Pull up a chair, time for an update!
So when last we we had an up close and personal, C. was off to boarding school in New England. So how has that gone? (Today we’ll do C. M. will be the next post.)
All told, great! Academically, there were a few kinks to work out in her schedule at the beginning, namely math and foreign language placement. If she had remained at her MCPS high school, she would have been taking B/C Calculus. Her new school essentially wanted her to repeat pre-Calculus (a class she got A’s in in MCPS) for two terms and then start B/C in the spring. Daughter Dear would have none of it. She *hates* to repeat stuff. She wanted to proceed straight into B/C Calc. Despite her diligent self-advocacy — and the promise that she would take full responsibility for her possible failure — the department head wouldn’t budge. The compromise was A/B Calculus, but only after she had successfully taken the first test in pre-Calc, which meant she would be starting A/B Calc already behind. She proved her mettle, joined the A/B Calculus class (the only junior in a class of seniors) and is doing great. Similar situation in French. They wanted her to repeat, and she replied “non!’ She was able to move. Her other classes are Physics (one of two juniors in a class of seniors), Middle Eastern History (the only junior), and a special English class just for the new juniors. (BTW, at this school 11th graders are called something else and “juniors” are actually what we know as freshmen/9th graders — but I’ll stick with the more familiar public school designation, “junior.”) Academically, I think it is really what she was looking for. The class sizes are ridiculously small: 7 in French, 10 in Physics — Middle East, at 16, is at the outermost edge of acceptable — as opposed to 35+ in her former classes. There is discussion. The teachers are engaged and really know each student. She’s working very hard… but still has time to be involved in a slew of extracurricular activities.
Socially, it is very hard to jump into a new school during junior year. It just is. Add to that C.’s, ah, “choosy nature,” and that makes it a bit tougher. initial impression was that students — especially the girls — are unfailingly nice and pleasant…but not as comfortable having a passionate debate about, say, politics. Which is what she loves. There is a bit of “sameness” (Uggs? Check. Long blonde side ponytail? Check.) that anthropologically A. finds interesting…and disconcerting (“Mom, I just don’t know how to ‘do’ teenage girl.”). Boarding school has thrown into relief what an unusually spirited, diverse, and liberal corner of the universe we inhabit here in Silver Spring. (By boarding school standards she’s practically a hippy.) She’s responded by throwing herself into campus clubs and activities, including Mock Trial, which she loves, a campus women’s group and weekly tutoring of middle schoolers from a neighboring town. Last week she called to let me know that she found another junior girl who is as obsessive about politics as she is–oh happy day! She’s also befriended a sophomore in her dorm and last week, after the latest tremendous snow, she walked into town with a new friend to visit a thrift store. Overall, I think she’s happy. She sounds happy. And for that I’m deeply, deeply grateful.
A quick word about C.’s advisor. She’s phenomenal. We went up for Parents’ Weekend and had a chance to meet for the first time and talk. She so gets C. and appreciates some of the very qualities that were not appreciated by other teachers in the past. Again, words cannot express how much that means to this mom . In fact, we were impressed with all of C.’s teachers.
“What about you, SwitchedOnMom?” I hear you ask. “How are you dealing with the separation?” Honestly? It’s not bad. Sure I miss her, but those feelings are far outweighed by my happiness for her, that she has the opportunity to be part of this ideal learning community. What must it be like to walk down wide, tree-lined paths in the fall, white spires against a blue sky? It’s flat out gorgeous. To be surrounded by the energy of hundreds of talented, bright, energetic, athletic, musical young people. And to live in that place and to feel “this is my place, my school“…that’s got to be amazing. Naturally technology helps a great deal too. I just got off the phone with her — she was excited to tell me about an email she got from a faculty member about a research project she’s working on, and about a very successful club meeting. I text her. She texts me. She’ll call in the middle of the day. We Skype. I talk to her at least every other day.
I also love to see the growth, the maturity. I have to say, at the end of winter break it gave me a thrill to pull up to the curb at BWI, lift her bag out of the trunk, give her a hug — and get back into the car and wave goodbye, knowing that she was fully capable of checking herself in, getting through security, getting on the plane and traveling back to school on the other side. Finally, it’s been nice to spend more time with M. She says, and I agree that we’ve gotten much closer in the past few months. The two sisters have also gotten closer to each other. Now that is really nice to see.