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Finding Purpose in Passions

You may not think that music and physics have much in common, but in reality, they go hand in hand. For most of my life, my feelings toward the two subjects couldn’t have been more different. 

Music has also always been a passion of mine, and at Success Academy, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow in it. I’ve taken Music 300 and Choir 300 as electives, played piano at school performances, created my own bands, and even performed my favorite piano arrangements at the Success Academy Network office. Best of all, I got to take AP Music Theory, one of my favorite self-study courses ever. 

Physics, on the other hand, was always just another subject. But that changed quickly last year, during my junior year of high school. I took an AP Physics intensive through John Hopkins University, which meant 12 hours of homework a week, lab experiment after lab experiment, and a daunting amount of work. Learning a year’s worth of material in three months easily could’ve dissuaded me from ever wanting to study physics again. Instead, I fell in love with it.

The two areas of study intertwined in my final project for AP Physics. As a music lover, I decided to find out how many keys would have to be added to a piano before a key would fall outside the range of human hearing. How many do you think it is? 

It’s six! Can you believe that? The project confirmed my love of physics and my belief that it can be applied anywhere. That’s why I’ll be majoring in chemical physics at Columbia University in the fall, and I hope it will allow me to make as large of a positive impact on the world as I can. I’m also hoping to minor in music and continue pursuing it there by playing in music ensembles and trying out chamber music!

I wouldn’t be heading to Columbia if not for the opportunities I had at Success Academy to pursue my interests. While AP Physics and AP Music Theory are two of my favorites, they’re not the only classes that had a profound impact on my high school experience — I was also lucky enough to take AP classes and earn college credit in Calculus, Literature and Composition, and World History. 

So, now that we know music and physics go together, what if I told you that debate and leadership are just as connected? Debate was my favorite class in middle school, and while you may think of it as simply two opposing viewpoints arguing about a topic, that’s not entirely true. 

More importantly, I learned how to have respectful conversations with people about difficult topics and became motivated to become a leader and give back to the school community. It was the lessons I learned in debate class that inspired me to start Gay-Straight Alliance in high school. 

In my three years as president, I’ve seen dozens of members become more comfortable sharing their experiences and talking about their identities. We’ve also had eight teachers participate in GSA, and it’s always so moving for me to hear their feedback. One of my fondest memories is one teacher telling me, “I wish I had something like GSA when I was in high school.” 

It’s really special to know that I’ve helped out so many people at HSLA-Manhattan, the same school that’s helped me develop in so many ways.

I’ve always had personal interests and passions — every student across the country does. Only some are lucky enough, however, to have a school that provides not only the outlets for freely pursuing those passions but also teachers who are committed to helping me find my own, unique path. I’m so grateful that I did, and I can’t wait for what’s in store next year. 

Rachel Bochman is a senior at SA HSLA-Manhattan who will be starting at Columbia in the fall.

Written by Success Academy April 25, 2023

Subjects: Music HSLA–MA Physics

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