Seniors of CPS: Andrew J.
What’s your favorite memory from CPS?
“Oh, shoot, I should have prepared for this one. Last year, second semester, I was in this weird situation where I was kind of drifting in terms of hanging out with people. I ended up hanging out with a group from last year’s seniors–call them the Ping-Pong Squad, because that’s what we called ourselves. We had a reunion over the winter of this year. We met up at a hot pot place and just hung out. I think that entire day just felt super surreal in that we had the entire group together, we were hanging out like we used to. It just felt so natural, and it felt like we were all together again and that this was our group. It felt really good, I guess. That moment really stood out, especially given how high-stress first semester was… No one asked me about college–no one really cared about that stuff–and it was us hanging out as friends and talking like friends and eating hot pot and chilling and doing whatever we wanted to do. It was a lot of fun…You meet in school, which is a very high-pressure situation, but then you don’t even have to mention grades or anything once when you’re hanging out.”
Who’s the most influential person in your life?
“I think probably my brother. I don’t think that he himself has gone out of his way to teach me anything or do any of that. I feel like one of the things I’ve really noticed as high school has gone on is I’ve tried to model a lot of the things I do around him and how I see him act. I think just in that way he’s been the person that I try to go towards. Obviously, there are some things that we disagree on or I chose actively not to imitate, but I think he’s probably the person that I try to replicate the most.”
Tell me about your pet(s).
“I don’t have any pets right now. Actually, when I was in elementary school we would have a lot of pets. Our first pet was a bunny, we called her ‘Sugar.’ She was really lazy so she just sat in her cage all the time; she got really, really fat. We actually gave her to David [Y.] in, like, third grade or something, because we were traveling and we couldn’t take care of her… I think she was with him for a couple of years before she died. I also had a lot of fishes, but they did not last long.”
What are you most proud of?
“I think when I was coming into CPS I was very much afraid of that… culture where you do a lot of things to try to put them on your college apps or you just try to look good. I think my primary goal going into high school was to do things that you like doing, hang out with people you like hanging out with, and just try to be a good person. Don’t try to, like, be someone that you’re not for the purpose of getting into a good college, or something like that. I thought that as long as I did that, at the end of high school I wouldn’t really have any regrets. I think that’s probably what I’m most proud of in terms of how I approached CPS. I don’t think I have any regrets of how I’ve handled things in the past four years, and I don’t think I’ve really misrepresented who I am, which I’m happy about.”
What is something you want to leave behind at CPS?
“To be frank, I haven’t been the type of person to try to change a lot about CPS. I think I have a lot of opinions, and I’m willing to say those opinions if you ask me about them, but I’ve never been anyone to put myself out there in front of the school and be like, ‘Let’s have a discussion, as a campus, about this thing.’ Because of that, I haven’t really had a significant impact on the culture at CPS. I don’t know, I guess like in terms of a lasting legacy at CPS… honestly, the only thing I could really say is the advice column, but even then, that’s been a thing [in the past]. I think what Jaden and I did was just try to make it a bit more serious. Ideally, with the Radar and the advice column it can eventually develop into a more open forum in which there are a lot of questions that are coming in that are serious and it creates a discussion that can lead to things, but I don’t know if there’s anything that we’ve done other than just trying to get it there, you know?”
(I pointed out the ambiguity in the question, how he interpreted it as CPS legacy and others interpreted it as “what’s something you don’t want to bring with you to college?”)
“Actually, this kind of does relate to what I was saying. I think I was a bit too passive in high school in terms of being someone in the community that is recognizable and actually facilitates discussions and things to talk about. I think in middle school I was very much that person, and I was almost too much that person, so I sort of overcorrected and was more passive. Ideally, it’d be a good mix of that, where I bring up conversations that need to be had and put myself out there a bit more, but not too much to the extent that I don’t feel super comfortable with it. So, I guess going to college I want to be more of an outgoing person. It’s weird; one of the things about me is I’m super right in the middle of introverted and extroverted. I’m slightly tending toward introverted and I think I kind of embraced that side of me a lot more in high school. So, ideally, just being a bit more outgoing and socially out there and talking to new people instead of just closing myself in just as school starts would be my main thing I would try to restart on.”
What’s a story you tell that no one believes?
“I don’t know if I have any. This is kind of sad. I can tell a funny story. So my brother and I were really stupid as children–like, we would just do the dumbest things. Like, I would always hear this story about when my brother was six and I was two and I was just waddling behind him, and he ran up to a beehive and chucked a rock at it and then ran home. He basically just left me there, in front of the beehive, with a bunch of pissed-off bees. But I think the funniest and dumbest thing my brother’s ever done… We used to go to our cousin’s house every weekend, and the cousin is two years older than my brother, so we would hang out a lot. He would have a lot of toys that my brother would want to take. Whenever my brother wanted to take a toy he would throw it out of my cousin’s window and then go downstairs and dig it out of the backyard and then bring it home. One day, it was my cousin’s birthday and he got this helium balloon. My brother really, really wanted it because he really liked the idea that it floated. So he chucked that out the window and then it started floating up and he started crying–like massive crying. And then he called my dad over and pointed to the sky, like ‘My balloon’s gone.’”
