By Margaret Zheng
We, the students of CRN, do not have school spirit. Yet.
We dress up during Spirit Week, flaunting superhero capes and athlete – or mathlete! – attire. We enthusiastically compete at Blue and White Night and flock to school social events, all while contributing to charity. That all is great – teens, of course, must have fun. But those events are not enough for school spirit.
I claim we can only be spirited if we strive to improve our school, not just in the social and extracurricular realms, but also in any aspect of school that concerns us, including academics and policies. We cannot simply be proud of our school – we must care enough about it to make it how we want it.
After all, school is about us, the students, and how we are learning and living. We care about diamondback turtles and panda bears, rallying for their protection, despite the animals’ absence in most of our daily lives. How can we then not care about school, an institution not for the benefit of distant others, but of ourselves? School does not have to just be something to go through and get over with. We can make it more fun and fulfilling for all of us, including future classes of students, if we get active and creative.
We inherit many aspects of school from earlier generations of youth, even from the long-ago Industrial Age, but our world has greatly evolved. Technological and social innovations have shifted our culture and make us differently desirous than high schoolers of just four years past. School personnel have directed some adaptations of school to current trends, but not being teenagers, they often can only guess. We, as spirited students of Council Rock, must get involved ourselves.
What if when we feel like complaining about teachers, we ask them why they teach us the way they do? What if when we feel what we are learning is boring or irrelevant, we begin a discussion about the purpose of our studies, sharing our ideas about what or how we could learn instead? What if when we question our dress code or technology usage policies, we find out the rationale behind them, and if we still disagree, propose an alternative policy, possibly presenting it to the School Board? Everyone talks about the upcoming national election, but few keep up with the politics of our own school district, which directly impacts and concerns us.
Decisions are made about school routinely without students' participation, and not wholly because they are disallowed. There are many ways to learn about school issues and make your voice heard, including speaking with your teachers and class officers. You can also attend School Board and Committee meetings and listen to the discussion of district-wide matters, perhaps volunteering a comment. (Information about the meetings is on the district website.)
Additionally, to satisfy tech-savvy students, I offer a new way for you to contribute to educational dialogue, through the convenience of the web. Use this survey to share your ideas on topics to be discussed at Academic Standards Committee meetings. I will collect your responses and report them at the meetings. For spirited students, there is no excuse for letting their concerns be unheard.
Throughout the country, a movement spreads. Students everywhere realize that though school isn't perfect, they can make it change. They strive hard to not just be "schooled," but educated the way they want to be.
Do we have the spirit to join them?
By Amelia Spring
For many high school students, especially 9th and 10th graders, college seems light years away. You may not be actively thinking about college applications and preparations now, but if you plan to go to college, you should be taking those plans into consideration throughout high school. Colleges look at the “total student”: your grades, past jobs, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities, to name a few. Worrying about all of these things at once may seem overwhelming, but you can prepare one step at a time. You will be thankful you thought about college preparation earlier than when it is time to apply to colleges in your senior year.
9th graders have four years of high school ahead of them, and they can choose to shape those years whichever way they want. For this reason, the College Board, an organization that aims to help students achieve college success, recommends that 9th graders make a plan for the next four years of high school. This plan could include which classes the student should take in high school, which extracurricular activities the student should get involved in, and any other objectives. Creating a plan like this can guide the individual through her entire high school career. If you choose to make a plan like this for high school, you can show it to your guidance counselor so he or she can revise it and offer advice that will steer you in the right direction towards college. Ms. Teresa Callanan, one of the guidance counselors at Council Rock North, advises freshmen to avoid the myth that “[only] the junior year counts. So freshmen and sophomores should focus on earning the best grades they can and also get involved in clubs and community service.”
