In Honors Track, fiction in the new Atlantic, ambitious students form a cheating ring.
WE WERE SEDULOUS. We were driven. Our vocabularies were formidable and constantly expanding. We knew the chemical elements by number and properties, the names and dates of battles in the world’s greatest wars.
We arrived at school early and put in twelve-hour days. Exhaustion was routine. Most of us repelled it with Pepsi or Mountain Dew. Others took a more holistic approach. Neil Casey did a series of deep-breathing exercises; May Wang sipped from a thermos of ginseng tea. Dale Gilman, the vice principal’s son, whom none of the rest of us could stand, rolled his ankles and wrists around while he sat through each class. “It really gets the blood flowing,” he said in his high-pitched voice, even though we never asked him to explain.
. . . The pamphlets we took home from the Guidance Office showed photographs of trees in a perpetual state of October, and students’ faces laughing under jaunty knit caps.
I liked the story — but it made no sense to have the top students taking “honors calculus” in their junior year. They’d take AP Calculus as seniors.