The leaves turn yellow and orange, the wind bites slightly, and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils drifts from my backpack, which is loaded in preparation for everyone's favorite holiday: the first day of school.
By twelfth grade, the first day jitters have significantly died down. I think this calm is largely due to the fact that I already know my courses and teachers. At the end of junior year, seniors are able to pick electives to fill their 12th grade schedules. While I'm still enrolled in a range of core classes -- history, English, science, math, and foreign language -- my courses are more specialized to match my interests.
As I enter school, Mr. Lindsay, my advisor, hands me my schedule. Though I already know my courses, my classmates and the dynamic of each class remain mysteries to me.
A Block: Free! I simultaneously jump for joy and sigh with relief. Having A block free means I can sleep in and arrive at school at 8:55, another senior privilege. I can finish last minute homework because my free block is in the morning. But once I discover that many of my friends have A block free too, finishing homework in the morning looks a lot less promising. It's my last chance to spend free blocks with my Potomac friends!
B Block: AP Physics. I chose to take physics because it allows me to apply the math I've learned and loved over the past several years of high school. Even better, my advisor and mentor, Mr. Lindsay, teaches the class. Seniors aren't required to take a science course, but the plethora of options prompts most students to add at least one to their schedule. Other science course options include AP Biology, AP Chemistry, Environmental Science, Astronomy, and Forensic Analysis.
C Block: Comedy and Satire, my English elective. At Potomac, there is no English 12 course. Instead, seniors choose semester English classes from an array of specialized topics. Some English courses center more on literary creation, like Writing Fiction or Speech; some center more on literary analysis, like Mystery and Detective Fiction, and my class, Comedy and Satire. I chose Comedy and Satire because I knew every class would be full of jokes and good energy. I also had some inside information on this class and knew that it would be taught by one of my favorite English teachers. Score.
D Block: AP Statistics. My senior year schedule allowed me just enough space to fit in an extra math class. Statistics is a course open to all students in grades 10 through 12, which creates a unique class dynamic. I've loved getting to know students from other grades, and I'm grateful for their extra help during free blocks!
E Block: Ancient Greek. This class is especially dear to me because students requested it and Mr. Dwyer took on the extra work to make it happen! Last year, five other juniors and I took on the challenge of AP Latin. After a rigorous course translating Caesar and Virgil, we decided we needed a break from Latin studies. We asked our Latin teacher, who had been a classics major in college, if he could teach Ancient Greek the following year. Mr. Dwyer heartily agreed, and currently we are working through an Ancient Greek textbook together. It feels a little weird to start over with a new language and alphabet, but the experience has reminded me how much I love studying foreign language. Our class is able to connect the Greek vocabulary and grammar not only to English but also to Latin, tracing the language's roots to their very source. And don't worry, once a week we work as a class to translate Latin so that we don't lose our skills!
F Block: Lunch. Plenty of good food and good friends here. F Block is also my slot as a peer helper in the MSC2, the Math and Science Collaboration Center. Located just off of the library, the MSC2 is a vibrant space for collaborative work, complete with couches and whiteboard tables. During F Block, I serve as one of the tutors for any students who drop by asking for math or science help. The MSC2 has also provided me with a fun group of lunchmates; we're often eating, working, and laughing all at the same time.
G Block: Religions of the East, my history elective. Similar to the English program, seniors can choose from a variety of 12th grade history courses. Some of the most popular are Economics and American Civil Rights. I chose Religions of the East because God has shaped my life through Christianity, and I want to learn how others' lives through their faith. Before I started the course, I didn't realize how much I didn't know about Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. I've learned a great deal, but what strikes me is how similar the Eastern religions are to Christianity. Religions of the East has inspired me to continue my study of religion in college.
H Block: Advanced Topics in Math. After calculus, Potomac's mathematics department offers this specialized course. Each year, one the math faculty member takes on ATM, designing a unique curriculum around a specific field of mathematics. This year, Mr. Lijoi is teaching number theory. Number theory is essentially the study of cool facts about numbers. We don't try to apply numbers to the outside world; we just look at their inner beauty. I love this class because of its collaborative nature. Mr. Lijoi expects us to work together completing homework and problem sets. As the last class of the day, it anchors my day with fun and enthusiastic learning.