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Completion of AP class creates social life -- for one night anyway

I always hate the world and everything within it when I first wake up, but this time the feelings were especially strong.

I was tired; it basically came down to that, in spite of the fact that my cell phone read 9 a.m. I was able to remember that the party had happened on a Saturday night, which meant that this was a Sunday, which was very good. There would be no school today, or any productive activity for that matter. Maybe I'd sing a hymn at church, but nothing beyond that.

Not only had I stayed up late the night before, but had been in study sessions for AP U.S. History from 8-10 p.m. for most of the preceding two weeks, followed by a 4-hour test on Friday morning. When I joined that class in September, I was informed of what I was getting myself into -- at least six hours of homework per week, including over the weekends and holidays.

Rumor had it that this class -- referred to as "APUSH" -- was one of the hardest the high school offered. "Homework" included incredible amounts of writing, research and the dreadful "terms."

There would be weekly "essay" tests along with regular quizzes interspersed between. There would also be class discussions on current events, which were also graded (being somewhat of a gunner, this was the easy part for me).

As the first weeks of school unfolded, students were dropping from APUSH like flies, but about 30 of my classmates, along with myself, persevered. It was an intense year -- coupled with other classes, two sports and a weekly column, it often seemed as if there simply weren't enough hours in the week to get it all done.

But somehow in the midst what seemed like excessive homework, great learning took place -- I can tell you everything about the Mayflower Compact or Harding's Presidency that you'll ever need to know.

At the end of the year there is always a party, which provides an opportunity to burn the 3-inch binders that had become so much a part of our lives and acknowledge that we had fought the good fight, that we had finished AP U.S. History.

Suddenly it all came back to me, breaking through my splitting headache like a flood. The APUSH party had been the night before. Picture a get-together of about 25 kids that are willing to subject themselves to this kind of brutal academic punishment, trying to act like partiers. It's hard to shift gears that fast. But thanks to the wonders of caffeinated beverages, it happened.

Personally, I perpetually bobbed my head to music, even when there was none playing, learned the dance routine to Thriller with surprising ease, and descended a neighbor's hilly (and rocky) driveway on a skateboard, seated on my rear and laughing all the way down. I even socialized with a few girls, which is not normal behavior for me. I didn't get anyone's digits, but I'm sure one more drink would have enabled me to cross that threshold.

You should probably understand that I wasn't a complete lamp-shade-on-head life of the party, but I wasn't a wet blanket, either. I held my own. When the group sat around a table, discussing matters which I swore not to mention in this column, I gossiped with the best of them, and when someone complimented me on the shirt I was wearing, I didn't just stand there with a stupid grin on my face but actually thanked her like a normal person.

So now I know what it feels like to have a social life. I have to say that until recently, I didn't tend to get out much. APUSH prevented that from happening for the majority of the school year. But now that that is over, I can begin to live like a normal teenager and enjoy myself for the summer.

Thank you, Mr. Ullyott, for a great year. Maybe between time at the lake, family vacations and bonfires at night, some of us could manage to get together a few times this summer and talk current events. I'm going to miss that class.

Nathan Kitzmann is a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School.