Summer of Study

A Closer Look

Staying Local

Summer is the time for watching cheesy movies with friends in air-conditioned movie theaters, relaxing on stretched-out chairs by the pool, and trying new hobbies like filmmaking or journaling. For many students, summer is also an opportunity to focus more on learning about what interests them through local classes and programs.

“Summer programs can be used by students for enrichment or to get ahead in a subject area,” counselor Amanda Carlson said. 

All graduation requirements should be done through the school, but students are encouraged to report a summer class on their college application and submit a transcript on their own, Carlson said. 

Junior Michael MaNguyen is spending his summer taking a Precalculus course at Laney College in order to get ahead in math, he said. 

“I want to do Calculus next year, and I want to challenge myself more,” MaNguyen said.

Instead of supplementing their application, students like junior Joy Zhou are preparing for college over the summer by prepping for the SAT or other standardized tests, Zhou said.

“I hope I can get a better score,” Zhou said. 

Other students, such as junior Connor Tang, are taking a different approach this summer, while still preparing for college. Tang said he is going to be participating in the QuestBridge College Prep Scholar Program, which allows students to work with admission officers and QuestBridge alumni to develop a college resume.

“I want a chance to attend the best college that I can,” Tang said.

Many students are learning over the summer to explore their own curiosities as well.  To prepare for being a member of the robotics team next year, freshman Helena Lowe is going to be participating in a Programming in Java class this summer, she said. However, the main reason she is taking the course is because she is interested in programming, Lowe said. 

“Programming is extremely versatile,” Lowe said. “I thought that it would be a useful skill to have for now and the future.”

Lowe said she is also taking an Analytical Writing class, a stark contrast from the Programming in Java, this summer to enhance her writing skills for next year.

“I feel like in past years my writing hasn’t improved that much, so I need to spend a few weeks just focusing on it,” Lowe said. 

She is taking the classes at the University of California Berkeley’s Academic Talent Development Program or ATDP, Lowe said. ATDP is a summer program that covers material that would normally be taught over a semester or a year of school in six weeks, according to the Academic Talent Development Program’s website.  

Senior Nicholas Chan is spending his summer working at Lawrence Hall of Science to get experience in his field of interest, he said. 

Chan said he is currently working as a counselor at Lawrence Hall of Science and will be working there this summer as well. Chan tries to work at least once a month, but this summer he will be working there for six straight weeks, he said.

“It’s a good experience to be working with kids at a really fun place,” Chan said. “Being able to teach kids about science, getting experience, and just educating people [is rewarding].” 

Working at the Lawrence Hall of Science has been really valuable because Chan wants to pursue a career in the field of education, Chan said.

“I think summer is a great time to learn and if I don’t do anything during the summer, I don’t feel productive,” Lowe said. 

Going Abroad

Although in the last days of school students watch the clock tick in anticipation of summer, once summer comes the time can be hard to fill. Whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, some adventurous students have decided to fill that time by traveling away from Piedmont to experience different communities and cultures.

For senior Genevieve Raushenbush, summer means the annual return to Cape Cod to spend time with extended family. Raushenbush said that building family traditions can be a valuable use of time for high schoolers.

Raushenbush’s great-great-grandfather was Justice Louis D. Brandeis, and she said her family gathers at his former house each summer to connect.

“It’s not necessarily important in a historically significant way, but it’s really nice as a family to have a place to appreciate history,” Raushenbush said.

Raushenbush said that by visiting each summer, the family builds memories, and today her grandparents often tell stories about visiting Cape Cod during World War I and World War II.

“It’s really cool to see a chronological account of our family through the ages,” Raushenbush said.

Although Raushenbush will leave Piedmont for a familiar destination, sophomore Josie Gross-Whitaker and her sister senior Kate Gross-Whitaker have ventured abroad. Last summer, Josie and Kate went to Granada, Spain as part of a Spanish immersion program through Middlebury College. The two travelled with a group of high schoolers and went to historical sites and gave up technology for the trip to fully appreciate the culture and language, Kate said.

“It’s important when you’re learning a language to not just learn the words, but learn the culture and learn about the people that go with the words that you’re learning,” Kate said. “For me it’s made it much more interesting to learn languages in high school, when you see the power those languages can have.”

Kate said that over the summer she has the opportunity to explore her interests, which enhances her learning even when she returns to school.

“I know summer is a break from academics, but for me it’s more of a break from academics I don’t enjoy as much, and the ones that I do enjoy are the ones I want to fill my summer with,” Kate said. “[Summer academics] give you a greater appreciation for the value of the things you learn in school, and it reminds you that the things you’re learning have merit.”

Sophomore Ehlen Kokka will fly to Costa Rica this summer to work on trail restoration in the national parks of Costa Rica with the organization Amigos de las Americas, Kokka said.

Kokka said participating in summer programs can widen one’s perspective, which is especially important for Piedmont students, who Kokka said live in an isolated community.

“It’s nice to get a different perspective on things and walk in someone else’s shoes,” Kokka said.

Sophomore Josie Gross-Whitaker said she will also participate in a program through Amigos de las Americas this summer, and travel to the Dominican Republic to work with kids in a Spanish immersion program in sports leadership.

Josie said she agrees with Kokka that leaving the United States allows teens to widen their perspectives, and Josie said it is valuable for high schoolers.

“It kind of gives you global awareness,” Josie said. “The United States is really self-centered, and you realize when you go out of the country that there are so many other opinions and so many other lifestyles.” 

When looking to go abroad over the summer, Josie said students should find what they’re passionate about, and do things related to that.

“It is definitely important that you’re interested in the thing you’re doing, because then it is kind of relaxing,” Josie said. “If you’re engaged and you enjoy it, then it’s really fun.”

Senior Natasha Yskamp Long said that she will bike from South Carolina to California over the summer, across the United States. Yskamp Long said that travel exposes one to new cultures.

“It’s good to see other people, how they think and how they live,” Yskamp Long said. “I don’t think a lot of people can get out there, so if you can, might as well, right?”