In Advocation of Video Projects

I’m trying to say what really matters. Because I don’t have much time left.

None of us do, really.

So, I’m trying to say what I need to say.

I thought for a long time what I would make this blog about. And it took a while before I decided I would write a post In Advocation of Video Projects.

I decided this because Video Projects were one of the most fun things I did in High School. This has less to do with the projects themselves, and more to do with the people I did them with. Video Projects were this ultimate excuse to spend a day with a great group of people, just joking around on camera.

Whether it was reenacting a scene from Shakespeare for English or explaining a theory in Math or…teaching a lesson in AP Chemistry, Video Projects were always a blast.

Most recently, I made a video for AP Chemistry. More specifically, I made:

An Idiot’s Survival Guide: How to Survive AP Chemistry (In 10 Simple Steps)

Before I paste the link in here, I’d like to clarify a few things. First! I’m a sap. And the end of the video gets pretty sappy. Second! Unfortunately, Mr. Portis felt that if I wanted to get a grade higher than a C…I had to actually put “educational information” in my video. It had to be “worth-while“. Sometimes that Mr. Portis can be pretty crazy. Anyway, that means that there are  a few…serious parts in the video.

All in all, I hope you enjoy it. The link is below.

Click here.

I had so much fun making that video. It was the perfect way to finish off my Senior Year. Especially my Senior Year in AP Chem. Because whether we like it or not, AP classes start to hold a sentimental value as the year progresses. It’s hard to spend an entire year with 20 other kids in one class and not feel some kind of attachment to them.

Anyway, to all the teachers of this world: Maybe video projects don’t always work the best with helping students understand material…but they sure are fun.

They sure are worth it.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

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The End, Pt. 2

May 31, 2013

The End, Pt. 2

Well, that’s The End of High School.

Perhaps some will say that High School isn’t really over until we walk at graduation or take our diploma. But I can’t help but feel that it’s really…done. Because this next week will be filled with the formalities of graduation, it’s not actually school. As of yesterday at 9:59, we no longer had any obligations to attend a class at Gull Lake High School. If you ask me, it’s over.

But that’s okay. Because after 9:59, I spent the afternoon with some of the greatest people on the planet.

The Group

The trip we took to South Haven was a huge success. After setting up camp, we spent the afternoon having a blast on the coast of Lake Michigan. The sun was high, the sand was hot, the water was frigid, the times were good, and the chips were warm and greasy from laying out.

Feet

In general, there was a buzz of joy in the air. There was also quite a bit of sand flying in the air. But that was mostly due to the hole Logan decided to dig. He even brought shovels and everything. For some bizarre reason, he felt this intense desire to…dig a hole. I suppose he’s free to do whatever he wants, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t slightly odd. I’m trying not to see symbolism in the fact that a bunch of High School Seniors dug themselves a hole on their first day of break.

Logan

Anyway, when we weren’t helping Logan dig, we were chasing each other into the ice bath that was Lake Michigan. Or we were playing a rag-tag game of 500 (a game played with a football and points are given out to those that can catch it). Or we were taking walks down to the impressive pier that stretched proudly into Lake Michigan’s waters. Or we just…laid around.

Carly

Later, as the afternoon began succumbing to night, we moved camp to one of the grills located by the pier. Logan and Maxson fired up the grill and threw hot dogs, burgers, and pizzas on there for us all to eat. We had ourselves a little picnic. Storm clouds threatened to dampen the party’s mood, but there were very few things on Earth that could ruin the elation we felt.

Digging

Because we had finally done it. It doesn’t even seem real to me yet. But it’s true. It is all over. Every single class since the first one I took on our first day of High School, Freshman English, all the way to the last class I was in before we left, AP Literature. They’re over.

If I had to look at this blog as a story, I would say this is the climax. The moment of highest tension. The moment when that last bell rang at 9:59 and High School ended. The moment that I’ve marked as: The End. Of course, there’s still a little bit of resolution to get through.

In any case, a day at the beach with a great group of kids was the perfect way to end High School.

Zach

When I started this blog, I mentioned pretty frequently that I was scared of this moment. The End. But I think I’m okay. It’s not so bad. My time at the beach made it strikingly evident that I’d still have my friends. What more could I ask for?

Jacob

So, I’m looking forward.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Forward

The End, Pt. 1

May 29, 2013

The End, Pt. 1

Today was my Last Full Day as a Gull Lake High Schooler. Tomorrow will be the Class of 2013’s Last Day as Gull Lake High Schoolers.

You know, a lot of the Seniors have been phrasing things like that lately. They say things like: “Today is our Last Monday!” or “This is our Last Full Week!” or “This is our Last Seminar!” So and and so forth…And it’s gotten me thinking about why we do that, why we phrase things like that.

