My name is Amelia Orwant, and I have been a CTYer for 5 years. 3 sessions at Roger Williams baby CTY, 1 session at Lancaster, 1 session at Carlisle, and 4 sessions at Baltimore.
Princess of the Blood, Baltimore 18.2 Empress, Baltimore 19.2
What CTY Means to Me
CTY has been a second home to me for 5 years, 9 sessions, and 12 classes. Each of these CTY memories has been a unique and amazing experience that has helped shape me into the person I am today.
I began CTY at Roger Williams in 14.2 taking Science and Engineering (which has now been renamed to Physics and Engineering.) Since then I have been back to Roger Williams, to Carlisle, to Lancaster, and to Baltimore. I was Princess of the Blood at Baltimore 18.2 and will be Empress at Baltimore 19.2.
When I began CTY I didn't have that standard story of feeling that I had finally found a place where I belonged. I did, however, find a place where I wanted to belong. My first year after baby CTY at Roger Williams, I double sessioned at Baltimore. When I first arrived, I was nervous and antisocial. I brought a book with me everywhere I went, and I rarely ventured out from behind it. By the end of those 6 weeks, however, I was the outgoing and quirky CTY student that I had always wanted to be. I was friendly and social towards everyone around me, and I was happier for doing so. Ever since then, the Baltimore campus has been special to me. I have tried new sites first session and had a wonderful time experiencing Lancaster and Carlisle, but I always go back to Baltimore second session. In 17.2 I was close friends with Kathlyn who was appointed empress for 18.2, and she appointed me as her Princess of the Blood for 18.2. Although she couldn't make it back for 18.2, I came as the Princess of the Blood along with the Empress Lynne. Together, we fought for traditions at Baltimore, as it has always been the strictest site and traditions have always been difficult. I will be coming back to Baltimore 19.2 as Empress for the last session of my last year.
Traditions have been an integral part of my CTY experience. I usually site hop first session and return to Baltimore second session, and I've been able to experience a lot of traditions throughout my time at CTY. Traditions are what makes each site and each CTY experience unique while still linking together all CTY sites. Coming to a new site where I don't know anyone, I automatically feel welcomed by those traditions. Even if I haven't spoken to a single person, I can still join in during American Pie, scream the lyrics of Mr Brightside, and rave at social time. The traditions tie CTY together in a way that nothing else could. We call it "nerd camp", and I think that name perfectly describes CTY. We come because we're nerds who want to spend three weeks of our summer learning, but we stay because we meet those other nerds who have made that same decision. CTY is not just about the courses, it is about the community, and traditions are what keeps this community alive, strong, and just a little cult-like.
I have poured my energy into CTY traditions in so many ways. As Princess of the Blood 18.2, I went around handing out 200 traditions calendars that I had made in the 46 weeks I wasn't at CTY. I, along with the Empress Lynne, taught canon dances, songs, and traditions at an activity we ran during the first week. I taught a weekly raving activity then handed out glowsticks during dances so that others could rave. Putting up with the Baltimore administration is not easy, and furthering traditions is even harder. Those traditions, however, are worth fighting for. CTY is a unique place: Students may first come for the amazing classes, but that is not what makes CTY so special. If it were solely the classes, we would take a CTY online course or go to a more easily accessible camp. No, CTY is not the classes. CTY is the community. CTY is the place where students can be themselves, where some make their first attempts at being extroverted and are welcomed for it, where students can all join together and shout lyrics from Mulan's I'll Make a Man out of You without being judged. CTY is the place where the Iris lyrics resonate the most:
And I don't want the world to see me 'Cause I don't think that they'd understand When everything's meant to be broken I just want you to know who I am
CTY is the place where students are able to be themselves without fear of people not understanding. Traditions are the backbone of that community that fosters friendliness. If students are able to let go of their fears of being judged and join hundreds of others dancing enthusiastically to Tunak Tunak Tun, or raise their voices to unapologetically shout "Orgy" during American Pie, they gain not only confidence, but an irreplaceable sense of community.
