Saturday, July 08, 2006


b commemorated her sweet sixteen this weekend with a great two-day celebration. on friday, she and a couple of friends made their way to la ronde (the big amusement park just off the island of montreal) for a full day of thrill rides and junk food. they returned at about 11pm, tired but happy. day two of the party was a bit less extravagant — one friend came for a day-long fest of games, food (tacos and arepas homemade by m — yum!), and even a bit of world cup soccer. other than a minor incident in which we had to evacuate the girls due to a house full of smoke, everything went smoothly!

at 16, b is coming into her own. she's become a top student, always near the top of her class. she's a two-sport athlete, competing in soccer and track, and challenging herself at the gym on her 'off' days. she serves as a prefect at westmount high and a leader in her youth group. she talks about, thinks about, and prepares for university on a daily basis. i worry sometimes that she's too driven and too hard on herself (don't know where that comes from), but it's hard not to be impressed with her work ethic and ambition.

i wrote an entire blog entry on her spiritual life a while back, so i won't repeat all of that. i will say that she impresses me pretty much every day with her depth and honesty in wrestling with hard questions about God, faith, and real life. and she too lives up to her name: strong, virtuous, honourable.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

advanced placement

the college board's advanced placement program is an opportunity for motivated students to take on an academic challenge — to complete the equivalent of a year's study in a given subject at the university — and to pass an examination for university credit. these exams are aimed at gifted students in their final two years of high school and are standard fare for students applying to elite universities. but here in quebec, very few schools offer the program — and only one public school in the entire province. thankfully, that happens to be westmount high, the school the girls transferred to this past fall.

this year, b got her first taste of the ap world, taking a pre-ap class in math (roughly the first half of 1st year calculus) and sitting in with the ap english literature students at a lunchtime meeting every week. as a 10th grader (secondary iv here in quebec), she wasn't expected to actually write an exam this year. but the ap english instructor thought that she had a good chance to pass and encouraged her to take a run at it. so she got up early one morning in may and competed with a group of mostly older, high-calibre students.

the exam was a difficult one. she felt pretty confident about the multiple choice, but less so about the essays, especially the poetry question. she left the exam exhausted but relieved, but she didn't have much breathing room as the sat was just around the corner, followed by final exams.

but when all of that ended about a week ago, her thoughts turned to the results of the exam, which were to be made available on july 1. so early saturday morning (just after midnight), we made the call. the result? she passed! after a delicious souvlaki celebration lunch, she has already started considering next year's ap exam strategy (calculus, psychology, or both?!!).

take a bow, b— you've earned it!