I mean, we do the same thing in Track and Cross Country during hard workouts. In particular, Ben and I will analyze the number of repetitions we have left until the entire team gets a little math lesson. Say we’ve got a workout consisting of 400 repetitions. Say…10×400. After one, Ben and I might say something like: “Hey! After we do eight more…we’ll only have one left. So, we’re basically done.” Or after we do five, we’ll burst into Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi. Get it? Because we’re “half-way there”. Then at six, we might say: “We only have to do everything we’ve done over again…minus two!

Now, when it comes to hard workouts I can pinpoint the two reasons we do this. One: Simple math is a good way to get your mind off the pain of running. Two: When we look at the workout in a certain way…it doesn’t seem all that bad. Hard workouts are rough, and we can’t wait for them to be over. Because the best part of running is the satisfaction of being done.

But running isn’t quite like High School. I mean, I’m sure there are a few kids out there that are just itching to get out of here. But I’m sure there are also a few, myself included, that are kind of saddened by it. So, why would we mark each passing Last with loud pronouncements? With running, we just want it to be over. But do we really just want High School to be over?

No, I think we phrase things in ways that make us feel best about the situation at hand. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about how we want to see things. It’s like Coach Hawkins said today in his end of the year speech: “There’s a silver lining in anything. You just need to see it.” So, with hard workouts…Ben and I look to The End. Ben and I mark each passing 400 with celebration. But with High School, we mark these Lasts as a sort of salute. We’re saying good-bye to all the great Mondays or Fridays or weeks or Seminars that we had at Gull Lake. We see The End coming and we pay homage to it by celebrating each little step that draws us closer.

So, I hope every Gull Lake Senior had a great Last Full Day of High School…despite the exams. I know I did. I got to spend one more day as Coach Portis’s student. I said good-bye to Mr. Belz. I got one last speech from Coach Hawkins. And I spent one Last Lunch with a group of people I truly treasure.

Tomorrow, it’ll really be The End. Tomorrow, it’ll all be over. Everything this Year of Lasts has been leading to: The Last Races, the Last Shows, the Last Tests, Days, Weekends, Meets, Practices, Dances, Banquets, Rehearsals…It’ll all converge.

I’ll walk the halls one Last Time.

And then I’ll go to South Haven for a day at the beach.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Festival Upon Us

May 7, 2013

The Festival Upon Us

This weekend is the 2013 Gull Lake High School Festival of the Senses. It’s basically Gull Lake’s way of celebrating all the arts in our school…in one weekend.

Artists display. Musicians play. Choirs sing. Dancers dance. And thespians perform.

Of course, the entire Festival is awesome. The art is really impressive (and all made by Gull Lake students). The Jazz Band is always good. The choir is a harmonic troupe of singers that usually perform the works of a popular musical. The dancers work daily in their EFA dance class and it shows when they do their stuff. And…well, maybe I have a little bit of bias, but I personally enjoy watching the One Acts most.

This blog is a little nudge for anyone in the Gull Lake Community that finds their weekend plans are lacking a little…flair. Why not come out to the Festival? It’s free to get in. It’s entertainment. And it supports small-town arts.

In case there’s anyone that needs a bigger nudge, I asked the other One Act Directors to provide me with a brief synopsis of their play, just as a little teaser for any Curious-Cathy’s out there.

Check Please – Aija Rozentals (Friday, May 10th 8:15 PM; Saturday, May 11th 7:20 PM)

“After a particularly nasty break up, a boy and a girl are encouraged by their best friends to rebound and head right back out into the dating field. This one act comedy follows these two lost souls in their bizarre and unnerving search for love. What awaits them as they journey into the unique world of dating in the 21st Century?”

Types & Timing – Shelby Hoxworth (Friday, May 10th 8:35 PM; Saturday, May 11th 8:00 PM)

“Fabulous business woman Priscilla in her controlled, perfect Life is thrown a curve ball when the Sharizer Phoebe shows up out of the blue. Sent to check things out by his boss/girlfriend, MacArthy will do anything to get the promotion he wants too badly.”

Debating the Days – Shelby Cartwright (Friday, May 10th 8:55 PM; Saturday, May 11th 8:20 PM)

“A comedy about the seven days of the week. They receive a letter from America, stating that one of them has to be eliminated in order to help the economy. Each day sets off having to state their reasons as to why they can’t be cut. Each character has their own special quirk about them that adds to the overall humor of the show, and the ending may come as a surprise. It falls on the edge a bit with some of the language and themes, but is a really good show to come along and enjoy.”

No Such Thing As A Vampire – Kristen Russel & Mikea Lapierre (Friday, May 10th 9:15 PM; Saturday, May 11th 9:00 PM)

“On a warm night in the 1800s, Alexis Gheria awakens with a bloodcurdling scream. there’s blood and two puncture wounds on her neck. Could it be what the entire village has been fearing? Her husband, with the help of his loyal maid Carol and helpful colleague Michael Vares, searches for answers to uncover a shocking truth.”

