Five Reasons I Love My Learning Community ft. PIANOS


Hi, friends! With senior year heading to a close, I wanted to a create a series with one post a month to reflect on life over these past four years of high school. While they aren’t as heavy or momentous as my middle school self deemed it to be, it’s still four years of my life with some memorable, comedic, tear-breaking, anxious, thrilling, and nuanced moments I’d love to take some time to look back on.

For those unfamiliar with the fact, I attend public school! Cue the gasps for here is an outlier! I have never been homeschooled in my life, for personal reasons, and I’ve never known anything different. One of my favorite things about the high school I attend is the learning community I’m a part of, with a different structure to other learning communities. While other learning communities such as ROTC or the medical academy have an entire period dedicated to their community, our school dedicated two of its hours through a block period, alternating between English and social studies every quarter. In English classes, you mix with everyone from seniors to freshman, while social studies classes stick to their main grade. The program is defined for its emphasis on reading philosophy papers which accumulates to a seminar, a group discussion trying to understand the paper.

My freshman year, I adored this program. I loved the idea about reading papers form different authors and wanting to discuss them— although, I probably should have realized the teacher won’t assign twenty pages of Socrates’ death sentence on “corrupting the youth” in one day all to read, much to the shock of everyone else when I came back finished the next day. The novelty eventually disappeared and problems I never noticed began to surface. For example, no one ever gets to venture out and meet others from the other tangents of school unless a person has an elective. Until this year, the bathrooms were clogged with freshman and senior groups blocking off the entrances unless you physically pushed to get across.

I still appreciate the program! Here are five things which are great about the community.


People tend to laugh at how others tend to describe us and in a sense, the title is greeted with a self-depricating chuckle almost to the point our community has social media pages dedicated to it. My brother and I have this running joke about durable, long-lasting water bottles, and for those new to the school, it’s one of the defining traits of a student from this community. That’s right— the moment a person walks in, Nalgene bottles and Hydroflasks predominantly crowd the desk, each decorated with stickers from the forest fair from the town fifty miles away or from the local pizzeria with the most caloric food worth digging into after hiking up the mountains. The clothing also gives it away, as well, vested in snow gear with knee-high socks and a specific pair of slippers. Now, some may suggest this is merely just the epitome of a “granola” lifestyle— someone who loves the outdoors, for those unfamiliar with the vernacular— but how could it not? We live in one of the snowiest places in the country and are bound to find a chunk from the outdoors. People fall for running outside and exploring the fog and the trees. Of course, there is a small category of folk which I fall onto that do not identify with the extremely outdoorsy folk; they are categorized by their wittiness and weirdness (especially when it comes to strange hobbies and interests).


When I say art, I do not just mean we do art projects frequently. The year prior to my freshman year, the community’s reading thing derived from art— its definition and creation. One of the big projects the community did was create pieces of art in every way possible: portraits, wall paintings, and ceiling tiles and all of the classrooms are decorated with them. Our side of the school is the only section where the rooms are covered in paint depicting the themes in 1984 or the art of pointillism. One of my favorite tiles is the one painted with the word “gullible,” which threw a friend of mine recently new into the program when she entered the classroom and did not trust the word printed in black at the top of the ceiling. I also love the eclectic nature of each of the rooms which also peaks in to each teacher’s personality: theatre posters and action figures, lamps to promote a warm ambience instead of harsh fluorescence, bean bag chairs with surprises under them (LONG story), popsicle-composed body systems for a health class, and Zimbabwean dollars next to a Ken doll and a 3D printed yacht. It’s a great environment.



From the informational standpoint, it gets to one of two parts of what the community does: the papers and the seminar. As mentioned earlier, much of the papers we read are philosophy based, so I got to read works by Aristotle, Machiavelli, Leopold, Rand, Sun Tzu, and even The Communist Manifesto. Some of them induced headaches— Buber, I’m looking right at you and hopefully am in an I-You relationship— while others spiraled in circles, like Tzu and his philosophies of water in the Tao. Personally, I liked the structure of how it was, despite minor problems which arose every once in awhile. I love how we’re able to tackle something we do not have a whole understanding of and try to delve deeper into understanding parts, thanks to the guidance of Socrates, who instills the idea of us knowing nothing. I liked listening to conversations and trying to give input despite a fast-paced cadence. The questions are difficult and there isn’t always a yes or no answer, nor does there have to be one. Our last quarter, strictly dedicated to the roots of philosophy, is going to happen soon and I’m not ready to tackle onto the question of what identity is and if we really have one.


In the community’s wing common, there’s a piano someone donates to the one sector as a senior project. Painted with the colors of the aurora borealis, trees, and mountain lines, it’s a sight to gawk at. Ever since the piano had been installed two years prior, it’s been a favorite during passing period. At someone point or another, everyone’s hands have all rushed to play cringed renditions of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I admit, I’ve tried to play pieces on the piano and they’re not as good sounding. It’s also somewhat awkward when, alongside with your friends, a teacher walks by as everyone screeches songs for the entire hall to hear. There are some individuals who play the piano quite beautifully and will play classical pieces whose names are as difficult to pronounce as the cadence and chord complexity present. More modern songs echo on its keys— some are huge fans of Adele, Studio Ghibli, and even La La Land, especially when “City of Stars” became enamored by the general populace.



