李春燕 06/15 1606
6月11号晚亲子互助群采访了十年级学生AL。他带来了私立男校优秀学生和活跃人物的视角。AL is a Sophomore at Delbarton School, whose interest is in the STEM Fields. He currently sits at the top of his class academically. Outside of class, he runs Cross-country, debates Public Forum, plays piano, and competes in math and science competitions. He works in EPOCH, Neighborhood House, and Interfaith Food Pantry, which all work to serve the underprivileged or disabled, and plans and runs concerts for the elderly.
Question 1: Being involved in so many activities while maintaining top standing in a competitive high school, what is your method of balancing school and extra curriculars?
Time management is incredibly important. When you have to balance school work with co-curriculars, every day needs to have a schedule. Generally, I don’t designate how long something has to take, because it is impossible to, say, always have 30 minutes homework for one particular class, but instead, I schedule my day by category, such as homework, piano, debate, as so forth in particular time slots. In addition to having a schedule, you have to seize any time you may find, and also work efficiently. For example, at Delbarton, everyday we have a 30-minute conference period. If I am not meeting with a teacher or have some other kind of commitment, I use the time to start some of the day’s homework, or perhaps finish what I missed the night before.
As to working efficiently, start with the harder, longer assignments. That way, the work will always feel as if it is getting easier, and you will never burn out towards the end. It is also key to be focused and have your heart in what you are doing. If you start to lose focus, I find it much more efficient to move on to some other activity and come back later. This helps prevent a lot of procrastination. Finally, it goes without saying to use whatever help you can get: see your teachers for help, ask for extensions if you need them, and use your textbooks and other resources.
Question 2: When and why did you join the private school? How did you like the environment?
In fourth or fifth grade, my piano teacher moved to Mendham. To get to her house for my weekly piano lesson, I drove by the campus of Delbarton School. One day, we decided to drive through the campus of the school for the fun of it. Instantly, I fell in love with the beautiful nature that surrounded the immaculate campus. At the same time, my parents had always been concerned about the rather poor standing of my local public school, and had been trying to find a better education for me. When I was in sixth grade, I applied to Delbarton on a whim, just to see if I could get admission, and to have a sort of trial run for other private schools such as Newark Academy.
Since then, I have happily been immersed in the Delbarton environment. Perhaps you have heard of the Delbarton brotherhood phenomenon. It is truly something unique to our school, arising from the tight-knit structure and smaller class sizes, among other. Although I may not be completely close to all of my fellow students, and I may not even like some of those I do know, I would fully trust each and every one of them as a brother. Delbarton is like a massive extended family. I would trust each and every one of them to watch my bag, give me a ride, or borrow my phone. Perhaps the greatest indicator of how close we are is that of the 500 lockers on campus, close to none have a lock.
Question 3: Any advice to middle schoolers going into high school? And their parents?
The change from middle school to high school is very pronounced. Suddenly, you are expected to have much more responsibility for your work, and your workload increases dramatically. To cope with this, you have to be extremely efficient and work on time management. As I mentioned before, you should also use any resources you have. It is very important to get to know your teachers so you feel comfortable talking with them and asking questions, and also important to find good friends among your peers, not just for social purposes but also to help you out when you need it.
No one else understands the stress and work a new high schooler is under other than his peers and teachers, and those people are important to helping you get used to the new order of things. Parents can help ease this transition by helping their children create schedules and helping them when necessary. Especially right when they start high school, students can be under tremendous stress, and may have slightly worse tempers. Parents should be wary of this, and realize that it is not their children's fault.
Question 4: In Chinese school you were one of the award winning debaters, did you like that process?
Back then, to be honest, I was not truly sure what the words I said meant back then! However, today it has become something big to me, and I am an avid Public Forum debater, who has had minor success on the national circuit, including currently being ranked 221 in the nation. Debate has become something important to me, not just for the competitive success I strive for, but also for the friends from across the country I make through the events and tournament, and the knowledge it has given me about political affairs and public speaking. Today, I cannot imagine not debating. Of course, speech and debate is not for everyone, but I would strongly suggest everyone to give it a try. Even the shiest kids can benefit from speechwriting and public speaking, even if they do not pursue the event in the long run.
