The students that volunteer their time and knowledge on Reach a Student are eligible to receive community service hours. We are looking to expand our roster of academic and athletic mentors, interviewers, and video editors to help inspire and answer school-related questions.
Reach a Student is a website established to give students direct communication access to student mentors in various grade levels. Students will be able to reach out to other students and ask any questions they have regarding student and campus life. The site will also stream videos of students sharing their experiences at Windermere Prep as well as activities around campus.
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Life is a pathway of choices, and the one who makes those choices is you. Whether you make the choice, someone else influences your choice, something influences your choices, the final result will be produced from you. There are times where you can turn your choices back, but most of the time, you cannot turn your choices back. Your one choice could lead to profitable and good results, but that one choice could lead to a series of mistakes and even a disaster. According to research, decision making suddenly changes when you reach puberty, and change slowly when you enter the twenties. I believe that the most choices made during the high school life is whether you should drink and do drugs, and I believe that the choice you make in the situation stated before will affect your future. Do not look for a situation that is only a step ahead. LOOK at a few more steps and imagine what your future could look like due to your one choice! I really hope for you to not make the decisions that may affect your future in a bad way.
I would like to share some tips for tackling AP European History. My first tip to you would be to pay attention in class. Always take effective and efficient notes during Mrs. Hilaman's lectures, as everything she says could be used on any tests. My second tip for you would be to do the formative practices. Mrs. Hilaman gives a lot of practice DBQs (document-based questions), LEQs (long essay questions), and short answer questions. Doing her formative work will help you develop the writing styles that the AP graders want from you at the end of the year, which will help you get the score you want on the exam. In addition, if you listen to her feedback on the formative work, you can use that feedback to get good grades on her assessments. The last tip, and probably the most important, do not over study. I found that many of my peers studied frantically the night before assessments, and they stressed themselves out by trying to cram all the knowledge into their brain. Pay attention in class, and study what you don't know, and if you are having a really difficult time grasping this, it won't help to study more, so just move on. These tips will hopefully help you get a good grade in AP European History with Mrs. Hilaman, and get you a good score on the AP Exam.
1. Evaluate the last quarter.
How much effort did you put into the last quarter? Did you do all formative work, and all of the summative work? Did you study? These are questions that you can be asking yourself. If you find something that you could do better, like trading an hour of video games for studying, or getting to school on time, or even just getting eight hours of sleep, you can create easy ways to achieve this to make this an easier and better term for you.
2. Write down what you have learned.
Although it was just the beginning, there was a lot of subject material that you have learned. It may not seem important, but these topics will be on the midterm exams, though you learn them so long ago. This leaves many people reviewing in the last week and forgetting what to study. A way to resolve this would be writing down key themes from each of your subjects. This would be the most important things to know, and it doesn't have to be very detailed, just a sentence or two to help you remember. For example, in US history I would write "The Colonies" and "The Great Depression", and important figures during that time.
3. Look at the Syllabus!
What better way to prepare for the new quarter by seeing what you are going to learn? If you know the subject material, not only will you not be lost in class, but you will know what is coming up. This means you can also prepare beforehand, by reading or researching the main themes and facts.
4. Talk to your teachers
There may be things you are doing wrong or should be doing that you do not even know about. Ask your teachers on how you did in the quarter and what you can do to improve, from homework standards to classroom etiquette.
5. Make some goals!
Thanks to Skyward and Canvas, our grades are always there to see. You may not have reached a grade level you wanted to, or there may be a grade you want to achieve by the end of the year. A semester grade consists of the two quarters plus the midterm exam, which means if you know what your grade is this quarter, you can find out what grade you have to get the next quarter and in the exam to achieve the grade you want. This end grade will be a goal, and you can have certain goals leading up to it, like studying every night or getting or completing all of the reviews, and getting A's on the formative assignments.
In conclusion, don't waste time before the quarter, or think there is nothing you can do. Make sure you do what you need to do to have the best year ever!
At Windermere Prep, we're lucky to have such a well-developing, ambitious, and growing Arts Program available to students of all ages, no matter their level of skill. One of these many programs is the Dance Program, taught by Gilliane Hadley and Alison Barron. Many students, new or returning, may have questions or hesitations about the Dance Program at our school, which is why I sat down with high school dance instructor, Ms. Hadley, to provide some answers to any of your questions.
What do you like the most about the dance program at Windermere Prep?
H: What I like most about the dance program is that you get to dance everyday and I get to see you grow throughout the year. I've had students since they were freshman and now they're about to graduate as seniors. I also love that the fact that the dancers have different levels they can dance in and then they have a choice to take IB Dance or stick with elective dance or do both, which is amazing. I love that they get the opportunity to perform and do activities with Juilliard.
How do you think dance counts as both a sport and an art? Why are both elements important?
