Dodgeball, Dogs, and Standardized Testing

Frani O’Toole We began the day at 7:45 -the first indication of a stressful day- with two number two pencils and a calculator in hand, ready to conquer the five hundred unfilled bubbles that awaited us. Having been given a small booklet to prepare us for the test, I came in with a false sense of assurance. As soon as we were told to rewrite a paragraph agreeing to the PSAT guidelines in cursive, however, my confidence was crushed. Cursive, for me, began and ended in second grade. After mastering how to write the manuscript letter G, I considered my training complete, and hadn’t written in cursive since. Aside from the occasional letter from my grandmother in an indecipherable cursive, there was really no need for it. That is, until the PSAT. But that wasn’t the only time seemingly useless, outdated knowledge would be required of us that day; we did have several of those “if there were three green marbles in a bag and two blue” probability questions. The test itself received mixed reviews as to the level of difficulty, but regardless, it was helpful in exposing and preparing us for when the PSAT is important next year. The activities that followed were designed to help us bond as a grade and as an advisory, and were organized by the sophomore grade reps and dean. The day was certainly well-planned, and the effort put into it made the various activities run really smoothly. That said, since the activities followed a stressful two-hour long test laden with college anticipation, the day inevitably seemed pretty long. Past classes had decided to go bowling, but after discussing it with the sophomore students, the bus ride and expenses seemed too much. Instead, after the PSAT, our day began with a Potbelly lunch, comprised of sandwiches, chips, and what seemed to be the preferred beverage, apple juice. Following lunch, the grade was divided into advisories, where we were assigned to different activities. The first one my advisory was given was dodgeball, or as Glee calls it, “modern day stoning.” Dodgeball is certainly an easy target -pardon the pun- to criticize, since it is such  a bizarre, eclectic mix of the Hunger Games, Survivor, Mean Girls, and Lord of the Flies. Needless to say, after swiftly being eliminated, I had a lot of time on the sidelines to think of various sarcastic references to other examples of utter teenage chaos. After dodgeball, our advisory moved to pictionary, where words like “reconnaissance” and “paleontology” were good words to keep in mind for the next PSAT. Finally, we moved to Guitar Hero. Here, some players were able to show an impressive talent their classmates would normally be unable to see. However, since figuring out how to change the song was impossible, by the end of the period I’d heard more “Paint It Black” in fifteen minutes than I had “Gangnam Style” all day, and that’s really saying something.  At the end of the day, we filed into the auditorium to watch the movie Best in Show. Centered around a dog show and its quirky participants, some sophomores like Erika Marks wondered, “Just how far can dog-related humor go”? However, as many sophomores agreed, “At least it was short.” In the end, though the PSATs represented college and the years ahead, the games and activities planned emphasized the importance of “now” and the high school time we have left.]]>