I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.
Walking into a new school, I remember my excitement as I finally got my own locker, my stress as I struggled to open that locker, and my uncertainty as I stepped into my 1st Period class. I was unaware of the experiences that lay ahead of me, but I proudly told all of my old classmates that we didn’t have science class, we had biology, chemistry, and physics. We didn’t raise our hands, we had Socratic seminars. We, the students, delved deeper, and we became resources for each other.
Throughout my years, I’ve taken classes ranging from Calculus to Tragic Hero to Anatomy. The BASIS Curriculum is kind of like Spotify but for classes, subjects, and topics, giving its students a taste of each genre, and within each genre, a countless variety of songs. And through this effort, it has given me a sense of direction for my future.
I may be a biology person, but I only know that that’s true after taking five years of biology, plus one year each of anatomy, genetics, and neuroscience. I still remember the class full of twelve-year-olds buzzing with excitement as we dissected minks for the first time. My over-enthusiasm, my ceaseless buzz, made me oblivious to the fact that I had walked through the hallways and to my next class with lab goggles still on my face, and that moment sent me on a hunt for more of these hands-on opportunities both inside and outside of school. Back then, I would never have thought of conducting research in high school, but now, it’s become a crucial part of my academic journey.
During my time at BASIS Peoria, I’ve gained the confidence to seek seemingly intimidating experiences, and I’ve developed the kind of curiosity that encourages me to travel to new places, and in new directions. I haven’t merely learned facts; I’ve become passionate about the topics I study, and I strive to not only absorb information but also to contribute to each of these subjects.
But as much as I love biology, each year I find new subjects that I’m curious about. I never thought I’d enjoy a history class, but after taking AP U.S. Government during my freshman year, I started researching current events and policies, and even joined Model UN. Who knew that I’d become an even bigger bookworm, but Post-AP World Literature allowed me to find my favorite book of all time (“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel; you should read it!) and taught me to fearlessly annotate my books (RIP to my beat-up copy of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”).
So where has my journey led me?
Six years have passed, and I’m now a senior at BASIS Peoria. And while my pride in my school remains, the reasons for that pride have changed drastically, shaped by the people, the memories, the opportunities that, for me, define my school.
I asked former alumni and current students this question: what is BASIS Peoria to you?
These were some of their answers:
“The hardest high school you could possibly attend, and the best choice you could possibly make.”
“BASIS Peoria led to so many post-grad opportunities. I used the study skills I learned at our school and applied them to my college classes. Our BASIS Peoria teachers really mentored me, and I felt like I could freely explore and do whatever I wanted with my life.”
“It was the best experience I could have hoped for. The best part of it was being able to learn life skills from the passionate teachers and brilliant classmates around me both in and out of the classroom. I have come to recognize BASIS Peoria as my second family because of how closely I have grown to know and love many of the people here.”
“The BASIS Curriculum can be difficult; there’s no way getting around that. But the dedication and work you put in over time is what helps you succeed, thrive, and inevitably stay. This is what I learned in my five years at BASIS Peoria, and it’s why I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In short, our journeys as individual students are not independent, and what truly sets BASIS Peoria apart is its relationships. I’ve known some of my peers for ten years and some of my teachers for five, and they have been woven into my story. From Mr. Tran feeding our first period class Belvita, to Ms. Grant letting us throw a muffin-and-cucumber-sandwich party a la “The Importance of Being Earnest,” to Mr. Estes egging on a mock Greek battle, our teachers teach us to love the subjects they teach as much as they do. That is remarkable. Despite being a senior and only having five class periods, I still find myself roaming the hallways, discussing anything and everything with my teachers, sitting in the backs of classes I don’t even take, and passing out stickers while serving as a TA.
I have realized that merely meeting expectations simply doesn’t satisfy the students, teachers, or staff. By constantly striving to surpass the standards set out for us, we are able to achieve the level of excellence for which we – the students of BASIS Peoria – are now well known. This common goal unites us, and it’s what makes us Scorpions (yeah!)
The BASIS Peoria community is diverse, motivated, eager to learn, open-minded, close-knit, and creative. With our “we’re all in this together” mentality, we’ve certainly come a long way. As graduation nears, I know we’ll be the frontrunners, the leaders, the movers-and-shakers wherever we go. No doubt, we’ll be challenged in the years to come. But I’m reminded of a quote from Paulo Coelho’s novel “The Alchemist”:
“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.”
Seoyoon Kim is a senior at BASIS Peoria. In her free time she enjoys Zumba, sticker collecting/sharing, and playing her flute.