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两代人对话4: 谁说小中男不吸引人?

S的简介:A is a 10th grader whose academic and extracurricular activities are very strong. He is nationally ranked in Lincoln Douglas (LD) debate and has gone to many prestigious debate competitions. One of these is the Sophomore Throwdown, a debate competition where only the top 18 incoming Sophomores for LD debate can enter. Arnold is also an athete. He is ranked for squash and tennis and continues to play squash at a high level. At his peak, he was ranked 75th in the nation for squash and 4th in the state for tennis. Talk about a high achiever! As most of you might know, debate and sports take up a significant part of one's time. This also shows Arnold's great time management skills as his grades did not suffer one bit. His schedule was so packed, it was hard to even find time to interview him! I hope we can learn a lot from Arnold during this interview.

Question 1: What are the different demands between middle school and high school?(Workload, social life)

The biggest difference between middle school and high school is the change in balance and pressure. Adolescent life is an everlasting struggle for balance between work, extra-curriculars, social life, etc, and high school is especially the time that tests this balance. While middle school is a time of relaxation and little work, and where academic pressures are light, high school is a time where everything counts. Every little test or assignment counts, be it for a semester grade or GPA. Because of the decreasing amount of free time, extra-curriculars are increasingly difficult as well, as one must choose which ones to hold onto and which ones to quit, and this was a struggle I found persistent. At the time when free time is less and less and when popularity and social interactions are more and more important, balancing social life is also extremely hard.

Question 2: What are some of the most important skills to develop in order to be better prepared for high school?

Of course, every incoming and current high schooler hears the same advice — better time management, no procrastination, focus only on schoolwork, etc, and while I agree that this is important, I admittedly never really picked up on that. I still suffer from chronic procrastination, but this hasn’t really hindered my performance. The most important skill is definitely motivation. There is no shortcut to balancing work with extracurriculars and social life, except for motivation. A constant desire for success is the best preparation for high school, because everything you do in high school matters.

Question 3: Given your packed schedule, how do you manage your sports and extracurricular activities with your school work? 

Balancing extracurriculars with school work is probably the most delicate and most talked about balance in high school. There are those that focus too much on sports and let their academic performance suffer, and vice versa. For me, I managed the two through a combination of discipline with motivation, as I talked about above. I never thought of myself as a disciplined work robot, but knowing how much work I had to get done was enough motivation for me to finish my work when I had to. I was never one to set rigid schedules for myself, like when I would do what. All that mattered to me was what I still had to get done, and what I could hold off on. In the end, this was efficient for me in terms of getting all my schoolwork done while working hard in my extracurriculars.

Question 4: About how many hours do you spend on sports, debate and school work in a typical week?

Before my knee injury two months ago, I had three squash lessons a week, each of them an hour long. While this seems short, there’s also the time spent driving to and fro, eating beforehand at the right time, and stretching/resting afterwards. Squash tournaments would take up the entirety of Friday and Saturday, but to my regret, I did not participate in many. What I participated in more was definitely debate. The two hour weekly debate practice was minuscule in comparison to the hours spent cutting cards, compiling cases, and not to mention, at debate tournaments. Because I do the most time-consuming debate event, Lincoln Douglas, I found myself dedicating hours each week to create thousands of pages of prep. Going to several debate tournaments every month, each of which consume the entire weekend, I was in a constant state of preparation, and now I have thousands upon thousands of pages of prep. On the other hand, I find myself less strict when it comes to school. There is no set amount of time I spend working on schoolwork each week. Instead, the time I spend on school work is rather fluid, ranging from about 3 to 6+ hours a day, filling in the spaces between my extracurriculars and cutting into my sleep time.

Question 5: At what time do you usually sleep?

For the bulk of this year, I slept around 1:30 to 2:30, but as my AP exams and debate tournaments have come to a close, I find myself sleeping a bit earlier, around 12:30 to 1:30, which I'm proud of. I also sometimes take 1-2 hour long naps during the day to make up for my late sleep time. 

