Begin reading The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice. Listen to the Downton Abbey soundtrack (over and over).
Take pictures of City Hall’s interior for photography class.
Counsel tenants about their rights at the Housing Rights Committee.
Have dinner with a family friend.
Work on the puzzle.
Plan the upcoming Students of Color affinity club meeting.
Though Urban is a very intellectually challenging school that requires dedication and energy, the way academics are structured allows for students to have active and fulfilling lives outside of school. As a junior, I got to pick all of my classes this year and make my class schedule as interesting and manageable as possible.
So far, my favorite classes have been History of South Asia, Russian Literature and Infectious Diseases. That said, every class I have taken at Urban so far has been engaging and really thought provoking.
Because I only have four classes at a time, I can really focus on my studies while only having two-three classes of homework a night. This gives me a lot of freedom to do many of the activities I love, like participating in student-run clubs, being part of Urban Singers, and counseling at the housing rights committee. It also gives me time to relax and have fun with my family and friends. As a teenager (and human being) these are things I need to have in my life and Urban does a great job of helping me balance and manage a lot of the things that are really important to me.
It is the first week of spring term so I am just getting adjusted to my new classes. I still, however, have the feeling of relief that I gained from finishing finals a couple weeks ago. Last term was my most difficult, with four solids, but looking back on it I am proud of the work I did. In Recent America, every student chooses a topic about the United States during the 20th century and researches it throughout the term. I chose to study the formation of the CIA, which led me to some pretty interesting conclusions about the success and effectiveness of the agency. All of the research culminates in a paper, which seemed daunting at first but after becoming knowledgeable about my topic, it was not too difficult to write. I loved having the freedom to choose what I wanted to write about. That way it could be something I was genuinely interested in and wanted to know more about.
As a Sophomore, spring is a very interesting time. Now is the time when I begin picking my classes for next year, and because junior year is when most students begin to have a lot of flexibility with their schedules, I have choices in math, science, history, English, art and service learning. I’m having difficulty deciding which courses I want to take because there are so many interesting ones! I don’t think I’m going to have time to take them all. Also, with all of these choices, I am able to focus on one subject that I particularly interested in and take fewer classes of other subjects. I am considering taking four sciences next year, which is double the amount taken during 9th and 10th grade.
I am also applying to leadership positions throughout the school. I love that Urban values student participation and leadership so much. I really feel like I can have a role in shaping the school. There are tons of different options such as student government, faculty-student committees, HIPE (Health Initiative for Peer Education), journalism and more. I am most interested in the faculty-student committees where selected students and faculty join groups to discuss aspects of the school such as conduct, curriculum and technology. Overall, I generally feel like after almost two years here I am becoming much more a part of the school and taking on more responsibility. With this responsibility I also have more freedom, such as the flexibility in the classes I take. Even though I still have another term of Sophomore year, I’m already excited and thinking about next year!
With only a few more days until winter break, I can honestly say that this year has been going by exteremely fast! I’m only a Sophmore now and I realize that the amount of interest that I have in my classes has made a positive impact not only to my high school experience, but to helping me grow as a person.
Last year as a Freshman, I had the opportunity to take Photography as my visual art class. My teacher Kelli taught me to take pictures from unusual angles, angles that normally wouldn’t be seen. Photography is now a new interest of mine that I find appealing. Kelli taught me to be different and to look for original views of images that aren’t usually found. Now, I occasionally go to galleries to take a look at artists’ work to see the angles and perspectives they were trying to capture.
One of my favorite classes that I’m taking this term is Revolutionary Europe. The class activities and lectures help deepen our understanding of the material and show us entirely different perspectives. Looking at this period in history is magnificent; the French Revolution helped pave the way for political and social change all across Europe. I find that very intriguing, as revolution helped make part of the world what it is today.
Some would say that I came to Urban with very few interests. Well, that is certainly not the situation right now! The fascination and interests I have in my classes has risen to a whole new level, which has certainly benefitted me. I’m very excited for the next two years of high school experience at Urban. Who knows what is next!
on Thursday January 3 at 02:02PM
Already the middle of senior year! This year has been flying by. As the stress of college notifications was getting to me last week, I sat in room with eight other students and the dean of 9th/10th graders, Clarke Weatherspoon, to meditate during lunch. I came out of the room refreshed, relaxed and thankful I had a place to decompress in the middle of the day.
