Dear Chelsea,

I would like to share with you about how perseverance and determination are essential ingredients in success and how important friendship will be in your life.

Since middle school, I have always wanted to learn Chinese. Somehow, I guess I thought it would bring me closer to where I was from and teach me about my culture. I always thought it would be fun to speak Chinese.

Throughout my middle school years at Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA), I continued to hope that the class would be offered. However, the opportunity never presented itself until freshman year when I changed schools. I had to start over, make new friends, and learn how high school worked. I finally met another asian in my band class named T. Apparently asians tend to hang with each other, because throughout the first few years of high school we found many different asians to befriend.

T’s family was completely immersed in Chinese culture. I started spending time with them and hearing Chinese in her house. I never expected Chinese to be offered at Franklin High School (FHS). I mean come on, if they don’t offer it at CPA, why would they offer it at FHS? But during the beginning of second semester of junior year, T and I learned that Williamson County Schools was going to be piloting Mandarin I at four high schools in the district, including FHS, in the fall.

We asked around and learned that administration wanted at least 10 students to sign up for the class so we went to work recruiting everyone we knew to take Chinese next year. We also asked one of our assistant principals if the district was considering Chinese as an honors class, because several students had requested an honors class. The principal told us to have everyone sign up and then it might be possible to make it an honors class, once there were enough students. With the help of our counselor and  assistant principal, T and I checked to see if enough students had signed up for the class several times a week. They were both very patient with us and our excitement about the Chinese class.

After much conversation about an honors level course, we found out the school board would only approve Mandarin I as a standard class and not an honors class. But T and I were not going to give up yet, so it was time for the next step. We created a petition for students that had already signed up for the class.

After several drafts, we decided to send out the petition to the other three Williamson County schools piloting the class. With the help of several friends that are students at Ravenwood, Brentwood, and Independence H.S., we gathered 502 signatures of students who supported our idea.

In addition to a petition with our points clearly stated, we wrote a very persuasive (in my humble opinion:) letter to the county school system explaining why we believed the class should be offered at an honors level.  T and I drove over to the central office and delivered our petition and a letter to the WCS (Williamson County Schools) central office.

The next day we received an e-mail from assistant superintendent, Donna Wright, informing us that after looking over our proposal, WCS had agreed to offer Mandarin I as an honors class!! T and I were so excited that we had accomplished this great goal after several months of trial and error.

When we got back to school, we wrote a heartfelt thank you letter to the school district for allowing the class to become honors.

From this experience, I have learned that both perseverance and determination are essential ingredients in success; also working together–I could have never done this without the equal partnership of my friend T.

Never give up on something you believe in! Always be sure when you start something you don’t quit until you’re satisfied with the results.