Question 6: What motivates you in sports and in school? Have you ever felt defeated? If so , how did you pick yourself up?
What motivates me the most in sports and school is definitely a thirst for success, and perhaps even more-so, a fear of failure. By nature, I am an extremely competitive person, and this helped me compete and work hard in all of my activities. The biggest defeat in my sports career came two months ago, when I suffered from a major knee dislocation in a squash tournament. Tearing multiple ligaments and tendons and damaging other parts of my knee, I was in crutches for weeks and therapy three times a week. And while I could talk about the effects of this injury for hours upon hours, I managed to pick myself up because I was able to accept what happened and move on, rather than being angry at myself. 
Even though I won’t be able to play squash again due to the severity of the damage in my knee, I am able to accept this as a part of my life, and I plan on going back to my old sport, tennis, after I recover. Most importantly, I was able to mentally recover because I know that what matters most in these sports isn’t just a number or ranking, but the joy I derive from playing them and the team I play them with. I’ll always be grateful to the lessons I learned in squash, and I know that I'll be happy and grateful with whichever sport I play in the future. It’s this mentality that motivates me in my extracurriculars, and my motivation in school comes from my competitiveness with other students and my thirst for a good performance.
Question 7: How do you work efficiently in school and what are some tips and advice for time management?
To be frank, I do much of my work in school, on the day that assignments are due. In my mind, I am very, very clear on the important assignments I have to do at home, and those that I can finish in school, in periods before they are due. Furthermore, rather than spending massive amounts of time studying, as many of my peers do, I find that being able to pay a lot of attention in class and absorbing it then means that I can cut down on the time spent reviewing. It’s not a question of memorizing the material before the test, but actually learning it.
Question 8: What is your secret to being good at debate?
My success in debate definitely comes from my love for the event. My event is not one in which you can just fool around in and be successful. It requires passion and creativity, being able to make arguments that others haven’t heard before, and being able to always be prepared for an argument. As mentioned above, this means making thousands and thousands of pages of prep, and doing countless hours of drills with others. Being able to think on the spot is also integral to success because of the nature of my event. This was a skill that I had honed since I was young, whether from communicating with friends and parents or thinking on the spot in squash and tennis. Ultimately, I believe that my success in debate is part of my nature, because being able to communicate with others rationally is a strength of mine.
Question 9: What is the most important thing you learned from sports and debate?
My most important lesson in sports and debate came to me this year. Freshman year, all I cared about was performance, performance, performance. In sports and debate, all that mattered was what place I ended up in the tournament, and if I didn’t do well, then it was a waste. All that mattered was rankings, simple numbers. However, this year, I learned that in these events, what is most important isn’t those rankings but the act of doing that event itself. In debate, this meant working with my friends and being able to have fun with them every weekend, sharing joy in events we were passionate about. Especially in sports, after my injury, I learned how truly grateful I was and should have been that I had the gift of being active, of being able to run, swing rackets, hit balls, etc. Before, I thought that something only had meaning if the results were good, but the most important lesson is that those numbers are trivial, that being truly passionate about something means that it will always be important and joyful, no matter the end results.
Question 10: Other than debate and sports, are there any other extracurricular activities that you are involved in?
Other than doing debate and sports, I'm also dedicated to the younger generation. This means teaching debate at the Millburn Institute of Talent and the Millburn Middle School, and helping younger children with public speaking skills through the Voice Club that I created.
S added Q11 and 12 on the spot, which shows his ability to respond quickly.
Question 11: Can you tell us more about the Voice Club?
I started the Voice Club several years ago because I noticed that many younger children, especially in our community, could benefit immensely from being better at speaking and interacting with others. To break down barriers, I created this club to help the younger generation be more comfortable with others and to be able to express their ideas effectively. I believe that these skills are vital not only as a foundation for future activities such as debate, but also for day to day life and communication. 
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