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What I Learned Outside the Classroom

By Jeong Joo 

Like most college bound high school students, I loaded up on as many extra curricular activities as possible when I began freshman year. The amount on my plate eventually whittled down to what my schedule would allow but I managed to hold on to all the activities I enjoyed.  

Of course my priority was good grades. And I understand my students’ concentration. But looking back, I don’t remember much about studying for a calculus exam or writing a paper in my AP US History class. In fact I don’t have many memories of sitting in any of the classes I took. I was there though! 

What I do remember is how to play “Louie Louie” on my trombone, the tune memorized during Friday night football games the marching band played. Performing and hanging out in between songs with my bandmates at the games are some of my best memories of high school. I learned enough from band class to learn the very basics of guitar. While far from proficient, it was enough to entertain friends at a bonfire during college and to perform at Patio on Fire with my band Jooasis.

I remember there are seven, not six, different symbols used in the Roman numeral system because that’s the question that I got wrong during a quiz bowl match, the question that cost my team our very first match of the season. I redeemed myself in the very next match by knowing that Oberlin College was the first university to admit women. My involvement in quiz bowl made learning a little more interesting - and put random facts to use too. As a teacher, I use a quiz bowl activity to review in class. I also advise our KIS team.

I remember trying my best to imitate a lawyer from the latest courtroom drama during a mock trial competition, only to get burned by the opposing attorney. Even though I never won a single trial during three years of mock trial, I became much more confident as a public speaker and I learned how to make a decision on the spot. These are the skills I use daily as a teacher.

I remember getting my first paycheck from a part time job at Disneyland, taking a first step toward financial independence. Ringing the rusty triangle in front of the Big Thunder BBQ in Frontierland wasn’t anything impressive, but I learned so many practical things. On top of establishing work ethic, I became more responsible, developed my social skills, and really learned the value of a dollar.

Juggling all of these co-curricular activities made me busier but also helped me become more organized and cultured. But most of all, I actually enjoyed high school more because of my involvement. These activities shaped me into the person that I am today. I still believe in a balanced schedule and I purposely take on activities that are not science related so I can continue to be a well-rounded person.

We are fortunate that KIS offers so many opportunities for you to get involved! So go! Get involved! And years from now, you will remember what you learned through a club or sport too. 

Jeong Joo is a high school science teacher. He also coaches the academic quiz team and varsity boys volleyball.