The Pan Complex: A Tale of Peter and Eve – Brian Wiegand & Erica Heathcote (Friday, May 10th 9:35 PM; Saturday, May 11th 9:40 PM)

“A one act drama/comedy all about growing up. In Small Town, USA Eve finds herself faced with her sister Delilah’s departure for college. The night before Delilah leaves, Eve is visited by a nighttime prowler, also known as her best friend: Peter. As Peter desperately tries to get Eve to sneak out with him, the two delve into the thing that haunts us all: Growing up.”

I urge anyone in the Gull Lake Community to consider setting up their weekend around this spectacular event.

The Festival of the Senses has always been worth the evening.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Speculations

April 25, 2013

Speculations

Ah, yes. Springtime in Michigan.

The Track season is in full swing.

Prom is just around the corner.

Talk of graduation is becoming more frequent.

Mock Election pictures are being taken.

And today, it was hailing one second and sunny the next!

Yes, it certainly is a Michigan Spring.

With the talk of graduation, comes Speculation about who will win all the different awards that are given out to the Senior Class. For example: Who will be Valedictorian and Salutatorian? Or: Who will be honored by each of the different departments? Or: What athletes will be recognized for their impressive achievements?

From what I’ve heard, Valedictorian and Salutatorian are neck and neck. We’re talking about two kids who’ve taken so many AP Classes, their GPAs can be brought down by an A in a regular class that isn’t weighted by AP standards.

At Gull Lake, just to clarify, Seniors are awarded in a number of different ways. Primarily, there’s the Valedictorian and Salutatorian; they’re determined by GPA. Then, each different department (Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Publications, Business, etc.) honors one or two students for their achievements in that subject area. Lastly, there are things like Class Musician, Class Poet, and Class President (of course, Class President has been decided for quite a while) who all speak or perform during the graduation ceremony.

I think these awards are exciting to Speculate about because it gets me thinking about my class as a whole and the sort of people that fill it. It’ll be cool when we finally hear who wins what because I think it will helps define who we are as the graduating Class of 2013. We’re the class that had Cara as our Class President. We had so-and-so as Valedictorian and what’s-their-face as Salutatorian. Our Math expert was [insert name here]. The Class Musician sang that song at our graduation.

Or maybe Lance will just get every honor. A very real possibility. Kid’s a freakin’ genius.

Anyway, it’s just another reason to be excited for the rapidly approaching graduation season.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Home Stretch

April 9, 2013

The Home Stretch

Spring Break is over. It’s only Tuesday and it already seems like it’s been an eternity since I was in the Sunshine State’s pan handle. But now…oh, now we find ourselves in The Home Stretch.

If I’m doing my Math correctly, which I’m probably not, we have 35 school days left. From what I’ve heard, we get out on Thursday, May 30th. How about a little more Math? (I have no idea why I’m voluntarily doing Math. Heck, I get enough of it in Pre-Calc. Oh well, only 35 days left. I suppose I can handle a little more.)

So, 35 days. We spend about 6.8 hours in school every day. That’s 238 hours of school left. Or 14,280 minutes. Let’s take out passing time and lunch, shall we? 12,530 class-time minutes until the Seniors leaves Gull Lake High School. (Granted, I didn’t take into account the early-release day we have coming up. Or the half-day that we’re going to have. So…maybe it’s not that accurate. Gimme a break.)

Okay, well that’s all fine and dandy…But let’s take this a step further.

Let’s say that we truly attended school for 180 days every year of our schooling career. Obviously, that’s not true. We’ve had snow days, we’ve been sick, we’ve gone on vacation. Whatever. Just go with me. That means we’ve completed 98.50% of our time at Gull Lake Community Schools. For those of you who are Mathematically challenged like myself, we’ve got 1.50% of our schooling career left. (Until college, that is.)

Alright. That’s kinda nice to see all laid out…But let’s go one step further.

Keeping with the above assumption that we truly attended school 180 days each year, we’ve gone to school 2,305 times. Those measly 35 days we have left? Well, we’ve already attended 35 days of Gull Lake 65 times…If that makes sense. What we have left, we’ve already done 65 times (almost 66 times, truly). So, one more time is like…nothing.

There’s a million different ways to look at it. But the bottom line is that our Senior Year is rapidly approaching it’s close. The Year of Lasts will soon have it’s Last Day. There could very well be people walking the hallways of Gull Lake High School that I’ll only see for 35 more days. People that I’ve already spent 2,305 days with. People that I might never see again. It is the greatest Truth and greatest tragedy of anything that comes to a close: People that you may have once called friend become nothing more than memory.

But I suppose it’s nothing to worry ourselves over. Because it’s just part of Life. Nothing lasts forever. We’d be foolish to think anything to the contrary. Especially when we’re being stared in the face by the conclusion of the largest aspect of our Lives thus far.

35 days.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

When Gull Lake Glitters

February 19, 2013

When Gull Lake Glitters

There are two times a year that Gull Lake Glitters. The first is during the Summer when the sun reflects off the lake…But that’s not the time I’m interested in talking about.

