NATIONALS :)

Whew. It has been a crazy, long, amazing two weeks. Last Wednesday began my big Idaho adventure. I had to go to the post office in the morning to get my passport renewed for the summer, which was surprisingly easy. The man at the Exeter post office was very nice and helpful. After that, I grabbed a coffee from D2 (a coffee shop in the town of Exeter) and returned to my dorm. There I made some final edits on an essay before turning it in to my teacher. Next I had an interview for the DRAMAT board. I performed a rap about each of the current board members.

Right after that, I grabbed my suitcase, met the Mock Trial A Team in front of the science building, and headed to the airport. There were eight of us on the team: three lawyers, four witnesses, and one time keeper. We flew first to Salt Lake City, Utah for a connection. When I got off the plane, I got a call saying I had made it onto the DRAMAT board which was very exciting. My teammates and I bought Auntie Annie’s pretzel poppers in celebration. The flight to Boise, Idaho was short, and we headed to our hotel. Our three coaches/advisors met us there: Walter Stahr, a former Exeter teacher who moved to California and skypes in to our meetings, Kyle Skinner, the former Mock Trial State Coordinator for New Hampshire, and Jared Bedrick, the current State Coordinator and a licensed attorney. The meeting was brief and we were all instructed to go to bed as soon as possible. We slept two to a room in very nice accommodations for which we were all very grateful. My roommate and I each quickly went to bed.

The next day, Thursday, we had two scrimmages, each as the Defense. We learned a lot from both, and returned that evening to work on our case. Before our long night began, however, we attended the Pin Ceremony. Basically, every year, the states competing at nationals bring little goodies, or representations, of their state. New Hampshire’s was a pin in the state’s shape, Georgia gave away stuffed cows, and Maine brought Chocolate Lobsters. The get-together was held in a courtyard and they served delicious food. It was quite an interesting experience: a bunch of mock trial nerds running around and meeting each other. We met some hilarious people and made some friends. After we ate, we decided we better head back to the hotel to work. Our co-heads stopped at whole foods and picked up fresh fruit and snacks. The night was long and full of rewriting, but we managed to get to bed at a decent hour.

On Friday we arrived at the courthouse at around 8. We passed through security and headed up to our room. Once we arrived at the very nice courtroom, we spread out: the witnesses practiced sitting on the stand and our lawyers did vocal warmups in the back of the room. The opposing team arrived and we learned they were from Nebraska. They also happened to be the defending national champions. Obviously, we went into this trial pretty stressed. Our coaches calmed us down. They told us to continue doing what we’d been doing and we’d be fine. And you know what? We didn’t lose to them by that much! We held our own and most importantly learned a lot. After team lunch we had our second trial, which went much more smoothly. This time we were up against the team from South Korea. One of our team members had gone to the same school they came from, and knew many of the same people the South Korean team knew. When the trial ended we returned to the hotel and went swimming for a little bit. Then, Mr. Stahr took us to a team dinner at a really nice seafood place.  After dinner we walked to Ben & Jerry’s and brought ice cream back to the hotel. Again, we stayed up working.

Saturday went much like Friday, and despite feeling confident about our trials, we all returned to the hotel exhausted. We had very little time to relax however, because we soon had to head over to the awards ceremony. Our coaches informed us it would be semi-formal, so we did our best to dress nicely. When we arrived at the ceremony, the first to go was Cowchips the Cowboy Poet, who read some bizarre but amusing poems. The team awaited eagerly to hear if we had won any Lawyer or Witness awards, as well as if we had placed in the top 10. As names were read first of individuals and then of teams, it became increasingly clear we would not win any awards. Much of are team was heartbroken. Most decided to return to the hotel, but a few of us chose to stay and go to “the dance.” Every year, after the awards, there’s a dance resembling a Bar/Bat Mitzvah dance. All the kids who have been working hard all weekend unwind and dance. Nobody was really dancing, we were all just laughing at ourselves. After awhile we decided we should return to the hotel to be with our team. When we got there, we joined a circle of people snacking and bonding. We stayed up that night talking.

In the morning, we learned where we had placed 35th out of 48th. Obviously many of us were disappointed and upset. The co-heads called the rest of the team down and we sat together at breakfast:

“We know you’re disappointed, we’re disappointed. But that number is not an accurate representation of what we did and how we performed this weekend. Whether it was a judging issue or whatever, forget it. Just remember how well we did. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but we don’t want that to change how you feel about yourselves and this team. You guys should be insanely proud of yourselves, I know we are.”

With much “aw-ing” and smiles, we headed to the airport. The way back was quiet, consisting mainly of long naps. We had become a real team ready for next year. Nobody really minded what place we came in – it was still an amazing experience.

