Freshman Lily Hager


Lily Hager, Staff Reporter

As I stare at the set of numbers on the whiteboard, I yearn to discover their puzzle. As I stare, wondering the system’s secrets, my brain subconsciously clicks. Constantly as I stare at the numbers I discover more. The intensity of my brain causes fire inside my head as I discover so much. These puzzles. I know how to solve them.

School always came easily for me. Grades weren’t something I needed to worry about growing up. Except, for me, there was a better option than going through the motions. I didn’t know it at the time, but teachers began noticing me, and they tracked me down.

I’ve been in GT classes since fourth grade. Before then, even I had my own perceptions about the students who would leave my “regular” class with their tote of notebooks and pencils on their way to advanced math and English. These students were “Gifted and Talented,” but who was I? These GT students were confident and brilliant, but who was I? These students were know-it-alls, goody-two-shoes, and nerds, but who was I? I didn’t know.

I am GT.

Living a GT life without knowing it provided me with expectations I physically could not fill. Walking into math class, I would see a warm-up question on the board. Within seconds, I calculated it in my brain, formed strong opinions about it, and was able to defend my answer. That’s smart.

The next few minutes would be spent wondering what would happen if one number was quadrupled, how to calculate its factors, and what different shapes could be made out of the numbers themselves. That’s GT.

In my non-GT classes, the deeper thoughts and questions were not acknowledged, and my thinking was rarely challenged. My GT thoughts could never be masked, though. My projects often stood out among others, and when asked to explain my unique angle, I didn’t know how to explain. I wasn’t taught how to my express thoughts in a way that helped others to see it too.

As I tried to provoke discussions with classmates about the phenomenons in my mind about lessons, I received looks as to say, “We aren’t supposed to know Lily, and that’s OK,” but I still ached to find out more. I noticed the disconnect between my mind and the minds of my classmates but what caused it was was unknown to me.

Sometimes, I would receive praise for my differences. “That was beautifully written.” “I can tell you put a lot of work into that.” “I never saw it from that perspective.” I learned later that my unique approach to projects is what GT teachers call “thinking outside the box,” a phrase I ended up hearing on a daily basis.

Sometimes, I would be ridiculed. “I don’t understand why you did this.” “Yours doesn’t look like the others.” “This wasn’t what I was looking for,” teachers told me as they deducted points.

This is what it feels like to be GT. “Gifted and Talented,” as teachers call it. I love the way I think; it makes sense to me, but thinking the way I do would be easier if GT students made up more than just 6 to 10 percent of the American student population.

I’ve had the attention of GT teachers since kindergarten. I remember being pulled out of classes to play with other GT students. I didn’t know why I got to leave, but that environment allowed me to thrive at school.

But it wasn’t until third grade when GT teacher Eva Logan stopped me in the hallway to ask me how I felt about math. Soon after, I began to bond with her during GT testing each day. She stretched my brain and read my secret thoughts. Spending time with her allowed me to forget the feelings I didn’t even realize I had before- my itch for challenge.

By fourth grade, I had excelled in the GT tests and agreed to switch to their classes. Being put into classes with people who thought like me changed the culture of my daily life. I was surrounded by people passionately debating about impossible situations. Their passion was contagious to me, and it lit the fire that had been smoking for years.

Discussions got heated at the end of class in fifth grade GT English when Mrs. Garcia would read “Stories With Holes” by Nathan Levy. She would read a complicated riddle, and my classmates and I would sweat with brain power fighting to find the answer while we spewed possible outcomes. I still remember the first riddle. “The man in the mask was afraid to go home because the man with the mask was there.”

In the GT environment, the most active part of my thoughts were thriving. We fed off of each other and had discussions the lesson plan didn’t expect. It allowed each of us to be comfortable and understanding of each other instead of sticking out in a non-GT class.

With these people, I knew that they had the same story. I could tell they thought like me. They had my difference. The same mended disconnection.

Because of the fast pace of GT classes, I finally began learning every day for the first time in my life.

By middle school, any hesitations about being in GT had faded. I appreciated that GT students ask questions such as “why does this work,” and “why does the ‘why’ work?” Each GT class is adjusted to allow discussion and questions to drive the lesson.

Many GT students have agreed that prejudice causes some bonds between GT students and non-GT students difficult to maintain. When I tell someone I’m in GT, I can see a wall building in their eyes between us which is not easily torn down. I hate that I feel that I may have to hide such a large part of my life from people I meet just so that they can get to know me first.

As someone who’s been in both GT and non-GT, I know that the personalities of the two students varies very little. When all somebody knows about me is I’m in GT, they often assume that I’m stuck-up, nerdy, and cocky.

Being in GT classes in no way means that all I want to do is academic-related. Many trademark activities that teachers and experts say GT students are supposed to love are dreaded by some in GT classes. For example, I dread Socratic seminars while most GT students are pumped up and passionate about the topic we will be discussing.

We’re more like the average student than you think. For all the ways GT students may be seen as different from the rest of the school, we’ve got a lot in common as well, especially when it comes to self-worth or personal opinions. We all have different interests, insecurities, or talents.

As we get older, we are more frequently studied. Our brains intrigue scientists, and they’re constantly trying to learn more about what makes us different.I don’t feel that there is a big answer. I wish I could just let one of those researchers live my life for a day. I think they would find the results could be disappointingly boring.

Since I’ve joined GT classes, I’ve learned to embrace my academic differences because they’ve been properly grown. The GT environment helped me develop strong work ethic and confidence that I have today. Through GT classes, I’m learning how to take my thoughts and spread them to others in a way that can help them to see what I see. My thoughts are clearer now.

As I remember who I used to be, I realize I yearned to discover my puzzle. As I walked, wondering my secrets’ meanings, my brain subconsciously clicked. Constantly as I analyzed my identity, I discovered more. The intensity of my brain caused fire inside my head as I discovered so much. This is me. I’ve found who I am.