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Junior year
Ryan Harris
01/16/2012, Ventura, California

After following a great summer it was time to face one of the biggest challenges. Junior Year. This is now the present, I don't have to speak as it were many years ago. This has been by far the hardest year so far. This year I am taking Physics at the college, Trigonometry, AP English, AP History, and ASB. The year started out by the FIRE orientation where I had originally been at when I was a freshman. It was fun seeing where I had been when I was freshman. Everybody looked anxious and didn't know what to do. I was partnered up with Katie Teshima to keep our freshmen in order. We were assigned ten freshmen to look after and we were assigned Mr. Perfect's room. We introduced ourselves first then went around the room and made the FIRE students introduce themselves. We then started playing a series of games and at the end of each game there would be a moral to it or would require teamwork to create bonds between everyone. We did many different activities for about three hours then each student left so that they may meet their teachers. They visited each of their teachers and once they had met them all, they were free to go home. Once the FIRE orientation had been completed, there was two more weeks then junior year began.
The day junior started we hit the ground running. We had taken notes, assignments, and more on our first day. This wasn't unexpected, but the transition back into the "school phase" was sudden. In AP History we were given a chapter packet that would be an introduction to how America was to be formed, and in ASB we were focused on helping the students of Foothill, especially freshmen, by putting up posters and giving out candy. The following day on Wednesday I had Trigonometry with Mr. Kellogg and my following class was AP English. I was introduced to during fourth period when she gave a quick speech on what we were going to cover that year and so forth. All of the interesting topics fueled my passion for AP. The first several weeks went fine in the homework area, but not to well in the sleep sector. I found it difficult to wake up in the morning, but after a while it wasn't as strenuous. Another occurrence was Raurie Lindermann and I coordinated our first Renaissance Friday together, as that was our job within ASB. I enjoyed the job, because there was something new every two weeks.
After a month after the school year had begun, our physics class at the college started. It was basic physics taught by Paul Swanson, who, in previous years, was a major coordinator at JPL. It was rather intimating when my brother and I walked in, because the only students were ones who were much older then us. We found a seat near the back and listened attentively to the introduction of his class. From my standpoint, this was going to be an awesome class.
One new opportunity was that all juniors were now able to leave campus during lunch. This opened all sorts of cuisines just down the street, such as Dominos, Fresh N Easy, Snapper Jacks, and more. Once a week I would head down there with my friends and choose from what they had to offer, but most of the time I was unable to go because I had become very prone to losing my ID card. The irritating part was that the lady who checked if you were allowed to go off campus knew who I was, but would still refuse to let me off. I didn't understand, because she knew who I was and I didn't require identification, but it was not worth arguing over. After a challenging quarter of school we were able to have the relaxing fall break. My family and I spent it in Canada looking for colleges to go to, since we were Canadian citizens and would be able pay as local students and not international students which is almost double the price. We started by looking at McGill University, and it was extremely old, but yet an amazingly prestigious college. We had an old family member who worked there and gave us a superb tour when we were there. If I had the opportunity to go to that school, I would take it in a heartbeat. We also checked out the University of Toronto and Queens University, but were not even close to comparison. We returned to Ventura the night before break ended just in time to get a good night sleep.
The rest of that quarter remained the usual of studying for tests and quizzes, along with homework, but a new threat was brewing. Finals. Finals were now beginning to be seen on the horizon and studying was now becoming an option. From the end of fall break to winter break we were beginning to hear what type of finals we would have. I would have to study for my physics, trig, and AP classes. Since this winter break didn't have anything scheduled, except for Christmas gatherings among the family, I would have time to complete my commonplace book and study for finals that were to come. Over the winter break I saw a few movies and hung out with some friends, but when there was no activity, I was hitting the books. When Christmas came, we unwrapped gifts that we had received and after that we went to our cousins house all the way in Westminster, which was a painful two-hour drive. We had jolly family reunion and had a great dinner and exchanged small gifts between one another. We spent about five hours there until it was time to return and then we headed back to Ventura. My brother and I spent the rest of the break doing miscellaneous activities until school started once again. When school returned we were told to prepare for finals and that's exactly what I am doing. So lets dance Finals, hit me with your best shot.

