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.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4: 100th Blog!

Happy 4th of July! Also, Happy 100th Blog! I know that I am blogging much earlier than I usually do, but today's lack of activities called for early blogging. Plus, I'd like to spend most of blog answering questions presented by Mr. Ramsey.

Today began at a reasonably late hour with the majority of us meeting at Appel Commons at 12:30pm for brunch. After filling our bellies and chatting about the previous night's dance, we gathered our belongings and made our way to the Appel Field for the 4th of July Carnival. I love carnivals, so I hoped that today's activities
would bring out the kid in me. Sadly, I was disappointed! I do have to give recognition to the RCA's who try so hard to provide entertainment for the hourds of teenagers here. At the carnival, there were several moonbounces, inflatable sumo wrestling, one carnival game, and concessions. I have to be honest, we stayed long enough to take a few pictures and grab some snacks. We decided that relaxing in our rooms is much more enjoyable than staying out at the windy carnival.

I have been asked to explain why students should apply to the Ivy League Connections. In the simplest terms: It opens your eyes to the countless opportunities that high school students have been previously blind to. Prior to my hearing of the ILC in the last weeks of my sophomore year, I had no idea where I wanted to attend college (although, I did know that I want to major in Environmental Science). I didn't consider making early college plans due to the fact that I felt like I didn't particularly stick out in my class of 250 bright students. If you do not know, I was asked to participate in the ILC in a very "spur of the moment" way in spring of 2008. Ms. Lilhanand informed me in the last few weeks of my sophomore year that I would have the opportunity, along with three other students, to apply to the University of Pennsylvania's Bio Medicine course. Because the invitation was asked at such a late notice, I had to decline due to previous family engagements. It was extremely saddened because I truly wanted to attend, but there was absolutely no way I could go. Although I did not participate in the trip to Pennsylvania, the ILC instilled a sense of academic confidence in me that convinced me to apply for this year's program.
There was no way I was going to let another opportunity pass by me. Luckily, I had ample time to plan ahead for Cornell, and now I may finally call myself an Ivy Leaguer. Even though I had a chance to be a two-year Ivy Leaguer, I'm proud to call myself an Ivy Leaguer at all. There was a chance it couldn't have happened at all!

In terms of advice for prospective Ivy Leaguers, I have plenty to share. The Ivy League isn't for every student who thinks that they are reasonably smart. This program requires a strive for success, and the ILC serves as the "open door" for success. In other words, students must earn their place in the Ivy League Connection in order to reap its full benefits. So if you are considering applying, you must be willing to work in order to take full advantage of the program. If you truly want to be apart of the program, then you should look forward to working towards the best college experience you can obtain with help from the ILC. Overall, the ILC serves as the best stepping stone towards reaching your ultimate academic potential. I hope this helps! Have a great holiday!


  1. Sorry, for some reason Julia's post came up first on my computer. However, facts don't lie and your post had an earlier submission time, so congrats on being the century mark!

    Thanks for the nice compliment about the Ivy League Connection program. Yes, you need to have the smarts to be accepted, but you have to have the will to thrive and succeed. Only those students that are motivated get the most out of this program. The ILC is intense, but so is life. The time spent in our program thoroughly prepares one for the rigors ahead when they venture off to college.

    Nice touch on the photos. I see why everyone left early. From the looks of it, Ithaca will never be known for the bright lights and flashy neon on Broadway. I guess it is lucky that they are on semesters and are out during the harsh winters and fun summers. One can have the best of both worlds, they can be at home for the winter and summer in California and enjoy the scenic beauty of Ithaca in the fall and spring, something to think about.

    I appreciate that the Ivy League Connection gave you an "identity". We want our students to embrace what we stand for and why it is cool to be hardwarking and motivated. We want our students to feel proud to walk around campus knowing that doing your very best has rewards. The ILC stands for all that is right in public education. All of you have been great ambassadors and we are pleased that each of you are representating the school district. Thanks for making the decision to be with us this year, we could not be more proud of you and the other five young women at Cornell this summer.

    I was moved by your comments that the Ivy League Connection opens a students eyes to the myriad of choices that exist in the education community. However, this saddens me. Why? Well, because it exposes our nasty little secret, and that is that our district has failed to expose thousands of high school students to the limitless possibilities that exist for College. Once again and drum roll please, "we had only thought about the UC's, Stanford and the CSU's before we got into this program. I constantly hear that from our students. Well what does this say about our counseling services at the Middle School and High School level?

    Now I do not want to denigrate our wonderful staff at the high school, but isn't it important that our students become armed with more information about colleges. We need more highly selective colleges to know our district and to recruit our students. We will never succeed as a district if we only have the Ivy League Connection to spread the good news.

    Further, how do we engage students in the process when we lack motivated students. This is the question that plagues everyone in our community. Too many students just don't care and they want to take on the "victim" mantle.

    How do we change and improve student morale at Hercules High School and our other district high schools? When will we see a line up of college admission officers gracing our doors. I hope this Fall, and I hope that this is the start of something big.However, we have a lot of skeptics so we need for everyone to become more positive in their outlook. A lot of this is attitude and the ILC has made sure that we changed the attitude of those who are part of this program.

    SO PLEASE BE THE CHORUS. Our students need to demand more from administrators and inform them that it is vital to have information that will give the chance to make what will be the most important decision in their lives. Our district refuses to act because they hear nor see any urgency out of the majority of our parents and students. This is tragic.

    As Ghandi stated "one must be the change". Now that is some straight forward talk and he did not need to be a philosopher to say it!

    Please ponder these statements. welcome your thoughts and impressions.

    Enjoy the balance of this Holiday.

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

  2. Justine,

    Why do I get the feeling that you were all poised to be the one to post the 100th Cornell blog? Even if it’s not true, I want to think that. It shows that you have at least been paying attention to the blog posts from Cornell.

    To honor and acknowledge this, and since it’s me that posts the blogs into the Blog Log Spread Sheet, I made sure that yours was the 300th blog posted in our log. Maybe not as big of an honor as being the 100th Cornellian blog but it’s still my gift to you.

    I also wanted to say thanks for the great photos attached to this blog. I had heard that the food was okay at Cornell but some of you look like you’ve really packed it on since you got there (I hope you know I’m talking about the sum photos and not the other).

    I’m going to be sure to send the group photo on to your dentists. I’m sure they’ll appreciate seeing you all with a tube of spun sugar in your hands.

    Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

    As for me, why bother to treat this as any kind of special day? Because many of you are taking something of a hiatus from posting blogs, this gives me an opportunity to catch up on archiving some that I’m behind on. The process is slow and time consuming and I can only reformat and archive maybe a dozen per hour. Multiply that times the 300 blogs so far and you can see the enormity of the task in front of me. [All of this on top of responding to every blog—maybe 25 per day.]