The CTY community is like no other. Tradition is hugely important to me, but the CTY community is what makes tradition work as well as it does. Nowhere else could a group of nerdy teenagers shouting "die die die die" mean so much. Every CTYer has lived some form of the CTY story: a nerdy, perhaps antisocial, young squirrel arrives at CTY and finds a true home in just three weeks. The friends made at CTY are always unique and quirky in their own way, and for many, they are the first peek at what it's like to be in a community of true academic and social peers. For many, including myself, CTY has been a crucial factor in our personalities and a guide for who we are. The nurturing and welcoming community at CTY is a place where squirrels learn to embrace their who they are, and as forevermores, they can carry what they learned with them for the rest of their lives. This is the reason so many students choose to come back to CTY, to devote time and effort into the traditions, and to teach others about the details of the CTY experience.
It's hard to sum up the CTY community, but in short: I like it, I love it, I CTY it.
Many CTYers, especially those at more tradition-heavy sites, ask my why I keep coming back to Baltimore. The short answer, is that it was the home of my first real CTY experience in becoming more social, and the community there is amazing. This special site, however, deserves more explanation. No other CTY site has the same amount of restrictions: We are walked to and from meals by RAs and carefully herded to every event, and the administration blocks tradition at every step of the way, making even the fight for canon and Passionfruit difficult ones. On top of all this, the administration is often incompetent in far more dangerous ways (see [Hall of Shame: Administration Incompetence]). The site is relatively new, so it has far fewer longstanding traditions than Lancaster or Carlisle. All of these factors might make Baltimore seem like a terrible site, but I would argue just the opposite. Many places, facing that level of difficulty with restrictions on daily life and traditions might fail. Baltimore, however, has managed to not only survive but to thrive.
My Time at CTY
14.2 was my first experience of CTY. My dad went to CTY (Carlisle, 1984), and introduced me to the idea of nerd camp when I was 10. I was eager to sign up to this mythical nerd camp, and I went to Roger Williams Baby CTY. I signed up for Science and Engineering (now Physics of Engineering.) My roommate, Katya, and I were the only female human beings who signed up for this class, and we were in a class of around 20. Although this reflection of the stigma around women in math-based science was upsetting, our class was quite enjoyable. Katya and I were brought closer together by this, and we became great friends. She and I both live in Massachusetts, so we were able to meet up after CTY, and years later I invited her to my bat mitzvah. I was also close friends with Zach and Quinn, two great guys that influenced my first CTY experience for the better. I loved my first time away from home for three weeks, my first time hearing American Pie, and my first time at nerd camp.
Thanks to my RA, Ashley, my instructor, Tina, and my close friends, Katya, Quinn, and Zach. You guys made my first CTY experience a good one!
15.1, I came back to Roger Williams and took Robotics. Nearly matching the gender ratio of my previous year, this class had just 3 female human beings, including myself. By this time, I had become a little less extroverted, but I still enjoyed CTY and made some great friends there. My roommate Maddy was great that year, and I had a wonderful time learning about robotics and enjoying Roger Williams. The dances were especially fun, and Joseppe the pink monkey made an appearance.
Thanks to my RA Carrie who supported me throughout the session and was always kind, to my instructor and TA, and to my roommate Maddy.
15.2, I took Examining the Evidence, a forensic science course at Baby CTY, Roger Williams. It was the first time I had properly experienced double sessioning at CTY, and I ended up getting quite homesick. Since Roger Williams is in Rhode Island, and I live in Massachusetts, I was able to go home for a weekend, but despite that, CTY was great. I wasn't very social at the time, and although I was friendly with many of the people in my class, I didn't make as close friends as I had the previous years or in any of the years to come. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my CTY experience. The course, especially, was a great one. I kept the textbook and read through it many times afterwards to read the fascinating case studies in forensic science. I also enjoyed spending time with Maggie the Maggot, a great friend from that course.
Thanks to my RA, Carrie. She was my RA for both CTY sessions, and really helped make 15.1 and 15.2 great sessions for me. She helped me through homesickness, and was always there for me. Thanks also to my instructor, Natasha for being a great teacher and for introducing us to "whodunnit", which I promptly became addicted to. Thanks also to my entire forensic science class, you guys are great!
