My Dad always says to me when I’m not exercising good judgement that my actions are teaching the people around me. He hasn’t stopped me from reading anything yet. If my little brothers hide themselves in a shipping container to play immersive video games, you can blame me. Anyway, I liked the book.  The movie wasn’t bad, but the book was better. I didn’t read everything on the reading list. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green, also tells a story of friends bonding in their quest for a prize.

There was one book on the reading list that I didn’t really want to read, but my Mom made me, and now I guess I’m grateful. It’s called Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, by Frank Bruni. The recommendation came from a group at the high school called Challenge Success, which aims to encourage students “to embrace their interests and abilities, make sleep and PDF (playtime, downtime, family time) a priority.” I think that the book is supposed to get us to worry less about getting into a specific college with a big name. 

Given my druthers, I would not be thinking about college right now.  (I would be thinking about Santa. How does he get here so fast? What does he do for people without chimneys? Also, that elf is a snitch.) But thoughts about college do sneak in. There are posters and guidance counselors and information booths and reminders that some Saturday in the not-too-distant future I’ll spend an entire morning on the SAT, filling in little circles with a sharpened number-two pencil. And every time I get another quiz back in algebra, I wonder whether algebra is actually needed for my dream career as a mattress-store pillow tester. Since my algebra grades probably already rule out MIT, the book’s claim that “where I go is not who I’ll be” is reassuring. I have the feeling that whatever success in life is, it isn’t necessarily the same thing as success in high school. So I recommend that book. My Dad says that I still have to do my homework.  ∆