What's My Day Like?

Monique, senior

Ms. Merrill is a really great teacher. She’s excited at 8 a.m. in the morning. She energizes me for the rest of the day.

This class is all seniors. The way we talk about things as seniors is different from 4 years ago. You think about things on the spot. Especially something as controversial as Hitler and Fascism, which is what we’re discussing here. I think it’s fascinating the way people responded to Hitler at first. There was a lot of public support. In retrospect, it’s hard for us to think about something like that.

My friend Mia is in this class. We met in science class one day when we had to pick lab partners. We’ve been friends ever since. I really respect Mia – she is blunt about things. Kevin, Greg, Andrew and Philip are really intelligent people who bring lots of interesting points to the conversation.

The U.S. History sequence last year got me interested in taking more history. Mr. Golay helped me pin down a topic for my big U.S. History paper and think about it a new way. I wrote about the Attica Prison riot. Mr. Golay taught me to look at it from different perspectives, which can make things really muddy. He guided me toward a thesis.

I also really enjoyed Mr. Foster’s classes on Native Americans and Africans – they are so different from any other history classes. Thinking about the geography of the place and the culture of the people was great. 

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My voice teacher is hilarious. I love her. I would not have met anyone like her back at home in Las Vegas. She used to sing in Russia. She is lively – she makes me want to sing and be comfortable. I’m not afraid of hitting a wrong note.

I started taking voice lessons last term. I used to sing in my church at home and I miss it. Exeter has all these resources. I just signed up for voice lessons.

The formal training has been really different from what I thought. I’m learning about jaw movements and the actual science behind singing. It makes me want to take more training.

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Exeter is really open. I don’t know if I would ever have met the people I have met at Exeter. 

Teachers always want to help. You trust them. Advisers become like uncles and aunts.

It makes for a great environment – it’s like a family. Everyone’s respectful of other peoples’ feelings.

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I have lots of friends in this class – Jess, Iriane, Jeremy, Adria and Jamie. We’re so tight-knit. I get to know the others on a personal level.

We all had to apply and be chosen to take this class. Usually we do a writing project and others critique it. People don’t have an ego in this class. Everyone sees the criticism as helpful. Everyone is really comfortable.

I love Ms. Carbonell. I met her when I was working on the Martin Luther King Day Committee. She says what she thinks. She’s not imposing as a teacher – she wants to hear what we think. I’d say that Ms. Carbonell is a student of the students’ work.

I really like writing. Recently, Ms. Carbonell gave us a prompt to write the description of a barn from the perspective of a parent who has just lost a son in the war. It made you think outside the box about how you were going to describe it. It made you think in a totally different way as a writer.

Today we have a visiting poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, talking with our class. We had just read her poem about journalism and the role of words in wartime. She talked about the use of terms like “friendly fire.” She was really amazing. She talked a lot about the process of writing – how she clips newspaper stories for ideas, how she keeps a notebook and puts down random notes.

Jess, who’s sitting next to me, lives in my dorm. She’s great. One night in the dorm, she asked if I wanted to learn how to write some Japanese letters. She started teaching me calligraphy.

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My favorite subject right now is math. I’m taking two math classes this term. What I love about math is that there are so many ways to get to a singular definite answer.

I like Statistics because it takes the math part of the data and makes you explain what’s going on – almost like math and history combined.

We’re looking at graphs that show relationships between things you wouldn’t necessarily think were related – like birth rates and education. We saw amazing graphs where time is a variable but not on an axis – it’s just there.

I’ve always had a thing for math. When I was little, I’d do math in my head to go to sleep – sort of like counting sheep.

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I always eat in Elm Street Dining Hall. From here, it’s easy to get to my dorm and change clothes for sports. I’m eating with my friend Kohiin and some others.

Lunch is a time to relax. We talk about things in a Harkness way. Our conversation can be about anything – like what we think about grade inflation at Ivy League schools or what Britney Spears was wearing.

It’s a good time to see my friends. I catch up with people I don’t see throughout the day. 

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Here I’m doing fitness exercises and practicing for Precision – a step dance group – with my friend Yasmine. I’ve been part of Precision since prep year. I always step dance for the pep rally at the Exeter/Andover games.

A lot of creativity and rehearsing goes into Precision. There’s a lot of teamwork. I’m making sure that I understand the steps before practice tonight. It’s really challenging to perfect the steps so that it turns out looking so nice. You have to make your own beat.

I like that Precision gave me a connection with upperclassmen from the time I was a prep.

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During free periods, I often go to the Grill or to my dorm. I love my dorm, especially this year. The girls are so different but we all find common ground. Last night we all piled into one girl’s room.

Girls become extended family – all your sisters. We’ve grown close in that sense. We do homework together, we laugh together, we cry together.

When I was a prep, I looked up to the seniors. Now that I’m a senior, I definitely feel that preps are like my little sisters. I am the youngest in my family. I like being the oldest now.

I’m a student listener in my dorm. Basically, I’m a dorm friend if anyone needs to complain or talk to me about classes, boys or anything. Topics can be about homesickness or the Discipline Committee.

Last year I fell in love with chemistry. To me, it’s the best science because it combines biology and physics with applied math. There are so many things about chemistry that you don’t necessarily think would work. It’s like magic.

Here we’re doing a titration in lab. My lab partner is Kohiin. He’s great to work with. We’re both on the same level and complement each other. He does really well on the labs.

Dr. Finley is so amazing. One day she was trying to explain the bonds of the water molecule. She ended up circling around the table showing us what it would be like to be a water molecule.

Next term I’m taking Human Physiology and AP Chemistry.

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This is by far the best class I’ve had at Exeter. Mr. Hardej is one of the best teachers. At first I was worried that it was going to be really hard. But we’re doing lots of algebra and graphs – things that I have loved since I was little. I really like the idea of imaginary numbers – it’s cool to me.

Harkness is really good when the teacher is a participant. We can build on our ideas – it’s calculus so you still need the foundations of what the teacher knows, but it’s about the class coming up with something. The focus is everyone else.

Here, Mr. Hardej challenges us with a problem: there is no difference between the numbers 1.9 and 2. He says two numbers are not equal only if there is a number between them. Just thinking that way is so different – one of the things I like about Exeter.

I have a lot of close friends in this class. Many are people I’ve been with since prep or lower year.

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Exeter is such an amazing place – a place where people’s voices are heard.

Here I’m at Diversity Council. It’s a council with representatives from all cultural groups, sexual orientations and genders. It’s dinnertime, so we’re having pizza during the meeting.

We watched a film about the way gender, race, class and violence are portrayed in video games – what stereotypes those games might perpetuate. At each meeting, we talk about different subjects. We present a community forum once or twice a year.

I’ve also worked on the MLK Day Committee since lower year. We plan the day, including inviting speakers who would be good for the community.

I’m also co-head of Exeter Political Union – it’s similar to Diversity Council, but focuses on political perspectives. We talk about articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. We hosted a debate between the Democratic Club and the Republican Club.

It’s given me a passion for politics that I never thought I would have. Being able to have conversations and understand the other person’s perspective – that’s something that Exeter has taught me that I can apply outside the classroom.