Daniel's Website and Personal Blog
Daniel's Website and Personal Blog

2021-2022: End of Freshman Year

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022


Yesterday was the last day of school for my district, marking the finish of 25% of my high school career.

And I have to say that it was definitely worth it. Even though I have learned so much about effective studying and olympiad prep, I have made so many new friends in my classes throughout this year. Can we believe we’re sophomores next year?

I have cultivated so many memories ever since the start of school… it’s so hard to name them all. But to preserve them, I will try my best to write a summary of the year.

I recall how new and fresh everything seemed at the beginning of the year. I remember how I had accidentally selected the worst classes (Spanish 2, World History Reg, Biology Reg) and how my schedule changed so many times before achieving all honors for the core classes. I switched from Smedley to one of the hardest teachers for biology honors, Dr. Bhattacharya.

In September, I was also given the material that were being used to determine the seating for my orchestra, String Ensemble. All of the kids in the class, except me and one other girl, had already practiced the music over the summer. Amusingly enough, I barely had two weeks before I could submit my recordings and my document for section leader.

I got approved but I was placed Vln-2 In… I expected much better than this but realized that any playing on my half size would sound as terrible as someone that plays decent on a full size. Soon, I switched my size over.

That fall meant the strong increase of schoolwork and particularly how much my phone distracted me from doing the task in a focused manner. I got my first B on a test in a while in biology. Math class tortured me since they were reviewing linear equations and graphs from Algebra I.

November came by, the moment I was waiting for the entire year – the AMCs.

I signed up for both the AMC 10A and AMC 10B, and expected to achieve an AIME qualification, at least. However, the unexpected occurred.

I took the AMC 10A and thought I got most of the eighteen questions I had answered correct. Turns out I was horribly wrong – I got four questions incorrect – the ones that I did not focus on getting correct because they seemed too “easy”. I became discouraged after the test after checking against the answers on AoPS – something I must never do again.

Hence, the pressure of qualifying came to the AMC 10B. I was especially nervous on that day (it was a B day, i clearly remember) and had trouble focusing on the problems during the test. I got hardstuck on the easiest questions after the tenth problems and ended up getting a very bad score.

These are the two tests I will never forget, not only from the pain I had experienced in the months after, but because of the things I have learned from them. Only one freshman qualified for AIME – one of the least expected people. Everyone got demolished by the Fall AMCs, which meant that even the best people in our grade didn’t prepare well enough for these tests.

Meanwhile, I performed in the HSS Fall Concert. I also had many short course meets, on which I performed fairly decent on.

Fall transformed into a cold winter, where things became obselete and cold. I performed in the Children’s Concert, which was quite an amazing experience. On that same day, I went to the BB Snowflake meet, where I went a 24.06 as a 50 freestyle split in a relay.

Winter break came along so I did lots of math.

New Year’s Day came – the absolute best day of 2022, I supposed. The AIME cutoffs came out.

It turned out that I had missed AIME by 1.5.

As a result, I was thoroughly depressed for the rest of the week. Doing math suddenly seemed like a burden to me, as I was constantly reminded of my poor mistakes on the AMCs last year.

However, after about one or two weeks, I was determined to get up again. I was sure to never let that happen again, and to devote my whole high school career on achieving the highest level of math competitions possible. I learned that although failure can be bitter at times, it teaches you many more things than success if you look deeper within yourself.

January was the month where COVID gave America a hard blow. We had a hybrid schedule for about two weeks, and the order of the classes got switched around a lot. Thankfully, we returned to a normal schedule pretty quickly.

February came and we had lots of fun at the Orchestra festival. I also recorded for the placement seatings, and thankfully I am in the Philharmonia for my sophomore year! However, it took so many days of Hanon grind to establish a good intonation… but I got a 95% on the assessment so I’m happy with that. 🙂

I also qualified for taking the HMMT… but I didn’t do well on it either.

March and April whizzed by. I started getting consistent A’s on biology tests because of a statistical strategy I had developed in the middle of taking the Microbiology test. As a result, my grade was bumped up by a lot. Our orchestra played the Wii theme to our orchestra director for an April fool’s prank!

My swim team finally transferred to long course training in the middle of May and in June, I went to Penn State to compete in the ARML, which you can read more about here.

And finally, the year comes to an end. I ended with all A’s (which was easy except for biology honors). I made so many new friends and have conversed with them in every way imaginable.

Yesterday, the Class of 2022 graduated from high school – we underclassmen played a couple songs for the seniors and teachers, however the main emphasis was on those graduating. I have to admit that the speeches that were spoken were some of the best I have ever listened to so far.

And so freshman year ends not with a whisper, but with a bang.

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