H: As an art, because it's a performing art, right? As for being mixed with a sport and art, we're physical, we're always moving, our heart rate is elevated, and we are our own athletes in our own way. Our bodies need to be warm like an athlete and will wear down like an athlete. For each genre of dance, there are certain skills and elements you need to know, just like any sport.
How do you come up with our themes and visions for our dance shows?
H: Sometimes it just happens, and sometimes I just hear something in a song. Music inspires me a lot. If I hear something, I can totally envision certain groups of kids dancing to it, which is how I figure out what dances you're going to do. Regarding the themes of the shows, me and Mrs. Barron really work together trying to figure that out because we have to be able to pick something that not only you guys will be excited about, but also what will inspire us to create those dances. We always like to challenge you and ourselves. Sometimes we think, "Oh my gosh, what are we doing?" But we are always thinking of you guys and what will keep you excited about dance and challenge some classes technique wise.
What do you think the dance program at Windermere Prep has to offer students and aspiring dancers?
H: So, for students who love to dance, it's a nice break from sitting at a desk all day. It should be an escape from your busy school schedule. Yes, I have high expectations for you, but if you love to dance, those expectations should be second nature. I can only help you so much, but if you try, those accomplishments are worth it in the end. Sometimes it's hard, because our classes are so short in terms of regular dance classes. Celeste, one of my aspiring dancers who graduated last year, found it hard to go to auditions and face the dance world because she couldn't take away everything that she should have. But we are not a studio, we are a school. It's not about taking a technique class. There are things we have to dive into more such as terminology, dance history, watching the works of other dancers and choreographers and creating compositions. I try to base our classes off how performing arts schools teach their dancers and try to shape versatile dancers. I want students to be able to walk into an audition or a dance group in college and be able to dance any genre or style, even if dancing professionally is not their ultimate goal.
Why do you think students should take a dance class next year, even if they've never danced before and what can they take away from it?
H: They should not take a dance class if they don't like to move or sweat. I think they should take a dance class because it's good for your health and it builds your brain in a different way. It's a release and it's enjoyable. It's interesting to see dancers in the first month and see which dancers make it to the next semester and the changes in the way they dance; it amazes me every time. They come in so enthusiastic and so ready to be challenged more. The best reason to take dance is that you really learn who you are and how much discipline you have and how much you really want to grow as a person.
Whenever you are lonely, whenever you are bored, and whenever you are nervous, one of the best activities to do is volunteering. The fact that you are helping someone out for his or her benefit, not yours, gives you a thrill and happiness. When you are volunteering, you are also giving something back to the community, the community that gave you the environment to grow to what you are now.
Volunteering can also help you build new skills or even build on an existing skill that you are working on. For example, volunteering at a golf tournament may help you understand golf and volunteering at a hospital may help you understand how patients are treated and how the hospital runs during the day. Each time you volunteer, whether it is fun or not, you learn a valuable lesson, and the lesson you learn can be used for your future decisions and actions
For me, volunteering is quite fun, although I encounter new skills and activities that I might not even use in my life, just learning the new skills makes it fun for me. I volunteered at a golf tournament January 2016, and from there, I learned how the scoreboard runs during a golf tournament, and many other management skills that run a golf tournament. I even met many famous people there too! Furthermore, I am going to volunteer at the Orlando Regional Medical Center and I am looking forward to volunteer! I will be able to not only go around the hospital, but also have a chance to look into details where patient is being cared of, and other great opportunities!
All in all, one of the best ways to learn and go out into the world is by volunteering. The current world requires us to have as many skills and volunteering can cover most of the experience we need. Plus, just why not volunteer? Volunteering, in my opinion, is better than any phone or computer games and many other home activities. Most volunteering activities are held outside, which means that you can also get your daily walking done while outside. So to have fun and volunteer!
All students can describe their high school life as busy. Between homework and all the different sports and after school activities we are involved in, at some point (or points) in the year the work load will just become too much. Students will find that there is not enough time in the day for homework, sleep, sports and clubs, and a social life. In order to handle all of these things a student will soon find themselves up at 3 a.m. finishing homework that could have been done sooner or studying for a test that was forgotten because of this workload. A way to avoid all of this is time management. And I know that I am sounding like a total counselor right now, but trust me it works. How you use your time is very important and totally changes how your week turns out. The amount of homework sometimes depends on what you get done in class. ( Not all the time obviously ) In order to cut down the work here are some tips that I would highly recommend to use!
• When at school if given the chance to work on projects or protective homework, work on it! Either if it is during class or SRT. The more you get done at school, the less you have to do at home.
• When doing homework at home, if you find that you get tired while working work a desk and not on your bed. This will force you to work on what you need to get done.
