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Young Achievers- Raga and Sneha Ayaggari

January 10, 2013

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In our November issue  of Gifted Matters, we introduced a new series of essays which highlight young achievers- current or past students of CHS or NTH@C, who have been outstanding learners and role models, and who, we believe, are well on the path to a successful future.

Our “Young Achievers” series this month features an essay by  Raga and Sneha Ayyagari, twin sisters and seniors at CHS.

raga

Trembling with anxiety in an overwhelming sea of students, we first entered Coppell High School as eighth graders. Having taken all of the science and Spanish classes offered at our middle school, we signed up to take classes at the high school for half the day, excited to learn, but intimidated by the unfamiliarity of high school. However, the administration and students welcomed us, relieving our fears, and inspiring us to take initiative to contribute to the welcoming and supportive spirit of CHS. As seniors at Coppell High School, we are thankful for all the support we have recieved  through the years .

Several factors go into deciding whether to attend New Tech or CHS including size, opportunities, and ultimately learning style. Ultimately for us, it came down to learning style and our desire to experience the diverse people and opportunities a large high school like CHS has to offer. Preferring a more traditional education rather than a primarily technology and project based education, CHS was a better choice for us. However, people from both schools have a great experience and are well-prepared for college, so it comes down to personal preference for the social and academic climate of the school. Also, with the growth of the Academies and technological grants, many programs at CHS are also using technology and project based learning, giving you the best of both worlds.

Your primary goal in structuring a curriculum should be to take the most expansive and challenging schedule that you can while still pursuing your interests and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. One of the best things about CHS is the flexibility they offer you, to create your own path and sequence of education. As a result, you can take classes at your own pace, with a rigor that keeps you engaged and ultimately prepares you to excel in college. For example, we chose to take advanced math and science classes during middle school, even taking a bus to the high school in 8th grade to take biology, chemistry, and Spanish with high school freshman. Eventually we ended up taking AP Calculus and AP Biology as freshman, and felt supported and comfortable to learn even in classes full of seniors.

However, this is not to say that the recipe for success is signing up for the maximum number of advanced classes or zooming through classes at the expense of your happiness. There is no recipe, and that you as a chef can pull in various classes and experiences- a dash of AP Calculus here, a sprinkle of AP Biology there, to create an individualized education that is just right, not for your parents or teachers or mythical Harvard admissions officers, but for you to learn and excel. It is a good idea to sit down with the course catalog and create a tentative list of options you would like to take through your four years- to give yourself a plan to work from.

While it is great to take advanced classes in subjects you already are passionate about, it is great to also take subjects that you are unsure of or may have some rough feelings toward. For example, if you are certain that being an engineer is written in your future, experiment with AP Art History or AP English; you just might find a new passion or at least gain some skills that will be useful in the future. The most important thing is to keep yourself and your plans in mind so you do what you want rather than what you feel is expected of you.

We chose to take GT and AP classes because we preferred the flexibility and challenge of the AP program. That being said, the IB program and dual credit are well established programs that will prepare your for college as well. The benefits of IB or the academies is that you will have classes with the same group of people and therefore have a close community of friends and have access to some of the best teachers at our school. However, for some, there may be less flexibility, because there is a set course path and you may not get to meet as many new people as you would on the AP track.

Electives are your chance to explore various academic and non-academic areas and make friends. We chose to continue with band. There is no right or wrong answer to what you pick, but it is probably not a good idea to sign up for activities to  “pad your resume” because the hard work and sacrifice of each activity would not be worth the while. There are some students who choose to stick with an elective for all four years while others try a variety of classes. While it is good to experiment with different classes, we suggest that you try to stick with one or two activities all four years, so that you can make friends and possibly gain some leadership positions. Also try to choose at least one non-academic elective (athletics, band, choir, etc) so that you can have a break from studying and learn a new skill. Choose your electives based on your interests and take advantage of the large range of classes outside the core requirements that the high school offers.

It is important to start off strong academically, but it is equally important to balance your workload with other activities and opportunities to make friends. It can be a little daunting at first surrounded by almost 3,000 other students on your first day of high school, but know that there are plenty of people that are willing to help you. It is always good to have a general plan so you can prepare for the classes you want to take, but don’t feel the need to obsess over every class and activity in your schedule. Some things will fall into place as you go throughout high school and further define your interests and talents. Also know that it is perfectly fine to make mistakes. Start out in a harder level of a class and you can drop it the first few weeks if it you don’t feel adequately prepared. By taking the risk and signing up for the class, you have already grown. It is important to start working hard from freshman year as this sets up the foundation for your GPA as well as your study skills for the rest of high school. Many people slack off freshman year and then try to make up for it in the next few years, but if you are on top of it from the start, you will be fine.

School spirit is one of the most exciting parts of the experience as a CHS student. Being a part of the crowd at a football game or cheering at the Vivace show make you aware of what a passionate and special place CHS is. During your short four years at CHS, take the time to attend activities such as volleyball games and musicals to fully experience the rich community CHS is. Also, take the time to truly enjoy your classes. Rather than fretting over each test and GPA point, take a deep breath and look at the big picture at the rigorous and relevant education you get as a student at CHS.

Our most memorable moments in high school encompass both our academic and extracurricular  involvement. We vividly remember the excitement of the Texas State Marching Band finals sophomore year as our music resonated through the Alamo dome.  We fondly remember the friends and experience we had in Teen Leadership Coppell (a leadership program for juniors). Academically, a couple classes stand out. While AP Physics was a very difficult class, the satisfaction of finally understanding the concept made the class a rewarding experience. Furthermore, having the opportunity to take classes with such as AP Biology with older students gave us friends and leaders who stayed with us throughout high school.  Often the most challenging points in the school year are the most memorable because all the hard work and determination pays off.

As we finish the frenzy of college applications, we are looking forward to the fun final months of high school. Between social activities (prom and graduation parties) and academic events (finishing up our last few classes and taking final AP exams), the last few months are sure to fly by. We are looking forward to starting college this fall, and while we have gotten our first couple acceptance letters to UT Austin Honors programs and Stanford University, we will make our college decision in April. We intend to major in biology with the hope of eventually going into the public health field. We are also active in our two non-profit organizations, the Timeless Changes Foundation and the Louie Foundation and we are excited to continue to devote time and energy to our causes.

No matter what you end up choosing to do in terms of extracurricular and academic activities, make sure that you are enjoying the path you choose. Don’t choose your path based on what you think your parents or colleges want- follow your interests and try your best and the rest will come. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you challenge yourself. Your teachers and classmates are always more than willing to help. Work hard and excel for the right reasons. Whether on the football field, in the band hall, or in the classroom, work hard because you love it, because you want to improve. No matter what you do, know that you have the resources at CHS.

 

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