After school I quickly get dressed for soccer preseason, led by a soccer player on the USF girls soccer team. There are many underclassmen that have been coming to the workouts at Kezar (a track only a couple blocks away) so I have been able to get to know them over the past few weeks. Being on a sports team has been a great way to bridge the gap between grades and bring the entire Urban community together on the field and cheering from the sidelines. After an exhausting workout I head back home to start persuasive essay on why violent video games are harmful to teens, and study for a Chemistry quiz in a chat with my classmates.
on Thursday January 3 at 02:00PM
With only two weeks left in the first term of my junior year, I can feel the advantages of The Urban School schedule taking effect. As this term of classes comes to a close, I am stuck feeling a little bittersweet. While I wish that my term of Shakespeare, Video Production, Elections 2012 and Genetics could last forever, I am even more excited by the prospect of taking on Economics, Spanish, Functions and Service Learning in the winter. The 12-week terms allow us to dive deep into a subject without ever feeling bored or disengaged. And just as we are ready to let one term of amazing classes go, we are picked up by the next wave of stimulating and engrossing classes to carry us for 12 more wonderful weeks.
Along with academics, the winter term at Urban brings with it basketball, and the school quickly transforms into a basketball powerhouse. With our boys and girls teams set to contend for the BCL-West title (and beyond) this season, the atmosphere around the school is electric. Last year we packed historic Kezar Pavilion with upwards of 150 fans, yelling and screaming for our basketball teams, and this year is going to be no different. I recommend coming to a Friday night Blues game at Kezar this year if you want to see great basketball and even better fans.
As you can see, there is no shortage of excitement here at Urban, as academics and athletics combine in the winter to bring a new level of enthusiasm to Urban’s everyday life.
on Monday November 26, 2012 at 03:49PM
Week eight of the term has come to a close and I realize how fast this year is going by. This term I have my four solids: French, Science, English and Civil War. While reflecting on the previous weeks during interims (halfway through the term), I came to the conclusion that perhaps my term has gone by so quickly because of how interesting my classes are.
I have never been so engrossed in my school work. I am particularly interested in the science lab we just finished where we were given the details of a crime scene. We learned three different forensic methods: hemagglutination, DNA fingerprinting and karyotyping. We tested the blood samples that were “found” at the crime scene and individually interpreted the data leaving us, the students, to decide who should be served the arrest warrant! I had never experienced such a lab in which there was no right answer.
As for my other classes, I have been just as captivated. While the term comes to a close, my fascination in my classes will absolutely help me keep focused!
on Friday October 26, 2012 at 02:40PM
I am finally fully into my junior year at Urban! I am so excited but also a little bit scared. This year is the year that counts for colleges, but it is also the year that it really seems you are part of the school. You are no longer a freshman or a sophomore, but instead you are an upperclassman. As an upperclassman you are fully integrated into the school, and no longer are associated with your elementary or middle school. You are and feel like an Urban student.
It is also a little bittersweet because all of us are getting so close to senior year and inevitably to graduation. Though I am a junior, I still feel that I am a freshman meeting my new classmates and teachers for the first time. It is amazing how fast high school goes by, especially since I do not want it to end. Right now, I have four classes that I am absolutely psyched about! I am taking Marine Biology, Math, Civil War and Biblical Literature. Marine Biology has been a great class so far, and is very interesting to me due to my love of scuba diving. This term has been superb, and I cannot wait until next term when I will have more great classes. All and all, I never want high school to come to an end because it has been the best time of my life!
on Monday September 24, 2012 at 03:58PM
Another wild week at Urban! Classes, field trips, soccer games, lunch on Haight, fire drills, art installations, outdoor trips, visits to college reps, chorus, and, the pièce de résistance... the first dance of the year. I am so busy it makes my head spin, but in a great way.
In Marine Biology, we learned why it is so notoriously foggy in San Francisco and how different species of phytoplankton are essential to life on earth. Later this week there is a field trip to the beach to collect specimens that we will examine back in the lab at school. In sculpture class, we finished a project making shoes out of masking tape and Wednesday we are going to the studio of an artist who combines man-made items with natural materials in his work. In chorus we are preparing for our Winter Concert at the Herbst Theater and rehearsing the National Anthem, which we will perform at a Giants game next spring.
