Looking Forward by Solange Baker

Junior year is a strange time, I’ll put it at that. It’s the year when everything you do and every grade you get starts to truly impact your college choices. But Junior year is also a limbo year; where you’re not quite at the end yet, but you can see the light at the exit of the tunnel. In addition, having Senior friends allows me to see what’s in store for me next year. So as my elders frantically submit their UC applications, I cheer them on from the sidelines, secretly dreading when it’ll be my turn. This is something I appreciate about SOTA, though. There is a unique relationship between grades that comes from us being a small school and having different grades interact in our art. My friends at other schools don’t know everyone in their grade, much less those above and below them. But at SOTA those boundaries are broken through the inherent structure of our school.

At SOTA, we have a block schedule and three academic classes a day. Since we give up half of our day to be dedicated toward our art, we only have five academic classes total. Everything rotates around our art and as a result we have to cram in academic credit requirements. Although by the time you graduate you’ll have all the credits you need without a problem, what it means is that you generally don’t have electives until Junior year. Last year I loved signing up for my classes. I’ve tested out of language so I had a free period to fit an elective into. I also go to choose between English, science, and math classes. I’ve found that getting to chose your classes allows for much greater enjoyment of them.

So clearly, potential Creative Writing applicant, you have a lot to look forward to. High School and college seem like looming unavoidable horrors, but in reality they’re great opportunities through which you’ll evolve and create community. I look forward in nervous anticipation to my Senior year, but right now I’m focusing on getting through this year and all the growth and fantastic contingencies it brings.

Solange Baker, class of 2019

Year Eleven by Charlotte Pocock

When introducing myself to someone for the first time, I often find myself describing myself first as a high school junior. This, by default, means that I have completed ten whole years of grade level academics and am working on my eleventh. I am now sixteen years old, and, if you count Pre-K, I have been involved in some sort of schooling for exactly three quarters of my life. Recently, I have been thinking about how my high school experience has culminated. As a newly minted upperclassman, I have been able to review the past few years with all the wisdom of a middle aged parent.

I remember freshman year as being in a constant state of confusion. My fourteen year old self was still reeling from the whirlwind that had been my middle school experience that everything was the biggest deal in the world to me. I was anxious about how I came off to my peers and unsure how I would strive in both my academics and art. By sophomore year, I had sunken to such lows that I feared I would never claw my way out. This was when I encountered a phenomenon known to the public as the Sophomore Slump, which is self-explanatory. I was morose at the idea of not even being halfway through high school and was unsure what the point of the content I was learning was.

Now, I am nearing the end of my third month in the eleventh grade, a little less than thirty percent done with my junior year. I can no longer say that I am confused or unmotivated, as I have been here too long to be confused and the threat of colleges lingering over my GPA is enough to get me out of bed to do work past midnight. No, the only way I can describe myself is tired. I am tired of waking up at half past five to get myself to school on time, and I am tired of being awake until the early morning. I am tired of my caffeine dependency. I am tired of biting my nails, waiting to feel important and having stress dreams in which the grade book on Synergy has me marked down for assignments that don’t exist.

I am so hungry to learn, and I am too exhausted to fill my plate.

Charlotte Pocock, class of 2019

Upperclassman by Julieta Roll

As I enter my junior year I have realized the transition from being an underclassman to an
upperclassman. Although the shift was subtle at first, the piling homework and endless SAT prep
soon had me face to face with the responsibility of being an 11th grader. Even if I don’t want it,
I’m getting older, and that means change. I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’m going to college in a few years. Such a large transition seems almost traumatic, but I am
reassured in the fact that many students have done this before me.

I realize with being an upperclassman I understand things more. I have a map of the school in my head, I’ve learned how to take notes, most importantly I feel my writing has improved. What
Heather says is true, writing is rewriting. In order to create finished pieces I’ve had to workshop.
I’ve had to restructure sentences over and over again until I’ve felt crazy. It’s a painful process
but it’s a necessary process. As a junior I understand that, and I understand how vital it’s been in
my development. If it wasn’t for the Creative Writing Department I’d still be writing how I did
in the 8th grade, and oh! How sad that would be! I think this is true for most students at SOTA.
We spend half our days practicing, analyzing, and we get better. I guarantee you any senior who
looks back on their freshman work is going to cringe, but that’s part of the process. It’s how we
learn. It may be in three years time I look back on this very blog post and think, “Geez! What a
loser!” But that’s okay because I’ll know I’ve improved.

I think I’m trying to take junior year day by day. One thing I know is I’m going to keep writing,
and I’m going to keep rewriting. Hopefully soon I can find balance. Between my art, between
my academics, and within myself.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

Greetings from a Tired Junior by Emma Bernstein

These days, I have more homework than I know what to do with and, as college applications inch closer by the day, my stress has become something tangible in my throat. This is not unusual or unexpected. I am, after all, a junior in high school and I was told innumerable times before this year began that it was going to be a tough one.

While late-night essays, last-minute hallway study sessions, SAT prep books, and lists of the 380 best colleges in North America are certainly exhausting, the hardest part of this year, for me, has been the decrease in time available to work on my writing. I find myself finishing homework late at night nearly every night, and by the time I’ve finished it usually takes a serious effort to sit down and pump out a short story instead of crawling into bed and falling asleep. Now, obviously, it would be ridiculous for me to try to write a short story every night under any circumstances, but watching both my free time and writing time evaporate as junior year progresses is frustrating to say the least, especially since I am always aware that every story I write now is a building block for the greater, more complete work I will do later. I resent losing building block after building block to the stress and sleeplessness that this year has offered.

I do not know what the right answer is here. I have to do my homework. I have to think about college. I have to write. I suppose the only solution is to keep moving, keep working, and keep writing, even if I lose some sleep in the process.

Emma Bernstein, class of 2017