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

Will

Extracurriculars: Student Council, Swimming, Lacrosse, Squash, and Cross Country
Favorite Class: Math
Favorite Thing About Potomac: The friendships
Memorable Potomac Moment: Hearing Congressman John Lewis speak to the entire school.
Aspirations: To make the varsity Lacrosse, Squash, and Swimming teams and to help make the class of 2021 the best Potomac class ever.

Will
8th GRade

I'll be a Lifer at Potomac, meaning I've spent time on campus studying, learning school traditions, and making friends since I was in kindergarten. I have amazing memories of the school, which range from reading my first book to understanding quadratic equations. I owe who I am to Potomac's community and what I've learned from my teachers, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead in the Upper School.

I started out my Potomac life in Mr. Taylor's kindergarten class in the old Lower School building. That building is gone now, but I still have vivid memories of it, especially the playground. The main social event for a kindergartener has to be the Kindergarten Circus, which features elephants squirting water into the crowd, clowns clowning around, and body-builders lifting inflatable weights. Over the next three years, in a brand new Lower School building, I memorized my multiplication tables and all 50 states and capitals. I also participated in several plays, one being about Lewis and Clark, where I played the husband of Sacagawea, and took incredible field trips like one to the Frederick Douglas house. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Greer, happened to be getting married the year she was my teacher. So, being excited little third graders, we threw her a mock wedding at one of my friend's houses. As the "father" of the bride, I got to walk her down the aisle.

In Middle School, we earned more independence and freedom. We went from having PE to playing sports, including some I didn't even know existed, like handball. As in Lower School, we held plays; the one I remember the most was Charlotte's Web in fifth grade, where I played Lurvy, the Zuckermans' hired hand. I can recall my big moment--looking into the crowd and saying, "Some Pig." Fifth grade at Potomac means the the Greek Olympics, an event where students compete in track activities like the high jump, discus, and more. I was a long jumper. As a sixth grader, I played a knight in the Middle School medieval bazaar. I spoke about the battles I had fought, the tests and work that was required to be knighted, and how to serve my king.

As for my time in the Intermediate School, I could go on and on about my amazing teachers, friends, sports involvement, and community. I could write an entire book about all that we have done recently, like the field trip we just took to the African American Museum of History and Culture, where we studied history from the 1400s through modern times.

Now, Independent Projects are due soon. These projects allow eighth graders to study a specific area of interest in depth, whether that involves writing a book or 3D printing soccer cleats. I chose to study chiropractic medicine. I am researching the origins of these treatments, the tools used in its practice, the maneuvers doctors perform, and what effects this area has on health.

Life at Potomac has been filled with intense academic and athletic challenges, but also tremendous school spirit, excitement, and friendships. I do not know exactly what high school at Potomac will bring, but if it is anything like the what I have experienced so far, I can't wait to get started.

One of the main reasons why Potomac is so special is our amazing community. Friendships here, I believe, will last a lifetime, our teachers make learning fun and create meaningful bonds with their students. Potomac makes a real effort to create positive change in our community.

Since Potomac is a K through 12 school, many of my peers and I have known each other for our entire schooling lives. As people come and go, everyone stays in touch because we are all friends. Whether we text or use Instagram, we still talk to past classmates that have moved to another state or just to a new school. Everyone is given a chance to make friends, and everyone wants to be friends. My friendships are quite possibly my favorite thing about Potomac, and the connections I make give me and my fellow students a sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves.

During my past two years at Potomac, I have had two amazing advisors, Mr. Laskowski and now Ms. Stein. Mr. Laskowski taught me in math and has truly been one of my favorite teachers and people of all time. Not long ago, I emailed him to ask how he was since he had to move out of the area. I was surprised when he emailed me back and talked to me as if times had never changed, asking me how my cross country season went and how math was going. Ms. Stein, who also teaches math, is spontaneous and sometimes very funny in class. She makes learning enjoyable and is genuinely excited to teach her students about a subject she loves. Every teacher I have had at Potomac has been dedicated, kind, and fun to learn from.

Potomac puts on many events to help our community. An example is the Book Fair. For this event, every student is given the opportunity to donate some of their used books, which are collected and sorted based on age and genre. From there, students visit the fair and buy books for a very low cost, and all the funds go to our library and scholarships. All the books that are not sold are donated to charity. Potomac also hosts a few events for Alternative House, a nonprofit that provides an array of services for children, teens, and young adults in the local community. Students are given the opportunity to meet and become friends with the children at the events Potomac hosts, such as our Halloween party and school play. While spending time with the children visiting from Alternative House, we eat pizza, enjoy the playgrounds, and just make friends.