• Also make sure that when doing homework to put away all of the possible distractions to work at your full potential.
Many people have the desire to succeed, however sometimes it takes a lot of work to get to the point that you want to be at academically. My main tip to doing your absolute best is being on top of things. If a teacher were to give you a test a week in advance the best thing you could possibly do is study a bit every night until the assessment approaches. Many students will wait until last minute to study and will not perform at their best. This could be applied to any project given as well. As you get into higher grades the work amount will only increase, so if you started bad habits on procrastinating then it might be hard to break out of it. However, you will for sure see benefits when you begin to do your work in advance instead of cramming it the night before it's due.
My second most important tip is to use your class time. Many teachers let you complete work in class, to prevent the amount of homework you will have at home. Many students slack in class and talk to their friends or not pay attention, and that just will increase your stress levels in the future. It is way easier to do the work at school when you are supposed to than leave it to do when you get home in the afternoon. Following these two important tips, it is guaranteed that you will see an improvement in your performance and your stress level will begin to decrease.
Staying on top of work can be hard, especially in High School. Falling behind in work may seem hard to avoid, but there are always ways to stay ahead. When you make the transition from Middle School to High School, you can see the difference between the amount of work you have. I'm in 9th Grade, so it is my first year in High School and it was hard for me to adjust to the amount of work there is in High School. Once I started to realize I was falling behind, I made sure to change that and started doing things that could help me. There are many ways you can stay on top of your work and even though it may take extra time, it is completely worth it because you will be stress free.
My first tip would be to always be paying attention and writing notes. If you are constantly writing notes in your classes you will automatically start to understand concepts more. Once the test or quiz comes around for that class, you won't have to cram the night before because you will already have the basic information. Not only that, but actually going over your notes after school will help you a lot. In past years I would only look over my notes once at home and then never again , and that would lead me to being stressed over the class. Once I started reviewing the concepts from the class and all the notes, I noticed how quickly it helped me. Not only that but challenging yourself and pushing yourself to work. Being in a class that is too easy for you may be less stressful, but actually pushing and challenging yourself to be in a class that is a little bit harder will be helpful, because you will actually be learning new concepts. If you do decide to challenge yourself, you shouldn't push yourself too hard. If you do then it will be hard to progress because you will be struggling to keep up with the concept. Keeping on top of all your work may take up time, but it is worth it in the long run.
High School here at WPS differs greatly from Middle School. There are higher expectations, more emphasis on academic mastery and more hours spent completing homework. But that doesn't mean you should be scared or intimidated about the jump from 8th grade to 9th grade. Here are some tips and advice to prepare you for your first year in high school and the years to come.
Always Be On Top of Everything: It is crucial that you stay organized and know what is coming up in the week. Firstly, always know what your homework is, when it is due and what tests you have to study for. There are multiple ways to do so, such as getting a hard copy planner or using a program on your computer. This way, you can keep track of upcoming assignments and exams and what you have to do that night. Plan out your homework load so you are not procrastinating and working on a lengthy assignment at 11:00 at night. While everyone slips here and there and procrastinates until the last minute because of other homework or after school activities, try your best not to. Another method that is crucial to adapt is organization. Keeping all your papers, worksheets and tests in one place will make it easy for you to study for midterms and finals. Doing the same on your computer is also helpful as well.
Taking Notes and Study Methods: For a lot of students, school comes easy to them and are able to make A's without studying. But as the material becomes harder to understand and the amount of material on exams increases, students find it harder to not study and still make an A. That's why taking good notes and finding the right study method is important. Depending on the teacher, they might teach with a powerpoint, by writing notes on the whiteboard or by just talking out loud. Try your to not tune out the teacher while they are talking and just write what is on the board. While that might be easier to copy down, sometimes the teacher will say or explain material that is not on the board and is important to know. Not everyone does this, but I will tend to use multiple pens such as a black and purple/gold pen so that I can use the colorful pens to underline key concepts and terms so when I am reading through my notes later, those key concepts will stand out to me. When it comes to studying, just reading over your notes might not be enough, especially if the class is rather challenging for you. Students need to find what study method works for them, whether it be explaining concepts out loud or using online flashcards and practice tests such as quizlet. If you figure out what helps you learn early on in your freshman year, high school will be a lot easier for you.
While school can be boring and uninteresting and it is hard to be motivated to do homework, you have to look at it with a positive approach. Choose classes that fit your learning skill (honors, non-honors, AP, etc) and always strive to be the best that you can be. If you stay organized, take good notes and study in a way that benefits you, you should be very successful in high school. I will leave you with two things: Don't sweat every single grade because I am going to tell you now that you will get a 'bad grade' from time to time. Just focus on making corrections to it and doing better next time. Lastly, just remember, if you ever have questions about material in class, ask your teacher. They are there to help you. Best of luck!
