Josephine Mittelberger, 11,890 minutes remaining

Josephine Mittelberger, Design Chief

Queen’s pawn to D4. My opening move every time I played chess during English 9. I always started as black and I always moved in that same spot. As the classroom was filled with sounds of keyboards typing our standard five paragraph essays, I sat waiting for my opponent to make the next move. It felt hopeless being stuck in that room, learning close to nothing more, knowing just across the hall Honors English 9 got to analyze “A Tale of Two Cities” and I was stuck with my already complete essay on “Animal Farm.” 

Before any honors classes had been added to my schedule, I went through school without much care for what I was learning. While anyone who knew me could testify to my anxiety for assessments, nothing moved fast enough and I always had questions that could never be answered with the time we had. My need to learn more, faster and in more depth only began to dry as the years passed. Throughout elementary school, I always scored well on NWEA, but was never placed in the “high ability” program. So I stayed in classes in which I’d pick up the concept quickly, but be stuck repeating myself over and over and over again. And it felt like that torture only continued through middle school.

My time at MHS completely flipped when one of my friend’s mentioned they were able to get into honors courses by just asking, so I got smart and followed suit. 

The next year, I was bombarded with much stress and many difficulties. I could not help but be nervous of everyone sitting around me: I felt stupid every day. Even the first assignment in English 10 I turned in late—an ironic testament to the knowledge gap between me and everyone else. I was missing vocabulary in Algebra II that everyone seemed to understand besides me and a realization slapped me in the face within that first month. I just did not belong there.

Maybe they were right, I was not smart enough to be “honors level.” But it was too late to quit, and I was not going to let myself fail out of self-pity. 

With time and extra work at home, I was able to catch up. I never missed another assignment and I read every passage assigned to read. And somewhere in that window of time, I was able to satisfy the part of me that had always longed for knowledge. In honors English 10, we had in depth discussions and picked apart books the way I had always hoped. In honors Algebra II, math class was something I began to take interest in because I was able to see outside basic problems and see the concepts that lie behind them. Everything I hoped for in that freshman English class came to fruition right before my eyes, and despite the intense feeling that I was constantly fighting for my seat in either class, it all felt like enough.