The Importance of Mathematics

https://sites.google.com/lcps.org/the-importance-of-mathematics/home

This form of communication is directed towards high school (or potentially even college) students who generally have an aptitude for mathematics, but are largely unaware of where exactly they can go with an education in math. I selected them because that is an issue that I’m currently facing myself, and I felt that it would be most genuine of me to share my insight with people around my age and who share my experience. I chose a site that takes on a sort of article-like format because, while a video is more attention-holding and accessible to my intended audience, a website is able to contain more information at once and in different segments, as opposed to a video, in which all information comes one piece after another. A website allows users to navigate between specific topics. The situation I was dealing with caused me to divide the sections and individual links in the way that I did; addressing several different issues and solutions within each link. Because the website was aimed at a more adolescent audience, the tone of my communication needed to be more informal and, for lack of a better word, more ‘adolescent.’ I was intending to appeal directly to students, and I was focusing more on persuasion rather than addressing an overarching issue. Most of the text that I used in the website communication was either highly edited from the original text, or an entirely new adaptation of the knowledge I gleaned from my earlier research. There are, however, a few sections on the website that come directly from my paper, as they fit the proper tone and intent.

How Does This Whole Scoring Thing Work?

When a marching band competes, or at least hopes to compete in several competitions throughout the season, they have a few decisions to make, and a few options in front of them. Some examples: What circuit, or series of competitions run by the same organization, do we want to compete in? Do we want to compete in several circuits, or do we want to have a culminating competition like states or nationals? Where are these competitions? How are we getting there?

These are all worthy and valid questions a band director has to ask his or her self when deciding the calendar for the rest of the season, but I believe there’s one question that’s important in its own right: How is this competition being judged?

In four years, our marching band has answered all the previous questions in… different ways. We’ve done (mostly) two different circuits during that time, yet in only two of those years did we compete at a state assessment; where rather than a score out of 100 we were given a score from 1 to 5 – 5 being the worst and 1 being the best. Both years we got 2’s. The next year we abandoned all circuits including the state assessment and stuck solely with US Bands; it seemed to be leading the hype train at that time. The year we committed to them was the second year we went to the US Bands National competition (it was hardly representative of the whole nation, however. It featured maybe like 12 states). This year, US Bands decided to completely vacate from Virginia, and now we participate in VMBC.

Back to the question on judging – the judging at VMBC is nothing short of horrendously volatile. In the first three competitions, our score went down from 80 to 77 to 74. I literally stood in front of the band, all three times, and watched it get better every single time – and our score just got worse. I know exactly why – there’s no standardization whatsoever in VMBC; US Bands, as heavily implicative of its bias as it was, it at least had a rigid and standardized scoring system. Judging is always subjective, of course, but come on – how on earth did our score then go up by twelve? Obviously I’m not complaining, but that’s where we should have been three competitions ago! Who were those guys judging us the previous two times? What rules do they go off of?

So, kids, when you grow up and want to run your own marching band, run yourself a little experiment. When you know you’ve got a solid band that could absolutely improve with each performance, try out a new schedule. Mix up your answers to the questions above. Play the kids’ season like a fiddle – who knows, they could stay at a 67 for 7 weeks straight or they could have their score history closely resemble the Dirichlet function.

 

*The Dirichlet function is a function where every rational number is at y=1 on the graph, where every irrational number is at y=0. As you could assume, it’s a complete mess.

Learning A Language, For Fun

As many would agree, no matter which language one chose to take, there was a very small chance that they particularly enjoyed the class they took. Whether it was the teacher, the curriculum, or just the language itself, people (like me) found it very difficult to be interested in the class; it got to the point where most people continued the language up until the fourth year simply for the credit. Learning a foreign language doesn’t seem to have much importance in some students – or at least, they simply aren’t being taught well enough.

After German 1, for me at least, it didn’t look like there was much hope for me in terms of speaking, reading, and writing in fluent German. The method of teaching – involving basically watching German news stations or watching German films, rather than learning new grammar concepts or vocabulary terms – never seemed to stick with me, and I was becoming less and less motivated to try and learn more German.

At the same time, however, I had been using Duolingo ever since German 1. This program, combined with a class that I come to every other day to learn more words, served as a brilliant practice tool for learning a language. However, sooner or later I would discover that I didn’t even need to be enrolled in a high school class to learn a language – I could do it with Duolingo, a pencil, and a notebook, anywhere and anytime that I wanted. In my free time, I can take notes on every new word that I learn, and if I forget anything, I have my notebook to refer to. This method of learning makes learning languages fun – something that makes learning anything at all extremely valuable.

It has always been a dream for me to learn a foreign language and travel to a country where it is spoken; that way I can have a much more involved and rewarding experience. I want to absorb myself in a country’s culture: languages and dialects are likely the greatest contributors to unique and interesting cultures. And, in addition to this endeavor, I want to do this with as many languages as I can. Once you learn a language, and adapt to its culture and characteristics, will you ever forget it?

Senior Night

There’s a subtle, poignant feeling when you stand up on the podium, in your own home stadium, for the last time – a culminating moment for the last four years of hard work, effort, and leadership. I remember clearly; at the beginning of the season, the first time I led the band at a football game, I noticed something – the feeling hadn’t quite hit me yet. What I mean by that is, the reality that I (along with the co-drum major, of course) was leading the band I’d been thoroughly involved in for so many years, and I was now up front and center at the helm of it all. The season lay ahead, and it still hadn’t hit me. And if I’m being completely honest, it never hit me until that night.