As a student of Windermere Prep you are expected to strive for perfection and attain excellence, but this doesn't mean that you must be stressed all the time. With good time management you can be less stressed, get more things done, and even have some free time for other activities that you may enjoy. I used to always be stressed about getting good grades and doing all of the homework that I was assigned. I had to learn how to manage my time in order to get more things done and have free time do the things that I loved. I had tried many time management tactics, such as writing everything down in my planner, or even skipping some after school activities in order to get the best grade possible. This ended up stressing me out even more, I had to find a method that worked for me. I ended up using a time calendar. I know it sounds weird, but I got a white board and marker and would write down what I would be doing every half hour. This helped me to see exactly when I should be working on a certain assignment, or studying for a specific test. I now had seen where I had free time to spend with family and friends, and even go to all of my after school activities. This has helped me manage my time, but it might not help you. Find a system that works for you and stick with that method. Make sure to keep up with the method you choose as well. As long as the system works for you, it doesn't matter how weird it seems.
With the first test done, I am sure there are some 9th graders considering dropping APUSH (AP US History). From my understanding, the grades were not that good. This is not abnormal, for my AP Human Geography class as well as the classes before me the first test is always the hardest and most students don't do well on it. I for one received a C on my first test and I am sure that this is the same situation for the rest of you. Before my first test, I thought Mr. Zoslow was exaggerating about the longevity of his tests. I thought that the essay questions would be one page at max and there would be more than enough time. Boy was I wrong. I was completely blindsided by my first test, and considering the circumstances I was pretty lucky in receiving a C. Like me most of you asked yourself, how on earth am i going to do well in this class?
The first tip I give to you is participating in class discussion. This is what is going to be on the test. 75% of the test is based on the applications of the information on the outlines which Mr. Zoslow talks about every day in class. So taking notes is a great idea. Class discussion reinforces the points that you studied in the outlines as well, so when you participate in class discussion there are one of two outcomes. Either you get it right and you can say that you know the topic or you don't and Mr. Zoslow will explain the correct answer. In the beginning it is extremely nerve racking as Mr. Zoslow is pretty intimidating. As soon as you overcome this fear, you will be one step closer to an A.
On a test, Mr. Zoslow will put all information learned on it. You must use all sources in order to ensure that you are well prepared for each test. Everything in the textbook, on the outlines, in the class discussion, and on the KBAT is fair game for the test. This may sound like a lot of studying but the effort needed for a good grade is high in an AP class. In terms of the distribution between the various resources, Mr. Zoslow expects you to know the facts from the text book, but most of the points earned on the test are the applications talked about during the class discussion, so I highly recommend taking lengthy class notes.
Finally, when testing you should always outline before you write an essay. Take just 30 seconds to organize your thoughts and it will make a big difference. Mr. Zoslow always makes the analogy of an easter egg hunt. In an easter egg hunt, everything is scattered everywhere and there is no form of organization. In your essay it is essential that your essay is well thought out and organized. If you were talking about subsistence agriculture, don't go and talk about commercial agriculture before you finish subsistence agriculture.
Zoslow's class will take some time to adjust to, so don't get discouraged if you don't do well in the beginning. But in the end, everyone will figure out a formula to success and will do well.
I would like to think that I am a good writer; that I am good with words. You think it is an art, how I bleed for the world in a verse. But I think it's a way of life, how I let myself speak the words I've never been able to say. Writing is an art. Identical to art, the mystical crux of writing is in the eye of the beholder. Writing, like art can come in various magnitudes, insignias and each have their own eccentric way with words.
I find that words can be like an incorrigible child at times. They run around in your head, popping up at random intervals, giving you headaches and causing a maelstrom. Words are nothing but a jumble of inane letters, but it is your job, as a creator and as a writer, to tame those words running in your head and bend them to coalesce into tangible thoughts.
When I was smaller, writing was not an event that I would happily do, not by a long shot. Never would you find me freely obliging to write a 6-page essay for my friend. The easiest excuse I would use was that "writing is not easy". Everyone has their own struggles, whether it is coming up with strong thesis, plot, characters or even having an idea to start with. When George Plimpton asked Ernest Hemingway what the best training for an aspiring writer would be in a 1954 interview, Hemingway replied, "Let's say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with." This was kind of like Hemmingway's sick, comical take on writing.
Trust me, writing doesn't have to end in "hanging". It does not have to seem hard. Really, it can be quite enjoyable. But unlike common belief, writing is not easy. Not in the least bit. It is not just a scratch on top of a piece of paper or the result of a single keystroke. No, it is the process of creating a breathing life form that is birthed from your very own mind. If you do it just right, if will feel like you are putting part of your soul down on the surface. It is not like a jar waiting to be filled, more like a castle waiting to be built. Nonetheless, writing, for anyone, is not an easy feat. However, it one of the most purest forms of art you can ever make. You are painting with the most potent "aether" of your own heart.