Summer After Sophomore Year
Ryan Harris
01/16/2012, Ventura, California

This along waited summer was going to be a blast due to the fact that my brother and I were heading to Chile for a month. We were going to spend three weeks visiting family and one week skiing in the mountain. Our baggage consisted of a large bag that had all of our clothes, two ski bags that held our poles and skis, and a backpack each. Two days after the end of finals we took a plane to Dallas, Texas followed by a plane to Santiago, Chile where we left our large ski bags to a family member who would pick them up and keep them until return to Santiago in a few weeks. Once we had left the luggage at Santiago we connected to another flight that took us to a city called Calama. When we arrived we got our luggage from the plane a left the airport and then we saw our old family whom we hadn't seen in years. We had a happy reunion when we went outside and then they led us to their car. We drove for about an hour until we reached their home, which was in the center for the city. It was about two in the morning when we had made it to the house, so we couldn't see a few of the family members. So we were told to go to bed and that we had to wake up early the next morning. Little did we know was that we were going to Chilean school the next morning.
We were awaken five hours later and given school uniforms. During breakfast we met our old cousin Pampita who we haven't seen since she was seven (she's now fourteen) and hardly even recognized her. After breakfast we waited outside for a van to take us to school and when it arrived there were so many people that all three of us could barely fit in. When we arrived at school a surprising amount of people remembered us from the last time we had visited from over seven years ago! They kept asking if I remembered them, but I hardly did, because it is easy to remember two people but impossible to remember the masses of individuals. We went when the bell ring and the thing about Chilean school is that you stay in one room and at the end of the period the teacher leaves to teach another class while another teacher replaces him or her. Our first class of math and within 10 minutes of starting I felt as if I couldn't keep my balance on the floor. I wondered why until everyone ran out of them room, and I instinctively followed them. As I was following everyone to the center of the school, it became apparent to me that I had just experienced an Earthquake. The principle came out to speak to us that it was only a magnitude of 2 and that it was alright to head back to class. Everyone appeared to be frightened, but, personally, I was excited about it. But then it became aware to me that Earthquakes were a serious issue here. For example, this was the country that had the Chilean miners trapped underground. Suddenly I wasn't so excited about the tremor. The following teacher was lady who taught Chemistry. My brother and I were just watching the other students do the work and writing the notes since we had no idea how to Chemistry in Spanish. At one point the teacher yelled at a student who didn't understand a simple concept. I translated in my head at one point and that teacher said that at least your smarter then someone for once, those Americans don't have a clue what's going on. My brother and I both gave her a mean look and I said that of course I know what's going on, but you try doing Chemistry in English. She obviously felt like she had made a mistake, because didn't know that we spoke and understood Spanish. We put her in her place. The day continued without any memorable occurrences. After PE we were picked up and returned home. We had dinner that night and we got to know each other once more. We talked for hours until we were all falling asleep. We retired for the night and woke at seven once more and got dressed. I went to have a quick piece of toast then we went to wait for the van. We had a quick school day with nothing fascinating happening except during the breaks we were taken to the teachers lounge to talk to them. Surprisingly even a few of them remembered us, and we spent a large portion of the day in there talking to the teachers who didn't have classes to teach that day. At the end of them day we went back home and then next day was a Chilean holiday so we didn't have to go to school. My brother and I walked around the city and bought several souvenirs along the day. We ran into a few of the students who went to the school and hung out with them until dinner when we were told to return. The next day instead of returning to school the grandmother of Pampita, Pampi Scarlett, took us to the Calama copper mine, which is one of the largest in the world. This type of mine is unique. It is basically a flat area that is dug into the ground like a cylinder. Its dimensions are about 1 kilometer deep, 3 kilometers wide and 4.7 km long. The mine runs 24/7 throughout the year. It was an amazing sight. The trucks that they used were extremely massive. The wheels were over 8 feet tall and the trucks weighed about 10 tons. We spent a large portion of the day there, but tours ended at about three in the afternoon so we had to leave. We made it back just in time for dinner.
