As I slunk into my junior year AP English class, I avoided making eye contact with my teacher, Dr. Heitzman. With the brim of my baseball cap pulled down to hide my face, my first priority was to find a nice hiding spot in the back of the room. It was the first week of school, and Dr. Heitzman was handing back our essays on our summer reading assignment. I had become quite accustomed to dealing with teachers who had "had the pleasure of teaching" my ever-so-talented, brilliant, saintly, near-perfect, God-like (in fact, she might even be in the Rolodex at the White House and Vatican) sister, Leslie. Dr. Heitzman had already made the connection that I was "Leslie's brother" and assured me that she only expected half the excellence that Leslie demonstrated and that would still guarantee me a solid A.
As I was attempting to disappear into my seat, Dr. Heitzman announced to the class that a rare occurrence had taken place; someone's essay had earned an A+. Knowing it could not be mine, I slouched even further into my chair. Dr. Heitzman continued, "Sorry to disappoint the female population in the class, but this time the best essay was written by a boy." At first this meant nothing to me. However, since I was also taking AP Probability and Statistics and I realized there were only three males in the class, statistically I concluded that I had a 33 1/3 percent chance of being that guy. I sat up straight and lifted the brim of my hat above my eyes. Watching her intently, I suddenly found myself praying that her panning eyes would find me in the back of the room. As she got out of her seat and came toward my desk, my pulse quickened, and I almost fell out of my chair. She handed me my essay, requesting that I read it to the rest of the class.
I was so shocked that I almost tripped on my way up to the front of the room and mispronounced my own name when I began reading. Then as I began noticing the comments on the paper, they simply read, "HAHAHAHA." It was clear she thought my essay was funny. "Wait a minute É I am pretty darn funny," it dawned on me. I began reading about how The Jungle had almost convinced me, a confirmed carnivore, to join my vegetarian sister in her devotion to soy products. Surprisingly, the normally staid Dr. Heitzman began to crack up laughing. The more she laughed, the more I tried to be funny. It was at that point that I knew that I was going to try to make Dr. Heitzman laugh at everything that I did all year.
I have never worked so hard to impress a teacher. Not only would I make my essays funny, but I extended my humor to journal entries, my vocabulary definitions, my poetic analyses, my daily reports and my verbal responses. I found myself running to class sometimes to be the first in line to grab a seat in the front row so I could be there to look Dr. Heitzman in the eye. My final project of the year best demonstrates how far I went to get a laugh out of Dr. Heitzman. Each student in the class was to put on a "how to" demonstration of anything they wanted, so I decided to teach everyone how to properly apply makeup. (OK, it was a dare.) I am a basketball and soccer player, your typical "jock," so I took everyone by surprise with my project. As I began applying sparkly blue eye shadow, the better to bring out my blue eyes, I looked out into the faces of my classmates and saw a mixture of disbelief and horror. But it was worth it because Dr. Heitzman was clutching the desk to keep from falling to the floor with laughter. (And I won the bet.) It was that bet that capped off a year that changed me considerably -- a year in which a "math guy" discovered he liked to write and to read good literature and that English was his favorite class.
If only every student were lucky enough to have a Dr. Heitzman. If only every person were lucky enough to know someone who pushed, motivated, encouraged, rewarded, shaped and inspired them É and laughed. That year I did not follow in the footsteps of my sister. That year I was Chase Garbarino, Dr. Heitzman's funniest student ever.
Here are a few examples of admission essays written by Hamilton's newest students.
New Canaan, Conn.
Alice Dou Wang
West Chester, Pa.