I come from an educational system that does not put as much emphasis on grades at such a young age as they do in the USA, at least not until the child is older. What I would like to say to all of the students at WPS is not to worry about the grade but to think instead, 'What have I learned?', and what is the next step. School should be a voyage of learning, and if someone becomes obsessed with a letter grade, rather than what they are actually learning, I think that is a shame. You are more than a letter scrawled onto a page. If you got a good grade, then great, but what does it ACTUALLY mean? Do you reflect on why you got a good grade, and what you took away from that period of learning? Do you think to yourself, what else could I learn about this? How could I extend my learning? Was this fascinating to me, or something that I only tolerate because I have to? Likewise, when you get a bad grade, do you ask why? What does this mean for me? Do you find out what exactly you didn't do well or understand so that you can fix it for next time? The WHY is more important than the grade. Why am I studying this? Why is it important? What does it mean to me? Don't reduce your brainpower to a letter grade. You are so much more than that. You are creativity and problem solving. You are design and debate. Don't do things for a grade, do them because they matter to you and you know the reason why!
In my IB HL Biology class, we recently began an extremely interesting section on Neurobiology and Behavior. This Option (an additional lesson elected by the teacher as part of the IB course) forces us to question whyand how we learn. Between class discussions on the ethics of Skinner's pigeon experiments and the biological genius that is the withdrawal reflex, we were asked to define "learning". According to the IBO, learned behavior is characterized by experience. This clicked. The way we truly learn is not by meaningless rote memorization. Rather, we learn by immersing ourselves completely in what we do and by making an experience out of it.
In my earlier blog post ("IB, Honors, or AP – Oh My!"), I briefly mentioned the importance of selecting classes that you are interested in. Although this may seem obvious, I think it is a fact that some people overlook. Rather than enroll in a class they are passionate about, too many students opt for the more challenging (and less interesting) class because they feel the need to prove themselves. By doing so, students forget the true purpose of school: to grow toward your future with purpose. Although you may not know what purpose that is, taking classes that do not resonate well with what you enjoy will only serve to alienate you further from your future.
When I study I enjoy making an experience out of what I am learning. Sometimes that means I get to spend time on YouTube researching the material or watching videos from other IB or AP teachers. I highly recommend watching Crash Course videos for your Science and History classes. Other times I prepare a bowl of grapes for my study session! When I reach a certain page number or outline a certain amount I will eat a grape as a sort of healthy reward. My Neurobiology and Behavior class would classify this under positive reinforcement. I feel good and I am incentivized to keep working. Studying in a different location, reciting what you know to a family member, or even making a catchy jingle to relate to a lesson are all different ways to make an experience out of your studying.
The hardest part of studying or doing schoolwork is getting started. However, I have found that once I start my work it is a lot easier for me to just finish it. An analogy I use is "A Valentina in study mode, stays in study mode until she is stopped by an object of equal or greater force". Minimize the equal or greater forces that can snap you out of "the zone". Turn off/turn down your phone and place it in the opposite corner of your room. Do not have too many webpages open on your laptop. At the same time, remember to take breaks. Do not force yourself to study one subject for an hour straight; you won't remember what you learned. Take a break every 15 minutes by walking around, talking to your family, or grabbing a healthy snack. I have also found that taking a nap after a good study session will help retain the information better.
Imbue yourself with the knowledge your teachers provide in class. Embrace the experience of learning, but at the same time go out and live real experiences. You will become a truly rich Laker, human being, and global citizen.
When I was in high school, I was in a special math and science program that pushed students to go as far ahead as they could. I'd already been a year or two ahead of most of my class thanks to my middle school math classes, but my Sophomore year of high school, I was pushed even farther.
A special independent study program was created for about 6 of us to finish Calculus by the end of the summer and begin Calculus 2 in our Junior year, then going to the local junior college our Senior year to take more advanced math classes. Being someone who thought I'd be majoring in math, I said yes and began the program. The problem became when the work got hard, and the independent study teacher didn't have time to explain it, and I started becoming interested in journalism. I realized my Sophomore year that there was more to high school than just math. I'd joined a sports team and was interested in joining the newspaper. With so much else on my plate, I walked in on the last day of school and turned in my Calculus book that I'd barely been understanding as an independent study class and told my teacher I'd just take it again the next year.
What followed were meetings with the teacher and guidance counselor and my parents. In the end, I kept playing sports, ended up being editor of the high school newspaper, and still finished two years of Calculus before graduation. The writing knowledge and practice I got on the newspaper helped in writing my $36,000 college essay (as I called it because of the scholarship money it awarded). The diversified program I ended up working out did far better for me than just a plain math education. It even led me to double major in college in both Mathematics and Elementary Education.