Question 5: What is it like growing up as an only child?
Being an only child has its pros and cons. Growing up, I received all of my parent’s efforts and attention, and never had to deal with hand-me-downs or second-hand items. In addition, it meant that I had no one to defeat but myself, and any achievements of mine were solely mine. On the other hand, it meant there was no one nearby enough that I could walk over and talk, play, or work with that was my own age, especially once I went to private school multiple miles away. It has definitely made me slightly more of an introvert, but that problem has been solved with electronic communication. Furthermore, with the brotherhood at Delbarton, I don’t truly feel as if I am perpetually lonely.
Question 6: Your mom has been involved in the Purple Swan Dancing group, and been in many wonderful shows and charity events. How do you feel about parents having their own pursuits? As compared to hovering over their kids?
In the beginning, I couldn’t see why my mom would want to go out dancing on weekends, especially when she would often come home sore and tired. But over time, I have seen that it is something she really enjoys, and beyond that, something she is pretty good at too. My father and I completely support her ventures into dancing. As for parental pursuits in general, they are completely free to seek what can make them happy, as long as it does not compromise the well-being of their children or family. That means that they needn’t hover constantly over their children, but also shouldn’t forget about them. As long as parents are there when their family needs them, they can pursue their dreams and hobbies in their free time.
Question 7: Could you elaborate your relationship with your father and mother?
I am very close to my parents. Many others around my age may begin to distance themselves from their parents, due to ideological differences, puberty, and other problems. While I am not magically safe from these same problems, I have worked through these with my parents, and our relationship has come out stronger for it. If there are disagreements, I don’t simply hold them in and distance myself from my parents, but instead I take the time to speak my thoughts and solve any disagreements amicably. Even today, we can still come together every night, play a game, watch TV, or just talk.
Question 8: Could you shed some light on growing up a Chinese American male?
As a member of the Chinese race, I am one of the most disenfranchised persons in America today. We face the same discrimination as any other minority, including facing racial slurs, being singled out by others for our looks, being stereotyped, and receiving different treatment. At the same time, we do not face some of the advantages other minorities receive. We have lower chances of entering prestigious colleges and academies, and don’t get the same treatment as other minorities under Affirmative Action policies.
When people first meet someone like me, the immediate thoughts in their heads are that these people must study all day, only care about grades, play the violin, play tennis, yet these people also don’t tend to think of us as underprivileged minorities. However, I see these as my particular traits in the game of life. It doesn’t matter what I have been given to start, I will use what I have and do my best with it, and who I become is not based on what I was born as, but one what I have earned through my own work. I am good at math not because I am Asian or Chinese, but because I enjoy the subject and have worked hard to achieve the level of understanding I have. The same applies to all else I do, whether or not it fits any stereotype. At the end of the day, we cannot let ourselves be defined by any stereotypes.
Of course, it would be best if we could remove discrimination. But until that day, we have to hold our heads high.
燕子 comment: 你很爷们！用A阿姨的话说😄。We are working at that goal of removing discrimination. You are doing your share every day especially by speaking your mind. There is so much more we can explore on this topic near and dear to my heart, at a later time...
Question 9: What did you learn from serving the underprivileged and organizing concerts?
To do community service well, you must get the “I” out of the picture. You have to realize what you are doing is not for your benefit, or just something to write down on your resume. Only when you are fully immersed in the actions of serving the poor, the elderly, the disabled, or the disadvantaged do you realize the beauty of community service. By handing these people food, leading them in basketball, playing music for them, or simply sitting down with them and listening, you realize that there is not much that separates them and you. On the receiving end is another human being, another soul, perhaps one whose family cannot afford a babysitter, one with Down Syndrome, one working odd jobs but still struggling to feed his kids, or one who has lived a long life and needs assistance just to make it through the day.
Someday, we could end up like one of them, or caring for one of them, or raising one of them. So why should we care so much more for our families in the future, but not for these people today? When I am old and weary, I would want someone to sit beside me and listen, when I am hungry, for someone to feed me. But there is also an innate beauty to giving to another person. These people need my help, and when they receive it, they give back something much more eternal than a piece of bread or an ear that listens. They give me a part of their souls, some of their love, their feelings, their voice, part of their very being; they give me something I can bring with me forever, wherever I go, and I am better for it.