The second is during the murky period between Winter and Spring when all the Gull Lake High Schoolers harboring secret talents come out of the woodwork to show their stuff at the annual talent show: Glitter.

Glitter is a parent created and organized talent show that is generated once a year and performed one night at Comstock Auditorium. Auditions happened over the past two weeks and the Call Board will be updated later this week with information on what acts were accepted.

For the past three years, I’ve been a Glitter MC. And for the past three years, Glitter has been an absolutely brilliant highlight to every Spring. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll be accepted for a fourth year of MCing.

While being a Master of Ceremony is an absolute blast…I don’t think it’s the best part of Glitter. I think the best part of Glitter is discovering that the quiet kid sitting next to you in Plane Geometry has a set of pipes that would make Adele cry. Glitter is all about the students of Gull Lake High School stepping up and saying: “Guys. Guys look what I can do!”

My Sophomore Year, this Senior named Garrison sang Folsom Prison Blues in a bass that I couldn’t believe. Or last year, Ben sang Lonely Boy and I still remember the first rehearsal I watched him and my jaw absolutely dropped. Or Caiti! She sang Sailor Song last year and her voice was so present, so full. It was awesome. (Granted, maybe there were a few people who know of these “hidden” talents. But I sure didn’t have a clue until they opened their mouths.)

On the other end of the spectrum, there are kids that sing often and therefore most people know they’ve got a throat of gold. This Junior, Grace, comes to mind. And this girl that graduated my Sophomore Year, Sarah.

Glitter is this amazing opportunity for Gull Lake High Schoolers to realize that the hallways are filled with talent. They’re filled with singers, dancers, songwriters, DJs. musicians…hula-hoopers. And that’s something to be proud of.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

A Snowy Friday

February 8, 2013

A Snowy Friday

Last night, snow fell over Michigan. Lots of snow. And that was rather fitting.

Because today is Sno-Court. Overall, it’s A Snowy Friday.

Sno-Court is a lot like Homecoming. It’s essentially identical. But there is a very noticeable difference between the hype surrounding both events. I think it’s fair to say that people get more excited about Homecoming. Maybe it’s because Football is so unbelievably American, or maybe it’s because Winter is a hard season to get “pumped up” in.

In any case, it’s not entirely fair to compare Sno Court to Homecoming because, in the end, it’s all working towards the same goal: Creating School Spirit. And that’s a goal to be admired.

Schools are filled with hundreds upon hundreds of kids, and all of them are different. There are Basketball players and there are thespians, there are AP students and there are blow-off class regulars, there are shy mice and social butterflies. But they’re all members of the same school. We’re all Gull Lakers. Whether we like it or not, this is the hand we’ve been dealt in Life and Sno Court is about being proud of that. It’s about smacking your fist against your chest and booming: “I am Gull Lake.” It’s about knowing that being a Gull Laker makes you special.

We’re all…”On the same team.”

Now, if you’ll allow me to get really, really…out there, I’d like to try and make a connection. I recently saw a motivational video in which a young boy (Kid President) gave the world a pep talk. And one of the things this little boy said was: “If Life is a game…Aren’t we all on the same team? I mean really, right? I’m on your team. Be on my team.”

I think that’s a point Truer than anything I’ve ever heard. If a High School can come together and be proud of what they stand for as Gull Lakers…Couldn’t humans come together be proud of what they stand for?

And I think, when we really get down to it, that’s what School Spirit is about. That’s what Sno Court is about. That’s what Homecoming is about. It’s about realizing that we’re not really all that different. We may come from different places and we may believe different things…But we’re all Gull Lakers. We’re all humans. We’re all…here. Living.

Anyway, I’ll get off that soapbox and come back down to the real world.

Today was great. Today was A Snowy Friday, but the snow did little to dampen the mood of Gull Lake High School. Today was fun.

Especially because the Seniors totally kicked some butt at the Snow Olympics.

And I’d say that’s all thanks to a little School Spirit.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Thick snowflakes fell from a black, quilted sky. The air was cold and still, there wasn’t even a whisper of wind. The snow seemed to muffle all the sounds of Life at Gull Lake High School. That silence came as a stark contrast to the rowdy gymnasium that I’d just left.

I’d spent the whole Basketball game sitting with the most musical kids at our school…the Pep-Band.

That’s where I always sit. Personally, I think that’s the best place to be at a Basketball game. Maybe I think that because a lot of my friends are Band Geeks, which means I can usually find a home amongst the many bleachers full of brass, woodwind, and (insert name of another kind of instrument). But it’s not just the people that makes sitting with the Pep-Band special. It’s the Music.

Every so often, in mid conversation, everyone around me will suddenly pull their instruments up and a rendition of “Thriller” or “The Final Countdown” is suddenly filling the air around me. And that makes me smile. It’s almost like being in a musical…Sort of.