Don't just let yourself be led through your school life by people telling you to do stuff just because you can or just because it's offered. Take control of your education and branch out. You never know what you're going to end up doing, so experience as many things as possible now! It's OK to say NO to some classes, experiences, clubs, etc. Especially when it allows you to say YES to others!
Mr. Matt Masem
5th Grade Math Teacher
Deciding which classes or program to take is certainly a big decision to make when students move from middle school to high school and from underclassmen to upperclassmen. As a senior, I have seen it all: IB, Honors, Standard, AP. Although the information is definitely available for everyone to research, I have found that after sitting for 4+ years as a New Student Ambassador that sometimes the best way to explain the options is to hear about them from someone with personal experience. So, without further ado, here are some tips and points to note for each option.
The majority of electives at Windermere Prep are classified as Standard classes, however some Core classes are also Standard. They are weighted on a 4.0 scale. One of my favorite classes that I have ever taken at WPS was Creative Writing my freshman year. PE is also Standard. Use Standard classes to explore topics that you would not normally expect yourself to study in high school. Sports Medicine, Yearbook, Life Management Skills, Class Piano… the list goes on and on. These classes are extremely enriching and the more you can take, the more you will get out of your high school experience. Test your limits and step outside of your comfort zone. You never know if the Standard class you take during your freshman or sophomore year will turn into a passion of yours later on.
There is a wide array of Honors classes in the high school (most of which are concentrated for 9th and 10th graders as part of the normal course load). These classes are a little more challenging than your Standard options and encompass many Core class options as well. Your freshman and sophomore year nearly ever class has the option of being Standard. It should be noted that Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is weighted as a Standard class even though it is a requirement for the IB Diploma. This will be discussed below.
Although Windermere Prep is known for offering IB classes, its AP program is extremely strong as well. AP classes are on a 5.0 scale. You can sign up for these classes are early as your freshman year, but do not overload yourself with challenging classes as you transition from middle school to high school. I took these classes sophomore year on. From what I recall, we offer AP European History, AP Human Geography, and AP Environmental Science. However, students can take additional AP classes on Florida Virtual School. If you are interested in pursuing additional AP classes, speak to your guidance counselor and see if this is possible. The AP program is definitely a time commitment. There is a good amount of work associated with these classes. This applies to all course options, but make sure you take classes you really love and are interested in. Explore your horizons but make sure that you are doing something you are interested in. This will make your work more enriching and easier to tackle.
The IB Certificate is an option for juniors and seniors in high school. You can either take IB Standard Level (SL) or IB Higher Level (HL) classes. Some IB classes that are offered are Mathematics, English, Spanish, Latin, French, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Film, Art, Music, History, Psychology, and Economics. For foreign languages (Spanish, French, Latin), there is the option to take Ab Initio (from the beginning) courses. This means that during your junior year you can begin to learn a foreign language from the very beginning and complete this class your senior year. IB Certificate students do not have to take all IB classes, but can take Honors, Non-Honors, or AP classes in addition to the Certificates they wish to pursue. This track is still challenging. Many athletes or people who are extremely busy outside of school opt to take Certificate classes.
I am an IB Diploma candidate. The IB Diploma has a series of requirements that are more comprehensive and immersive than the Certificate. Students must take 3 SL classes and 3 HL classes within the IB, take Theory of Knowledge, write and Extended Essay (EE), and complete 150 Community, Action, Service (CAS) hours. Make sure to sign up for IB Diploma classes you are thoroughly interested in and would likely enjoy pursuing in college. This program, along with Certificate classes, is two years long and the classes you choose junior year have to be completed in your senior year.
Although 3 SL and 3 HL classes are offered, I take 2 SL and 4 HL classes. This is very challenging, and I suggest you speak with a guidance counselor before pursuing this option. I am enrolled in IB SL Economics, SLMathematics, HL Chemistry, HL Biology, HL English, and HL Spanish. In the future I hope to attend Medical School with a focus on global health and humanitarian initiatives in developing countries. For this reason, I took two HL science classes, Economics (the Developmental portion of the syllabus is fascinating), Spanish (both for cultural enrichment and because I love Spanish literature), and English. Normally students take one social science, science, math, English, and foreign language with the IB Diploma, and they have the option to take an Art class or double up in one of the pre-requisite disciplines.
The Theory of Knowledge class is an extremely enriching facet of the Diploma. This class asks students to question what they learn and become more engaged in their academic and personal pursuits. I firmly believe that this class was the tipping point for me to truly be able to call myself a scholar. If you take the Diploma, this class will change your life. It also comes with the requirement to write a TOK essay and give a presentation. Organization and open-mindedness is key.