 

 

Tea Season!

Spring term is finally here, and so are teas! Most dorms host these teas during this time of year, offering students a time to get dressed up and do fancy things. Both boys and girls dorms hold these events, and members of the host dorm can invite any other student. Since the snow is gone and the sun is out, outdoor lawn games like horseshoe and spike ball are played. A major plus to these events is the food. Most dorms go all out with cheese plates, chocolate fountains, sparkling cider, and pastries.

Teas also give students another chance to get to know more people, especially those of the opposite gender. Teas are social events, and are definitely treated as such. I was able to meet a variety of new interesting people through the numerous ice-breaker games held at each tea.

Coming from Arizona, this was definitely a treat to dress up in a blazer and take pictures. Showing everyone from home how fancy I’ve been acting this term has been quite entertaining.

Conor - Tea 1

This school is a prep school after all, and it can be fun to act the part.

My dorm Soule Hall, hosted our own tea last weekend at a dorm-mate’s house. We added our own twist to our event, making it a pool party of sorts-establishing our dress code as blazer+swim trunks or dress with a swim suit underneath. Overall, it all made for a pretty lively occasion as you can tell from the pictures.

Conor - Soule Soirée 1

Conor - Soule Soirée 2

Spring is here… finally!

Is it the end of the school year already? Where is the beautiful sunlight and clear skies then? Oh there they are, 2 months late. Spring has finally arrived here at Exeter. It’s been hiding beneath the heavy rainfall, and concealing itself from the alums who just had their reunions. It was very rainy last week, but the sun is starting to peek through. The season brings newly budding trees and short-sleeved shirts.People are starting to go outside again, even though it’s a bit later than we are used to in the school year.

Holi4

Beautiful Sunsets!

More people are riding their bikes and there’s a SpikeBall™ tournament going on now. Which is a game where you basically hit a ball into a net, and the other team has to catch it before it hits the ground. More frisbees are hitting trees and poles while the person who threw is blaming the delicate breeze. Exeter is heading towards my type of weather: Texan. In the south, cold is 60 and it’s not hot until it hits 100. Exeter is starting to cozy up as the spring season hops from out under the rock that was being pounded by rain. Oh Exeter, why must you hide your beauty for so long? Oh, and the volleyball team is killing it, 7-1 season record. New England Championship here we come!

Ori - Volleyball

Holi 2016

Hello All!

I hope everyone is feeling the rush of Spring as we only have four more weeks left in our term! In honor of the last term before the summer, many annual events are approaching around the corner hosted by Student Council or by other student organizations on campus. This past Sunday, the Hindu Society hosted its annual Holi event: a Hindu spring festival common in India and Nepal. Located in front of the Academy Building, brightly colored powder is thrown everywhere on the lawn, and students spray one another with water guns. It’s always a lot of fun to come with friends and throw colored powder in their hair (as it stains the skin for a couple of days following). This event is open to every student on campus, and many show up in clean, white t-shirts before being stained with a muddle of colors!

Below are some pictures of the event taken by Diana Davidson and Chiara Perotti:

Holi1   Holi2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holi3

Holi4

Holi5

Have a great rest of Spring term and keep an eye out for all the fun outdoor events hosted by Student Council: Spring Fling (an outdoor event with music and food) Block Party (the last outdoor school dance) and the many upcoming Dorm Teas hosted by many residential halls!

Politics Come to Exeter

Hello all!  I hope you are enjoying some warmer weather than we are here in New Hampshire.  It has been a fun first half of spring term with lots of dances, performances, and other fun events, including a personal favorite of mine – crew races!  One process that just came to its conclusion on campus was the Student Council elections.  Each year, in addition to voting on class and dorm representatives, the student body elects an executive board for Student Council consisting of a president, vice president, and secretary.  As is to be expected, those elected will help lead council meetings and act as liaisons with faculty and the administration in the coming year.  We witnessed an exciting campaign this year with many posters, videos, endorsements, a debate, and even a rally!

Continuing with the political theme, one of the perks about Exeter is that we are located in New Hampshire.  “Why is that exciting?” you may ask.  Being in the first primary state, it means that Exeter is abuzz with presidential candidates and media outlets for a few months every four years.  Fortunately, many of the candidates who came to town worked their schedules around PEA’s class schedule, whether they planned to or not.  I was fortunate enough see Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, and some of my friends were able to see Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Jeb Bush.  No matter your political affiliation, it is such a unique and interesting experience being able to see these political figures in person, shake their hands and hear their ideas.  Their arrivals also brought many discussions to campus in dorms, classrooms, and clubs such as the Democratic and Republican clubs.  Though there are disagreements on policies, this election has highlighted one of my favorite parts of Phillips Exeter – the fact that there are so many people from different places, with different backgrounds and opinions who can bring new ideas to the table, Harkness or otherwise.

