This was the first outdoor education experience this year, so the resident girls were fortunate to be off-campus. There were only four of us since one girl had riding practice, and the other girl hurt her wrist. We all loaded up into the van and went to Wheeler Gorge.
When we pulled into the parking lot, Mr. Byars was already there. He had climbing shoes and helmets on the floor for us to find our sizes. Once we had all of our gear, we started walking to a climbing spot.
All of the girls went off to explore. We found mini frogs and climbed on some rocks. Once we got back to the teachers, we got geared up. We spent our time climbing on the rocks. We were either on belay or bouldering.
A few people were rock climbing for the first time. Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Sittig went on the climbing trip as well.
We collected many frogs and even did a boat race with things you would find in nature. Mr. Byars won the race. Some people walked around in the water, and others fell into the water.
Overall, the first outdoor education outing was a success.
Being a new student where you do not know anyone is hard, but going to boarding school away from your family is even harder. I have been to my fair share of sleep away camps, but this a whole different feeling.
I have had a weeks worth of food, and so far the food doesn’t disappoint. I think my favorite meal so far was the french toast breakfast with fruit. I have noticed that there is always a carb option.
I have walked up and down the hill so many times because I missed the golf cart to take us to get food. I have done a lot of exercise in my short one week period here at OVS. I have swam in the pool almost everyday, kicked around a soccer ball after dinner, and even try to play basketball on the weekends.
My two favorites. Despite being different in many ways, their camaraderie is unparalleled, and it spreads to those around them as well. I am baffled by how they never run out of things to talk about.
I cannot think about present day Siyu without his smaller sixth grade self. That first year of middle school, he unknowingly started a cult based around him. I of course was one of his most loyal devotees. You know that accent that you hear sometimes when Tyler or myself or Adam are talking? That’s because of Siyu. I will admit that Siyu is a strange boy. But that is in the best way possible. His love for volcanoes and mumble rap are endearing, and he always has a moist handshake for those who extend their hand, even if it isn’t to him.
Carter is a bit newer, but it feels like he has been at OVS for much longer. Carter is one of the kindest people I have ever met. He always has something positive to say, and I rarely see him without a grin. One thing that I will miss in college is the arguments that we have in the hallway of who is more handsome; I of course religiously assert that HE is the handsomest of all, yet he insists that it is me. (Carter if you are reading this, you are the most handsome and you have it here in writing).
I will miss this duo quite a bit, but I am nonetheless excited for them as they move on in life. Their brains and personality will get them far, and I know that they will do great things for this planet.
There is something beautiful about the congregation of adolescent males. Sure, most of the time something gets broken, the noise level goes through the roof and no one, not even the participants, understand what’s going on. But the camaraderie and jocular affection displayed among teenage boys is an experience worth having.
As I end my time here at OVS, I want to pay tribute to some of The Boys. The next blog posts will each describe one or two individuals who have been important in my time during high school. Some have been great mates in the musical, others on the field, and some by helping me with crosswords. But each lad in one way or another has made the last four years of my life better, so this is my way of saying thank you.
Throughout my athletic career, I’ve struggled with comparing myself to others. Not only has it affected my performance in sports, but it has affected many other aspects of my life. From not raising my hand in class to ask for help because I’m scared people will think I’m dumb or make fun of me, to quitting a swim team because I thought my teammates judged me and thought of me differently because I was the slowest on the team. But in reality, there were at least ten other of my classmates who were just as confused as I was, and the good people on that swim team liked me because I tried and was kind, and the people who treated me differently because I was the slowest weren’t worth my time anyway.
But still, my fear of being judged has had me in chains for years and I still fight it every day.
Yes, I have been viewed differently by people when my athletic abilities were less than theirs, but I’ve come to the realization that the true athletes are ones who accept and help others succeed.
Dear anyone who needs to hear it: We all start somewhere. We all have our insecurities. Not everyone has the same strengths as others. Comparing yourself to others will only bring you down. The most important thing is to focus on your journey.
