When I visited UHS as an 8th grader, I was welcomed by a school community that offered opportunities in all areas of my interests, and more. As I looked through the course catalog, I was struck by the hundreds of possible paths I could take on throughout high school. The options seemed designed to allow every student to explore diverse interests, and I was especially excited to see I could pursue my passion for visual arts and athletics, while continuing my journey for knowledge in the academic field. Coming in freshman year, I took Painting I and II which pulled me into the art program with inspiring and supportive teachers who helped me refine my technique and style. I also got to join the Varsity soccer team and was able to meet guys from all grades and enjoy the UHS sports tradition of great camaraderie and skill. It seemed that everywhere I went freshman year, I was met with support and expertise. That hasn’t stopped to this day. My teachers support my extracurricular activities, and each one is passionate about getting me to fall in love with their subject. When I read that over 75% of the student body is enrolled in art classes, and over 85% play a sport, I was less than surprised. Every student at UHS has a breadth of interest that, from my perspective, is unmatched. Seeing this kind of diversity of interests going into high school had me excited to learn and shape who I was like nowhere else I applied. I knew it was a place that I could explore who I am and who I want to be.
Small class sizes:
Since coming to UHS, I have participated in many class room to discussions which keep me thinking long after I leave class. At UHS, almost every class is limited to about 18 students. Coming in freshman year, I was nervous about participating in class knowing that I would be judged by my new peers and teachers. In the end, I found myself participating much more than I had in any other academic chapter of my life. At UHS the small class sizes allow for people to share the air and have meaningful group discussions as well as discussions with a partner or a teacher. I am always able to discuss what I’m thinking with my teachers before or after class as there isn’t a long line of students from my class waiting to discuss. The teacher-student relationship feels very connected and personal since it’s easy to share your point of view in class. The small group also allows you to get comfortable with a group and learn how to help each other succeed.
The welcoming and supportive communities created on campus allows students to easily pursue new hobbies, sports, arts and academic interests. My two favorite aspects of my UHS experience so far have been taking Western Civilization in my sophomore year and running cross country. I never thought that I would fall in love with a humanities-based class or be able to say that I have gone for an 80-minute long run. Both of these experiences would not have been possible if it weren’t for the motivating, kind people that accepted me into their communities which were completely unfamiliar to me and pushed me out of my comfort zone.
When I first came to UHS I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do in high school. I was focused on the incredible STEM classes that UHS had to offer and was also very picky when it came to what sports I wanted to participate in. My academic focus and curiosity has been widely expanded at UHS and has allowed me to explore humanities, which I was previously not as confident in. In my freshman year, the supportive and detail oriented english department helped me to become more confident in my writing, but more importantly to find joy in writing. Though the English 1 course in freshman year began my shift in interests, it wasn’t until sophomore year when I truly fell in love with the subject. I was personally dreading taking western civ because it seemed like it would be all of the aspects of school I didn’t enjoy: history, participation, and large classes. However to this day it was my favorite class I’ve ever taken at UHS and the facts of the class I was nervous about ended up being what made the course so captivating. Western civ has shifted my focus to art history, which I plan on taking in my senior year. The teachers were engaging and energetic even when they had to lecture a rambunctious group 50 during an 80 minute period. My favorite discipline within the course was the art history aspect, I loved piecing together the formal components of the paintings to understand the story behind the picture. Western civ has been my favorite class at UHS and I plan on taking the study habits, writing skills and a new found love for the humanities into my future.
Another way that UHS has opened my mind to things I never expected to be doing was in the athletic area of my high school experience. When I entered UHS, I decided to only play sports that I was familiar with, volleyball and soccer, which I played in middle school and track because I had always wanted to try sprinting. The volleyball and soccer seasons were exciting and easy to jump into, but when the time came for track season I had trouble really getting into the sprinting workout. In the first meet of the season I ran the 100 meter and the 200 meter dash, neither of which felt like the right type of race for me. In the next practice our track coach, Carin, asked me if I wanted to try distance running. Though I was extremely nervous and had basically dreaded long distance running my entire life, joining the distance team was the most rewarding risk I have taken at UHS. Even though we were three weeks into practice when I moved to the distance team, all of the runners were encouraging and made me feel instantly at home. I would have not been able to start my distance career if not for the amazing and supportive community that the track runners made. After one race I knew that I had made the right decision, this was not solely based on my time, but rather the feeling of accomplishment and excitement after finishing the race. By the end of the track season my fellow distance runners and my coach convinced me that I should run cross country in the fall. I look forward to practices because of the feeling I get when completing a 5k, going for a long run, and finishing a workout but the people who I run with have made me fall in love with the sport. The greatest decision I have made while in high school was trying long distance running and eventually switching my fall sport to cross country in my sophomore year.
One thing that I love about UHS are the opportunities to explore and expand new passions. I came to UHS having played guitar and bass for a few years each, and mostly playing in rock bands with some of my friends from middle school. When I enrolled at UHS, I hoped to pursue my interest in music by exploring jazz here at school. I learned how to play music mostly by ear and by looking at tabs, so I initially signed up for Beginning Instruments in order to become better at reading sheet music. I had only recently started playing the bass, and wanted to focus more on playing the bass than the guitar in this class.
On the first day of the class, the teacher saw me playing the bass, and he asked me if I wanted to move up to the jazz combo class (colloquially known as JV jazz), since they did not have a bass player. At first I was quite surprised that he asked me since I had never played jazz before and was not a proficient music reader, but I was eager to accept this new opportunity and challenge. Within the first class I knew I had made the right decision. I instantly fell in love with this genre of music, and the art of reading, writing, and playing it. We were playing songs that I had never heard of, exercises that I had never done before, and creating art through sound, and I loved it. I was determined to become the best bass player that I could be, and hoped to join the Jazz Ensemble (colloquially known as Varsity Jazz) sophomore year. After working hard to improve at my music reading and playing ability, I was offered a spot in the Jazz Ensemble, and I have been its bass player for the past two years
My experience with music here at UHS has been a huge part of my high school experience. I have been able to continue my passion for playing the guitar and bass, and expand it into playing a new genre of music. Since my sophomore year, I have been playing in the Jazz Ensemble, as well as in the advanced jazz combo, which is one of the many smaller music groups at our school. Additionally, Music Projects is an elective class that allows students to participate in smaller, advanced music groups during lunch and meetings periods. Music Projects allows for musicians to improve their playing style in a smaller, less stressful environment, and has been crucial in the development of my skills as a musician. Partaking in the Jazz Ensemble as well as Music projects also has added balance and variety to the other classes I am taking.
Everywhere at UHS you will be able to find “your” people who have similar interests and passions, and I have found those people in the jazz community. The people who play in the UHS jazz bands all have varied interests outside of music, and this overlap found in the jazz band is what makes it unique.