Using Summer for More Than Vacation

For high school students, summer vacation is a three-month recess to forget the pressures of teachers, homework, grades and tests. For many, it is a time to seek out the sun and engage in some fun. But for others, it also is a period of learning, self-discovery and growth: It’s that first job, a memorable trip, a long-term project or goal attained after hard work. Sharing their memories, high school students wrote essays or talked with DEBORAH BELGUM about their summers.


My mother and my coach inspired me to do this. My mother explained to me that you can’t do anything and make something out of your life unless you do well in school.

At Manual Arts, they have a thing about not focusing on just sports if you are an athlete. They focus on school grades too. They will not let you on the field if you are messing up. You need at least a 2.0 [GPA] to get on the field. Basically, everybody on the team knows that. If you are failing, people will come up to you and say, “Why are you messing up?”


What I learned is that I really care and that if you put your mind to it you can do it. We got an assignment to write three poems overnight. At first, I was looking at the assignment thinking, “Oh, wow. I don’t know if I can do this.” But I finished the first poem in 10 minutes. My teachers and the administrators say I should keep on writing poems. Writing poetry is not really easy, but if you just put your mind to it, it can be done. You can use different kinds of words and mean totally opposite of what you are saying.

I took another English class this summer even though my teacher said not to take two English classes. I signed up for American literature and got a B in it too. I also had football practice in the afternoon and was taking a night class in computers. My teacher said it was going to be a hard task to do it all, but I did it.

PATRICK WASHINGTON, 17, of Los Angeles, a senior at Manual Arts High School, spent his summer retaking contemporary composition, a class he failed the previous school year. He got a B. By improving his grades, he is eligible to play football for the first time in two years.