Thank You, Ms. DeSurra

Roselind Zeng, Staff Writer

Every high schooler’s dream is to have a “refuge” class— 57 minutes of meltdown time, a few precious moments to collect their thoughts before they have to leap back into the crushing  vice that is the AHS schedule. Of course, it’s hard to picture; but such a classroom does indeed exist on this sprawling campus. As one steps through the threshold of C-109, they are greeted with a cozy atmosphere. Tomes of all sizes line the wall, the Pop! Vinyls’ inquisitive gazes match those of the students at their desks, and the Ravenclaw banner hanging on the wall announces its owner’s greatest treasure: “wit beyond measure.”  All of these things, and many more, can be found when one enters Mrs. DeSurra’s English classroom.

The most wonderful thing about being under Mrs. DeSurra’s tutelage is how at ease everyone seems to be, even when there are about 43 more dialectical journal entries left to be completed and an upcoming essay to be submitted. There is no other way to describe it… she exudes an aura of reassurance and collectedness. Should one find themself rattled by something like an AP Biology test, they’d still inevitably loosen up once they sit down in one of her lessons on the intricacies of Romanticism. Even when that in-class essay proceeds to annihilate everyone’s self-confidence, they all can rest assured that there will be an endless supply of encouraging words to concentrate their efforts on the next attempt. This atmosphere allows for all of her students to pursue their full potential as writers, orators, and analysts, uninhibited by any kind of impossible standard.

Mrs. DeSurra provides a lot of practice, in both the form of classwork and homework— a detail that may be off-putting for some. Though it may be unpleasant to suffer through a mountain of English assignments on any given night, the workload is entirely manageable when properly accounted for in one’s schedule and provides an excellent foundation for the AP track. As a former Sophomore Honors English alumna, I can attest that the preparation I received in her class most definitely aided my transition into AP English Language and Composition. Even though an unmentionable amount of grumbling accompanied all of those worksheets and AP multiple choice tests, all of the graduates of her classes are undoubtedly indebted to her for her dedication to our education.

Of course, a class such as Sophomore Honors English can be punishing at times, if one happens to find themself steamrolled by its schedule and/or their soaring expectations. During these instances, having a empathetic and supportive mentor at one’s side can either amplify or destroy motivation for the subject in question. Mrs. DeSurra’s leniency and understanding during the rough days gives her students the necessary breathing room to start anew. Forgot to put a space in the header? “It’s no biggie, just add it in next time.” No hard copy to turn in? “Print it now, just this once.” It is at times like these when students thank the powers that be for their lot in life.

But for the icing on the cake, the most impressionable thing about Mrs. DeSurra is her sense of humor and her incredibly relatable personality. One of the first memorable instances of this would be the syllabus to her class… a list of guidelines that includes the snippet, “There is also NO gum chewing allowed. You can send me all the ‘but gum chewing helps you remember stuff’ articles you want, but I will tell you to a) go research misophonia and b) rub your hand under your desk and tell me how you feel about gum now.” It was with a collective giggle that the class received this witticism, and a collective sigh of relief; gone was the dread that this would be a year hell-bent on breaking everyone’s resolve with an overbearing instructor. Indeed, she is the opposite of overbearing— there was no shortage of animated discussions and jokes that she would chime in on. On a personal tangent, one of the most hilarious things to have happened in her class was when Mrs. DeSurra tested out on me a dangerous fact that my friend had bestowed upon her: a teacher has the power to override the letter grade of any student. In short, it was certainly… an interesting experience, maintaining a 93 while simultaneously upholding an F for an unnerving ten minutes.

Through all of the cherished moments such as these, Mrs. DeSurra presented to her fifth period, and undoubtedly her every other class, an unforgettable academic year. To our dear tenth grade English teacher, I represent my class in expressing our unending gratitude for all that you’ve done for us. Thank you, Mrs. DeSurra!

-Roselind Zeng, 11, Pow Wow, Staff Writer