By Caroline Acheatel
Editor-in-chief, The PaletteAlthough over the years I’ve jokingly maintained to family and friends that ninth grade was my peak year, when I think about my high school development, I realize that maybe I’ve been overestimating my 14-year-old abilities. As I look back over my high school experience, I’m beginning to realize just how much I’ve changed since ninth grade, and how far I’ve come with the aid of my family, friends, teachers and school.
When I entered high school, the transition didn’t feel like a leap into uncharted waters but rather a friendly transition to a new part of the La Jolla Country Day campus. I relished my relatively unstructured schedule, the new classes and new friends, and most of all, the teachers I encountered.
For me, the best part of high school was the faculty. Since ninth grade, I have had the pleasure of dealing with the diverse bunch of caring and fascinating teachers that make up the Country Day faculty. Although hundreds of qualities ranging from the inspiring to the ridiculous fill my head when I recall my varied selection of teachers, their unifying characteristic is their wholehearted dedication to making the students blossom. I will always remember my Spanish Literature class. Our “profesora” habitually went above and beyond what was required of her, staying one night until 9 p.m., sitting with us in a circle on the floor and genially going over our class novel, as we munched on the pizza and cookies she brought for us. Nor can I forget the attentiveness of my slew of math teachers, staying with me through lunch and constantly preaching above my protests that I could be the next Pythagoras if only I came in for a few more help sessions.
My teachers didn’t only help in my academic pursuits but also in my extracurricular endeavors. My senior English teacher mentored me through all four years of high school, convincing me in 10th grade to join the school newspaper, where she always encouraged me further and eventually urged me to try out for the editorship position. Likewise, my art teachers always welcomed me and made time to talk whenever I dropped by the art rooms, giving advice on my career plans and offering suggestions of summer programs.
In hindsight, a composite look at the past four years doesn’t offer a recollection of the stereotypical “bad high school experience” seen in movies, but instead shows a time line charting my growth in all areas of my academic interests as well as the birth of friendships that I hope to have the rest of my life, with students and teachers alike. For me, the mentors and friends I encountered along my high school path show me that the concept of a peak year is flawed, and that my whole life is a growth process towards realizing my dreams.