Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chapel talk: Ask yourself, "Will it be worth it?"

Math teacher and Peddie alumnus Mark Gartner '84 has been giving a version of this speech for many years, offering a bit of very relevant advice to students at the beginning of the academic year.

You may not know me, but you've seen me on TV. For 5 of the past 6 summers, I've been a stunt double for Bryan Cranston's character, Walter White, on the show Breaking Bad

Not really, but that would have been sweet… In reality, I am Mr. Gartner, and I work here. I’m a Peddie graduate class of 1984. I teach math, coach winter and spring track, work in Trask, and live in Kerr South. 

My Chapel talk begins now. 

It wasn’t worth it. You probably know about the 3 rising sophomores at Council Rock HS who died a couple of weeks ago when the SUV they were in rolled over while driving back from breakfast with their friends. There were 6 kids in the car which was driven by a 15 year old who didn't have a driver’s license. 

That breakfast wasn't worth it. 

 Did you hear a few weeks ago about the USC football player who injured both ankles? He jumped out window from a second floor apartment to get to a pool where his nephew was drowning. It turned out that story was a fabrication. He was climbing down the drainpipe of his girlfriend’s apartment…and fell. Instead of missing the first few games due to injury, he has been suspended from the team. 

It wasn't worth it. 

In both cases, the outcome could have been avoided, and I’ll explain how in a little bit. Until then, I’m going to read an edited short story about blowing up the world. The story is called "The Man from When" and is from the book, World’s Greatest Science Fiction, 1967, and it goes like this: 

It was early evening, and Mr. Smith had just sat down to do some reading on his Kindle when a thunderous explosion quaked through his house. After applying a steadying hand to the living room lamp, he sprinted outside. An incandescent glare a hundred yards from the house destroyed the purple sunset he had been taking a selfie in front of a few minutes before. “OMG!” he said (and then texted, g-chatted, tweeted, and Snapchatted), and ran back inside to hide. 

As Smith was inside gathering his wits, he was further alarmed by a steadily gushing hiss from beyond his open front door. When the sound persisted for a full minute, he went cautiously to the porch to find an intense mist rising from the area of the fiery thing he had viewed moments earlier. Somewhat awed, and thoroughly scared, he watched and waited for about 5 minutes. Just as he was about to go back inside, a man walked out of the mist and said, “Good evening.” 

“Good evening,” said Mr. Smith. “Are you the police?” 
“Oh no,” answered the stranger. “I’m from that,” he said, pointing a finger into the mist.  “My cooling equipment finally kicked into high.” 
“You’re a spaceman,” Smith decided. 
“I came only came a few hundred miles,” shrugged the stranger modestly. “Mostly, I’m a time traveler. The one and ONLY time traveler,” he added with a touch of pride in his voice. 
“The real Captain Kirk, Well come on in and have a seat. Are you from the past or future?” wondered Smith. 
“From the future,” replied the time traveler. 
“Well,” said Smith, sitting down and making himself comfortable, “I guess you’ll want to tell me all about it.” 
The time traveler said, “I had my final time-travel-calculations with the usual plus or minus…and of course it was the minus that had me a little worried.” 
“But you took the chance,” interjected Smith. 
“Naturally. And as it happened, there was SOME minus. Just enough to destroy the world. 
“That is too bad,” Smith commented. 
“Yes. You see, there was such an expenditure of energy that it completely wiped out the Earth of my time. The force blasted me all the way through space to this spot. By the way, I AM sorry if I disturbed you this evening.” 
“It was nothing, nothing at all. Forget it.” 
“Well, in any event, I took the chance and I’m not sorry. A calculated risk, but I still think it was worth it. What do you think?"
Smith commented, “As you said, you took the chance; you proved your point. I suppose it was worth it. By the way, how far from the future did you travel?” 

The time traveler consulted his phone. “Eighteen minutes,” he replied. 
“It wasn't worth it,” said Smith. 

Eighteen minutes. He proved his point to accomplish time travel, but at the cost of the world 18 minutes in the future. 

How many times have you gotten in trouble only to say, “It wasn’t worth it.” after getting caught? 

How about trying this instead? Before you get in trouble and find yourself in the Dean’s Office, the police station, or the morgue, ask yourself, “Will it be worth it if I something bad happens?” Ask yourself, “Will it be worth it?” before making that potentially bad decision. 

Will it be worth it to skip Math class in order to finish your History paper which is due later in the day? Maybe, although it may depend on what you are missing during Math class. Will you miss a quiz? Is skipping class going to be your tenth missed obligation? 

Will it be worth it to smoke pot in your dorm room?  What about getting drunk at the party on Saturday night? I’m unable to think of a party cool enough or a drug powerful enough to make me jeopardize being here at Peddie. 