Whether you run a 15 minute mile or a 5 minute mile. Whether you can bench 40 pounds or 400 pounds. Whether you swim a 1:40 for a hundred or a :40 for a hundred. The point is you are trying, and that’s what matters.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro athlete and I am not saying I am in any way, but I have recognized one of the main things that holds me back, and I don’t think I am the only one.
Please know that where ever you are in your athletic journey, don’t look at what others have accomplished, look at the improvement you’ve made because that’s what matters.
I don’t care how talented an athlete may be. If they judge or make someone feel bad because of their abilities, all of my previous respect would be gone. Sportsmanship is building one another up, not tearing each other down. A team is a supportive group of people, not enemies. Athletics is a field meant to empower, inspire, and be available to all people, not just the pros.
If you share this same anxiety as I do, please know that it is your journey that matters and the people worthwhile will support you no matter your skill and ability.
“Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter”- Doctor Seuss
As I walked down the hill, rounding the bend just before reaching the parking lot, a thought ran through my mind, but in an instant, I had expelled it. I had thought to myself, “what if this is the last time I set foot on this campus as a student?” But with stormy weather approaching and a sour mood pervasive through the student body, I didn’t allow myself a moment to linger on the idea, and left swiftly, my stereo silent, with only the mechanic hum of my engine to fill my thoughts. Why was I in such a hurry to leave?
I keep playing that moment back in my head. I didn’t take a moment to say goodbye to anybody, I knew I wasn’t going to see them for at least a month, even a brief farewell would be better than nothing. After all, these are the people I have cultivated strong relationships with the past seven years. But I don’t think I was ready.
Now that the remaining strands of my senior year are confined to a desk and I have much of the day to sit on my bed and think, I try to occupy myself with plans of the future. I committed to my college a month earlier, I’m already searching for roommates, trying to get my ideal housing. But I’m still trapped in that moment.
That one singular instance, an otherwise insignificant instant in time amounting to no more than a single shutter of a hummingbird’s wings, and I’m frozen in it. I stand there, Thermoflask in one hand, lunch bag in the other, backpack on, rounding the corner, staring directly at my car as if that would get me there faster. Why was I in such a hurry to leave?
I’ve never been in such a hurry to leave.
Maybe I knew this would be my last time seeing all my friends together again, and I was only trying to save myself, escaping the flood of memories that was rushing down the hill after me.
I like divulging stories and experiences from my childhood so I think I’ll do that again.
5th grade was an interesting year for me. I spent the whole year knowing it was my final year in China, that I would soon be moving to the promised land that I had only know as Hollywood from movies and the few visits I had made to the southern coast of California. I fostered friendships I knew wouldn’t last, I got moved up to the highest reading group, and I ALMOST kissed a girl. All the subdued craziness afforded to an awkward twelve year old was incredibly liberating, however at the same time, it was shrouded in the despair of having to leave behind everything I knew.
Aside from all that depressing stuff, my fifth-grade year was the perfect culmination of all the time I had spent in China. My friends and I released more videos in a single year than we ever had before, under the name of our production company, “Yovodka United.” My homeroom class won the elementary school dodgeball tournament, even defeating the teachers somehow, making for one glorious pizza party. I finally read the final book of the TinTin series from the library, after waiting nearly two years for someone to return it, and I gave my final goodbyes to the friends, the school, the city, that had raised me and taught me so much, walking off stage, throwing glow sticks into the audience, after our heartfelt class song.
The Skype calls that seemed to go nowhere but made hours fly by in minutes. The new era of pop music, Maroon V, Imagine Dragons, Taylor Swift, The Script, and Gotye, creating a perfect soundtrack that could encapsulate my memories into a single playlist. The Minecraft LAN parties that involved poor WiFi, pizza bagels, and lots of griefing. I don’t know if I can ever recreate a year as packed with mixed emotions and shameless exuberance as my fifth-grade year, but I only hope I can one day look back on my high school experience, my senior year even, with the same kind of nostalgic pride.