Question 10: What is your take on leadership?
In my freshman year, I took a course at Delbarton called Rhetoric & Persuasion. While it was meant to teach the finer points of writing analytical and persuasive essays, we also read The Servant. Within, it taught a form of leadership known as Servant Leadership. This model goes against traditional leadership, which is shaped like a pyramid, with those at the top controlling power. Instead, the servant-leader is at the bottom of an inverted pyramid. The servant-leader is the leader because he has authority, rather than power. This authority is built on the relationships with the people he leads. To build these relationships, the servant-leader has to be prepared to love, sacrifice, and serve his charges, and help them unlock their abilities. Only then can you most effectively lead the most effective people. It is upon these conditions that I lead. To lead, you should not stand at the back and order your men forward. You lead by being the first to go, at the front of the line.
The book's full title is The Servant: The Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership.
Question 11. If there are conflicts between work and sleep, or between two activities, how do you choose? Please be as specific as possible.
I have a system, in which every day I sleep at 10:30, with at most a grace period of 30 minutes. That removes a lot of stress, and also removes any choices I must make. It forces me to prepare for large projects in advance, while never sacrificing my sleep. Between two activities, it becomes more difficult. However, the general rule is to go towards where your heart is. Of course, this is not meant to allow you to play all day. Instead, you should do what you love, not what gives you temporary pleasure. Never choose an activity because it looks good on a resume; such choices are rarely pleasurable to the student. Only when your heart is in it, can you truly succeed.
Question 12. Among your extra curriculars, which one has always been recognized as essential, and which was just on the side? Which one do you expect to develop further for future recognition?
It has always been noted that any athletic events I take part in are only to keep me in shape, and that I will never truly be competitive in any sport at a higher level. Otherwise, nearly all of my extra curriculars are considered essential. Currently, I expect to further develop my debating and science-focused competition results, while continuing with music and math.
Question 13: “He sits at the top of his class academically ".这个信息是怎么知道的？i.e., how does one know the ranking?
At Delbarton, AP classes are given a GPA boost on our 12-point GPA scale. Because I have advanced to AP classes my peers don't take, my GPA is currently the highest in the grade. We don't have official rankings, however.
Question 14: how to handle peer pressure?
Many misconstrue the notion of peer pressure. You will never encounter a group of bullies saying "drink or we will bully you". Instead, it is much more implicit.
The pressure comes from the student himself feeling that if he fails to drink or do drugs or some other harmful substance, he will be left out.
Therefore, the only real way to deal with peer pressure is to hold strong morals and reject what the world around you wants you to do. Realize that you are unique, and that if you know something is harmful, don't do it regardless of the consequences.
If you will lose friends, or be ignored, it is for the better; those people are not the ones you want to associate with anyway.
Question 15: Do you volunteer? How many hours do you spend each week?
Delbarton has many volunteer programs that has led to a 100% volunteering record, and I participate in multiple such programs, such as EPOCH, which works with the disabled, Neighborhood House, for the poor and disadvantaged, and Interfaith Food Pantry, for the hungry. On the side, I also set up concerts for the elderly. On average, I would say I do 1-2 hours a week regularly, and perhaps more once in a while for my own projects.
Question 16: How do you balance AP classes so far?
You have to get past the stigma of AP classes. Treat them like any other class, and as I said before, work from the hard assignments back to the easy ones. Prioritize large projects ahead of time, leave time to study, and most importantly, stay focused on your tasks. They will always take more work than normal classes, but otherwise treat them the same.
Question 17: Delbarton is a Catholic school. How has its religious beliefs shaped your values?
I am not Catholic, but Delbarton does decree a handful of religious courses, a retreat once a year, and a handful of masses to attend. Overall, even if you are not Catholic, you can extract many beautiful messages from the religion and the classes.
Question 18: I find it absolutely amazing that you sleep everyday at 10:30. On average, how many hours of homework do you get each day?
