PatChat is your inside view of GA from students' perspective

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Nerd" is the new "Cool"!!!

            What is the only game that is zero percent luck? Chess. Chess challenges the mind to think ahead and tests its memory. So naturally, at a school with as many scholars as GA, chess is the growing talk in the halls.

I have always known how to play chess. I dabbled with it for a while, not taking it too seriously. But now, I have become uncontrollably obsessed with it. Any free time I have I spend playing chess, watching chess, or reading about chess. Now in most schools, I would immediately be classified as a nerd and exiled for all eternity. But ever since the blow up of chess in the GA Upper School, this is not the case.

Every day, I walk down the halls and see a bunch kids huddled around a chessboard cheering and yelling for one player or another. Other days a friend will come up to me saying “Yo, guess who I just checkmated?!” or “Ask me who I just beat in chess!” But the most overwhelming growth in participation in the chess community has occurred in Chess Club. At the beginning of the school year, I’d walk into chess club and see one or two games being played with maybe three people watching. Now, when I walk into chess club, it’s more like eight or nine games being played with twenty people watching. Recently, there were so many people in Chess Club that a rule was made that spectators had to stand because there weren’t enough chairs for the players! This outcome made the leader of chess club, Mr. Straub, so excited that he took a picture of the whole thing.

Now sure, chess is just a game and everyone may stop playing it next week, but I don’t care. As corny as it sounds, chess has made me friends with some kids who I may never have thought about talking to before, but because of Chess Club and my obsession with the game, they are now my go-to people to talk about chess with. I’ve also been able to convince some of my friends to get obsessed with it so that now, when we hang out, we can take breaks from our hours of FIFA and do something useful with our time like play chess. So I hope that chess continues to spread at GA and I encourage everyone to come to Chess Club in Mr. Straub’s room any day at lunch, whether you’re good or not! Also, if you have any free time after school come play a little for the chess team. Everyone is welcome!
-Gideon S. '15
Players and observers at a recent meeting of the Upper School's Chess Club.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Adventures of AP Study Hall

I can remember the first AP class I ever took at Germantown Academy like it was yesterday. It was AP study hall my freshman year. It was a self-proclaimed AP course deriving its roots from the mind of our fearless leader, Mr. Drewniany, the English Department head. Being known around campus for his pithy personality and witty sense of humor, he flabbergasted my study hall period by threatening our loquacious manner with physical punishments. We all laughed at his deranged manner. The next day during class, Mr. Drewniany brought a wooden baseball bat to assert his authority in a sea of defiant freshmen. He walked around the room hitting the bat to his hand attempting a standoff similar to a scene in West Side Story. From that point on, AP study hall had a certain panache about it.

Upon receiving my first interim grades of freshman year, I looked sorrowfully on my exceptional grades because I knew I would be graduating from AP study hall, accepting free periods in place of my diploma. Only a select few with below par grades got to continue their time with Doctor Dre, as some students refer to him, in his notorious AP study hall.  

This year I have been blessed with a free period during the same period as Doc’s AP study hall for juniors and seniors. I relish the opportunity to revisit my alma mater with fellow AP study hall alumni. Every period G we sit in on AP study hall with the current members. AP study hall seniors mapped out the student-produced schedule for AP study hall for the first time this year.  These daily activities include coloring, learning the alphabet, and making macaroni sculptures. Although Mr. Drewniany applauds them for their effort, we continue with a rigorous work schedule of studying, taking frequent breaks, exchanging ideas, getting off topic, and strategizing how to deal with particularly difficult teachers.  Mr. Drewniany, the AP study hall tyrant, feels that, “Sometimes we need to get our minds off the intense academic concentration that goes on in AP study hall therefore dance parties are always part of AP study hall as are pizza parties and various other entertainment events.”

Mr. Drewniany has different plans for the future of AP study hall, “I’m only hoping that AP study hall will gain recognition from the College Board that in fact I think it deserves. I’m not quite sure how an examination can be given but I always feel that when those kids come to me, they are feeling bad about themselves for being in study hall.  When you visit AP study hall, you can feel their hope, you can feel their pride, and that’s what AP study hall is all about.”

- Julia P. '15