What's My Day Like?

Natalie, prep

Learning really makes sense in Ms. Girard's math class. The structure of the Exeter math program is different from the way text books present math. Instead of being given formulas, we learn why and how to solve problems. By the time we finish, we've really learned how to derive formulas independently. We keep building on our knowledge as we move to the next set of problems.

The thing I love most about Harkness is that I am able to absorb all the material in class because we discuss it so thoroughly. When I do homework, I simply do homework—I don't have to learn the material. At my old school, I would study hard for a test, reviewing for a good five hours. Now, when it comes time for a test I feel like I've been studying since the beginning of the term.

I had Mr. Wolfson for math earlier this year. You know that he loves what he's doing, and it spreads to everyone around him. My favorite part of the class was when we'd complete a difficult problem, in ten to 15 steps. Then, Mr. Wolfson would nod, say that's the right answer, and redo our work in three steps. He made it so simple. And class was a stress-free atmosphere.

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Here we're rehearsing in Phillips Church for a concert scheduled for tonight. The music program was one of the big things that drew me to Exeter. I was so impressed by the music building that I came back on revisit day with my violin and practiced in the building. I said to myself, 'I will definitely come here to practice all the time.'

I started piano when I was 3 years old, violin when I was 5. Violin has become my passion, so music is very important to me. At Exeter, chamber orchestra is a class — it takes up a period. That's one of the things I love about Exeter — everything is included during your school day. Since school isn't separated from extra curricular activities, it's easier to balance everything.

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My Physics teacher, Mr. Hiza, is not only the nicest, most understanding person, he runs the greatest labs! There's hardly a day when we don't do something active in his class. You can tell how excited he is about science. He has awesome ideas and we do unusual projects using lots of technology. In this class we're experimenting with sound waves. We're using a tuning fork and a cylinder partly filled with water to study standing waves.

One of my favorite labs used an air rifle to show momentum. It was filled with an air cap and we saw the momentum of the initial velocity leaving the rifle and hitting a block. Demonstrations like this make for fun science classes.

My first term I had Ms. Waterman for science. I loved the way she explained everything -- she gave personalities to each part of the problem we were discussing to make it more real. She'd say, "Pretend you're the block. Now, how would you react to that pressure?"

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This class is the first time I've been able to have a literary discussion entirely in French. We discuss the book in terms of both the language and literature. I've taken French since preschool. My mom's fluent and she teaches French back home in Illinois. I like how the language sounds—pretty and fluid.

This class has improved my speaking ability. My mom wanted to review my first oral presentation with me on the phone, but I went over it with a senior in my dorm. It's so neat to be able to work together like that!

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I joined a kids triathlon team three years ago. Here I do the triathlon sports—running, swimming and cycling— individually. I love being on a team, working together and enjoying the camaraderie of team dinners and activities. Since I've been on three varsity teams, I've made friends with a lot of upperclassmen. They are great role models for what I hope to accomplish.

Balancing sports with an intensive course load, music and other activities means I have zero free periods this term. But I enjoy going out and doing everything, and would rather have a day completely filled than have a nap in the middle of it. I've never seen a schedule so completely packed!

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I'm a reporter for the student newspaper, The Exonian, concentrating on sports. I love interviewing people about a game, then trying to get across their excitement in the story. Here, I'm at the Grill with friends from The Exonian, orchestra, cycling team and French class. We're getting a snack between classes. One great thing about Exeter is you make friends from all your activities clubs, classes, dorm, sports  based on shared interests. I run into my friends all the time.

This year, I'm on the debate team, too. It's an exhilarating experience trying to convince someone of your point of view. It gets intense, but it's exciting and fun. We attended three interschool debates.

I'm also on the Student Council Services Committee which meets over dinner. We work with the dining hall staff, discussing the food choices. We also helped get new mattresses for the dorms. 

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I like the books we read at Exeter. A lot of thought goes into choosing them and the order in which we read them—there's always something you can apply from a book you've read previously. It's sequential learning, which I love.

Right now we're reading Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. We have quality discussions -- Harkness brings it all together every day. Teachers know when to step in and guide you and when to let the conversation flow. It's great to see what everyone brings to the table. I really enjoy the diversity here. Kids from Asia have completely different outlooks on a book than kids from Illinois.

Last term I had Mr. Rogers for English. He's amazing. In the first week of class, he showed us 10 phrases that students have used in papers. They seemed fine to me, phrases that I might have written. Then he asked, "What's wrong with these?" He showed how we could rewrite them to be 10 times more effective by combining words and removing entire parts of sentences. 

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Here I'm in a brand-new course called Religion and Popular Culture. It's fun to see how religion applies to your normal life. Mr. Ramsey lets us run the class. Once he goes over what we will be discussing, he interferes very little. He likes to see how our discussion plays out. The Harkness method not only stimulates ideas and involvement, but makes it easier to ask questions and get everything explained.

Today, we're watching presentations of individual projects. My project for this course is an analysis of five U2 songs. I'll discuss the religious aspects of the songs, the religious origins of the group and make an audio of the songs to accompany my presentation.

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The concert was great. I play first Violin in Chamber Orchestra and second Violin in Symphony Orchestra. We performed Concerto Grosso Op. 6 by Handel, Symphony No. 1 in C by Beethoven, Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat by Strauss and Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky. It was very exciting to hear Adair, a senior, play the solo. He did an amazing job.

I love the resonance in Phillips Church. It's a beautiful building with stained glass windows and a nice atmosphere.

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