I remember the first day of freshman year, my class severed into groups of five, composed from seniors down to freshman, and went off to compete in numerous games. I remember looking bewildered as the seniors ripped pieces of tape and started to tell our group to keep a sophomore connected to the lockers and off the ground— I knew not to expect anything, but my jaw dropped slack and we continued to win first place. The moral of this story is not to stick with a lack of structure (as, out of everyone’s, we just went through three random rolls to get rid of every piece of skin, shirt, or jean pants) but that the sense of community had been emphasized through doing these games every single year. After years of attending movies, watching teachers dab for an eighties dance battle, and tie-dying t-shirts, do I know everyone in this community? Short answer: no, but the sense of a home base exists. While I wish we got to mingle with other people from other parts of the school because adventuring is so important and fun, you still get the sense of knowing everyone, even if you only do say hello to faces you’ve seen these past four years every once in awhile.

What kind of eccletic things make up where you study? Have you ever been caught playing the piano terribly? Are any of the names of the authors familiar to you? Are any of you graduating? What other topics would you like to see as a part of the series?


Friends! Just a little update on what's going on in the next weeks: I will be undergoing a design change, as well as celebrating my fifth blogging anniversary which falls on February 8th! I'm not entirely sure what to do to celebrate it just yet, post wise, but here's a question: would anyone be open if I end up hosting a giveaway? I'm thinking about getting some souvenirs from my home town alongside from writers goods, although I am on a limited budget.

9 comments:

  1. That sounds like such a good experience!

    Ooo, I volunteer to play City of Stars on piano! (I just finished learning it)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’m going to miss it when I head off to college! Some of the universities I applied to have similar program structures like the one in my high school, so hopefully I’ll be allowed to continue on with it. And yes PLEASE PLAY CITY OF STARS!!! I only know how to play the opening chords to “Without a Word” by Birds, but it’s not as impressive. xD

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

      Delete
  2. Your high school sounds cooler than mine?! I was stuck with a bunch of privileged annoying people and a passing hall that you tried to avoid at all costs because it was always full. Hydro's and whatever trend that was going around was always a competition.

    The hallway piano sounds SO NEAT!!! I wish we had one of those too!
    Simply Me

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, believe me, there are also cooler places in my school than my learning community? All of the other communities compete in competitions (alongside sports and the arts) and do exceptionally well. Meanwhile, over here we’re like, “Hey! We have pizza and we also have first Friday food themes free food for everyone in the community WHOOO!!!!”

      Well, if you ever wanted to do a community project and wanted to paint one for your college.... :D

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

      Delete
  3. High school sounds intriguing, even if I hate the general collection of public high school students. (Though the small-town vs HUGE CITY SUBURB high school demographic may be really different too?)

    I've learned many years of piano, so I don't "suck" but I'm also really bad at improv playing stuff so... *shrug*

    (Also I'm always down for a giveaway??)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don’t be fooled— I live somewhat in the moderate areas by the two “types” you described. I can see why you would hate them, but give them a chance??? I did the same thing my first three months as a freshman where I judged on generalizations, but in doing so it just closes off any perspective or interaction you may have. Some of them can be really bad after talking to them and watching them spiral out of control, but there are others who are incredibly humble and down to earth and I love chatting with them.

      Improv playing stuff is hard! Even when singing.

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

      P.S. Yay! I’m so stoked!

      Delete
  4. Although I honestly still don't get what the learning community thing is it sounds so cool! I'm honestly scared for high school (but it's two years away so like lol). :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A learning community is basically another way of saying a school within a school. For example, one of the schools my friends go to is a traditional public high school, but they have a “School in the Arts” learning community where there’s an emphasis on visual, performance, and literary art and they’ve gone on to produce some of the most talented people in the town. It only has a few hundred people in the program, but you still learn. It’s basically like learning but with a theme edge. That’s probably the best way I could describe it.

      Don’t be terrified of high school! It’s okay to be a bit terrified, but I know you’ll be okay. And what, it’s two years away!!! So don’t stress over it too much, okay?

      xoxo Abigail Lennah

      Delete
  5. Hi Abigail,
    I loved this post! It's nice to meet you and your corner of the internet! Please check out mine at:
    https://theislandofmeblog.wordpress.com/
    ~Emily xo
    P.S. I am not a stalker, I found you through Gracie's blog (a light in the darkness)!

    ReplyDelete

Hi, friend! Just remember to keep comments clean and kind, or I will have to delete them. Thank you so much for commenting on my blog-- I cherish every kind word sent my way.

Stay strong and wonderful!
xoxo Abigail Lennah