EppsNet Archive: Northwood High School

How to Get an A in Hell


At Northwood High School, Honors Euro Lit is known by its acronym — HEL (pronounced hell) — and widely regarded as the hardest class at the school. In order to get an A in the class for the first semester, my son needed a very high score — around a 98 — on the final exam, didn’t get it, and finished with a semester grade of 89.27 — a high B. If he’d had at least an 89.5, the teacher would have rounded it up to an A. So out of 1,000+ possible points over the course of the semester, an 89.27 means you missed an A by only three or four points. I’ve always encouraged the boy to be proactive with his teachers. Some people call this “sucking up” but I’ve been a teacher myself and I can tell you that teachers like students who are engaged and make… Read more →

What Am I Thinking About?


High school roller hockey starts tonight. To prevent the use of ringers, each kid has to turn in an enlarged color copy of their school ID card. I reminded my son about that requirement last night as he was doing homework in his room. “Why don’t you go ahead and make the copy now while you’re thinking about it?” I said. “I’m not thinking about it,” he said. “You are thinking about it.” “What am I thinking about?” “Okay, do it your way,” I said, and left. “What did you come in here for?” he called after me. Hilarity is really going to ensue when he shows up for the game tonight and can’t play because he doesn’t have a copy of his ID card . . . Read more →

11th Grade Reading List


My son and I went to Barnes and Noble in Irvine this weekend to buy the books on his 11th grade Euro Lit reading list: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, Candide by Voltaire, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and The Stranger by Albert Camus. “Have you read any of these books?” I asked the checkout girl. “I’ve read Candide and Pride and Prejudice,” she said. “Candide is fun. Virginia Woolf is kind of a downer though, isn’t she? Didn’t she kill herself? “She did,” the girl admitted. “Doesn’t that set a bad example for the kids?”   The Irvine store didn’t have the edition of Ivan Denisovich that the boy needed but the guy at customer service was able to call around and find a copy at the Aliso Viejo store. The boy was beside… Read more →

The Triumph of My Pedagogical Method


Northwood High School grades came out today. My son got A’s in all of his classes. He won’t know that himself until Saturday night because he’s currently incommunicado at Children of the Corn camp, but the honors classes at Northwood are anything but a slam-dunk A, even for the best students, so we’re very proud of him. He’s become a lot better at managing his time and plotting out academic strategies, down to the level of selecting the right background music for study sessions. He’s still not as proactive with his teachers as I’d like him to be, but behavioral modification takes time. You can offer ideas, but until an idea and the kid’s readiness for the idea converge, nothing happens. Years may go by. For example, he just recently started setting up more study groups with his friends, a mere four years after I first mentioned to him that… Read more →

The Sad Life of the Goalie Parent


Spring season just started for high school roller hockey. My son’s team has two goalies, one who’s really good and a backup who’s not ready yet to play at this level. The coach started the backup goalie at this week’s game. He gave up eight goals and the team lost. His mom was sitting next to my wife during the game. “I wish they’d take him out,” she said. She was almost crying. I am so glad my son doesn’t play goalie. Every kid makes mistakes and every kid has bad games but the highs and lows for goalies are too extreme. Read more →

The Giving Tree


From the weekly Northwood High School bulletin: Do you like reading? Do you like children? Do you like children but not reading? Or reading but not children? Come to the Giving Tree meetings every Monday in Mr. Emery’s room 1103. Read more →

My Kid Gets a New Nickname


The counselor also stressed that colleges are looking for well-rounded kids, not just academic standouts. “If you’re talking about well-rounded kids, you’re talking about Casey,” I said. “He’s like a sphere, that’s how well-rounded he is.” “That can be his new nickname,” she said. “Sphere.” “I like it!” Read more →

The Best Counselor Ever


We were at Northwood High today for an academic planning session with my son and his counselor. One of the things the counselor went over in the college prep handbook was a section on interview tips. “At a private school like USC,” she told the boy, “you can schedule an interview with them if you think that will help your candidacy.” “UCLA won’t let you do that,” I added. “They don’t want to talk to you.” I went through the application process at both schools so I know all about it. “None of the UC schools will do an interview with you,” she said. “It’s very impersonal,” I said, “like if the DMV ran a university.” “It’s worse. At the DMV, eventually you’ll get to talk to someone.” “By the way,” I said, pointing to a “Joey Ramone, 1951-2001” poster on the wall, “do you think Joey Ramone is a… Read more →

IHF Post-Season Awards


The IHF post-season honors have been announced. My kid was selected to play in the all-star game on April 18, and to receive a Special Achievement Award, sponsored by the Anaheim Ducks and bestowed by the IHF on kids who’ve distinguished themselves off the rink, via academics, community service and extracurricular endeavors. It would be nice if modesty prevented me from mentioning this stuff, but I’m happy to see the boy coming into his own as a well-rounded young man.   Northwood High School dominated the Special Achievement Awards. The IHF has 30 high schools participating, 53 teams and almost 600 kids, of whom 11 were selected for this award. Four of the 11 were from Northwood, showing once again why Northwood owns all other high schools in Orange County and probably the nation . . . Read more →