The Extended Essay is essentially a Senior Thesis for IB Diploma students. You can write an EE in any of your IB classes and it is due right after your first semester of senior year. It is a capstone for the IB and truly the time to explore research and immerse yourself in one of your favorite classes. I'll quickly add on here that CAS hours are basically community service hours with the added component that you have to create a project that includes Community, Action, and Service components.
Please feel free to email/message/comment/stop me in the hallway if you have any questions about the information above. Speak to your guidance counselor and teachers to decide which route is best for you. Do what you love and you will completely fall in love with what you do.
It's been said that to be successful, you have to be organized. Well, whoever came up with that probably didn't have to deal with three tests, an essay and a project all due the next day after they got home from practice or rehearsal at 7pm. Welcome to High School.
Sometimes, you just get swamped with so much work that you really don't know where to start and, consequently, you don't end up doing any of it. This is where organization can calm you down and prevent you from, say, stress-eating. So how do you get organized? Confusingly, you must first organize your organizational process. Let me explain.
1. Establish a Home Base
A home base is essentially where you'll log all of your tasks. This can be a giant whiteboard in your room, a planner, or your hand (though that is not advised). Most often, your home base will be an app on your computer or phone. Having an app on all your electronic devices that syncs your tasks is extremely helpful, though if you're a more hands-on person a physical home base will work fine as well.
I personally use the application Things, which is available on Mac and iOS. It's not cheap, but it works really well and syncs promptly across its various platforms. I have a master list of tasks on my computer that also appears on my phone, and I can add and edit tasks from both devices. Other notable apps are iProcrastinate, Wunderlist, and Clear, which are all decidedly less expensive. Of course, there's always good ol' iCal if you like the calendar feel. Whichever platform you choose for your home base, make sure it's something that you'll always have with you.
Once you have a home base, start adding your tasks to it. Order your list of tasks by priority. For me, tests come first, projects second, quizzes third, homework fourth, extracurriculars fifth. If you have multiple tests, quizzes, homework assignments, etc, order them by class. So it should work out something like this: a test in your hardest class (or class that requires the most studying) will be the first thing on your task list, while a set of questions for your easiest class will come last. You should also save the fun stuff (yes- amazingly enough, there are enjoyable projects and assignments in High School) for last, that way you have something to look forward to after all the hard and boring stuff.
Another tip (and you're not going to like me for this): start your assignments EARLY. I know how excruciating it can be to sacrifice your free time for something that's not even due tomorrow, but trust me; when you finish an assignment three days early and stuff starts piling up as the week progresses, you'll have one less thing to do on Thursday night. And once you start doing stuff early, it gets easier and easier every time you do it. Proactivity, my friends. Proactivity.
When it's time to actually start doing your work (yes, this will inevitably happen), make sure you're as focused as possible. That way, you'll get more stuff done in less time. Tip number one: spend as little of your time on the computer as possible- the temptation to check Instagram or Facebook or play online games might be too great to resist, and that squashes your productivity. Of course most assignments have to be typed and/or researched online, so it's not always possible to avoid the machine.
If you have to be on a computer, take advantage of the numerous programs and applications available to keep you focused. If you're writing a paper, try a distraction-free writing program like iA Writer or OmmWriter for a full-screen page without any app icons or formatting buttons. If you're doing anything else online, I recommend using FocusAtWill. It's a free online music service with songs selected specifically for getting work done (with genres like classical, acoustic, and new age), and I find that it actually helps me focus.
Your environment can also help you focus. Always pick a spot to do work where you don't feel distracted by anything (for most people this is somewhere quiet, like a library or their bedroom). It's rarely a good idea to do homework on your bed, especially if your assignment is particularly boring and it's 9:30 at night- you might just fall asleep, and that's totally not what we're going for here.
That doesn't sound too bad, does it? Just have a singular place where you write down everything you have to get accomplished, arrange all your tasks by difficulty and importance level and create an environment conducive to focusing, and you'll be ready to own all your work. Of course if you have any questions about organization or good study habits, feel free to ask me a question.
Too often, as students fall back into the swing of a new semester, a certain degree of monotony begins to seep each week. We are familiar with our own patterns: wake up, put on a permutation of our school uniform, drive to school, class-to-class lessons with quick hallway chats in between, after school activities, homework, sleep. Rinse and repeat. However school does not have to be a re-run of Saved by The Bell (or for our younger readers, Ned's Declassified). I am writing about two true and tested ways to help you embrace the now and love every day (even Mondays).
