Rant & Rave

Tuesday, October 14, 1997


Be sure you’re placed
in the right classes

By Matthew Ishikawa

AT the start of the 1996 school year I was really excited. I was leaving intermediate school for Castle High! I would only be a freshman, but that didn't matter because I would finally be in high school, the last school requirement before graduation and freedom.

Little did I know that a mistake would cost me big time.

When I first went to my classes, they seemed to suit me. I had a lot of friends in them, so I was pretty happy. One thing kept nagging at me, though: Where are my GT (Gifted and Talented Program) friends? I couldn't find the answer to that question.

A week into my freshman year, I attended a Leadership Camp that taught leadership skills and openness, where I met one of two freshman-class advisors. As I listened to some of my classmates talk to her, I realized she was the GT teacher. I was in the wrong classes!

When I got home, I told my parents. They asked me if I wanted to change classes or stay in the ones I was in. I told them I wanted to stay put.

My parents made me move up to the higher-level GT classes anyway, saying something about me not working up to my full potential otherwise. I was upset, but I gave in.

Before the switch, I went to all my teachers and asked if I could be catching up with any work while the switch was in progress. They didn't have much for me to do, but it still took awhile to finish while keeping up with homework in my other classes.

AFTER the switch, I was happy to see friends I'd seen just about every day at King Intermediate. But slowly I realized that I didn't understand a word my math teacher was saying; they were too far ahead.

I stopped going to A-period, the after-school tutorial session, because I was too shy. I had no idea I was getting a D until the teacher sent home an interim report. I knew I was busted because my parents are very strict with grades. I started going to A-period every day I could. I failed two quizzes and had to make them up because the teacher doesn't accept results lower than 60 percent correct.

On the last day of the quarter, I was going to make up the two quizzes, but the teacher had to leave early, so I couldn't do it. Knowing I was going to get a D for the quarter, I walked out of the room, eyes glued to the ground. I felt like crying.

At the school's Open House, my parents met my math teacher and decided they didn't want me in her class anymore, so they transferred me to a lower level. It was easier there, a lot easier.

Well, the days passed in a blur. Second quarter passed, then third. Fourth quarter was the longest. Again, it was a very hard time for me. Between being in the band, student council and homework, I had very little free time. Before I knew it, I was behind in math again. I tried my best, but even A-period didn't seem to help.

At the end of the quarter, I found myself grounded. Being grounded is not that bad, but I felt like I let myself down. Although I know that no one is at fault, there's still a part of me that wants to blame the school. I also feel that my parents are partially at fault, pushing me to a level I was not ready for. But I know that they just wanted what they felt was best for me.

This year I was put into classes at the appropriate level and I'm doing OK so far, much better than at the same time last year.

If I did learn something from all this, it is that you should always speak up and find out where you stand if you are having trouble in class. It gives you and the teacher time to correct the situation before you are left with a bad mark that will follow you beyond high school.



Matthew Ishikawa is a sophomore at Castle High School.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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