Leaving Latin?

Tanya Calvin The Forum recently spoke with sophomores Martina Piñeiros and Liv Karas about their junior years of high school. While we’ll all be returning to Latin in August, these girls are going to be off having adventures outside of our school. Martina has been accepted to complete an SYA in France, while Liv will be training to become an Olympic gymnast. Here’s a look into their decision processes, what they’re thinking about, their future plans, and how they feel leaving Latin.

Martina Piñeiros

The Forum: How did you decide to apply for SYA?

Martina: I decided to apply for SYA because I wanted to experience, once again, moving into a very different country with a different language, culture, etc. I wanted to grow as a person, and I figured that doing so before college would be helpful.

The Forum: What was the application process like?

Martina: The application process was very similar to Latin’s process (e.g; essay, teacher recommendations). It was very straightforward and if I ever had questions, Ms. Dzieweczynski was always there. She made the process less stressful, and rather simple. Anyone can complete it, and I encourage everyone to do so!

The Forum: What was your first reaction to being accepted?

Martina: I was flooded with excitement, and happiness and nervousness. It was a mix of emotions. A couple of hours after I found out I got accepted, I also found out both scholarships I had applied for [had] denied [me], so I was a bit upset and disappointed because just earlier that day, I had already begun to think about what it was going to be like. Fortunately, two weeks later I learned that I was awarded a financial aid grant and I once again felt the joy I felt when I got accepted.

The Forum: What steps are you taking now?

Martina: I’m currently waiting to get some paperwork mailed in to apply for my student Visa, and I’m considering enrolling in some additional French classes to prepare myself a little more.

The Forum: Have you talked to anyone else who’s gone through it? What have they said?

Martina: I recently contacted a student that is living in France right now through SYA. She told me that things would be very difficult at times, due to the language barrier, but that it would be an experience that would perhaps permanently change the way I view things and approach situations.

The Forum: How are you preparing yourself for the culture shock?

Martina: I’m relying on the fact that I will live with a host family that will be understanding of the shift I will be experiencing, and that will be a support through my journey.

The Forum: What are your expectations?

Martina: I’m expecting to constantly have to face tough situations, but I am also expecting to have both my family’s and my host family’s support throughout. I hope to establish a relationship with my host family that will last even after the school year is finished. I also hope to motivate other students to give SYA a try, (if you’re afraid of going away for a year, they also have summer programs) because I think everyone deserves an opportunity like this one.

Liv Karas

The Forum: Where exactly are you going?

Liv: I’m going to stay in Chicago and do an online schooling program called Laurel Springs. My training program requires me to go to Texas for a week every month to train with the other elite gymnasts in America at the Olympic training center. Other than that, I’ll be in Chicago full time.

The Forum: Why are you leaving? What led you to make such a life-changing decision?

Liv: I’m basically leaving so I can live my lifelong dream of trying to be an Olympic gymnast. I’ve always wanted to experience what it was like to be one of those gymnasts that little girls look up to and strive to be like. I have also always wanted to compete internationally and I can only do that if I go the Olympic route. As I said before, since I was really young, I’ve wanted to be an Olympic gymnast and finally, after two years of non stop injuries, I’ve been given the opportunity to fulfill my dream.

The Forum: What’s the training process going to be like?

Liv: The training process is brutal. Everyday, one will train for 7-8 hours a day performing nonstop routines and drills and skills to perfect everything. The process to eventually get to the Olympics is a long process that changes every time the Olympics comes around, so it’s hard to say [what it’ll be like].

The Forum: What has your experience at Latin been like?

Liv: Latin has been an amazing high school for me. The students and teachers have been amazing people to get to know and connect with, which I have loved. The classes have been perfect for me. I have really enjoyed making friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life and experiencing my high school years at Latin.

The Forum: How is the gymnastics world different?

Liv: The gymnastics world is very different from the real world. Especially in gymnastics, girls from different teams, states, and sometimes even countries bond like sisters. It’s very cool to be a part of an environment that encourages friendship with opponents. I know that it isn’t normally like that in other sports.

The Forum: What are your long-term goals?

Liv: I definitely wanna have a successful Olympic gymnastics career and hopefully get a college scholarship to compete as a college gymnast. After that, I’m very interested in physical therapy and sports medicine, so I wanna go into that field when I’m older;  that would be a perfect course to pursue in college.