Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Collective Cry of "ANKENEY!"

Written by Spencer Cunningham c/o 2013

The first day of school for any freshman is terribly difficult, especially when you know so few people. My first day in the summer of 2009 at San Diego High School of International Studies was no different. I was the little fish in the ocean, ignorant and scared. I remember getting in line with 50 or more other students to get my schedule for first semester. I remember getting to the front of the line and having a man ask me what my name was; I told him. He then proceeded to ask me from what middle school I had come from and if I was nervous for high school, even though he could easily tell that I was. Then later, perhaps lunch or nutrition break, he approached me again. He asked how my day was going so far; I told him “good”.  He then smiled, an expression that would always be on his face for the next two years, and even now, even in the light that he has received a pink slip. It took me several more weeks to discover that he was, in fact the principal, Mr. Ankeney, and he was just as nervous as I, as it was his first year as well at SDHS IS.
Several weeks later, I had made a close group of friends. They were familiar with my family, and they realized that, according to them, Mr. Ankeney looked like my dad. Of course, in the haste of the usual teen contradictoriness, I said no. But they pressed on, and I would continue to deny it . However, even if Mr. Ankeney did not look like my father (truthfully, if my dad still had a beard, they would have a slight resemblance), his compassion and caring for all of his students could be compared to the best father’s compassion and caring for his children. Mr. Ankeney is a father figure for IS, and as a student body, we are his children. He cares for each and every one of us, and we all have the same feelings towards him as well.
Mr. Ankeney is the best principal I have ever had. Fact. In my years of elementary and middle schools, I have had a numerous amount of principals, but none of them would do the things that Mr. Ankeney does. Every day, whenever he walks by, you can always count on hearing a collective cry of “ANKENEY!” from a large group of students. We respect and care for him. There aren’t enough adjectives in the world to describe how awesome, amazing, cool, great he is. And when we heard that he might not be returning to us in the next school year, of course we were outraged. I urge the people responsible for his pink slip to greatly reconsider the position you have put him in. There will never be another principal ever like him. Ever.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mr. Ankeney: The Foundation of I.S.

Written by Kalvin Payne c/o 2012
There is so much to say about the wonderful night we all had at I.S. Benefit Showcase. It was a great turnout and it couldn’t have been done without the amazing students and faculty at I.S.
Everyone who participated on stage performed amazingly. There were such a variety of performances, from dancing and live entertainment to acting and much more, that no one can deny I.S. is a unique school that stands together as a big family. The environment was so rich with students, parents, and teachers who care about our well-being so much so that they all contributed to help us raise this money.
This was the first event of its kind at I.S., but will not be the last. Although there are too many people to thank, I believe Mr. Ankeney should be praised for his huge effort in this event because, without him, none of this would have been possible. He allowed us to enjoy the wonderful talent of our students while in the presence of our family and friends. Words can’t even express the amount of appreciation I feel for Mr. Ankeney’s  effort in ensuring that this wonderful event was a success. He has been there every step of the way for our school and gives so much of his time and effort. He leads us all with his unwavering faith and keeps us looking forward.  Mr. Ankeney is the foundation for our school and keeps us all together. Whenever we need anything from him, he isn’t far behind to help us achieve it.
Words can’t even express the amount of gratitude our school feels for Mr. Ankeney. He is faithful, caring, hard-working, and responsible. I don’t even believe these words can sum up the amount of how great a leader Mr. Ankeney is to our school. He leads our school like no other principal and to lose Mr. Ankeney would be like losing the heart and soul of our community.
For those of you that came to the event, and even those that didn’t, I’d like to ask that you take a bit of your time and thank Mr. Ankeney for his huge effort, because without him this event and more importantly, our community, would not be possible. Thank you, Mr. Ankeney, for all that you give to your students and faculty, and how much you care about our community.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Do what you love"

Written by a former I.S. Student

In response to The Silent Majority of Teens:

The same exact issues are prevalent at the college level. The pressures to perform are multiplied, especially when a lack of performance can crush your lifelong goals and aspirations. The weight of that pressure accumulates because now you are paying for your education. Your parents are investing thousands upon thousands of dollars on YOU, expecting you to meet THEIR expectations. In this school I am surrounded by prodigies; sons and daughters of doctors, lawyers, politicians, and CEOs. I used to think that I was less fortunate because my parents aren't college graduates or even high school graduates. I admit that my freshmen year in college I felt ashamed that I didn't have the best clothes, wasn't a member of a sorority and didn't fit in with "those girls". But I soon realized how blessed I really was to be in this situation. My mother did not educate me on how to get into college, how to get a medical degree and how to have a competitive edge. Instead she taught me how to be sincere, empathetic, loving and accepting. She taught me how to work hard, but to never let stress overwhelm my life. She taught me how to work selflessly instead of selfishly. With this outlook I have been able to succeed at a top university. I get recognized by faculty not solely on my performance but by my character. I do not exhibit the jealousy, competitiveness and disrespect that other students do. When I commit to a project (be it in research or in the community) I commit to it wholeheartedly because I LOVE what I do.

