An Independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, D.C.

Martha

Extracurriculars: Cross country, indoor and outdoor track, Mixed Company (a cappella group), The Current (Upper School newspaper), and YouToo Tennis.
Favorite Class: Spanish. I think learning a foreign language is a very valuable endeavor, and I hope to continue using my Spanish-speaking skills after I graduate from Potomac.
Favorite Thing About Potomac: The school spirit. The whole school gets excited before big athletic events, and everyone is always cheering each other on, whether on the athletic field or in the classroom.
Memorable Potomac Moment: During eighth grade I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Spain for one week over spring break wtih my classmates. We got to see many incredible sights and experience Spanish culture. It was an unbelievable trip.


Martha
10th GRade

This year, I decided to join the staff of the Upper School's newspaper, The Current. I've always enjoyed writing, and I had previously written for the Intermediate Insider in eighth grade, so I knew I wanted to join the school paper when I got to high school.

I went to The Current's first meeting my freshman year, but I didn't end up continuing to attend the meetings for two reasons. For one, I wanted to use the weekly Clubs and Activities block to do homework and be productive before going home. But also, I was honestly terrified of having to interact with upperclassmen and go out and interview different people in the school, especially since none of my close friends in my grade were on the staff of the The Current. I regret this decision, because I think stepping out of my comfort zone by doing something without any close friends would have been a valuable experience for me as a freshman who wasn't particularly outgoing. Fortunately, I did end up taking advantage of some new opportunities on my own during my freshman year by becoming part of an a cappella group and joining new sports teams.

I finally joined The Current my sophomore year, and the staff was very welcoming. I got straight to work with writing articles, and I got to interview many different teachers and students I'd never talked to before. Though the interview process sometimes made me nervous, I always felt accomplished after getting a good quote out of someone. I was also surprised at the willingness of students in all different social groups, as well as different faculty members, to share their experiences with me. Openness is one characteristic of Potomac as a whole that I definitely appreciate.

Overall, I've had a great time working on The Current, and I've especially enjoyed getting feedback on my writing, whether in the form of suggestions or praise. Potomac provides a wide range of almost 40 different clubs and activities for Upper School students, and I'm grateful that I've had such an amazing experience in one of them. There seems to be a club for everyone in the school, and students in any grade can always start their own new clubs. The fact that the whole Upper School dedicates an hour once a week to take a break from our rigorous academics to focus on what we're passionate about has been one of my favorite parts about attending Potomac.

I've mentioned that school spirit is one of my favorite aspects of Potomac. For my first blog of sophomore year, I thought I would write about one situation this fall in which I felt the strong sense of spirit and community that Potomac holds.

This year marked Potomac's first year of having a girls varsity volleyball team. Many girls in the Upper School (as well as younger girls) had expressed interest in having a school team for years, and their dream finally came true last year when Potomac offered two JV teams. This year, girls volleyball players were finally able to compete at the varsity level, and there was enough interest for a JV team, too. Everyone in the Upper School was excited to see the performance of the two teams.

One weekend each fall, Potomac hosts a Friday cookout during which many games are scheduled for students from all grades to watch. Every other year, the games are coordinated so that either many boys varsity teams have home games on one evening or many girls teams do, which I think is a good exercise considering that boys games at high schools normally receive more spectators. This year, it was all girls games at the cookout, including girls tennis, field hockey, and soccer. There was also a volleyball game scheduled, and I decided to head to the gym after my cross country practice to watch. When I first got there a few minutes into the game, only a handful of students were on the bleachers cheering. Pretty soon I heard one of my friends mention that she wanted "the big group" to come back to the gym and cheer. I didn't know what my friend meant at first, but I soon figured it out.

A few minutes later, a gigantic flock of students came into the gym, and the group was almost completely made up of boys, as no boys had games to play that evening. The group had been moving around campus to cheer at different girls games. Many of them displayed Potomac gear, and their loud entrance made a spirited rumble as they entered the gym. As the group settled into the bleachers, there were no longer just a few people; the section of bleachers designated for students was almost completely packed. As the volleyball team continued to play, the energy in the gym increased exponentially, with some senior boys on SAC (Potomac's Senior Athletic Committee) leading loud, organized cheers.

The excitement in the bleachers was huge, and it definitely had an effect on the game; the girls ended up coming back from losing the first two matches to win three in a row, earning the three out of five they needed to win the game. At the end of the game, the whole pack of us on the bleachers stormed onto the court in victory. But what struck me that evening was not just the great game the girls had played but also the energy brought by all of the spectators. In the fall, big displays of school spirit would normally only be expected at football games. The fact that so many students came out and cheered at a girls game shows a unique experience that makes Potomac special. This is not only because Potomac is a coed school, but it's also because we have a sense of spirit and community that is so special and important to every student, coach, and faculty member here.

