We caught up with Joel and Tim Mentor - brothers and Harlem Academy graduates - to hear about life at Riverdale.
Talk to me about the start of this school year.
Tim: I boil down sophomore year to it’s basically a harder freshman year with less energy. There’s less of that “I’m ready to try new things,” less of that new school excitement. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s more that now I have to find ways to get interested in the things that I enjoy. Freshman year it was like “everything is cool.” Now I have to learn to pick and choose what my interests are.
Joel: It's true, freshman year is cool. Just getting into the flow of the classes. I like that our first quarter is ungraded. Outside of class, every lunch break I go out with a couple of guys and play Frisbee. It’s really fun.
What subject in school has been most enjoyable?
Tim: My sciences and my history have been fun. I took biology first year and this year I’m taking chemistry. Biology was just a rerun of what we did in seventh grade except more in-depth. Chem is fun because there are a lot of labs, a lot of demonstrative learning. I have always enjoyed chemistry: the periodic table, the decaying of elements, and the making of new ones. History has been fun too. I’ve enjoyed history because it’s more discussion-based than lectures. That’s something I really like.
Joel: You love to talk, we know. I’ve been really enjoying math. The start of this year is stuff I’ve been over. I’m hoping that as I go through it will get more difficult for me. I like history a lot too, but it’s a discussion-based class, and I sometimes I have trouble with that. Tim talks too much; I talk too little.
Any cool extracurriculars?
Tim: I enjoy my club. I’m hopefully going to be a leader soon, maybe in a year or so. It’s BSA, which is the Black Student Alliance. I enjoy it because you can talk about anything and everything. I also play football and wrestle. I’m the starting varsity nosetackle. It’s good stuff, I mean It’s bad when I get triple teamed, but you learn how to cut blocks.
Joel: I play soccer. I wasn’t entirely prepared for preseason [laughs].
Tim: I told you!
Joel: We had to run up the stairs at Riverdale. It’s 117 flights. I had to run up and down that five times. That really killed me. You have to be really fit to do that, and I wasn’t prepared. That was the first day! But sports has been a good way to make friends and get accustomed to theschool. I’m also going to be doing Ultimate Frisbee in the spring.
What have been some challenges for you in adjusting to this school year?
Joel: Definitely the size of Riverdale. Just getting used to it, trying to memorize where each class is, and get to know the school better.
Tim: It’s hard to resist beating up my little brother when I walk by him in the hall [laughter].
What are some goals you are setting for yourself this semester?
Joel: I hope to speak up in my history class. Other than that I definitely want to get more physically fit, which has been more of a personal goal. I’m going to do wrestling in the winter.
Do you feel like Harlem Academy left you well prepared for high school?
Tim: Yeah except for the homework [laughs]. There’s much more homework. Right, Joel?
Joel: Yeah, last year in eighth grade I was against the whole more homework thing. But now going into high school …
Tim: Everything else was perfect. In terms of school culture and everything. The only difference is small scale to large scale, but that is easily overcome.
Joel: Just the size and the homework time. Otherwise Harlem Academy prepared us really well for Riverdale.
Now that the honeymoon is over, do you have any advice for other kids starting their first month of high school?
Tim: I have advice for the month before high school. Get all the sleep you can. You have to stockpile on energy before school starts.
Joel: Do a sport. It helps you make friends before school starts. Try and be friendly at orientation. It’s always good to be at school with friends instead of coming in to lunch and having your own table by yourself.
What are some of your favorite memories from Harlem Academy?
Tim: During the winter we did this whole track and running thing. And I never used to run because I was lazy. The requirement was like eight or nine laps. I would probably give a finger now to have to only do that as opposed to the sprints, pushups, lifting in the weight room, running up and down the stairs. It’s the stark difference between middle school athletics and high school.
Joel: There have been some really funny moments at Harlem Academy. I had fun being the oldest students at school. Plus, Tim wasn’t there so I could be free and not under his wrath.