My father, who was only able to attend Potomac for one year, has always told me that it is the friendships and sense of community that make Potomac truly great. He is still in touch with some of his childhood classmates today, so the tradition of friendship has lived on since at least 1972!

Fall is back and has been better than ever with cross country, Fall Frolics, and the Eighth Grade Day of Service. The 8th grade also brings a more difficult academic component.

After an entire season of hard work, grit, and perseverance, Potomac's Intermediate School (IS) boys cross country boy team placed second in the league. Individually, Potomac had 3 top-10 finishers in our league championships. Out of over 100 competitors, 8th graders Michael Zhang, Matthew Granovsky, and I finished in 2nd, 5th, and 7th places, respectively. As I think back to cross country last year in 7thgrade, I could not even imagine myself placing in championships. However, I was proven wrong due to my determination and love for cross country. Another remarkable fact about this year's IS cross country team is that it is the first team in many years to have a full girl's team. That is important because in cross country, a team is required to have a minimum of 5 finishers in order to have their points count for the team. I cannot wait to watch our girls and boys teams develop in future years.

Eight grade is the final year that students are allowed to volunteer for Potomac's Fall Frolics, which supports student scholarships and faculty development and is a great time for the whole school. This year it coincided with our Homecoming football game, adding to the excitement. I will miss the thrill of buying raffle tickets for a chance to win an awesome prize, getting my face painted by my friends (not quite knowing how it will turn out), the awesome games, and especially the cake walk. However, as my time ends at Fall Frolics, new adventures begin.

In 8th grade, you get the opportunity to help your community in many ways. One way is the Day of Service, in which you either prepare or deliver food for people in need. I was given the job of delivering food. We loaded up our bus with the prepared food and headed to downtown Washington, DC, to brighten someone's day. It was amazing to see people's faces when we arrived at their homes and how they welcomed us. I am grateful for this experience and will never forget that day. I hope to have future opportunities like it.

For 8th graders, being the leaders of the IS brings more responsibility. For example, each student has to serve as their own self advocate. If you ever feel like you are falling behind, you must be sure to meet with your teacher, and you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. In fact, the teachers strongly encourage it and are always happy to help their students. As leaders, we must also make good choices and keep in mind Potomac's core values: Courage, Integrity, Humility, Perseverance, and Respect.

Fall is a special time at Potomac. Everyone comes together to cheer on autumn sports, celebrate Fall Frolics, and contribute to our community. I am looking forward to the rest of the school year, playing winter sports, and learning more about how to help my community.

Spring at Potomac is blossoming with energy and the excitement of spring sports, the school dance, the spring concert, special guest speaker John Lewis, and summer camps on the horizon.

For Intermediate School (IS) sports, there are many options. Track, tennis, baseball/softball, and my favorite, lacrosse, are played four days a week. The IS boys lacrosse team is truly special, with a great coaching staff, and our head coach, Tom Oberdorfer, gets us all to work hard and improve our skills. At the beginning of the season, I was not a confident dodger, but now I can get around almost anybody. This week, we beat St. Albans by one point! The game was lots of fun, and both teams showed great sportsmanship.

The seventh and eighth grade dance was one of my favorite events of the entire school year. It was organized by the Student Council, where I am an elected representative. There were lights, a DJ, and a fun photo station where you could put on a variety of accessories like a cheeseburger hat or a mustache. There were different "Best Dancer" competitions and a raffle, which gave away candy and gift cards. I won one of the raffles and received an Apple gift card, which I used immediately! I was also the winner of a dance competition for the song "Watch Me" by Silentó and my prize was a bag of Twizzlers. I am already looking forward to this dance next year.

One of the highlights for the entire school this year was a visit by Congressman John Lewis. He gave a very inspirational speech about his life as an equal rights advocate and as one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. He is an author of several books including one we read in anticipation of his visit called March. He is also portrayed by an actor in the amazing film Selma, which I watched in advance of his visit. Most of the teaching staff and the fourth through twelfth grades came to hear his speech. He is a real life hero.

