Through WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection program, Hercules High School Students Justine Betschart, Stacy Chan, Ramiah Davis-Shephard, Louisa Man, Julia Maniquiz, and Yueming Wang will be attending Cornell University to either study Freedom and Justice or Hotel Operations Management during the summer of 2009.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The End of the Weekend

Hello. (:
I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday afternoon. The weather in Ithaca is bright and sunny, but tomorrow's forecast predicts afternoon thunderstorms. Yikes. But, anyways! Let's jump into our update.

Today, the girls and I decided to take a trip to College Town via taxi. We split the cost of the ride, and so it came out to only $1.62 for the cab fare. I was rather excited to visit College Town for the first time, but I have to admit I was slightly disappointed. I thought there would be a greater selection of shops and such to visit, but there was only one store, barely visible among all the surrounding restaurants. Lesson of the day: College Town is fabulous for those in desire of cute restaurants and few food options, but not much more. I hope to revisit College Town to try out one of their many eateries. Although it was not what I expected, I still enjoyed my trip. On the walk back, we got to pass by the Cornell Law School. I honestly felt butterflies upon reading the banner. The building was truly beautiful. Once again, it made me look to the future in joy as I thought about possibly attending Cornell's AMAZING law school post-undergrad.

All these dreams made me think about how bright my future has become, due in part from the Ivy League Connection. From the commencement of my education, I always strived to do and be my best. I have always been one to know what I want, to look to the future, and to make plans accordingly. I had always hoped my constant hard work would be recognized, and it finally was through the ILC. I thought Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg's creation of the ILC was more than enough on their part, yet they continue to give and create opportunities for us all. Their willingness to schedule campus tours for us is just one of the ways they are improving our future. I would have never even considered the University of Rochester, had I not visited the school. I think a great way to sort of bring back to the high school would be to get representatives to visit HHS in the upcoming school year. We learn a lot about the Ivy Leagues and the UCs, but I think it would be great to hear from some of the smaller private universities which also provide solid academics. I know I feel a lot more comfortable knowing about ALL the options I have, and not feeling like I'm confined to Berkeley or the nearby state schools. People have a tendency to stick to the familiar, which isn't bad. But I think it would be really beneficial for students to be able to learn about what else is out there. College presentations are a great way to explore the options we have. Just thought I'd share that idea with you all. (:

Well, anyways. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I have an essay due tomorrow. All these requirements and assignments have got me thinking about my level of preparedness for this trip. I think the school district does a relatively good job in providing us with solid academics. I do not feel overwhelmed by the rigor of the course or the amount of work, so I know the educators at Hercules assign enough work to prepare the students for what is to come in college. I think the AP classes especially are a great way of getting a glimpse into the wonderful world of college. 

I do, however, have one complaint. The only issue I have come across here in Cornell is the intensity of the discussions in our course. I sometimes feel intimidated by my colleagues who are able to offer such insightful comments during our discussions of the texts. I feel like high school classes focus so much on just understanding something and fail to communicate the importance of also forming an opinion about it. Our TA has repeatedly told us that summarizing a text is not useful, that it is the analysis of the piece that is required. OPINIONS, NOT FACTS. I think the only courses I've had which have ever communicated the value of an opinion is my AP Lang and journalism class with Mr. Litvin and Mr. Brown, respectively. I think it would be beneficial for students to learn the importance of not just knowing what something's about, but also being able to form intelligent, compelling ideas of the piece. 

I think I may be rambling a bit, so I will end my blog here. I must also attend to my Plato essay. For further questions on anything I have written, please feel free to leave comments and I will try my best to address your concerns in my next blog. I hope you all enjoy the remainder of your weekend. Until next time!

- xoxo, Julia M.


  1. Julia,

    My kind of gal. Why use ten words when you can throw a hundred at the subject. I enjoyed our blog today, Julia. I always enjoy your blogs but this one was of special merit for two reasons in particular:

    You might recall some of the discussions about Ithaca and how we warned that it's a rural college town. Now you have a better feel for what we were referring to. There are still a lot of places in America where they roll up the sidewalks when the sun goes down. These are places that declare a citywide holiday when they snag themselves their first Starbucks. The same can be said when they finally get electricity to that new stoplight they installed. Some people love rural while others go stir crazy. These are very definite things to keep in mind when selecting a school. By the way, do you think that you'll find anywhere on Cornell's web site that Ithaca's shopping center doesn't really have any shops? That's why a site visit can be so helpful.

    Secondly, we couldn't agree more that we have a broken system in our schools that doesn't adequately prepare our students for rigorous academic life. The question is, what are YOU going to do about it.

    Just for a moment or two I'd like to take a little trip in our "way back" machine. That's our own little device designed for short term time travel. I want in particular to revisit those days when you were all sent emails by the dozens on wide ranging topics of interest and even topics on the subjects you would be discussing while at Cornell.

    And when you're thinking about those emails, I hope you'll remember how you were asked your opinions on a wide variety of topics and asked to start a discussion string so a debate could ensue.

    Now lastly, let's take a close look back at the response we got from ALL of those students we tried to engage. Do you recall that response, Julia? It shouldn't be that hard since it was a big fat zero from every one of our ILC students.

    I'm not trying to come down on any of you, Julia, but where does the fault lie when we tried so hard to help prepare you for exactly what you're going through right now and not a single one of you took up the mantle and made an effort to learn and prepare yourselves for this part of the class?

    We can try to teach but if the students refuse to learn, then whose fault is it?

    The time for preparations for this year's ILC students is long past but not to worry, Julia. This blog posting will be included in every packet for next year's ILC kids so maybe they can learn from the pitfalls that you're encountering. Like most younger people, they may not want to listen to us old folks but maybe they'll listen to their contemporaries.

  2. Here, Here!!!

    I just had an awesome dinner with the Brown University leadership and I will go into more detail when I return, but I had to write this email and concur with Don about how this year's blog entries will provide great insight to our next set of students.

    For months, I pleaded with all of our students to engage and participate on a deeper level. It fell on deaf ears nonetheless you are doing well and this post is one of the best written. Please continue to express your opinions and give us honest feedback about how we can improve as a district.

    I have a 4:15 AM wake up call to get back to California. I will write in a couple of days. Keep up the good work.

    Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
    School Board Member
    West Contra Costa
    Unified School District