Life as a Stuyvesant High School student
Posted by Wei Min Tan on August 17, 2020
By Jeffrey Tan, rising Sophomore, class of 2023
Beep! Beep! Beep! My alarm clock rings as I rub the sleep out of my eyes, fueled by 5 hours of sleep – courtesy of my science teacher’s 4 hour long project that I had decided to procrastinate until last night. I brush my teeth as fast as I can and run to school, barely managing to get to my first class on time. As my music teacher regales the class with facts about how the Harlem Renaissance shaped music, I sneak in bites of my breakfast sandwich (yesterday’s lunch that I wasn’t able to finish).
After music class is over, I rush through the signature crowded high school hallways trying to get to Spanish class on time, while worrying about the math test that’s about to take place in about 1 and a half hours. Minutes pass like hours as the highlight of my day finally arrives: the basketball game that I’m about to play in…if my coach is feeling nice. Our team wins as the captain makes a half court buzzer beater, and the team and I storm the court with joy. However, that feeling quickly dissipates when I remember that I have another test to study for tonight. I get home, do my homework, and sleep at 12 midnight. While it may not seem like the ideal quality of life, that’s a day in the life of a student at the “crown jewel of NYC’s public high school system”.
Do you enjoy Stuy?
One of the questions that I always get asked by rising 8th graders is, “Do you enjoy going to Stuyvesant?” And the response I always give is “Yes!” It’s not the same relaxing environment that students are accustomed to in middle school, but hey. It’s high school. Amid the many tests and challenging courses at Stuyvesant High School, there’s so much more beneath the surface. While people who don’t go to Stuyvesant see crowded hallways of anxious students, I see groups of intellectually curious students running to their classes excited to learn.
While other people hear of the “brutal” tests that give Stuyvesant High School the reputation that it has, I think of the sense of satisfaction that came with studying and getting a 100 on the toughest math test of the year. While other people see the long projects as redundant wastes of their time, I see them as important stepping stones towards full understanding of the topics we learn. The truth is that although as a Stuyvesant student, I get large amounts of homework and am placed in stress inducing environments, the results I get make the Stuyvesant experience totally worth it!
Dealing with the pressure
There’s really two ways to face the competitive environment at Stuyvesant: crumble under the pressure, or take it as something that motivates you to get better. For the student that crumbles, Stuyvesant becomes the nightmare that it’s reputation has come to suggest. However, for the student that is motivated by the competition at Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant becomes a magical place in which they can easily surpass their limits. So the competitive environment at Stuyvesant can really be seen as a blessing. The competitive environment isn’t really something that should come as a surprise though; Stuyvesant’s admissions rate is less than 1%, so you’ll be attending school with the top students in NYC if you decide to go there.
While Stuyvesant is mostly known for what it offers from an academic standpoint, one of the best things about Stuyvesant can be seen after school. At Stuyvesant, there are over 200 student-run clubs and almost every sports team you can think of, so it’s really not an exaggeration when I say that Stuyvesant has something for everyone. If you can’t find any club or extracurricular that appeals to your interests, you can even start a club yourself! One of Stuyvesant’s most impressive showcases of its extracurricular prowess is the annual theatre competition: SING!
The school is divided into three groups – freshmen and sophomores (sophfrosh), juniors, and seniors – and the three groups compete to produce the best play. Every single thing in each of those plays is student-run, including the lighting, props, lines, songs, and music! You can even see the musicians underneath the theatre as well as the student conductor providing the music in real time during the live performances. I remember my first time going to SING!, and the only thought in my mind during the competition was: “There’s no way a bunch of Stuy kids did all this themselves”. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my first year at Stuyvesant, watching three student run plays that felt like they each had the potential to be performed on Broadway.
Barely dipped a pinky into Stuy
All in all, while life as a Stuyvesant student has its ups and downs, I’d have to say that the ups totally outweigh the downs: so much so that it’s not even comparable. The school really has so much to offer to the academically curious students who attend there, and I’ve barely even dipped my pinky toe in it. Even as my first year at Stuyvesant has just ended, I’m still ready and excited for more. So to anyone thinking about applying to NYC public high schools, I would definitely recommend Stuyvesant High School!
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