This was the third time I walked into the doors of Marc Garneau, Stairway #7 entrance, fresh from the summer holiday that seemed to end just as it had begun. The third time, perhaps, but there was still something distinctly new about the school, about the classes, and about me. Was it the new semester smell? Was it the… smile on Mr. Melville’s face? Was it the ability I’d gained to explode things with my mind?

Make no mistake, grade 11 is plenty exciting. Standing close to the top of the school has its perks. Course codes with “U” in them, for example. No more generic “science” or “business” or “computers” classes; try chemistry or biology or physics or accounting or economics or tech design. Us grade 11s also get to play the seniority card: redeemable for any look of admiration anywhere from any grade 9. Life is good.

To paraphrase Stan Lee, “With great power comes a great workload.” This is nowhere more evident than in grade 11, with the possible exception of grade 12, first semester. In grade 11, there’s no time to horse around: every minute goes into work or some extracurricular to please the university gods. Friendships give way to scholarships, and parties give way to (study) parties. Grade 11 means triple-checking that essay to find the elusive punctuation error(s). Grade 11 means sleeping on time, waking up on time, and getting to school on time. Grade 11 means actually picking up that textbook and reading it.

Grade 11 starts on the second week. Wish us luck, we’ll need it.