It is hard to estimate my current homework amount, mostly because I have to do homework in multiple disjointed sessions. For example, in conference block, then study hall, then after school before debate practice, and again before band. I am not sure exactly how much, but perhaps 2-4 hours daily. You just always have to be focused.
Question 19: How much time do you spend on social media?
I don't spend that much time. I only use Snapchat and iMessages, and have abandoned Instagram and Facebook. However, this is mostly just me. Social Media is fine, as long as you don't let it distract you too much when you should be working.
Question 20: Male school related. How is a boy school's experience different from that of a co-ed school? Do you have junior and senior prom? How do you make friends with girls? Do you find a male school attractive? I assume similar characteristics apply to girl school as well.
For one, we are all a lot more open with each other. There is less gossip, and there is a lot more pranking and other such activities.
There are dances and many events that bring nearby girls to the schools. I've also met many girls through debate and other inter-school events. We also do have proms.
There is a certain beauty to a boy's only school. I feel more comfortable around fellow boys than around girls, for example, and can be more open.
Question 21: Do you hang out a lot with your friends from school and outside?
Not as much as I would perhaps wish to, due to my schedule and the distances associated with private school. We stay in touch by messages and other electronic means. With instant messaging these days, we are all a little closer. During the debate season, a lot of us can meet up weekly at tournaments.
Question 22: I'm very impressed that you can sleep so early. Do you multitasking? Doing homework while listening music, watching TV, etc?
Multitasking sometimes is disadvantageous. However, I find listening to music to be very helpful for concentration. I'm listening right now.
Question 23: What are the STEM fields do you have in mind? You mentioned science competitions, do these competitions enhance your interests in the STEM fields?
I am interested in almost all fields, except perhaps Chemistry, as possible futures. Competitions work as part of a cycle, where I am motivated to work leading into it, and motivated again after receiving the results to improve.
Question 24: two general questions. (1) why do you choose a private school? What are disadvantages or advantages do you feel when comparing both? (2). What specifically Delbarton attracts you?
1. Private school challenged me, as compared to public school. Private school generally is more tight-knit, and the teachers are much more dedicated to their kids. At the same time, however, the students generally come from a certain few molds, and you get to meet less diverse characters.
2. Delbarton attracted me at first mainly just through the campus. It is located on the second-highest hill in the state, and is surrounded by fields, forests, and mountains. The buildings themselves are either vintage or new and state of the art, and I loved it.
Question 25: When did you start self motivation in all aspects without your parents urging or guide?
Whenever I truly feel strongly about something. With debate, for example, I always found class debates fun, so I tried it out, and now I am the one forcing my parents to let me go out on tournaments.
Question 26: As the only child when your parents disagree, who do you side with more? How often does your support change the other? Can you give a specific example?
I favor both equally.
Question 27: Where could I find more information about the debate tournament?
Here is the National Speech and Debate Association website:
Or through certain organizations that send students to competitions where their school has no team.
Parents input: Students usually join these tournaments through school sponsored teams.
Thanks to AL's parents and applaud you both for raising a wonderful son!
Really proud of AL's answers on the ABC identity part.
AL的妈妈和我在中文学校跳舞健身，但她接下来参与紫璐舞蹈团，很多慈善活动，可我早都quit dancing 了，这就是坚持和放弃的区别。
AL is incredibly mature for a 10th grader, his time management and discipline are so impressive! Have insightful opinion and his own independent thinking on many issues wrt religions, leadership, peer pressure.
发现自推娃都是自己知道什么重要，前几位分享的男生SY，AJ and AL 都会自己 set priority and rigorously execute the plan.
我儿子也想要好，就是不能控制时间，执行起来有问题。有一天跟他散步，我说不想 强迫他做他不想做的事情，他突然说： I'd rather you be a tiger mom😄。但是牛娃都是自己就是 tiger kid!
群友问AL的妈妈：AL's mom you have raised such a fabulous young man, should be so proud! 每个牛娃都是 unique 的， 不过还是请分享一下你们的 tricks。AL他咋这么成熟？什么时候开始变成熟的，别告诉我他从来就这样哟！