Something that Potomac does that is special for our community is to regularly invite kids from Alternative House to our campus. Founded in 1972, Alternative House "transforms the lives of children and youth helping them stay safe, make positive decisions, achieve educational success, and overcome personal crises." Potomac is part of their neighborhood support and has had the kids come over to play games, enjoy live performances in the theater, celebrate Halloween, and more. I attended a few visits, and my favorite was when we saw the school play The Wizard of Oz. When the kids arrived, we were paired up. I was able to spend time with two enthusiastic kids named Jonathan and Kevin. I could tell that they had a good time and couldn't wait to come again. For many of the kids, this was their first experience seeing a live performance.

All in all, spring at Potomac is energy-filled, fun, and exciting. However, as the inevitable end of the school year creeps closer, I think about what I will be doing this summer. One thing for certain is that I will attend at least one of the many Potomac camps, such as the lacrosse camp coached by Mr. Oberdorfer with the help of the varsity players. Another idea I have is for a math camp to keep me on track for the expected challenges of the eighth grade. I know that I will miss school and seeing my friends every day, but I have no doubt that we'll still get together as often as we can.

Wintertime at Potomac is really special in every way possible. There are the Student Council elections, winter sports with activities like squash, basketball, wrestling, weights and conditioning, and a musical. There’s also the Winter Concert, which is one of the highlights of the entire school year for parents and students.

Being in the Intermediate School (IS) at Potomac means more independence and more say in how things are done at school. One way this happens is with the Student Council. In November, each homeroom, which is made up of two advisory groups where students meet at the beginning and end of the day, gets to elect two Student Council representatives. In the election, each student running makes a speech in which they share with the class the ideas they have to improve the IS experience. Things like new snacks, uniform changes, or creative ways to gain more break time are explored. After speeches are given and votes have been cast, two new representatives are added to the 7th and 8th grade IS Student Council.

As a Student Council member, you have to be willing to sacrifice your free time, lunches, and homework time to focus on getting things accomplished. It is also a two-year commitment, meaning you are also on the Student Council in 8th grade, if you are elected in 7th. I was elected as one of our homeroom representatives. In the beginning of the year, our team of council members separated into three main groups: government and action (which I am in), school events, and community service. Student Council is a great way to learn leadership responsibility, participate in an election, and discover how to get things done for your fellow Potomac IS students.

Potomac’s IS winter sports/activities consist of five options: squash, basketball, wrestling, a musical, and weights and conditioning. We have A and B teams for boys and girls basketball, one wrestling team, one boys and one girls squash team, weights and conditioning, and the musical, which is The Wizard of Oz this year. I was one of about 20 boys that tried out for the IS squash team, where only nine would eventually make the team. I was nervous but got serious, worked hard, and made it! I am on a team with some fantastic players. Our coach, John Power, is the father of Jonathan Power, the former No. 1 squash player in the world. He is an amazing coach and has helped players on the team with their technique, power, and accuracy; we are also building great team spirit.

Our basketball coaches and wrestling coaches are amazing as well. One of the two wrestling coaches for the Intermediate School is Coach Laskowski, who is also my advisor. The basketball coaches are Coach Lee and Coach Mulzac.

This year’s musical, The Wizard of Oz, is coming up soon and is sure to be a blast. I can’t wait to see what my friends have been working on. As part of a service learning effort, the kids from Alternative House, a local community shelter that serves youth and families, will also be attending this play. It will be the first live performance many of them have ever seen. This event is always a lot of fun!

Finally, the Winter Concert is a special evening event when all of the IS students perform musical pieces in front of a live audience full of special guests and family members. But what most people don’t see is what happens behind the scenes: the preparing, the practicing, the bonding, and so much more. We have a strings orchestra, a bells symphony, a band, and a choir. This concert offers the chance to see what all your friends have been practicing throughout the year. I play the violin in the strings orchestra and we played the songs “Bashana Haba’ah,” “Dance Scenario,” and “Christmas in the Kitchen” for this concert. The conductor in strings is Mrs. Wynn, who is a phenomenal teacher and has taught me everything I know about performing music, reading music, and the violin. The other musical teachers are amazing as well. The band teachers are Ms. Vesilind and Mr. DiCuirci, the choir teacher is Mr. Rich, and the bells symphony teacher is Mr. Hanson. The Winter Concert is so rewarding for the students, families, and our teachers.

I am very grateful to be representing my classmates by serving on the Student Council, playing squash on the IS team, and performing the violin live in concert. The Student Council, Winter Sports/Activities, and the Winter Concert all make the winter season at Potomac an amazing time.