Anyway, that’s not the only kind of Music that makes the Pep-Band section the best. Every so often, Ms. Latham will instruct Ben or Joy to play some music from these huge speakers at the top of the bleachers. And it’s always a song groovy enough to make the whole section dance. Ben and Joy both have really good taste in Music and they make it a point to play only the best parts of the catchiest songs.

And that’s where I spend my Basketball games. Sitting with the Pep-Band, talking to some Band Geeks, listening to some good Music, and occasionally watching the intensity of the Basketball game that’s unfolding below.

I’m like a Pep-Band Groupie.

So, there are two big reasons I’m writing this post.

1.) To talk about the best place to sit at Basketball games.

2.) To talk about an Epiphany that I had as I was leaving last Friday’s Basketball game.

See, I had to leave early because I was taking the SAT on Saturday. As I was leaving the gym, the noise of the crowd and the game was almost overwhelming. The second I reached the outside, though…silence. Complete silence. It was snowing that night and the flakes of snow that fell were the fattest I’ve ever seen. It was as if the snow caused everything to stop. I didn’t hear the passing of cars on the road. I didn’t hear the sound of the cheers from the gym. I barely heard the sound of my own breathing.

I walked through this comforting silence. I walked through it and thought about what I had to do the next day. The SAT was just another reminder that I’d be leaving Gull Lake soon. And, with that on my mind, I turned back to the school. Just to get another good look at it.

And…it was beautiful. I don’t even care how silly that sounds. How could a building be beautiful? I haven’t a clue. I have no idea. But it was. I suppose the more I think about it…The more it makes sense. Why wouldn’t I feel an attachment to Gull Lake High School?

That was where I became who I am today. That’s where I met Coach Portis and Coach Hawkins and Coach Flynn. That’s where I met Mr. Nott. That’s where I learned. That’s where I laughed. That’s where I read the Call Board, telling me that I’d received my first role in a play as Jason. That’s where I spent countless hours with countless people who I would call nothing less than: “Friend.” That was where I became me.

It was a good couple of minutes before I turned my back on the school and made my way through the heavy snow to my car.

Of course, there will soon come a day that I won’t be sitting with the Pep-Band anymore. And there will soon come a day that I won’t be able to call Gull Lake my High School. But that day isn’t today. And that day isn’t tomorrow.

And I’m grateful for that.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

My Epiphanies as a Pep-Band Groupie

Someone Hit Fast-Forward

January 13, 2013

Someone Hit Fast-ForwardI remember when I was a Freshman.

And I can specifically remember my youthful self looking at Seniors and thinking: “Oh, I’ll never achieve that. I’ll never be that old. It’s so far away. Brian Wiegand? A Senior in High School? Preposterous!” And I can also remember wondering what it would feel like once I’d achieved that…

Well…

I feel absolutely no different. If I wasn’t consciously aware of the fact that I was a 17-year-old Senior at Gull Lake High School, it would be really, really easy for someone to convince me I was a Freshman. I suppose that’s sort of a “Duh” thing to say, but I can remember really thinking that I would feel different once I’d achieved this. I remember thinking that I’d be a completely different person.

Of course, I suppose I do have this constant nag of nostalgia…But I don’t feel like I’ve changed. Then again, I’ve been with me 100% of the time that this “change” has taken place, so maybe that’s why I don’t notice the difference. Or maybe there isn’t a difference…How am I supposed to know? It’s sort of like family reunions. Your relatives all say: “Oh, look how tall you are!” because they haven’t seen you in a year. To them, the change is huge. To you, the change doesn’t seem that immense because growth is slow and you’ve been you the whole time. You’ve experienced the change as it painstakingly took place and don’t realize how much change has taken place in a year.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that as I’ve grown older, time seems to be moving faster. (Perhaps that negates my previous point, oh well.) Sometimes, when I stop for a second to take a breath, I look around and I think: “Wait. It’s the Winter of my Senior year? That can’t be right. Cross Country is over? Over for good? Hold up…We’re in the middle of my final PAC show?! There’s 19 days until the first show? Nope. No. Wrong. Not true…It can’t be true.”

And then, when I look forward to this Summer, I’m hit with a huge bag of bricks called “Reality.” The Open Houses that I’ll be attending this year…will be for people in my grade. That definitely can’t be right. No way! It was just yesterday that I was at Freshman Orientation, right?

There are all these things that are starting to become very apparent to me. This Summer, I’ll be signing up for classes and buying books and saying good-bye to some kids I’ve grown up with my entire Life, I’ll be shopping for my dorm and preparing for College and getting ready to step out into the world…All on my own.

It is in this year, 2013, that I will leave Gull Lake High School…for the last time.

Time is going so fast. It’s like Someone Hit Fast-Forward.

But it’s all part of Life, isn’t it? Growing up is just part of Life and it’ll happen whether I want it to or not. Best thing I can do is be happy with it. Be happy that I’ve been fortunate enough to make it this far and that I’ve gotten into College and that I’ll actually be able to go to College.

