To My Former GIS Classmates

Well, hey, my awesome former classmates. I hope you’re all doing well. I expect you’re probably doing better than you were a year ago around this time. Because I’m not sure if anyone else remembers, but a year ago tomorrow, we all had to present our capstone projects. Some of us even had to miss pi day in Mr. S’s room.

Oh yeah, those pesky capstones. How could we forget about them?

I’m sure every one of you remembers all the stress we went through. Not just with the final projects, but for each of those four years of high school. There were countless days when we were told of changes we hadn’t been expecting; things like curriculum adjustments or new expectations or just straight-up blanket sweeps that seemed like they couldn’t get any more irritating. Until they did.

Annnd there was this.

Annnd there was this.

Yeah, we had a hell of an experience those four years of high school. And when it was time to leave, that made graduation all the more exciting. Think about that last day for a minute, even though it was ten (TEN!) months ago. Those nineteen of us; we got to leave behind a lot more than just the lunchroom or lockers or the school bus. We also said goodbye to all the growing pains of our guinea pig program, and the stress of our final reports, and all of the things that made us want to rip our hair out or rant on Twitter at midnight.

But, we also said goodbye to each other.

And that’s good, right? You’re supposed to move on when you leave high school. Everyone’s gone off to different schools, some of them in new states or even new time zones. We’ve made new friends and new second-families. But there are some things that just can’t top the experiences you have together in high school.

Things like, wishing a certain member of our class “Happy Birthday!” on a daily basis. Or watching SNL weekend update together. Or our teacher’s hilarious stories of crazy adventures involving fish. Or our government teacher scaring us with his loud voice. Or going on an awesome trip to Boston and getting stuck in the sketchy part at 11 PM because the bus got a flat tire.

That last one sucked, right?

But it was an experience, and if there’s one thing we all can say about GIS now that it’s over, it’s this: we had some experiences. Lots of bad ones, and lots of good ones. And no matter how many crappy days we had, I wouldn’t change a minute of it (okay, mostly) because it was our worst days that made the nineteen of us a family. And it was our good days that reminded us why we all chose GIS, and why we all stuck it out. Everyone has to have a reason for staying, right? What was yours? Why did you keep in the program for all four years, after countless growing pains that only seemed to get worse?

I don’t know anyone’s answer, but I would hope it’s about the same as my own: I stayed in it for the experiences. Not just the New York or Boston trips, or the iPads, nice as those were. I did it because no two days in GIS were alike. One day, we’re sitting in class mapping out a trip to Boston. Another, most of the class is crying because we’re so stressed out. Our eleventh grade English teacher divided up the days evenly so half the time we were dying over her hilarious stories and the other half we were dying for real because we had to analyze some rhetorically significant essay or another.

Was all of it fun? No. Was all of it painful? Of course not. There was a lot of both, but the one thing that never changed in those four years is, the nineteen of us went through all of that as a class.

That’s why I stayed in.

There were many times I considered quitting. I’m sure each of you had those moments too, probably on the bad days. But, we also had good days. Like when we had a “sharing of food” party on Groundhog Day freshman year. Or our eleventh grade English teacher reading us “Walter the Farting Dog” the day before the AP exam while we sat criss-cross applesauce. Or that last day of high school, when we watched our GIS slideshow and told each other goodbye and gathered around our fifth period teacher for a few last good stories.


But enough of my reminiscing. The real reason I’m writing this note now is because (as I said) it’s been a year since the most stressful day in that program, and now, it’s all over. And we’ve all moved on to new places. But I think it’s important to let all of you know that I haven’t forgotten any of it. Not the good experiences, and not the bad ones. And I won’t ever.

Will the nineteen of us ever be in the same room again? God, I hope so. If we all did some GIS reunion party at someone’s house this summer, that would pretty much be the coolest thing ever. But if not, and we’re never all together again to drive each other crazy, I want every one of you to know that I still miss you all. Even though I love where I am now and have a bunch of amazing new friends, I still want the best for all of you and hope you’re loving college as much as I am.

No matter what happens now or where I go from here, the nineteen of you are and will always be my first academic family. And that’s something I’ll never forget.

After everything we made it through, how could I?

Movie Review: Non-Stop

Fighter Pilot: “Agent Marks, our fighter squad has you in our sights. Do you hear me?”

Bill Marks: “We’re running out of time! Do YOU hear ME?”



Well! This is a bit late, isn’t it?

My veteran readers are well aware that by some law of physics or another, it’s impossible for me to post movie reviews on time, when they would actually be helpful to people. As it was, I’d post a movie review a few weeks late and apologize for the delay. Then I’d promise the next one would be on time.

And my readers and I were all like:

So, anyway, my implied policy now is, movie reviews must be late. Also, I’m crazy busy. Which is why I’m posting this now, even though I saw the film on its release date eleven days ago. As usual, I’ll keep this free of spoilers.

The setup:

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Non-Stop, just think Taken on an airplane. Liam Neeson portrays Bill Marks, a nearly retired air Marshall who’s detached from his family and a former alcoholic. During a flight to London, he receives a text message saying that if he doesn’t wire $150 million dollars into an account, someone on the plane will die every twenty minutes. But this threat turns out to be the start of a much bigger plan.

It’s a simple but enticing premise. No, the movie won’t rock your socks off or anything, but it more than lives up to its hype. From the moment the plane leaves the runway, the action kicks off and doesn’t stop until…well, I won’t spoil how it ends. But it’s a pretty crazy flight.

What I liked:

As you might expect, the film’s number one asset in my opinion was Liam Neeson. Let’s momentarily set aside the fact that I have a huge man crush on him and will see pretty much anything he’s in, as long as he’s shouting at and/or killing someone.

(But seriously. This man could recite phone book to me and I would be thoroughly entertained.

And if you didn’t think there was a video out there of Liam Neeson reading Justin Bieber lyrics, you haven’t looked through the internet as hard as I have.)

Ahem. Anyway.

Apart from that, he still does well in this role. If another actor were the lead, I’d probably give this movie an average rating. My bro Liam makes it highly enjoyable.

Other assets: since you’re wondering, no, it isn’t a stupid plot. As far as I can tell from my experience, mystery thrillers tend to either play out how you’d expect, or they pleasantly surprise you and keep things interesting. Non-Stop does the second. You won’t be mind-blown or anything by the big reveal, but you probably won’t figure it out, either.

The action is excellent. Just picture everything cool you can do with an unknown enemy, mystery plot and Liam Neeson all mashed together on an airplane, and it’s done in this movie. Liam Neeson makes several takedowns which drew applause from my fellow moviegoers in the theater.

Have I mentioned Liam Neeson yet?

What I didn’t like:

Okay, so when you REALLY look at the plot, you can find a few holes. No gaping ones, but this movie doesn’t exactly hold up under microscopic inspection. I personally don’t care that much. It’s an entertainment film! It’s not supposed to have any grand message or flawless storyline. Its only job is to keep you on the edge of your seat, and I think it accomplishes that.

In conclusion: This movie lives up to its promise, and while it’s not the most mind-wrenching film of the year, it’s one of the most thrilling ones I’ve seen in a while. Plus, you know. Liam Neeson.

Rate: 7 out of 10 Liam Neesons.