In fact, it’s been a feeling that hasn’t hit me since I first walked into the band room my freshman year. My senior year had been waiting to happen that whole time; the realization that all four years of commitment and courage was would some day end had been waiting to happen that whole time. When I was in eighth grade – my sister was a sophomore in the marching band at this point – there was one singular 4-year marcher out of the entire band. The next year, my freshman year, there were three. Commitment to the marching band – and just general knowledge of its existence – was quite low around the time that two entirely new high schools in the leesburg area had opened. But, and as time would prove, the members of the 30-some person marching band were committed. Without speaking of it, we all had a mutual understanding that we were going to turn the band around; through our incessant will to keep improving.

And improve, we did. The next year, there were 10 proud, hopeful, and influential four-year marchers graduating. After that, I don’t even remember the number – it had to have been around 14. To any other band, those numbers are tiny; to ours, they mean everything. In a band of such a small size, every single individual holds an undeniably huge role in the success of our season. That graduating class, the class of 2019, had about as unsuccessful of a first year as you could get – but nothing stopped them. When they were juniors, they “finally learned how to march” – and took the band to its first ever national competition. They did it again the next year. But now that they’ve left, there isn’t a hole to fill, necessarily – there is a sentiment to pass down.

And soon, it’ll be my job, and the rest of the seniors’ job, to pass that sentiment down. No matter how small, or how successful, we always commit ourselves. We commit ourselves to what we love until the very last moment that we’re a part of it.

Your College Essay Isn’t A Selfie – A Statement I’ve Always Wanted To Say, Yet Didn’t Know How

If i had been the one at the helm of the piece of writing that explained this, I could have went on and on about how much this topic resonates with me; however, the author explained it perfectly, as if to take the words right out of my mouth. After so many years of watching some of my closest friends fall apart in tandem with trying to falsify and conjure up a perfect version of a human; without personality or human spirit, finally being reassured that heterogeneity, unique expression of interests and strengths, and imperfection is not only what makes a person unique, but also valued, is unimaginably satisfying to hear. I am in no way perfect – in the grand scheme of things, no one is, and should not assume that they can be – but I have so much to share about my life and my mind. Not all of it is fruitful; for I have only lived seventeen years of it, and have not yet discovered all the ins and outs of my brain, including my strengths and interests, but I remain confident in myself; the person that I have been raised and nurtured to become. In other words, I am proud in my efforts to be my real self, rather than a fake, pseudo-human concoction that puts up a facade to hide or ignore what kind of a person I really am. I know that I can set myself apart from others, in my own special way, and that I don’t need the title of my Alma Mater to be my claim to fame.

High School Artifact – Trumpet Mouthpiece

I never quite noticed it, but I certainly wouldn’t have made it far into high school, or into my life of music, without it. While I’ve played my trumpet through the same mouthpiece since I could multiply two numbers, I’d never experienced more with it than I had in marching band. For such a dispensable object it was remarkably indispensable: I’d play different notes, but with the same mouthpiece; I’d have a different trumpet, but with the same mouthpiece; I’d have new friends,  new music, new drill, and I’d have the same mouthpiece; it would be a whole new year, and I’d have the same mouthpiece. Most importantly, I’d be a different Jeremy, but I’d have the same mouthpiece. Interestingly enough, I hardly ever noticed it – one could only ever notice its absence, rather than its presence. It’s the catalyst for a note; a catalyst for music, likely the most valuable part of my life in high school. Soon enough, however, I will start using a different mouthpiece: I’ll have to grow as a trumpet player and expand my repertoire; I’ll need to be able to play higher and louder, or with a different tone. As far as this mouthpiece got me, it won’t be of value much longer. Or, rather, it won’t be of liquid value, but it will certainly retain its value to me, and to my life. As its decade-old finish visibly loses its shine and show and begins to rust, there’s absolutely no saying that I’d have been just fine with nothing between me and the trumpet.

Organic Object: Lemon Slice

8/28/19

All I see is the sun. This lemon slice’s elated, gleaming colors are very reminiscent of the cartoonish glee of a can of sprite on a summer day. Uncut, most lemons seem rather intimidating with their infamous biting taste, but a lone slice is the opposite; calming, relieving, unexpected yet welcome, as if to add just the right amount of flavor to my day. There’s something very imperfectly perfect about it; how it grows in spokes from its center, showcasing and foreshadowing it’s presumably wonderful taste. I do know, however, that the lemon is a master of deceit.

9/1/19

All I see are its seeds. They’re too unsightly and unavoidable not to notice. One side displays a joyful gleaming sun, but flip it over and your once hidden imperfection is showing.  You certainly aren’t to blame, but it isn’t quite a welcoming sight. I’d even go as far to say that I’m a bit disgusted; it reminds me of all the factory processed and packaged mush of fruit that I was fed as a child. It reminds me of all the mornings, and subsequently, days, that had to start with such an abominable breakfast. The thought itself is a little unhealthy, but again, it isn’t directly the lemon’s fault.

9/3/19

It hasn’t been very many days, lemon, and I’ve kept you nice and cool in my fridge’s top shelf, well lit, but your age and exposure is beginning to show. Much less tangy wonder and a lot more undesirable, piercing sourness. The gleaming sun is setting in you, but there isn’t anything to take its place. Rather depressing, it is. I’ve yet to try a lemon but I can’t say that this is convincing me; it’s deceitful glamorous glow is finally revealing its deceit – what it has been since the day I met it.