Seniors Speak: How to Add Excitement to a Monotonous Schedule (NOT a step-by-step tutorial)

Designed by Vaish Tetali ('20)

One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change.  As she looks back on her three years at IMSA, Cait (UIC ’24) writes this piece as both a guide for her underclassmen and a reflection on her fondest memories. During her time, she loved to work on StudCo projects, support her class club, and stay up late with her friends (specifically in 1506A, honorable mention to 1506D). Cait was CAB Director, Hadron’s Coeditor in Chief, and an avid joke-teller in class – even if nobody laughed. 

How do you enjoy your time at IMSA when you feel like you have none? How do you cherish the memories at your unique, inquiry-based school when you feel like you have none?

Ah, many age-old questions. It always feels like we’re running out of time, but we just have to learn how to use the spare minutes to ameliorate the bland days. There is no set formula for this. I’m not going to tell you to strictly set aside an hour a day for your friends or always eat a meal with new people. Hey, if it works for you, that’s great. But, for others, sometimes there really is no time in the day for socializing and you would rather prefer to eat in Sodexo alone with your headphones in. Personally, I found pure bliss in out-of-the-ordinary experiences with friends, and even peers. These short, freeing moments gave us both the rush of crushing our repetitive schedules and the enjoyment of being with each other. I’m here to share them with you.


Eat in Sodexo outside of hours

There’s something euphoric about sipping soda and slurping cereal with a companion in an empty cafeteria. Not many people know this, but the Sodexo doors by the vending machine are always open, representing a timeless invitation to the concealed space. Whatever you can reach in the cafeteria is a free-for-all. From enjoying butter to the bananas, (and if you’re lucky, a working milk machine), you’re welcome to indulge yourself in the nutrients available.


Use the software on the computers in the back of the IRC (by the printers)

I’m not sure if many people see this when you’re using the computers to print, but those computers have so many programs from Adobe’s Creative Cloud, to Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. You name it. And, it’s available to you for free. You can make things. From an epic Instagram post to an album cover, the creativity is in your hands, provided by your library. Knock yourself out.


Paint freely in the art room

Ms. Symoniak is the sweetest woman to exist. With all of my visits to the art room, she has gladly welcomed me to use her sketchbooks, posters, acrylic paint, and more. Even if there’s a class in there, she won’t mind if you paint away at a desk, as long as you’re not disturbing her class. Forget about your problem sets and essays for a free mod or an hour of your I-day, and allow yourself to indulge in the possibilities of the color wheel. Also, the computers in the art room have Photoshop, too! I’m not sure about other Adobe programs, but you can definitely check.


Play Silent Library with your friends

This one calls for the daredevil in you. Silent Library is a game that subjects contestants to  unpleasurable challenges and penalizes those that make noise. With that being said, the game should be played with friends in a location that commands silence, such as a library – hence the name. Or, a more risky, fun, and relatable option: after in-room. With each challenge, the person receives points based on how much noise they make: 0 for no noise, 1 for a loud breath, 2 for a whimper, 3 for a conversation voice, 4 for a squeal or cuss word, and 5 for just being loud. The person with the most points loses. If you’re intrigued, gather up your friends, choose a room, set a date, write down your challenges, and be prepared to hold your breath. 


Play piano in the music room

The process is so easy. Go to security, and they will gladly trade your ID/fob for a practice room key. Then, you have a piano all to yourself. If you’re like me and quit piano lessons when you were younger because the business went bankrupt, you’re now left with no musical skill. But that’s okay! You can visit a practice room consistently with hopes of mastering a song, or you can go for fun and let your fingers dance blindly on the keys. If you have friends who play the piano, you can ask to borrow their books, but many songs are also easily available online. Personally, I learned Waltz in A-minor by Chopin, and it felt good. (Optimal practice time is between 9 and 10pm.)


Go to open swim

Okay, this one is hard to talk about, because I never actually did it. As of this past year, open swim occurs at 8:30-9:45pm Monday-Thursday and 11am-12pm on I-days. There’s nothing that says normal teenage life like going to the pool with your friends. The sting of chlorine in your eyes from Marco Polo and the water you choke down from chicken fights invite nothing but fun. My friends and I have always wanted to go to open-swim, but we consistently pushed it off for years. Years. Now, we won’t be able to go. Do you realize how privileged we are to have a pool? And that it’s available to us four nights a week? Please, go to the pool and make memories with your friends. Do it for the class of 2020.


Shotgun a Red Bull

Or a Bang, La Croix, Dr. Pepper, or something. You were gonna drink it anyway. Why not let your shower drink with you?


Soak in the sun at the slabs

Lay down. The endorphins will do the rest.


Have a photoshoot

I know, this one is very basic. But, there are locations that would be perfect for your social media if you just get the right angle. If you know your day will consist of tests, quizzes, and presentations mod after mod, plan a photoshoot with your friends directly after school. If you go out the doors behind security, that’s where I’ve taken some of the best golden hour photos (seriously, right at 4:15!). But, you have to act fast, because that silly sun has places to be. There are bricks, benches, and flowers galore, ready to play their cameo in your photos! Go down the stairs on your left, and there are some tables you can use as props. (Disclaimer: you need someone who can get your good angles; otherwise, this activity is a bust.)


Roll down a hill

Yes, I mean literally roll down a hill. There really is nothing like letting yourself go and giving all power to gravity, especially if your head is moving in continuous 360s. For me, there’s a specific hill that comes to mind. When you walk out the doors behind security, continue walking straight ahead until the grass stops on your right. You’ve reached the hill. The most steep, fun, and dizzying hill. Climb to the top, and let yourself go  – along with your stresses. (Maybe don’t wear your nicest clothes, it can get a little dirty. Also, this one can be considered seasonal – or not, and you can truly embrace nature to its fullest.)


If you ever happen to pull an all-nighter, go outside for the sunrise

Finally, one of my favorite activities. It might sound counterintuitive at first. If you’re staying up all night to do work, that probably means you don’t have time to dilly-dally away outside. But, I swear, this will reinvigorate you for the day. Look at it as an investment. After hunching over your desk and staring at your laptop screen for hours, let yourself take in the beauty of nature. Bring a friend, blanket, and/or drink. Listen to the birds chirping, admire the colors in the sky, and breathe in the freshness of our Earth.


There are definitely more activities, but I tried to list out the ones that reveal some of the hidden gems of our school. Sometimes, life at IMSA can become so monotonous that any fun activity is considered indulging. And that’s okay. I hope you use these activities at the right time and with the right people to add some spice to the bland days.

About the Author

Jodie Meng
Jodie was a three-year resident in 1506B who served as the Co-Editor-In-Chief along with Eva Tuecke for the 2019-2020 school year! Outside of The Acronym, she was active in LEAD, SIR, and other extracurriculars. She will be attending Stanford University for her undergraduate education.

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