Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our Thanks to the School Board

Last Wednesday, the Ivy League Connection gathered at LeVonya DeJean Middle School for the WCCUSD School Board meeting. That night we were to be introduced to the Board in our respective groups and say a little bit about what we would be doing while back east (what college we would be attending, courses we will take, etc).

There were several notable events that transpired that I feel compelled to discuss...

First I would like to discuss something that I had awaited for some time: I finally met my chaperone, Mike Schwinenger. Although I had spoken to Mike on the phone a few times, we had never actually met face-to-face, or even had the chance to speak extensively. While the Board was still in closed session, we all waited outside so we could mingle and get to know each other a bit better. I was in the middle of transitioning to another group of ILC'ers when I heard one of the chaperones ask "So are all of your kids here, Mike?"

I have documented this moment as one of the few in which I actually have good timing. I quickly turned and introduced myself to the man with which Bryan, Julia, and I would be sharing our stay in Philadelphia. It was nice to finally put a face to the voice and be able to shake Mike's hand.

We spoke a little bit before the meeting began and I learned that Mike teaches several degrees of English classes at De Anza High School. We also discussed our plan to bring back our experiences to the District, but more on that in a moment. 

Our introduction to the Board, via our chaperones, was the nicest part of the night. Each group stood up individually to thank the Board for their approval of the of the ILC and the chaperones all delivered very eloquent and heartfelt speeches expressing their honor and excitement for the opportunity to chaperone their respective students. I especially enjoyed Ms. Bulls' speech and I thought it was the best of the night. Of course, that might just be bias speaking since we both represent Pinole Valley High.

During his speech, Mike revealed the plan that we had conceived concerning how we will give back to the community. Upon our return, Brian, Julia, and I will organize a presentation to a few eighth grade physical science classes demonstrating to them the basics of physics. We hope that this will inspire them and possibly get them thinking about what kind of science classes they will pursue in high school. 

I also enjoyed the wonderful speeches made by Austin Long, Yeuming Wang and Beulah Agbabiaka. Hearing that my peers had been accepted to some of the top schools in the country really emphasized the benefits of this program to me. While the ILC has already enriched my life, hearing from them gave me a different perspective.

It was also great to once again see the sponsors being honored for their generous support of the ILC. Their contributions mean so much to so many, and I am personally grateful to each of them.

After Don took our huge, but extremely well organized group shot (my jaw still hurts from smiling that much Don) and finding my ILC certificate, I was almost ready to depart for the evening. On my way out, I saw Superintendent Harter and Board member Tony Thurmond. I stopped to shake their hands and express my personal gratitude for their support of the Ivy League Connection. Mr. Thurmond was nice enough to give me his card and tell me a little bit about Philadelphia. He said that if I ever needed any advice regarding restaurants, site seeing, etc, that I could just give him a call. Stopping to thank Mr. Harter and Mr. Thurmond was definitely a smart decision on my part.

Overall, Wednesday was the first of many great ILC events. I'm really looking forward to our dinner on the 16th. Pending any interim ILC events, I'll blog at you after that much-anticipated dinner.

1 comment:

  1. Alex,

    Did Tony Thurmond mention to you that he attended Temple University and grew up in Philadelphia? Tony's a great guy and he can give you a lot of pointers about what to do, where to go (and what to avoid).

    Dr. Harter is also a great guy and any personal interaction with him would be of benefit to you. Both are great supporters of the ILC and take great joy in seeing you all do well.

    With many of our programs we designate the program to a specific high school so the students can work as a team , meet with each other, form study groups and travel all knowing each other well enough to work as a cohesive team. This even works because the school administration can play an integral part of that team.

    With other programs, though--such as yours--we've opened it up for the entire District to apply. Some of the specialty course in the sciences benefit from having well qualified students from the entire District on the team. Obviously, there are problems that go along with that as you've seen with your two cohorts attending a different school in a different city.

    Securing qualified chaperones has also been a problem for us and this can mean that the chaperone is from an entirely different school--as is the case with your chaperone. We have every confidence in Mike Schweninger but the sooner he gets to know you all on a personal level the better off you'll all be. I suspect that when we gather for the Penn dinner we'll all get to know each other better.

    And as for the group photo, I really appreciate how cooperative everyone was this year. This is by far the largest group we've gathered for a photograph. If my count is correct (I have trouble with large numbers) we had 76 people in the photo. You all did a great job and the photo turned out great.