In 10th grade, it is important to still keep your grades up. This year, you can begin to take a more in-depth look at colleges and potential careers, but there is no need to make a decision yet. One way to evaluate these colleges is through the “College Visit Program” offered by Council Rock North for 10th through 12th graders. Through this program, over 100 college representatives come to the school to meet with students in the fall. It is also possible to take the PSATs in 10th grade, so if you are interested in taking the PSATs to prepare for the SATs, you can talk to your counselor. In sophomore year, it is also a good idea to start moving towards leadership positions in your favorite extracurricular activities because colleges value leadership characteristics, and being on the board of a club at school is a great demonstration of these important qualities.
11th grade is when you should take time to start making lists of colleges you are interested in. This process will be done with your school counselor. You also need to take the PSAT and SAT/ACT tests. These tests can be scheduled with your counselor at school. Junior year is a great time to begin scheduling college visits, and at Council Rock North, juniors can take up to three excused absences to visit colleges. Keeping up grades and volunteer hours and continuing to pursue leadership positions in extracurricular activities is important as well. Council Rock North alum and freshman at Penn State Colin Slavtchef advises juniors that “this is the year for you to take a volunteer trip if you plan on it.”
When choosing classes for 12th grade, it is important to choose challenging classes. Colin Slavtchef advocates taking AP courses to prepare for college: “[Seniors should] take AP courses. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from college freshmen how they wish they took more AP courses. You will get credit for college and be ahead of the curve, allowing you to take more classes that interest you rather than just being part of your major.” During senior year, you will also submit applications to colleges. You will need to ask for letters of recommendation from teachers, fill out application forms, and write application essays for the colleges you plan to apply to. Make sure you meet with your guidance counselor throughout the entire application process. Colleges still look at classes and grades from senior year, so be sure to keep your grades up.
Hopefully, by the end of senior year you will be accepted into the college that is the best fit for you. By taking college into consideration early, working with your guidance counselor, acquiring leadership positions, and maintaining good grades while taking classes that challenge you, you will have an application that will be more attractive to colleges, and you will have higher chances of being accepted to better colleges.
Although thinking about college may seem stressful during high school, the best way to alleviate that stress is to prepare, so continue to work hard and stay involved, and you will be ready when it is time to apply to colleges.
By Josee Li
For Mary Kate Durnan, the titles of concert mistress, first chair violin, and vice president of the orchestra and the music honors society at Council Rock North didn’t come from sheer luck. It all started 13 years ago when this talented musician first began playing the violin. Although she doesn’t remember why she chose this particular instrument, she’s glad she made the right choice. As the years of constant hard work in practicing, performing in recitals, and attending numerous lessons progressed, Mary Kate’s love for her violin grew.
In fact, she liked the violin and the orchestra so much that she began picking up other instruments as well. While a freshman, Mary Kate began playing her second instrument, the viola. Just a short year later, she began playing the cello as well. Now 17 years old, Mary Kate takes her passion for orchestra to a whole new level as she proves her excellence in all three instruments, something that many teenagers cannot do. Mary Kate claims, “I just love the lower sounds of the orchestra, the techniques with every instrument, and how each instrument brings together the unique orchestral sound.”
But the orchestral sound isn’t the only thing being brought together. “What I love most about orchestra is how much of a family we are together,” Mary Kate states. “We just connect through our love for music.” The orchestra bonds over parties and get-togethers, where Mary Kate and her friends prove to be the perfect examples of the musical passion that thrives at CRN.
Mary Kate is the quintessence of a young musician taking her resources and her passion to not only expose her musical talent to the public, but also get involved in the community. She spends many hours organizing orchestra fundraisers, along with providing free music at previous fall festivals on her electric violin. Mary Kate has even been hired to play at weddings. The violinist plays all genres of music, ranging from pop to classic. Her favorite piece? Simple. Just the 42-minute-long Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Mary Kate is a stunning musician who has benefited from over a decade of hard work and dedication. Her leadership and talent provide a great inspiration to those around her.
Mary Kate can be always found available in the band room for signatures, single file line please!