 

Sanders

Photo taken by my wonderful proctor, Caroline del Real ’16

 

Rubio

 

Cruz

Wait a minute… You’re telling me people at Exeter make MISTAKES?!

“If you already know everything, then why go to school?” Mr.Aaronian PEA faculty

Many incoming students have this unspoken belief that students attending Exeter are flawless teenagers that get straight A’s and have hobbies like building rockets and winning Nobel Prizes. Yes, students here are exceptional, but we’re not perfect.

I attended a school where my hard work resulted in high grades. I arrived at PEA expecting this to continue. I was wrong. Despite my hard work, I was shocked by the intensity and rigor that PEA academics demand. I felt out of place and frustrated at first because I wasn’t getting the A’s I was used to, but as time passed I realized that getting a B+ in English could be the norm and A’s in any subject represent true excellence.

A personal tip that I can give to incoming students is to work hard and strive to do your best, not just focusing on getting all A’s. I’m not saying that you should be satisfied with poor grades, but beating yourself up when you try your best is a waste of energy. All you can do is your best.

ALex - mistakes

Congratulations to everyone again for getting into Exeter and feel free to contact me at arenaud@exeter.edu

JV Softball

Hey guys!

Recently here in Exeter, we’ve been having some amazing weather which has made playing softball so much better. I play for the JV softball team here at Exeter and I’ve had so much fun with the team so far this season. I was in Prep Program, which is basically a freshman gym class that is much more fun and more intense, during the fall and winter terms, so this is my first team and first competitive sport here at Exeter.

The JV team didn’t make cuts this year, so we have 17 people, which is pretty big for a softball team. The girls on the team are some of the funniest people I’ve ever met and practice is one of my favorite parts of every day. We practice four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) and we have games on Wed. and Sat. We also do special workouts twice a week with the strength and conditioning coach, Coach Barboza, and do strength and conditioning or speed training.

The team is super close and it’s so nice to have teammates who are so supportive and really like taking care of each other. On Saturday of last week, one of our catchers brought us all brownies because we won our first game a few days before. We’ve also had brownie-cookie-muffin combos brought to practice to celebrate a birthday as well. We have so many inside jokes and we always try to hang out, even if it’s only some of us which I think just makes us even closer, both on and off the field. This team is so kind to one another and we’re kind of like our own little family which is awesome, especially as we get to cheer each other on throughout the rest of our season.

Ingrid Softball 1

I’m so glad to be playing both for the school and on this team because it’s been one of my favorite experiences so far this year. I highly recommend trying out for a sport here at Exeter, no matter what level you are. There are girls on my team who have played for years and some who had never played until this year and the same goes for other sports teams on campus. There’s something really special about having teammates and it’s something that I think helps make Exeter such an amazing community. Sports teams help mix people from different dorms, countries, grades and helps bring together some really interesting and fun people.

Ingrid Softball 2

Also, the Preps have been playing Elimination (a.k.a. Survivor or Assassin) this week, which has made for some really crazy stories, and a lot of running around campus in a panic. Unfortunately, I was eliminated on day 1 but I think it’s even more fun now to try and save people or help others eliminate their targets.

Courses and Kills

Hey guys! It was a lot of fun hosting some of you at Experience Exeter, and I really can’t wait to see all the new faces on campus next school year!

Now, if you happen to be one of the new students, you’ve probably just turned in your course choices for next year. You probably read through the course booklet religiously, and made decisions for your first fall term classes.

Personally, I turned in my own choices a few days ago. In addition to English (ENG410) and math (MAT431), I’ll be electing Latin (LAT511), Biology (BIO510), and United States History (HIS410). One other thing I’ve been interested in is Genetics (BIO490), and I hope to audit it in the coming fall.

Chances are, you’ll love your classes, but don’t forgot: if you happen to have a change of heart or see some courses that you just have to take, don’t fret tot all with your advisor or Mr. Chan, the scheduler!

On a much lighter note: campus has been full of kids dropping their backpacks and running as far as their legs will carry them. In other words, Exeter’s been playing a lot of Survivor (more commonly known as Assassin). Preps, Lowers, Uppers, and Seniors have been fighting for survival within their grade levels, learning how to stealth around and “betraying” their best friends for kills. I had a lot of fun, getting the most kills on the first day (a full four), but died on the third when a pair of brothers (twins) plotted to kill me.

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Upper Declan Saviano is in denial after Sara Michaels kills him

Have a good spring term, and feel free to ask me any questions about my course choices or course selections in general down in the comments or at ahong@exeter.edu!