As a student in middle school, I loved to explore the lives of different characters in the books I read with my teachers and independently. I was always fascinated by how authors weaved a story together using language and their creativity. I also loved to explore the lives of my friends because all of them were very different from me. We all had different backgrounds, cultures and family experiences which we shared with each other. It changed the way I thought about how people lived and thought about different issues. As an adult, I love to explore new places in different parts of our great city or of our amazing world. Some of my greatest memories from middle school were playing in Mr. Pardalis’ band at IS 125 in Queens. I played the clarinet. The band was the coolest group to be a member of. We were known for putting on the funnest shows in the whole school. We practiced all the time, and with the support of Mr. Pardalis, who always had out-of-the-box ideas, we created standout shows we were proud of. Being in the band taught me about teamwork and risk-taking. It taught me how to feel excited and inspired about my work. I started middle school later than everyone else at the beginning of my seventh-grade year. I had spent two months in the hospital after having surgery. It was difficult coming into a new school where everyone already had developed friendships and was comfortable in class. I got lost that first day and cried on the staircase after lunch! However, I am proud to say I became an honor student throughout my middle and high school career, despite the challenges my health brought me. As an adult, one of my proudest achievements was climbing down the Samaria Gorge on the island of beautiful Crete. It is one of the longest in Europe which I did not know at the time! I was not an athlete nor had I ever hike down anything before. My friends and I thought it would be fun but we didn’t realize what a challenging 10 hour hike it would be! That experience proved to me I have the strength and persistence to accomplish what I choose to do. My hope is that I can help my students discover that in themselves.