16.1 was my first real year at CTY. I took Fast Paced High School Biology at Baltimore, and I loved the course. It was one of the first classes I had taken where I felt consistently challenged and like I was consistently learning. Over the course of this session, I gained a lot of social confidence as well. I began the session bringing over 20 books with me, and I got through a shocking number of them simply by sitting off to the side and reading whenever anything social happened. Slowly, I was pulled more into the social aspect of CTY, and by the end of the session I was more confident and extroverted than I had been in years.
Thanks to my RA Marina who I first met this session and have become closer to throughout my entire CTY experience. Thanks as well to my entire hall and class, especially, Christine and Anjali, and our instructor and TA, Jordan and Darius.
16.2 was the second time I had ever double sessioned, and I was shocked that, unlike the previous year, I did not feel homesick. This was probably due to how amazing 16.1 and 16.2 were for me. I took Math Sequence this session, and I got through a large chunk of Algebra 2. I had originally taken this course to prepare for a placement test at my school, hoping that I could skip up in math. My school had previously only allowed students to skip two grades at a time, and when I had taken a placement test at the end of sixth grade and missed one concept on the eighth grade final, they had not allowed me to skip at all. I signed up for this course with the hope of retaking the placement test, but my school had informed me as the summer began that they no longer allowed students to skip grades. This resulted in some mixed feelings about this course: I was happy to learn math for the sake of learning and I enjoyed it immensely, but the whole time I was worrying about how this would impact my math education during the school year. I ended up homeschooling the next year and continuing with the book I had used that session. In addition to furthering my academic goals, 16.2 also furthered many of my social goals. Coming into 16.2, I was feeling more confident socially but was still nervous about messing up when talking to new people. Over the course of this session, I became even more social. Despite some hall drama, 16.2 was an amazing session for me. I enthusiastically introduced myself to new people and made many new friends. 2016 CTY, especially 16.2, was one of the first times when I felt I could honestly call myself extroverted. Ever since then, I have come back to Baltimore session 2 to experience the amazing sense of community at the site.
Thanks to my RA, Erica, my hall and class, especially Jessa and Amy and the RA JB, who first began to teach me how to rave. Thanks as well to my instructor and TA, Steve and Olivia. You both helped me further my love of math.
In 17.1, I tried Genetics at the Carlisle campus, and after years of Roger Williams and Baltimore, I was able to experience many of the traditions that aren't present anywhere but Carlisle. When I first walked into my dorm with my dad, he immediately recognized it. It turned out that for those three weeks, I stayed in the same building as my dad had 33 years before. My room was just down the hall from where his had been. The second thing I noticed when I first walked in was our door decorations for that year. My RA had made the incredibly specific theme of "bad cat literature puns" which included my personal favorite, "Harry Pawter". Over the course of this session, I learned not only about genetics, but about the traditions at Carlisle, many of which I have brought back to Baltimore. Notable highlights include "Dickie the chubby mermaid" tattoos, our terrible genetics puns and memes ("PC-are you sure about that?"), the GTCA song (A wonderful remake of YMCA), and of course, Geniverse!
Thanks to my RA, Kate, as well as my instructor and TA and the legend RA Sim. Thanks also to my entire class, especially Lily and Guido.
In 17.2 I returned to Baltimore to take Math Sequence for a second time. This session, traditions were a struggle: American Pie was messed up several times, it took until the final dance for Tunak Tunak Tun to be done correctly, Kathlyn, Lynne, and I all shouted the "CTY has a nice butt" afterdance chant at the top of our lungs all the way back from the glass pavilion, but it didn't catch on too well. Overall, traditions could have been better, but the session was still amazing. The abundance of squirrels made things difficult, but it just spurred my desired to spread traditions at Baltimore. Over the 46 weeks of the non-CTY year, I prepared glowsticking activities, traditions calendars, made my personal copy of the Book of Love, and more. This session not only helped me advance in math at my new school, it also made me feel at home. I was surrounded by the welcoming and quirky community of CTY for another summer, which helped me come into a new school with confidence and happiness (albeit with a little PCTYD.)
Thanks to my RA, Yetunde, my teacher and TA, as well as the teacher and TA for the other Math Sequence section. Thanks also to Kathlyn who will forever be my Empress, to the RA Aric who raved with me in the talent show, and to my roommate Annie.