As J.M. Barrie said: “All children, except one, grow up.” Last time I checked, I’m not Peter Pan…

So, it looks like I better get used to the idea.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Last Hoorah

January 9, 2013

The Last Hoorah

Across the nation, it’s hard to find a High School that doesn’t offer some sort of…Last Hoorah to their graduating Seniors. Even Rydell High does it! At Gull Lake, we call it “Grad Bash”. Grad Bash is The Last Hoorah for the Seniors of Gull Lake High School. And this year, it’s finally my turn to go on that magical trip.

(Luckily, I’ve turned my form in already. At the end of this month, the price to attend goes up $15. So, to any Gull Lake Seniors out there that haven’t signed up yet…Get on that.)

I still remember when my sister, Molly, went to hers…

Graduation had just finished and we were out on the plaza beside Miller Auditorium, on Western Michigan University’s campus. (Miller is the stage Gull Lake uses to present graduates with their diplomas.) A few buses waited patiently in the parking lot, prepared to take all the Seniors of Gull Lake to a location only known by the bus drivers and the parents that organized Grad Bash. Molly and the Class of 2010 ended up returning to Western’s campus for a night of blow-up, bouncy house fun in the Rec. Center. The Class of 2011 put on their boogie shoes for a night of line dancing at Cowboy-Up. The Class of 2012 was taken up to a community center in Grand Rapids and spent the night playing ping-pong and video games, climbing rock walls, and dancing.

Secretiveness is part of the magic that is Gull Lake’s Grad Bash. None of the Seniors know what they’re doing until they’re there. And I think that’s pretty cool. The mystery surrounding Grad Bash makes it exciting. Even if I had the chance to know where we were going, I wouldn’t want to hear it. Because it’s the unknown that we show an interest in.

Mystery is intriguing.

In the end, of course, I’d still go to Grad Bash if it wasn’t a secret. What’s really important about the evening is the camaraderie that fills the heart of every Senior. I can feel it start even now. Sometimes…I walk down the hallway and I look around at the faces of my peers, the faces of my fellow Seniors, and it feels right. It feels like: “Yes. We really did this. We really made it through these 13 years of school.” Of course, we all have much more difficult challenges ahead of us…But we did this. We played the game and we played it well enough to get here. I even feel this connection with kids I barely know. They’re a fellow Gull Lake Senior, and that’s enough to make me want to smile and wave.

Because we did it together. We made it this far together. We’ve seen each other achieve and we’ve seen each other fail. We’ve seen each other laugh and sometimes we’ve seen each other cry. We’ve seen each other excited and we’ve seen each other scared. We’ve each found our niche and we’ve all become different people. Some of us are writers. Some of us are artists. Some of us are Basketball stars. Some of us are PAC Rats. Soccer players. Band Geeks. Poets. Wrestling champs. History buffs. Quiz-Bowlians. Football beasts. Mathematicians. Equestrian masters. Scientists. Golfers. Outcasts. In-Crowd. Track and Cross Country runners. KAMSC kids. Tennis players. Just there. Presidents. Nerds. Jocks. Slackers. Hard workers. Some of us are this. Some of us are that. Some of us are none of the above. And some of us…well, some of us are Idiots. But all of us make up the Class of 2013. And we made it this far together.

That’s what Grad Bash is all about. It’s all about raising a glass to the past 13 years and having one night of relaxed fun before we turn to face the rest of our lives.

Because…the future is pretty scary. But we can think about that after Grad Bash.

To the Gull Lake Class of 2013, I say: “Thank you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for more than you could ever possibly know.”

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

VIII

December 17, 2012

VIII

Last Wednesday, at 7:00, the Cast List was posted by the new PAC director, Mrs. Stahr. As you can imagine…this was pretty exciting. It read as follows:

Judge/Guard: Charisse T.

Foreman: Kelcee R.

#2: Shelby H.

#3: Samantha K.

#4: Leighanne B.

#5: Karly K.

#6: Jonah G.

#7: Jack L.

#8: Brian W.

#9: Juli G.

#10: Jossie C.

#11: Alana F.

#12: Shelby C.

There was a mad rush to see the Call Board from all who auditioned. Of course, this involved equal amounts of joy and sorrow. But, in the end, the Cast List is what it is. Mrs. Stahr made her choices and I can’t wait to see what the Gull Lake Performing Arts Company will make of Twelve Angry Jurors.

Just this afternoon, the Tech List was posted and it was packed with placements that made me smile.

For starters, Mary and Kristen got Associate Directors…And that makes me happy. I asked Mary a few months back what she’d want to do in PAC this year and she said she certainly wouldn’t mind Associate Director. And I’m glad that she is. I think she’s a creative mind that will really help make the play something special.

And a good friend of mine, Rachel, got Stage Manager. A position I know she’s had her heart set on. Rachel’s a little girl with a very, very big heart and I know she’s up to the task of managing us PAC Rats and whipping us into shape.

