Junius H. Rose High School is a fairly normal public high school. That begs the question, “What is a ‘normal’ high school?”
A few weeks ago, I talked with both of my parents and my sister about the high school I attended. We discussed how the school went from a powerhouse both in academics and athletics to a middle-of-the-road high school in just a few short years (although JHR experienced a decline, it is quickly on the rebound under the watch of its new and energetic principal). Even through this decline, JHR remained one of the most popular schools in the county. Most students at JHR graduate on time and are on the path to attending a four-year college. Many student athletes receive scholarships to play sports in college. Each senior class consistently pulls in thousands of dollars in scholarships. Rose was in fact so sought after at one point that numerous parents bent rules and used relatives’ addresses in order to enroll their children at JHR. The school I teach at in Charlotte is quite the opposite. It is perhaps one of the most notorious schools in the district and parents constantly try to pull their children out of the school. I disagree with the general consensus that my school is a “weak” school because there are many outstanding programs at the school which set it apart from any other school in the district, perhaps even in the nation. Discussing this with my parents really made me think about what makes one high school more appealing than another.
The first distinction that comes to mind is a predominance in extracurricular activities. While students should be focused and driven to do well in the classroom, the activities they are a part of after school most likely motivate them to come to school and to become passionate about something (whether that is football, photography, or law). Extracurricular activities also foster teamwork and relationship-building among students. The reach of successful extracurricular activities at a high school can do wonders for the pride students carry for the school.
A consistent voice throughout the school and community also explains why some schools are more appealing than others. Rose is constantly supported by local media, restaurants, and businesses. The community backing means a lot to students at JHR and helps create a sense of pride at the school. More importantly, the greater Pitt County community has a certain vision and expectation for what JHR students are capable of. JHR students are students that attend college, excel in athletics, and that give back to the community. This expectation has caused students to subconsciously uphold themselves to a certain standard.
Last but certainly not least, academic success sets schools apart from one another. Schools with honors classes are great. However, schools with AP or IB programs get way more attention than those with honors classes. Schools that push students to perform at these higher levels of rigor create the upper echelon of public schools. As a result of having higher academic standards, students feel empowered with knowledge and with a sense of possibility for what their future has in store.
In each of the three items I mentioned, school pride has been mentioned either directly or indirectly. Extracurricular activities, community support, and academic success each help foster school pride. Creating a sense of pride amongst students for their accomplishments and their successes, whether they are big or small, really helps distinguish a “great” high school from a “normal” one.
As a teacher, I am finding myself more and more committed to building pride at my school. Not only pride among students for the school they attend, but pride as a staff that leads students to success and pride in the community for the rich traditions and culture that my school has fostered for decades. Each day, I am committed to helping this once rampant pride to the forefront and bringing my school back to the powerhouse it used to be. One day very soon, it will return to its full potential.
Which means that I’ve got to get my life in order. Mainly, I need to start blogging again (it provides me with the sanity required to successfully pull a productive 18-hour day). I also need to get back in shape (work in progress). With that in mind, one of the hardest body parts to target are the obliques. I’ve dug up a bit if information on how to work ’em:
There’s tons of oblique workouts on Livestrong.com. Here are my favorites:
Stability Ball Twist
Start by lying face up with the stability ball in the center of your back, feet on the floor and knees at a 90 degree angle. Hold a medicine ball in your hands and extend your arms straight toward the ceiling. Keep your butt stationary on the ball and rotate your torso, while keeping your arms straight and extended, until your knuckles are pointed toward the wall. Repeat on the other side. Do three sets of eight cycles. A cycle means going from the center, to the left, to the center, to the right and back to the center again.
Start with your feet on the stability ball and your arms holding you in a push-up position. Make sure your body makes a straight line from your head to your toes. Bring the ball in toward your right shoulder by bending your knees. This will result in your body being curled up on top of the ball. Repeat this move on your left side. Do three sets of eight on each side.
Start laying on the floor as if you are about to do a normal sit up. Extend your arms over your head on the floor holding a medicine ball. Crunch, or sit up a little, twist and cross the medicine ball over your body so it ends up next to your right hip. Lay back down and repeat on the other side. Do three sets of eight on each side.
Lay on your back as if you are about to do a sit up, then raise your feet so that your calves make a 90 degree angle with your thighs. Put your hands behind your head. Twist your torso so that your right shoulder comes toward your left knee. At the same time bring your left knee in slightly and extend your right leg as if you are peddling a bicycle. Repeat this with your left shoulder coming toward your right knee. Make sure you are actually twisting your torso and not just moving your elbows toward your knees. Do three sets of 10 on each side.
Start in a plank position. The plank position is the same position you start in before doing a push up. First, lie on your stomach. Then push yourself up so that your arms are straight with your hands on the ground. Your body should make a straight line from your shoulders to your toes. Twist your knees toward the right side so that your hips are almost facing the wall and straighten your legs. Hold the position for three seconds, bring your knees back to the middle and then twist them to the left side. Repeat this 10 times and do three sets.
Oblique Knee Raises
Hang from a pull-up bar to do oblique knee raises. Grasp the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip and let your legs hang straight. Pull your knees up and toward your right shoulder. Hold for a second, lower your legs and repeat to your left side. Alternate back and forth in a steady motion until you’ve done 15 to 20 reps with each side.
Side Crunches (Stability Ball)
Execute a set of side crunches on a stability ball. Position your right hip near the top of the ball, stagger your feet on the floor and place your hands on the sides of your head. Bend laterally over the ball, bend back up by contracting your obliques and repeat. Do a set of 15 to 20 reps and switch sides. Brace your feet against a wall if you are off balance.
Funky Pilates Move
Target the oblique muscles underneath your love handles with a Pilates’-inspired move. Sit with your legs extended in front of you, gripping a weighted ball or dumbbell with both hands, holding the weight at shoulder height in front of you. Bend your knees and lift your legs toward your chest. Stop when your thighs and torso are in a “V” position. Twist your torso to your left side, return to the center, then switch to your right side. Lower your legs and arms to your starting position. Repeat three times.
Execute a set of windshield wipers. Lie on your back and lift your legs straight above you so your body is bent 90 degrees. Lower your legs down to your right side, then lift them up and lower them down to your left. Alternate back and forth in a smooth and steady fashion.
Side Plank Raises
Perform a set of side plank raises. Lie on your left side with your feet stacked on top of each other. Place your left forearm flat on the ground, perpendicular to your body and directly under your shoulder. Place your right hand on your side and lift your hips up in the air as far as you can. Lower your body down to a point right above the floor and repeat. Do a set and switch sides. Make sure you keep your hips in line with your shoulders the whole time and focus on using your oblique muscles to do the exercise.
You can also try interval training (30-90 seconds high intensity activity such as sprinting, 30-90 second “rest” period of lighter activity such as jogging or walking), which helps kill calories faster than normal cardiovascular activities.
Underclassmen: if you see me in the back of Shelly’s or Brister’s class in Tribble next year, just don’t say anything. I’m in complete denial of any events that occurred on or around May 16, 2011.
2:34am. I’m out.
A tweet sent by UNC’s chancellor, Holden Thorp, is taking off in the blogosphere. Thought I would add my two-cents before I start studying for this massive Spanish Literature test. And here it is: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/spp+50.
Dear Chancellor Thorp: before you talk about how great and intellectual your students are, make sure you can back up what you say(/tweet). Oh, and Duke: please take out any aggression that may have resulted from this untimely statement on the court tonight. Looking forward to a good game.