At the end of this winter, I was faced with a personal dilemma regarding my after-school schedule. Once again, it was about to be the start of a new sports season at Potomac. In the fall, I played tennis and had a fun experience competing and bonding with my teammates, many of whom were girls I'd never met and had gotten to know throughout the season. In the winter, I had been on Potomac's coed swim team, which had also been an amazing time and had been a great way to meet an even larger group of students than I'd met when playing tennis. So far, high school sports had been a great way for me to meet a lot of new people in addition to continually fueling my love of sports.

Swimming and tennis were two sports that I'd been participating in outside of school for many years. As I was still practicing swimming outside of school, I decided to take the spring season off from Potomac sports so I could swim for my club team, as I could still receive an athletic credit with a required number of hours of swimming per week.

Still, I had always wanted to be on a high school running team at Potomac (either cross country, winter track and field, or spring track and field), and I had heard so much about how great Potomac's track team was. I had run on the Intermediate School track team in 7th grade and had a great time, though I'd been injured in 8th grade and hadn't been able to run. I decided to go to the first day of track practice to see what it would be like in case I changed my mind about waiving out of school sports to swim in the spring.

On the first day of spring sports, the whole Upper School track and field team of over 80 high school students (an extremely high number for a school in the leagues that Potomac competes in) gathered in Potomac's Tiered Classroom (a room in the Upper School that looks like a small lecture hall and is mainly used as a location for study hall periods) to hear the coaches and older athletes introduce us to the team.

Once the meeting began, the head coach immediately started talking about how in his program, athletes feeling like they're a part of a team is considered to be more important than athletes' performances in meets, and every runner, thrower, and jumper on the team is valued equally, no matter the level at which they compete. He also noted that Potomac's track and field team has produced many state champions in recent years, which seemed to prove that not showing favoritism to faster runners didn't negatively impact the team's performance, but created a more well-rounded team that attracted more students to join. I was so inspired by this first meeting, and even on the first day, so many older runners welcomed me to the team. I decided to take a risk and officially join the track team for the spring season.

Competing in track events after not running for a long period of time was much more difficult than I thought it would be. My times were not what I expected them to be, and as a competitive person, I was frustrated with myself as an athlete. However, the negativity I thrust upon myself was nothing compared to the encouragement I received from my teammates. With a sport like track that many would consider to be intense and difficult, I had never expected to have such a great experience.

The amount of cheering-on I received before, during, and after my races—and during practice—was overwhelming. When playing tennis, anyone watching has to stay silent while the point is going on. In swimming, most cheers are muffled when I'm in the water. In track, everyone on the team cheers for everyone during every race. I happily received countless hugs and high fives from people I barely knew after every race, regardless of how I placed in the race or what time I ran. Despite the team's gigantic size, everyone on the team seemed to be friends with everyone else, no matter what reputation any person had outside of the sport.

In our last meet of the season, I ran a much slower time than I had hoped, and an older runner, instead of celebrating about the great race she had just run, went out of her way to make me feel better and to tell me that I would eventually be able to improve if I kept going. This experience was just one small example of all the support I received from other runners on the team.

With such a great group of people, I was extremely glad that I had decided to take the unexpected route and run track this spring, and being on the team made my life better off the track as well as on it. This spring season was a great way to top off my freshman year at Potomac, and I can't wait to run next year.

Having been at Potomac for over five years now, I’ve gone through many transitions while at this school. I’ve grown up a little bit more each year while at Potomac, and I’ve made it through two of Potomac’s four divisions: the Middle School (4th through 6th grade) and the Intermediate School (7th and 8th grade). But perhaps the biggest transition in grade school is the one from 8th to 9th grade; finally getting to start high school.

Around 35 new kids came into my grade this year, bringing the Class of 2019 to 115 students, which is larger than Potomac’s highest-populated graduating class so far. Coming into high school was obviously a bigger feat for the new students than it has been for me, but many new students I’ve talked to tell me how smooth Potomac made their transition feel. The bottom line is: Whether we know each other or not, high school is a fresh start for everyone. I have made many new friends this year already, both with new students and with students I simply hadn’t talked to before.

One element that stood out to me about coming into high school was the amount of freedom and decision-making we are allowed to have now that we’re older and more responsible. I now have the option to join any of almost fifty clubs, ranging from Gay-Straight Alliance to Service Learning to The Current, our Upper School’s newspaper.

In addition, Upper School students are given longer blocks for lunch and study hall periods, giving us time to catch up with friends during the day, but perhaps—more importantly—allowing us some time to get homework done so we aren’t as swamped with work to do at home and can enjoy our sports practices after school.

One important thing I love about going to high school at Potomac is the sense of community. Sports, activities, and classes give students the chance to be friends with students in other grades. Potomac also has a high school “family” system, in which each freshman is matched with a sophomore, junior, and senior. I hear students from other schools telling stories about upperclassmen bullying underclassmen, but at Potomac, this isn’t the case at all.

To sum it all up, despite the larger homework load (which is a given for any high school), starting 9th grade has been a good transition for me, and I can’t wait for the rest of my time in the Upper School.