Rollo Takes a Walk


The Northwood Wind Ensemble went deep into the repertoire at last week’s Irvine Band Festival for some avant-garde pieces, including one called “Rollo Takes a Walk.” “It’s the quirkiest, gayest piece I’ve ever played,” my son said. “Rollo” didn’t have any good percussion parts, just oddball instrumentation with rimshots, slide whistles, etc. “And in measure 126,” he said, “everybody stops playing and says, ‘Rollo…takes…a walk.’” “Hmmmm.” “Except it’s not written into my part so I don’t say it . . . and I play one note on the chimes.” “What note is it?” “An F.” “I’m thinking the Rollo composer could follow up with an entire Rollo suite,” I said. “‘Rollo Takes a Shower,’ ‘Rollo Takes a Test,’ ‘Rollo Takes a Vacation,’ you see where I’m going with this?” “Stop being stupid,” he said. “Why is it stupid? Because you didn’t think of it?” Read more →

The Beauty of Cultural Diversity


My son’s one-eighth Japanese on his mom’s side and the student body at his school is about 40 percent Korean, so when he comes into my room yelling, “YES! I am going to shove it” — punctuated with a fist pump — “at those Koreans tomorrow,” it doesn’t take long to figure out that Japan must have won the World Baseball Classic . . . Read more →

An MVP-Caliber Performance


He said it was “an AYSO 10-and-under caliber trophy.” He doesn’t really care though. He doesn’t display the trophies he already has. He had a great season though, and a great game in the finals. The coach asked him to play defenseman this season — which he’s never played — because they had too many forwards. He made a few mistakes but it turned out to be a great coaching move because he’s probably the strongest skater in the league and the best forwards on other teams got frustrated when they couldn’t just skate around him like they could with all the other defensemen. He’d get my MVP vote, if I had an MVP vote, and if the league had an MVP award, which it doesn’t . . . Read more →

IHF Champions


Northwood won their IHF final game against El Dorado, the number one seed, 5-2. I saw this team at the beginning of the season and said to my son, “You guys are going to lose every game.” He said, “I think we’re going to go undefeated.” It turns out he was closer to being right than I was . . . Read more →

Hockey Haiku


Northwood wins 3-2 IHF Finals next week May the best team win Grammatically incorrect — “best” should be “better” — but it’s okay because I’ve got a poetic license! It’s right here in my wallet . . . Read more →



“Forty percent of the people at my school speak Korean,” my son says. “Or Chinese. I can’t tell the difference.” Read more →

Outside the Lines


It’s the last high school roller hockey game of the regular season. One of the kids’ dads shows up for the first time and asks questions like, “Do they win most of their games?” Do they win most of their games?! Are you kidding?! You should know that. Even if you don’t come to the games, you could ask your kid when he gets home. Another dad has a great answer. “Come over here,” he says. “I want to introduce you to your son.” Over on the moms’ side of the bleachers, they’re talking about financial matters. One woman is sad because they bought their house at the peak of the market and they’re financially stuck in it for the foreseeable future. Another woman almost cries describing how 14 years of contributions to her husband’s 401k have been totally wiped out. Meanwhile on the rink, Northwood dominates Capo Valley pretty… Read more →

How to Get an A in Honors History


First semester grades are out. My son missed getting straight A’s by a point and a half. He had an 88.5 in honors history. He got an A in honors English with a 90.14. The honors classes at Northwood are very demanding. Even the best students get low A’s and high B’s. Three kids got A’s in the history class. The high score was a 91.1. “The 91.1 is Ted,” my son says. We know Ted. “Ted is history. He’s bad at math, average in English, but he knows everything there is to know about history.” “Make sure you touch base with the history teacher,” I say. “Let him know you’re really doing your best for him and ask him what you need to do to get that extra point and a half this semester. He’ll tell you.” “He’ll say, ‘Study hard, get a good score on all the assignments,… Read more →

Semester Break


My wife is telling me that because Northwood finals are over today — Thursday — the boy now has a four-day weekend. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I say. It kind of makes sense to have Friday off, but why Monday? “It’s semester break,” the boy says. “Semester break?!” “That’s right. It’s like the off season.” The off season . . . it’s so ridiculous I have to laugh. “Isn’t it nice you have a funny family?” my wife says. “It’s like the all-star break,” the boy says. Read more →

Drummer Boy


My son had a drum set part in the Northwood Holiday Concert last night . . . Drum set parts are a showcase for high school percussionists because usually they stand at the back of the orchestra, the audience can’t actually see the instruments, and nobody knows what they’re doing. He told me after the concert that was the worst he’d ever played that song but it sounded great to me, maybe because I’m a parent . . . Read more →

The Audition


My son’s a percussionist in the Northwood High Wind Ensemble this year. It’s an advanced ensemble . . . he’s a sophomore and most of the kids in there are juniors and seniors. They had auditions last week for section leader. I asked him leading up to the auditions if he’d been practicing his audition pieces because I never heard him practicing anything. “I practice at school,” he said, “but my chances aren’t very good. There are some older kids who are better than me.” This kid drives me nuts sometimes with his low-key approach to things. My approach to an audition would have been very different. I would have practiced like a madman and showed up ready to kick some ass, because I’ve got zero self-confidence and I over-compensate in certain types of situations. Anyway, the results are now in and the boy made section leader after all. I… Read more →

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