I tell this to my residents all the time, "Do what you love". Freshmen always come to this school thinking that they want to be doctors or politicians, but as soon as they begin to take these courses and they don't do well, they start to feel like failures. They go from being a big fish in a little pond to a little fish in a large pond of overachievers. But not everyone is meant to be a doctor or a lawyer, and that's OKAY! If you love to write, than WRITE! You don't need to fit the mold that society built. Doing what you love leads to success because you will put more effort into what you do, and you will be happier doing it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Triathlon to Remember

Written by Tonia Berman
Does high school have to be a “Race to Nowhere?”  I often hear that nothing can be done to change this ominous situation.  I guess that is true for those who resist change, but as educators it is our responsibility to embrace change.  Change requires faith.  As a parent, I have had faith in my children more than they have ever recognized.  I think it is because moms are supposed to think highly of their children.  As an educator, I believe that my students are capable of much more than they are given credit for.  Thus when a random idea pops into my head that provides students with an opportunity for empowerment, I feel compelled to act upon it.  And that is precisely how I happened upon the idea of I.S. Ambassadors (ISA).  I knew we needed a group of students to represent our school at events such as Freshman Orientation, and it made sense to organize a roster rather than seeking volunteers every time such an activity arose.  A few text messages and classroom announcements later, I was astounded by the outpour of enthusiasm… within 48 hours I had to close the club at 60 members and start a wait list!   What did this say about our student body?  The drive for leadership, developing community, and, yes, the desire to have strong college applications, was phenomenal. 
Watching ISA unfold over the course of the subsequent weeks was an acute reminder that if given the proper resources and support, students can create, organize, and implement programs and activities of the highest caliber.  Put it this way, I wasn’t the person to suggest we come up with a mission statement (ISA is dedicated to improving the I.S. community by promoting student involvement in both campus-wide and community-based activities.  ISA fosters the union between the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders to encourage leadership and enthusiasm) or define the difference between committees and task groups.  I honestly don’t remember when I first learned of the term mission statement, but it certainly was not in high school.

As the state and district continue to grapple with financial shortfalls, the students of ISA have decided to take matters into their own hands… “Let’s plan a benefit event,” a student suggested several months ago.  On March 25, 2011, ISA will be hosting the first (presumably annual) I.S. Benefit Showcase.  All of the arrangements, from the organizing of the food, the Facebook Event Page, the line-up of entertainment, the collection and wrapping of the silent auction items, the plans for set up and clean up, and the greeters at the door are being planned by the students.  It has not been perfect.  Meetings can get heated, feelings hurt.  But the club is real. 
No adults will be on stage the evening of the Benefit Showcase… but many of us will be sitting proudly in the audience.  Generation Y-Not? Seniors will soon graduate and disperse to their respective colleges.  I have faith in these students, as I do in my own children.  They will have the skills and confidence to make the changes our society is in dire need of.  Never doubt the power of the individual.  These students realize that their voices and actions do matter, that they can make a difference, and I believe they will.  I implore all high schools to provide students with the opportunity to develop student-driven programs.  High school does not have to be a “Race to Nowhere.” I don’t claim to have all the answers.  I do hope, however, that clubs such as ISA will make high school more meaningful for our students.  Will high school always be a turbulent time?  Absolutely! However, instead of settling with a “Race to Nowhere,” let’s look for alternative methods that will afford our adolescents the option to experience a “Triathlon to Remember.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Make it Happen (Caver Anthem)

Lyrics for "You Can Make it Happen" (CD to follow)


The same ones who thought they knew it all had to see
Popularity can't help you escape reality
And Friends were the glue, connecting the youth
To the very self, so we all find the truth
And there's a progression when they focus on you
And the time is now, I hope it's on you
I took a yellow bus that attracted like a magnet
Put me in the upperclassmen type classes
Just Freshman in biology
Ms.Berman acknowledged me
said, "You'll be a genius see"
And I didn't believe that
Cuz I ain't get the "As"
It wasn't fresh
Up In I.S, all I got was an F
And then we had to feel harder and rough
Cuz its clear, I can't compare myself to my peers
Then I grew up every year
Now my mind steers
AND IT, will happen
AND IT, will happen
See I told you first
School is the mice race
And the rat race is happening on earth
You gotta run hardest first
Across the universe

(I had some struggles in high school, but it's like...making it through all that is a big deal. Then you see, man if this could be mine? Maybe the world is mine?)

These are the words that I want you to hear
When it's hard to choose love over fear
I mean, man, we come from different type of homes
Different type of skin tones
But hey, we could fly from the same sky
Can't you listen when you giving high fives
To the people that's accepted into college why
I remember I ain't get none of the typical design
But I knew I would see
There was a educated mind that was made in me
And when your visions can become a reality
You'll be an adult, and you'll be smiling--
Like man, I manifested, addressed it man I'm doing it clear
Love yourself and school can't give you the fear
Just a lesson
And in life when your heart feels broken,
Keep your ears washed and keep your eyes open to: THE UNIVERSE

Feel me?
Cuz anything's possible y'all.
Keep it open to the universe
And Keep progressin
Stay intelligent
And keep reading
And keep learning
And keep earning
You can glow
You can do anything nothing is impossible, matter of fact
You can do anything nothing is impossible, matter of fact
You can do anything nothing is impossible
You were born divine, your spirit is unstoppable
Every obstacle is just a test
Digress, then you'll see through percepts
Progress is a process
Take a second, don't be hatin
Just be waiting, just be waitin
Yeah, you never learned that thing called Patience

Activity and action are two different things
Break the hand of the slapping queen just to become a queen
Tell her no, I can't take the evil that you give to me
Tell her yes, positivity over the negativity
Say, I inhale when I'm mad just to breathe and realize all I need is me
The Universe will provide.

My name is Chris Young, I went to San Diego High School just like you did, and just like other people went to other schools.

And I want you to know I am a representation and YOU are a representation of right now. And right now, the World is yours.