I have 3 great loves in my life. Mrs. Gartner, my two sons, and Peddie. I desperately want you to have a wonderful experience at our school, but that can only happen if you are here. We've got a regular weekend upon us. That means two days to make good decisions. Make wise choices, and remember to ask yourself before doing something: “Will it be worth it?” 

Let’s have a great year! 

Ala Viva Peddie.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I have some good news

Becky '15 is a contributor to "The Daily Dose," a student run e-publication. Recently she shared some "advice" for students as the newness of the school year wears off...

It’s the second week of school. You’re tired. Your tan is fading. You realize that you’ve forgotten how to annotate and factor and maybe even read. You have no idea how you’re going to make it through the next nine months of binders and textbooks and spiral notebooks. But I have some wisdom to share with you, some advice that’ll make everything ok. And here it is:
The key to academic success is
 P R O C R A S T I N A T I O N
Now, I know what you’re thinking, especially all you overachievers out there.
“Procrastination is terrible!” “Procrastination is evil!” Procrastination is ruining America’s youth!”
But you’re wrong. Procrastination is a good thing. In fact, procrastination is a beautiful thing. It is a shining beacon of light and hope and joy. Procrastination made me who I am today. I believe that true creativity can only flourish in times of procrastination. Once, while avoiding writing an abstract for my sophomore year research paper, I designed a car that ran entirely on iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Just this past week, instead of studying for my math test, I created a life-size replica of Mr. Quinn made entirely of jelly beans and Snapple caps.  Rather than rehearse my Spanish presentation, I actually spent the last two hours writing and illustrating a children’s book about the innumerable hardships of being a squirrel on Peddie’s campus.
Obviously, you get the point; procrastination leads to greatness. And you, too, can achieve that greatness! I guarantee it. Anything is possible when you put your mind to something, and then avoid it for 8 to 12 hours. So throw that math homework under your bed and toss that English reading out the window. The real work begins now.
And, I’ll let you in on a secret.  Instead of doing my work last night, I wrote the 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Home away from home: A special celebration

Dr. Jiang, Chinese teacher and Chinese club advisor, describes Peddie's celebration of the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.

The Chinese Culture Club and the International Student Organization co-sponsored a

Mid-Autumn Festival celebration to observe one of the most important Chinese traditional holidays in the Caspersen History House on Sunday night. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Illuminating center campus

Mecca '16 shares the spirit of center campus

My favorite place at Peddie is center campus, 
especially during the Fall and Spring. 

 I love seeing people working and playing there, enjoying the wonderful weather Peddie is always lucky to have. 

 Watching the boys play frisbee and the girls sit on the benches 
indulging in girl talk are a couple of the things that make center campus so lively.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A new beginning

Sean '15 is president of the International Student Organization (ISO) and welcomed new international students to Peddie this week.

Good evening every one. I am guessing many of you in this room are feeling excited and, at the same time, nervous. Don’t worry. I am too. This is probably the first I am talking in front of such a big crowd at Peddie. It was only two years ago when I sat in those chairs watching Maggie and Xixi giving their speeches. At that moment, I told myself, “When I am a senior, I want to be a leader in this community like Maggie and Xixi.”

Even though I was determined, senior year seemed very far away. And now, here I am giving a speech as an ISO president!

 I learned many things at Peddie like how to use my time efficiently, how to write a good essay, and how to communicate with my teachers. Of course, these are some important things I will need as I continue into my college life. However, the most important thing I learned at Peddie was what kind of person I should be. I came here as an Asian kid who just stayed in his room, not really involved in the school community. To me, life was boring at Peddie and I was reluctant to change. After a year of struggling, I finally realized that I needed to change. I took Mr. Onion’s advice and started track. I became more engaged in extracurricular activities.  I got busier, but I was also happier. With my friends and the faculty around me, I was able to fight through my junior year. I was able to appreciate the opportunity to attend a school like Peddie.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summertime in the desert: A new way of life

Janine '15 participated in the Summer Signature program and designed an experience at a kibbutz in Israel.

Hi, I’m Janine and this summer, I spent most of my time in the desert. For 6 weeks, I learned Chinese and Arabic in Provo, Utah, but here I’m going to talk about my Summer Sig experience in the Negev Desert, in southern Israel.

desert and date orchard

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A fond farewell to the Fringe

Emma '15 says a bitter-sweet "see you later" to a wonderful experience.

I tried to write this last night. I really did. But looking through the pictures from our trip, combined with my body clock still insisting it was four in the morning instead of eleven at night made it impossible to get anything done. I was too tired and melancholy.

In all honesty, I wasn’t ready to leave Scotland, and I know my fellow travelers felt the same way. My parents say that’s the sign of a good vacation, and I see where they’re coming from, but it doesn’t change the fact that boarding the plane home was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.