On June 14, last Thursday, I made it through an approximately 2.5 hour graduation ceremony for Easton Area High School's 156th graduating class. It is composed of about 630 students. Reflecting on my four years at Easton High School, I thought I'd highlight for my Patch readers a couple of the lessons, be they life or be they academic, I was taught at Easton Area High School:
1. Aggressive Walking: One of the first things Freshmen at Easton Area High School learn is how to walk through a large building in 4 (later changed to 5) minutes in order to get to class on time. This is no easy feat with over 630 kids just in the senior class...multiply that by 4 and take into account that the younger classes have many more students. Students at EAHS must dodge slow moving gangs of...hooligans...and avoid being caught up in elaborate handshakes between "bros."
2. Math: Contrary to what state test scores may show, I did learn math at EAHS. I've always had great math teachers who are willing to stay after school and help.
3. Self-motivation: This ties into math. The reason I did well in math was because I motivated myself to stay after school and seek help from my teachers. On the other hand, I've literally had teachers that, every day, handed out worksheets and then proceeded behind their desks to their computers. Computers while you have a class...very professional. I had to work on my own to learn content in these classes. At EAHS, success in many classes means the student working on his or her own with the textbook. (The class with the worksheets was an Advanced Placement (AP) class...insane)
4. A 17 year old can have more professionalism than a 60 year old teacher with 2 masters degrees: Would you believe that some teachers actually engage in gossiping? They actually talk about students, on non-academic related matters, to other teachers and, more alarmingly, students! Similarly, the things some teachers tell us about themselves are absurd. No ma'am, I don't care about your boyfriend nor do I want to hear about a dream in which a dolphin took your dog off into the sunset. (Yes, a teacher actually told our class these things.)
5. There is hope for American education: despite what we may hear about teachers, I have had many great ones at EAHS. Every day, they walk into class with a smile and a hardworking attitude. These attitudes translate to students and inspire them to learn and succeed. In many of my teachers, I could feel their passion for teaching; these were the classes I learned the most in. This is not to say there are no problems...beause there are... For instance, in one Advanced Placement class, the teacher walked in, almost every day, and let the class know that he was "tired." Great way to motivate.
6. EAHS doesn't deserve its reputation: first I'll define EAHS' reputation as an outsider may see it. One may characterize EAHS as a typical school in an urban area with gangs, violence, and perhaps even illicit substances. Yes, they do exist at EAHS, but they only exist in a student's world if that student associates him/herself with that trash. If someone went to the high school and sat in on an AP class (not the ones previously mentioned), they would think EAHS was the best school in the state.
7. The AP program is one of the best things at EAHS. For those that don't know, these classes are college level courses in many different subject areas (ex. Environmental Science, US Government & Politics, Psychology, Statistics, Calculus...etc) in which students are exposed to a rigorous curriculum. In May, the College Board gives an exam in each of the subject areas for the students enrolled in those classes. If the student scores a 4 or a 5 on the exam, he/she can earn college credit (in some cases, a 3 also earns credit). Students in these classes are highly motivated by the exam and a bond is formed between students and the teacher in working toward the common goal of the succeeding on the exam. The exam itself motivates (most) teachers to work hard so that the students learn all required information and the students do the same. These are challenging exams and the students taking them want to do well, making them excellent motivators. Teachers also realize that, unlike Pennsylvania State mandated tests, AP tests actually are, to an extent, accurate reflections on their teaching abilities.
8. Think for yourself: Contrary to what the Nickel and Dime-ers would think, I and my fellow students do know how to think for ourselves. Numerous classes that I have taken at EAHS are even primarily based on student discussion and opinion, encouraging open dialogue and different viewpoints. It was at EAHS that English teachers, mainly a specific one, taught me how to write and express my thoughts clearly.
Of course these 8 things don't encompass everything I learned at EAHS. Absolutely every single student has a different experience depending on how he or she makes it.