In 18.1 I took Number Theory at Lancaster. Experiencing the Lancaster campus and the traditions there was amazing for me, especially after experiencing Carlisle the year before. The complete insanity of my class was also a plus. In 18.1, I made many amazing friends, expanded my understanding of a lot of math and proofs, experienced a campus where I was not one of the few students raving, and played my first game of BLAMMO. The community at Lancaster session one is really something beautiful and has given me hope for traditions in the future. I explained to many friends from Lancaster session 1 the situation at JHU 18.2, and many have offered to spend their final session of their nevermore year at Baltimore fighting for traditions with me. The community that resulted in this is truly amazing, and it made 18.1 a wonderful session for me.
Thanks to my RA, Megan, my class and hall, especially, Addea, Claire, Ceci, Maria, Mackensie, Laura, Ethan, and Joseph. Thanks also to my instructor and TA, Pomm and Dimby, who taught number theory in an utterly insane and wonderful manner.
18.2 was a mix of absolutely amazing times, utterly horrible situations, and everything in between. I took Neuroscience as Princess of the Blood at Baltimore and poured my energy into class and traditions. I handed out traditions calendars, made announcements, and coordinated with the wonderful Empress Lynne to try to form a CTY community full of traditions. In proper Baltimore fashion, the administration impeded traditions whenever they could. Eventually, this resulted in the Dean of Residential life singling me out and trying to punish me. Remarkably, this was not the worst thing that the administration did 18.2: They failed to deal with an unsafe classroom environment, bullying, and sexual harassment. Despite all of that, I had many amazing friends this session; my class, hall, and cohall were wonderful. I don't know how this session would have gone without them. Despite all of the shit that went down during 18.2, the CTY JHU community survived. The Baltimore community (the students and RAs) is why I come back each and every year and why I have devoted so much energy to this site. In spite of the administration, the community of 18.2 was supportive, welcoming, and kind.
Immense thanks to the entire site this session. Thanks especially to a number of RAs who helped me and many others in dealing with the administration and were supportive kind and fun throughout the session: Kimery, Alexis, Marina, and Matt. Thanks to my hall and class. Normally, I name a few special people from within my class and hall, but this year, everyone was so amazing. Thanks to each and every one of you. Thanks as well to my cohall, especially, Maddy, Carly, Abby, and Melanie. Nobody else would wake up Alexis at 2:00 AM just to shout "vorgy" while laughing uncontrollably. Thanks as well to Alexis, for her response of maintaining eye contact with us while slowly closing and locking her door without saying a word. Thanks also to a number of other special people at the site, including but not limited to: Meera, Anouk, Grace, Barton, and Bradley.
Works on the Essence of CTY
Spirit of CTY
CTY has a vibrant and unique spirit that fosters a sense of irreplaceable community and love. Spirit of CTY hopes to showcase that essence that makes CTY a home for so many students and alumni.
The CTY term "nevermore" comes from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and, at most sites, refers to a CTY student who is aging out of the program. It has become common practice to use the term "forevermore" to convey the continuation of the influence of CTY even beyond a CTYers nevermore year. Below is my CTY Raven.
Once amidst passionfruit dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
Over the curious speech of a not yet forgotten nevermore-
While I teared up, nearly clapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my gloom ignored.
"Tis advice poor," I muttered, "tapping at my gloom ignored-
Tis but a camp and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember the speech from a royalty member,
And each separate loving ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Gloomy, I pondered the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From canon surcease of sorrow - sorrow for my time as a nevermore -
For the rare and radiant camp from which I was a nevermore -
Presently my soul grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,
"No," said I, "sore gloom of CTY is not to be ignored;"
But the fact is I was clapping, and gently some one came rapping,
And so faintly it came tapping, tapping at my gloom ignored,
Yet I could not help but feel it" - here speech ended, then uproar, -
Tis just a camp, but so much more.
Around here I turned my head and, with a blink saw Raven stand,
Towards me danced the stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
"Although thy dance be not raving, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me, Raven, have thou a PCTYD cure?"
Quoth the Raven "Forevermore."