1) Be a human being, not a human doing.We have all had rough days. Those days when you get home and when your parents ask how your day went you flippantly respond, "it was ok". Perhaps you were preoccupied with friend problems, a test that didn't go very well, and/or copious amounts of homework. We may not realize it, but it shows. Last year I was having one of those days, my feet dragged a little more than usual between my classes and I wasn't smiling and greeting everyone that walked by as normal. One of my best friends, Manny, lightly grabbed my arm and what he said completely turned around my day (and has still clearly stuck with me now). "Valentina, why are you sad? Look around you: life is so beautiful!" From then on I have made a conscious effort to realize just how much I have, how blessed I am, and how beautiful life is. Things that seem life shattering in middle school and high school are so trivial in the long run. We should all look around us and realize this.
2) Live with your eyes open.
Cross-country promised not to be an easy sport, but that was why I joined it. Dr. Williams coached our team and each practice was an extremeworkout. I remember one particular practice in which consisted of a 2-mile ladder following an intense warm-up. After the first mile, I will admit, I wanted to give up. I paced around the track with my hands on my hips and looked up, rather than solely in. My teammates were all surely thinking the same thing: their eyes were glazed over with a mixture of tears and sweat. But when Dr. Williams blew her whistle for us to get back on the starting line, we all did without hesitation. Sometimes when school and personal activities seem overwhelming we shut out those around us. We do not take the time to notice that others are struggling too. Furthermore we do not look up to see our own personal Dr. Williams, standing with a whistle and tacit support for us to keep moving forward. Keep your eyes open and realize you aren't the only person standing at the starting line of your second mile.
As always talk to your family, friends, and teachers when life feels overwhelming or repetitive. Fill each day with what you love. Embrace the now and I wish you all the best of luck for this last semester!
Dear WPS Students:
If I had the chance to go back to middle school and high school there would be some things I would do differently. Although I am a teacher- and teachers love learning- we all didn't start off perfectly and I am certainly one of those. Here are some pieces of advice that I think will help you capitalize on your chances of making the most of your education and the time and resources in front of you all.
From a WPS teacher
During my time in middle school, everything seemed easy. Now there were a couple exceptions like TAP, but for the most part it was a breeze. I could go home do my homework in an hour and then watch TV or do something else. I had a lot of free time on my hands. At the beginning of the 9th grade year, I didn't think that 9th grade could be much harder than 8th grade. You would not believe how wrong I was. Now, most of the hard work came from my AP Human Geography class (which required at least 2 hours a night) and I was forced to learn how to manage my time well so I could have time to do some of my extracurricular activities, and other homework. The most efficient way to clear up time is to make use of your weekends. This may seem hard at first because your weekends are your only time off from school, but to manage an AP class with other activities you must utilize it. Utilizing the weekend can reduce the workload. You must stay organized during your 9th grade year or you will fall behind on your assignments. There are a few different apps that I recommend to get organized as they have helped me in the past. Using technology was a big help in knowing what is due and when.
The final difference between 8th and 9th grade is the immense pressure put on by college. When entering high school, you will have a moment of realization that now everything matters. Each test, each project, each choice that you make in high school will affect college. So in May, when you are looking at your course selection actually look at what classes you choose because those decisions can come back and haunt you. Make sure to pick classes right for you, not too hard or too easy but just right. You must put all your effort into each an every assignment because every grade matters and one grade can affect your quarterly grade in a positive way or negative way.
During my time at Windermere Prep, my biggest challenge was definitely time management. Seeing that we are all surrounded by technology, it is easy to get carried away, and I am certain that others struggled with this issue as well. On the other hand, many of us become preoccupied with other extracurricular activities that take up more time than expected, and it seems now often forgotten that perhaps we have spent too much time with extracurriculars that it becomes near impossible to even cope with school work. However, with the right planning one can successfully manage their time between multiple activities and not have to stress out about school.
The greatest challenge may be allowing your extracurriculars cut into precious time that could be used studying. So create a schedule that revolves around how long these activities will take. Plan out a schedule of each subject. Assess how much time they will take to complete. Then prioritize. It would be useless to spend most of your time in a subject that you are already very familiar with, so I suggest quick reviews of the easy content (just enough to get you by for the time being, don't put it off so much to the point you fall behind). Then spend most of your time looking at the content that troubles you. Try to understand it. If you don't understand, be prepared to ask your teacher for help. Your teacher is your friend and will always be willing to help you out, so long as you make it clear to them that you need help.
Of course, too much studying can overwhelm one, so make time just to relax. Don't give yourself too much time, because then you will eventually come to regret it. Just give yourself the right amount to de-stress and do whatever pleases you. However, once it comes time to work, then work. Don't stop until your next planned break. And should a big test or exam be right around the corner, and then you must not take any breaks. You will need all the studying time, and doing anything other than studying will do you no good. You will have plenty of time after the exam to do whatever you want; until then, work!
If you utilize your time and these methods properly, then you will be successful. I will not pretend that it will be easy; it will not be easy, but this will help you tremendously.