What’s your favorite place in the world?
“Wait, that’s hard, that’s really hard to answer. Okay, like the first answer I thought of was my bedroom, because I’m a kind of less naturey/outdoorsy person and I like just staying in my room and calling people and playing games–that’s kind of just what I do. But then I thought about it some more. The place that I feel the most relaxed is honestly just like, floating in the ocean. I don’t know if that makes sense… just, whenever I have to think of a safe place or somewhere where I can destress or not be anxious or anything, it’s just floating in the waves. Whenever I go to a beach and I’m just floating or swimming or whatever, you’re just completely cut off from all of the things that you normally get stressed about. You’re just chilling in a really nice place–like, there are a bunch of fish under you and if you have snorkels or goggles you can see a really beautiful place, but in general you’re just floating there, you don’t have to do anything, you just kind of chill there and you can completely not worry about anything. I think being able to imagine that and go back to that whenever I’m on a beach is a really nice feeling.”
What’s your favorite book of all time?
“Dude, I don’t really read books, I’m not gonna lie. I don’t know if I really like English class books. I’ll say, my favorite types of books are, like, fantasy, kind of unrealistic, but ones where I can relate to the main character… that kind of stuff. Like, I really like the Eragon series. There was a book series I read in middle school that I really liked. The first book, I think, is called Legend. I was pretty into that. Anything, just, kind of unrealistic but also very well written I’m really into.”
If I asked you at age 5 what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you say?
“Probably a mathematician. Yeah. I was… oh man, I was so nerdy as a kid. Honestly, I was pretty nerdy up through elementary school and going into middle school. It was very much that I found out I was good at math very early on, and I was taking a lot of math classes to supplement everything. So back then, my only idea of something I could do was math and I was just like, this is 100% what I want to do in the future, which is very boring. I was also just one of those people who was very not a shoot-for-the-stars kind of person. Like, I had never even conceived of, like, being an astronaut or any of those interesting careers; I was just like, this is what I’m gonna do, just math for the rest of my life.”
What’s something you want to do before you graduate college?
“So, this is something that’s kind of personal–like, I want to get better at this in general–but… I was watching a YouTube video by Yes Theory, who is this channel that promotes a lot of personal betterment and trying to expand your comfort zone and do things you’re not comfortable doing. Basically, one of the members went through this whole thing where they started off running a half marathon, and then a whole marathon, and then they eventually did an ironman, which is super awesome. But I was watching that, and at the same time my mom was starting to care a lot more about her personal fitness, so she’s been doing a lot more running. The weekend after I watched that video, she went to do a quarter marathon so I think like all of these things happened and then at some point I was like, I wanna become better at taking care of my own body and my personal fitness. So one of my goals for college is to run a marathon at some point. Ideally, with some friends I’ve made in college or just some friends who want to do it with me, but I do want to marathon by the time college ends, and I hope I will.”
What’s your biggest regret from your time at CPS?
“It was mainly the ‘putting myself out there’ thing. But like I said before, I think not having regrets coming out of CPS was one of the biggest things I cared about, and I made a lot of decisions off of that, as a framework. Even if I could go back and have the opportunity to put myself out there more, I’m not sure if I would, if that makes sense. I think I’ve changed a lot through CPS and I think I’ve learned a lot of things that I needed to learn going into college.”
Who’s your favorite musical artist?
“I got into Billie Eilish a couple months ago. I first heard ‘Bad Guy’ and I really didn’t like it, and I didn’t really want to listen to her. But then my brother played a couple of her songs when we were driving one day and I was like, ‘Oh, I kind of dig this.’ I think it’s just the vibe that some of her songs create that’s nice to listen to when you’re driving. And honestly, that’s mostly when I listen to music.”
What’s a skill you wish you could have?
“I wish I was one of those people who could do things in front of other people very easily, I guess. I don’t know what it is–I have a lot of anxiety and stage fright when I’m doing things in front of people I think will judge me for it. It always–like 100% of the time–makes me perform worse than I could have by myself. Even with really relaxing things, like video games–if I’m playing with someone I haven’t played before, or someone I know is really good, I get really nervous and then I completely play like crap… And when I played volleyball, whenever I’d actually step on a court I’d play really badly. Or debate–I kind of learned how to suppress it, just because of how many times I had to do it. But I feel like I’m never really good at going on a stage in front of a crowd and being super natural. I think that’s something I’m trying to work on more, but also something I really wish that I could just do.”
If there is one thing that you think everyone should know about you, what would it be?
“I honestly have no clue. I’m pretty sure that what people think I am is how I am, I guess. If this is for people who are gonna read this article later on–if you ever wanna chat with someone, just hit me up. I’m, like, really bored in my room.”