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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 25: Contemplating Plato

Good Afternoon from what feels like the hottest place on Earth! Being a Californian, I am more than used to a beating sun and few spots for shade. While I encountered these commonalities throughout the day, a few different factors emerged as well. The biggest of these factors was the HUMIDITY. I have truly come to appreciate the phrase "dry heat." Oh well, I have come here to study, not to comment on the weather.

Today's itinerary followed its usual pattern: a nice breakfast at Appel Commons followed by a scenic walk to our morning lecture with Professor Kramnick in McGraw Hall. While a normal Thursday would include a morning lecture, a discussion session, and a guest speaker, today's itinerary was a little shook up. Because Professor Kramnick will be attending his granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah in Hoboken this extended weekend, he will not be here tomorrow morning for lecture. In turn, today included a double lecture on Plato's Republic. In preparation for this morning's 3 hour lecture, our class was told to read 118 pages of Plato's masterpiece before this morning. Crazy, right? Actually, it didn't turn out to be too horrible, thanks to my preparation in California. Now that I have clarified the schedule switch, I will give a little insight into today's massive lecture.

The topic was Plato, and I was more than excited to grab a front-row seat in lecture hall. Thanks to a great AP Language & Composition instructor, Mr. Igor Litvin, I was introduced to Plato and his beliefs this past school year. I couldn't
wait to hear what Professor Kramnick would add to my already great Plato instruction. In the 3 hour session, our professor explained Plato's purpose in writing his work and made it clear that it is one of the most influential pieces of text in Western civilization, which he made evident in many Matrix and Simpsons references. Today's lecture was by far my favorite thus far, and I have completely gained faith in my professor's lecturing abilities. I cannot wait to see what else Professor Kramnick has up his sleeve.

After the personally brief lecture, we headed off to Trillium where I grabbed a quick Egg Salad sandwich and enjoyed the hour and a half I had for lunch. We then returned back to McGraw Hall to hear guest speaker Judge Judith Rossiter speak about a recent case involving a stabbing in Ithaca. While Nelson Roth's presentation on Tuesday was much more engaging and captivating, Mrs. Rossiter did an amazing job in providing the class with a crash course in local law offices and the steps it takes to become a judge. I enjoyed the fact that she took a personal interest in each student's prospective academic/career paths by asking each of us the perennial question: What do you want to be when you grow up? She truly loves her job, and apparently, loves to help future success stories like herself.

Now it is time for me to return to my homework assignment: further refinement of my freedom essay. I'm enjoying the assignment, for it does not require the synthesis of outside sources. Instead of searching through pages of quotes and well-thought out ideas, I can refer to my own opinions and standards. Tomorrow will be an interesting day, no lecture! I truly love Professor Kramnick's lectures, so it will be a bit of heartbreak. I will try to enjoy consecutive discussion sections to the best of my abilities. I'll let you know how those go!


  1. Justine,

    This is a a great post. I feel like I was right there with you. Professor Kramnick is truly a great communicator -- he knows his audience and pays close attention to which metaphors will be the most useful to them. I'm delighted you're enjoying him and I'm looking forward to going to his class with you on Tuesday.

    As for the weather, now you can appreciate Hercules and our Bay Area microclimates. (Of course (lucky us) we don't have a humid microclimate.)

    The pictures are terrific -- they really give the reader context. Keep up the wonderful posts.

  2. Justine,

    Even though you weren't sent to Cornell to comment on the weather, sometimes it's the 900 pound gorilla that can't be ignored. I know that after my recent trip to San Antonio for a joyous graduation event, the one thing that pops into my mind every time I think about that trip was the heat and the humidity.

    Nonetheless, your post expressed great insights into what you're experiencing. It sounds like Professor Kramnick is one of those one-of-a-kind instructors who can resonate with his audience. Not only are you learning but you're anxious to return to learn more. You can't beat that.

    I'd be very interested in reading your essay if you'd care to share it with us--even privately.