Oh, and another good friend, Claire, got Sound Chief. I’ve always thought that was a cool aspect of PAC. Everybody starts out in minor positions, learning the ropes. It’s not very sensible to make a newbie a Chief so, in general, people start out on the bottom rung and work their way up as they display their talents. And it’s really special to see that sort of thing happen to friends of yours.

I can’t remember everything the Tech List said…it was a lot longer than the Cast List and therefore a bit harder to remember. But, overall, I’m just so…unbelievably and uncontrollably excited to start working on this show.

That desire was slightly curbed today. Today was our very first rehearsal. The 13 actors and actresses went and met in Mrs. Stahr’s room for our first read-through of Twelve Angry Jurors. And I thought it went exceptionally well, especially for a first read-through. I mean, it didn’t go perfect…But I don’t think there’s been a single first read-through in the history of theatre that went perfect.

It’s satisfying to finally get our hands on the scripts and to highlight our lines and to read the show that we’ll be performing. I feel good…now that I’m finally doing PAC again.

Even if there’s the grim reality that it will be my last year…

I’m happy to be working on a play.

And I’m thrilled to be Juror No. 8.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Wisdom of Mr. Nott

December 13, 2012

The Wisdom of Mr. Nott

So, up until this year, PAC has been directed by Mr. Nott.

Mr. Nott is the Drama/Theatre Teacher at Gull Lake High School. I also identify him as one of the “Greats” at Gull Lake. The Art Department Great.

And he’s really got that stereotypical Drama teacher feel to him. He’s relaxed but he cares. He can get pretty “out-there” but he always stays oddly familiar…If that makes any sense. You can usually identify him by his signature ponytail and friendly smile.

Not only does he teach Drama, he’s the proud teacher of the only Oral Traditions class in the state of Michigan. This class focuses on storytelling, an art that Mr. Nott is arguably obsessed with. There’s a quote on his door that reads: “The shortest distance between two people is a story.” And I think this fascination with stories has a lot to do with the kind of person he is.

Mr. Nott has made a Life out of working in the dramatic arts…this pretty much means that his days has been filled with telling stories. That’s all plays are, after all.

That quote reveals something else about Mr. Nott, too. I think his goal as a Teacher is to show students the ways in which humanity interacts on every level and that it isn’t extremely hard to coexist with our peers. High School is a time of hatred for a lot of kids and I think Mr. Nott works to reduce that aggression.

“The shortest distance between two people is a story.” I think he wants all of us to realize that we would all exist more harmoniously if we talked genuinely to one another. Anyway, this post wasn’t really supposed to be about Mr. Nott’s beliefs on how peace would be easily achieved.

It’s supposed to be about a speech that Mr. Nott gives at the beginning of every class.

I received this speech just a week ago, at the change of the trimester…

* * *

“Let’s pretend this is Gull Lake, our school,” Mr. Nott said, pointing to the desk in front of him. On the desk was a pitcher of water and cups. “Let’s say that this pitcher is the teacher…and these cups are all the students of Gull Lake. As you can see, these cups are all shapes and sizes. Just like the kids at this school.”

“Now, you have been told a lie about the way that school works. You probably visualize school like this…You come to school,” Mr. Nott said as he walked the cups along the desk and up to the pitcher, “and the teacher pours knowledge into you, right?” Mr. Nott demonstrated pouring the water from the pitcher into the cup.

“But that doesn’t work…Because not every kid is an open cup. Some kids…” Mr. Nott popped a lid onto the top of one of the cups, “are like this. They don’t want to learn. And no one can force them. That’s one thing you must know: No one can teach you anything. You have to be willing to learn. So, that’s why school really works like this…” He moved the cups back into their original starting position and made them toddle back up to the pitcher.

“This pitcher represents the experience that is presented in a classroom. And it’s the responsibility of the student to dive into the experience…” Mr. Nott dunked a cup into the pitcher, “and try to get as much knowledge from it as they can.”

He pulled the water-filled cup out of the pitcher.

* * *

And Mr. Nott says this to every class he has. Because he thinks it’s an important thing to hear. And he’s right. I think it’s a really good thing that he gives this demonstration.

I think it’s a really good thing that Mr. Nott came to Gull Lake High School.

It’s been an honor to be given the opportunity to work with Mr. Nott over the past 3 years. I can’t believe our time together is almost up.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

The day will come that I have to say “Good-Bye” to Mr. Nott…But thankfully that day isn’t today.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Reflection

When I was a Freshman, Gull Lake High School ran a school year based on semesters. Nowadays, we run on trimesters. But back when we were on semesters, kids used to be able to do this thing called “Double Blocking”. Double Blocking was when you took one class in the first semester (say…Freshman English) and then, in order to get ahead of the game and hopefully reach AP level classes in that subject, you would take the next class up in the second semester (say…Sophomore English.) Well, I did that my Freshman Year. I took Freshman English…and then Sophomore English.

This decision was filled with Pros and Cons…

Pros:

-I was advancing my education in a subject area I enjoyed

-It would create an opportunity to take both AP English classes over two years (one in my Junior Year and one in my Senior Year.)