The next day we had to say our goodbyes to Pampita and her Mom as we were heading to Iquique, Chile with Scarlett who was going to show us the "Hawaii" of Chile. We took a two-hour plane ride and rode a bus for three hours to get there. I could imagine the sun hitting the water and looking at the warm sun, but since it was winter in this hemisphere, it was quite foggy. We arrived at a Holiday Inn hotel to stay at for the weekend we planned to be there. We all wanted to go swimming and do activities in the water, but due to the cold weather we were unable to. Though we did go to the beach and played beach volleyball, although my brother and I were horrendous. We spent a majority of the day at the beach and in the evening we went to a prestigious fish restaurant in the center of the city. After having excellent platters of fish we returned to the hotel and we dozed off. The next morning my brother and I were very tired and had to be waken by Scarlett. We went downstairs after taking showers and putting on some clean clothes to eat breakfast. We had an all you can eat breakfast that was very tasty, and then Scarlett, Wesley, and I went back upstairs to pack for the flight that we were going to board later that night so we may head to Arica for two weeks. At noon we walked around the city for a few hours to visit a few tourist spots that were recommended then we returned to the hotel to wait for our bus that was to take us to the airport. When it arrived at about five in the evening we boarded it and after the hour drive to airport we embarked on the plane to Arica. We arrived at about two in the morning and after retrieving our luggage we waited for Scarlett's husband, Eugenio. I love these two people. They are some of the kindest people I know. We drove to the house they had at the outskirts of the city. My brother and I had a quick reunion with Eugenio, but we were too tired to keep the conversation going for a while. So we instantly crashed onto our beds that we had slept on over 7 years ago when we arrived. The next day we woke up to the smell of bacon and eggs. We immediately rushed to the table to get as much as we could, as bacon and eggs is the most scrumptious breakfast treat on Earth. Later that day we were asked if we would like to explore the city and we jumped to the opportunity. The drive to the city seemed close, but in a flat desert a city seems closer although it is quite further. It took approximately 30 minutes to get there. When we got there it was actually quite depressing. It looked like Egypt. Not the Egypt with fabled architectural wonders but littered with trash throughout the city. Aside from that it was enjoyable to see new surroundings and the massive sand dunes that were literally going to the ocean waves. We were given a cell phone and some money to do whatever we wanted until we called them to be picked up. We went to see the new Transformers movie in Spanis, which kept us on our toes as we tried to decipher the foreign language. After that we found a local ice cream joint where we had chocolate sundaes and called our cousins to call us back. The next day we visited the business that they operated, which supplied all of the fishing boats with supplies before their two-month, sometimes more, voyages for fish. We spent a large part of our time spending time in the business and meeting all of the employees and working with our cousins. During one of their days off, Eugenio and Scarlett took us up to the top of the sand dunes and let us run down them. These weren't some 10 feet long sand dunes; these ones were about 300 yards tall. Those were a highlight of the trip. After doing numerous activities throughout Arica we were off to the airport once more to fly to the capitol of Chile, Santiago, to go the mountains and ski. We arrived at the airport and waiting there was our luggage that we left about three weeks prior. We took it and in less then fifteen minutes we were on a six-hour drive to the mountains. We arrived late at night at a hotel that was filled with other skiers just like ourselves. We found ourselves a room and instantly crashed on the bed. The next morning we left without having breakfast and went to the ticket booth to buy five days of tickets. We beat the crowd, because by the time we left we there was a line of about forty people. We went back to the hotel and retrieved our skis and were determined to be the first people on the mountain. It was our goal to get the freshest tracks of the day, and we became the notorious "American Skiers" that carved up the hill before anyone could get on it. The mountain was relatively small and you didn't want to go to far on either side or you would fall off a thousand yard cliff. At one point, members of the Chilean ski team were there and asked if we would like to ski with them. We accepted the offer gladly, but in the end they even made us look bad. It was a great experience to meet other Olympians aside from my uncle, Peter Vidmar, who won two gold medals and a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics. We skied with different people everyday until we were scheduled to return to Santiago. We went straight to the airport and were about to board our plane when about fifty planes going to America were cancelled. All other planes going to different countries, but not to the United States. None of the flight attendants were explaining the situation, and a bunch of Americans were spreading grim rumors of a new 9/11 occurring, because this is what exactly happened when on September 11th. To this date, we still don't understand what happened, but in the end after a three hour delay we were allowed to continue the flight to California. When we arrived it became apparent to me that summer was nearing end, but it was brightened because tomorrow was our birthday! After getting picked up by my Mom late a night, who had informed us that we both had received 4's on the AP Spanish test, helped us unpack when we arrived. We instantly crashed in our beds and woke up the next day to a surprise birthday breakfast in bed of pancakes, bacon, and orange juice. It was a wonderful summer break and brought a great conclusion. Bring it on, Junior year.