This is what makes Urban so special. There is so much offered and everything is treated seriously - taught with rigor, enthusiasm and a good sense of humor. Then we get to go out and experience what we are learning in the City! The double periods of our block system create the time, our awesome teachers create unique Urban opportunities, and we take advantage of it all. I love this place.
on Monday September 24, 2012 at 03:58PM
This past week was as packed with things to think about as the school’s halls are swimming with 9th through 12th grade sardines of all heights and interests and clothing styles! My classes are also going swimmingly: my geology teacher got so excited about the formation of our planet that he screamed, “isn’t that amazing?! Everything was molten!” as he jumped up and down in front of the class. I discussed one of Emily Dickinson’s poems with my English teacher and compared different articles about the entrance of Islam into India in my South Asia history class. In my Elections class, a once-every-four-years history course, we examined the styles of President Obama's and Mitt Romney’s recent speeches.
When my brain isn’t consumed by/consuming Urban, I’ve been drawing comics, co-teaching terrarium classes, hiking up the steep streets in my neighborhood, and watching absurd Japanese commercials on YouTube. One of my favorite things to do is record what people around me say — I do this for fun and so I can save these quotes to use in future stories or poems or fortune cookie slips.
Wait, scratch what I said earlier: I’m never not thinking about Urban. This reminds me of t-shirt slogans like “Soccer is Life” or “I breathe Hip Hop.” But it’s true. My life is now Urban: I can hardly have a conversation that doesn’t trickle back to the Wonderful Page Street Blue Castle of Learning. I love this school because it always flabbergasts and challenges and excites my brain!
on Tuesday September 11, 2012 at 04:18PM
I’m just diving into the bulk of sophomore year. Starting a new term at Urban means having a totally new schedule and finding my way to different and new classes in Urban’s quirkily named rooms.
One of the smartest things I did last year as a freshman was follow Greg Monfils’ suggestion to submit a poem I wrote in his English class to the Urban Journal, which is Urban’s literary and creative arts publication. I had forgotten about how I had submitted that poem until a junior I barely knew told me they liked it in the halls, and I rushed to my box in the student center to find a copy of the final issue of the 2011-12 school year’s Urban Journal. I was excited by how everyone was reading my poem, and recognizing me for my writing. I rapidly devoured the rest of the Urban Journal and was thrilled with the wide variety of writers' viewpoints displayed. There were love poems and speculations on human nature and surreal stories and a play discussing a pretend grenade escapade. There was writing and visual arts from all grades. Even faculty and staff were represented. One of the coolest things about the Urban Journal is new freshmen are invited to submit. So I was psyched to read voices of new 9th graders, as well as a novel and experience a fresco painting in the most recent issue. I’ve now had poems published in two different editions of the Urban Journal and I’m hoping to be on the committee that puts it together this year.
I can also express my literary side in English class. During freshman English, some creative assignments were a magical realism piece and an allegory. I was excited to have English teacher Courtney Rein again for the first term of 10th grade English after having an awesome time in her second term 9th grade English class. Courtney has a way in which she makes me enthusiastic to put my ideas on the table, and I often continue the compelling discussions we have in class with Courtney, as well as other students. It’s a good thing I have English near the end of the day, because it’s hard to think about anything non-English related after Courtney’s class. Tomorrow, we’re turning in our first assignment of sophomore English, which is a page inspired by the Langston Hughes poem, Theme for English B.
on Wednesday September 5, 2012 at 11:34AM
FREEDOM TO DO... by Laura B ('14) After School To Do List: Begin reading The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice. Listen to the Downton Abbey soundtrack (over and over). Take pictures of......read more
CURRICULUM AND LEADERSHIP - GREAT CHOICES by Michael F ('15) It is the first week of spring term so I am just getting adjusted to my new classes. I still, however, have the feeling of relief that I gained from finishing finals a couple weeks ago. Last term was my most difficult, with four solids, but looking back on it I am proud of the work I did. In Recent America, every student chooses ...read more