-I got to have English year-round

-I had Mrs. Jolin as my Sophomore English teacher. (We’ll get to why that’s especially important for this blog.)

Cons:

-I believe that English is the class where you bond the most with your classmates…and I missed out on a lot of that experience with my grade. I never got to see my classmates get assigned parts to read A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I never got giggle with my peers as we heard a teacher say the “f-word” in Catcher in the Rye. I never got to discuss Lord of the Flies with the Class of 2013. I never got to have all of those English class experiences with members of my grade. (Of course, I have AP Literature this year with a lot kids from my grade…but one year doesn’t make up for the two I’m missing.)

-I was a super shy Freshman surrounded by Sophomores I didn’t know

-I made a complete fool of myself on multiple occasions

Anyway, the most important thing to pull from my Pros and Cons list was that I had Mrs. Jolin as my teacher for Sophomore English. Because that was the first time I was introduced to the possibility of being a member of The Reflection‘s staff. The Reflection is the school newspaper at Gull Lake High School and Mrs. Jolin is the advisor that oversees it’s operations.

So, I’m in Mrs. Jolin’s class and she sort of suggested that I should sign up to be in Newspaper the next year. I filled out the paperwork to take the class…but when it came time to actually make my course requests for the next year, I realized I couldn’t fit it in anywhere.

And then I did something really embarrassing.

I had to tell Mrs. Jolin that I wasn’t signed up for the next year of newspaper. But I felt like I would be letting her down if I told her. I sat there every day in class wondering how I should bring it up to her. One day, we had this assignment where we had to write a poem and read it in front of the class…I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea, but I wrote my poem as an apology to Mrs. Jolin that I wouldn’t be in Newspaper next year. And I read that…in front of the whole class.

Maybe it really wasn’t as humiliating as I remember it…I suppose time does tend to distort our memories.

Anyway, I eventually became a member of The Reflection. This year, in fact, I took Newspaper for the first trimester. And I’m glad I did.

Mrs. Jolin has a very kind, quirky nature and that makes her really fun to work with. I suppose I am a little sad that I don’t have another trimester or that I didn’t take the class earlier. But I think My Time With The Reflection was well spent.

I wrote some articles. I made some acquaintances. I interviewed some people. I took some pictures. And, towards the end of the trimester, Mrs. Jolin even put a link to this blog on the newspapers website…which was pretty nice.

In the end, The Reflection was definitely the right way to start off my Senior Year and I’m really glad that I took the class. I’m glad Mrs. Jolin took the time to tell me to sign up. It’s only a week into the new trimester and I already kind of miss marching into Mrs. Jolin’s room everyday, knowing that the entire class time is being given to me and I can spend it working at whatever pace I please.

But as much as I feel this regret that I didn’t take more of the class…I also feel a certain sense of completion. Like the amount of time I spent with The Reflection was the right amount of time.

I am content.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Exam Hiatus

November 20, 2012

See, there’s a few problems with being a High School Blogger…

1.) The Life experiences that I blog about extend over a grand total of 17 years and most of them take place within a very conservative, wealthy community with extremely low diversity. (As you can imagine, I live a relatively sheltered Life. Most of us at Gull Lake do…) This means my frame of reference for the world as a whole is…this one very, very, very, very small town. What I’m saying is: I don’t always know what I’m talking about.

2.) My posts can be affected by the foolishness of youth. Sometimes my thoughts and feelings are generated through the idea that I’ll be young forever or that the world, of course, revolves around me or that everyone must think exactly like me, right? I feel like these things are just the effects of being young and I am plagued by them, like most of my peers.

3.) (The one that directly pertains to this post.) I struggle to maintain a balance between school, extracurriculars, a social Life, and this blog. Unfortunately for the blog, it often has to take the back seat because I try to maintain good grades, I try to get involved in extracurriculars, and I strive to spend as much time as I can with my friends in our last year of High School.

Next week, the week after Thanksgiving, is Exam Week at Gull Lake High School. Over the next two weeks, I will be in: Exam-Cram Mode

This means the blog is going on a Hiatus. The Exam Hiatus.

I hate to do it, I really do. I have a few ideas I’ve been toying with and I know what I want to write about when I come back, what thoughts and experiences I want to reflect upon…but they’ll have to wait. The next two weeks will be primarily dedicated to studying for Final Exams. (Next Friday, I’ll probably be taking the hardest exam I’ve ever taken in my Life and I am shaking in my boots. AP Chemistry may very well be the death of me. When we asked Coach Portis how long the AP Chem exam would be…he gave us the most devious smile and said: “Oh…about 27 pages.” If my memory serves me correctly, I think one girl was taken out of class in an ambulance after he said that.)

Anyway, I’ll be back at writing this blog in December. December 1st is the Saturday after exams are over…I’ll shoot for getting a post up then.

For now, I’ll stop wasting your time with this meandering post. I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ll see you on the other side.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)