Sophomore year
Ryan Harris
01/16/2012, Ventura, California

Following a successful freshman year, I decided to challenge myself a bit further by taking Spanish 4 AP, Algebra 2 Honors, and Chemistry Honors. I wanted to take honors English and History, but that would have been too much. I was also taking ASB, since my brother and I were accepted. During sophomore year my favorite class was History with Mr. Prewitt. He was by far the most interactive and most understanding teacher for the sophomores. I was introduced to him in my freshman year when I had him and I was absolutely exhilarated when I had his class.
The year had started just like every other school year. Each teacher introduced him or herself to the class and gave a brief explanation of what was to occur in the class that year. Of all the classes I looked forward to it was History. I enjoyed watching the movies, and hearing how our grandfathers and ancestors solved their problems. Probably my least favorite class was Chemistry Honors. Not because its concepts were boring, it was that the class was so damn hard! I barely understood the concepts in the class and I barely passed both semesters with a B. The first semester was pretty difficult in some instances, but when I put major effort into my studies, it turned out just fine. For the first quarter I managed to receive a 4.0 GPA once more and was very proud of myself. This would have been a normal school year, but this year, since we had time, my brother and I enrolled into the Mammoth Mountain Ski Team. At the beginning of winter is when it started and every weekend, directly after school, we would drive six hours up to Mammoth, ski with the team, and drive down for another six hours on Sunday night. This may sound like torture, and I assure you, it was, but my brother and I really enjoy skiing. When we would arrive at Mammoth it would be about eleven at night and we would start by unpacking the car and then go straight to bed. We would then wake up at six thirty in the morning, have a quick breakfast and be on the ski slopes at seven thirty. We would then ski until two in the afternoon, and we would return home. During each weekend, we were required to be at the gym working out for a minimum of two hours every weekend. Due to all this chaos during the winter season, I found it very difficult to find time to do my homework, and even my own free time! Although doing my homework on the long drives to and from Mammoth did have its reward of completing it when you have nothing else to do. As finals drew closer I wasn't able to put as much effort as I had wished into the team, because I was more focused on myself that I felt disappointed. I t was unfair how the other members of the ski team didn't have to go to public school and therefore received minimal amounts of homework. For me, this was not the case. I went to Foothill Technology High School, one of the most prestigious public schools in the United States and I given lots of assignments. But that didn't stop me. It made me strive to work harder and be the very best I could. All of this extra vigorous cramming was extremely useful, which made me receive A's and B's on all my finals, and I felt like I was unstoppable. We had many races near the end of the winter and I came so close to placing in many of them, but I never quite made it. It was difficult competing against skiers who spent their time skiing year round when I only was a seasonal skier. But who cares about a shiny medal, I did my best and I beat them in many other areas such as academics. Who needed a plastic gold medal anyways! I could just make my own if I really wanted one. This kept my confidence boosted and by the end of the year I felt great. I also aced all my other finals and I was on my way to Chile.

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