Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A day in the busy life of Channing Hancock

by Alexandria Rocha

Channing Hancock has a lot on her plate.

5:50 a.m. MORNING PAPER: Channing Hancock and her father, Russell, read the newspaper over breakfast.

A senior at Gunn High School, Channing's daily routine starts at 6 a.m. with religious class and often doesn't end until after midnight when she finishes her homework. In between is a wide array of events that keep 17-year-old Channing quite possibly, busier than a bee.

     Here's a breakdown of her activities:

* Student body president;

* Eight classes, including four advanced placement courses and one period that's split between choir and yearbook;

7:20 a.m. OFF TO SCHOOL: After attending a religion class in Barron Park, Channing takes classmate Alicia Bena to school.

* Co-founder and editor of Gunn's Partisan Review, a monthly bipartisan political journal;

* Gunn Young Republicans' Club member;

* Track, 300 hurdles and 4-by-4 relay;

* Palo Alto YMCA volunteer, referees kindergarten basketball three hours Saturdays;

* Interact Community Service Club member;

* Church, including religious class mornings before school and president of girls' youth group Wednesday evenings;

7:50 a.m. ON CAMPUS: Marianne Kvitko and Channing cross the Gunn High School campus on the way to AP English class.

* Plays flute, piano and saxophone;

* South Asian Student Organization member;

* Guest opinion Writer for the Oracle, Gunn's student-run newspaper.

     Squeeze in the "Da Vinci Code," lots of family and homework time and 20 applications to colleges such as Brigham Young, Georgetown and Stanford universities and you just about have it nailed down.

     Need a break? Not Channing.

     "I like being busy. I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have a lot to do," she said last week. "All these things matter to me. It's not like I'm doing these things because I feel pressured to or because I feel like I have to."


8:30 a.m. IN CLASS: Channing Hancock, Crystal Le, Noa Bruhis, teacher Paul Dunlap, Adam Dohner and Kate Hendrickson read Thomas Hardy on the floor of Dunlap's classroom.

If that's the case, then all seems ideal. However, the people behind Palo Alto's massive movement to curb high school student stress may find Channing as their ideal poster child. But, she's not buying it.

10:45 a.m. MID-MORNING CRASH: Channing gets a little sleepy during her AP Calculus class. Up since 5:45a.m. she often doesn't get to sleep until 1 or 2 a.m., after finishing hours of homework.

     "To a point, students are stressed out. It's great that we try to reduce that stress, but the overwhelming majority of students at Gunn are high-achieving because they want to be," she said. "Me, I'm busy because I want to be."

11:45 a.m. GO TEAM: Channing rallies her classmates after a meeting discussing plans for the senior class homecoming float.

12:00 p.m. PLANNING SESSION: As students body president for Gunn high School, Channing runs a student government planning meeting for homecoming week events.

2:10 p.m. SHOES ON THE SIDELINES: Channing leaves her shoes and cell phone on the sidelines as she heads out to practices an "airband" routine for homecoming.

2:40 p.m. TAKING THE FIELD: Corina Thompson, Ester Shin, Iliana Berkowitz, Natalya Mashavsky, Channing, Clarissa Quismorio and Laura Bare practice their routine at Fairmeadow Elementary School.

6:00 p.m. DINNER HOUR: Channing helps prepare dinner at her grandmother's house.

10:00 p.m. THE ACADEMY: Channing works on her AP English homework in a room of her house dedicated to studying called "the academy."

10:29 p.m. IT"S GETTING LATE: Channing works on her AP Calculus homework.


    For the most part, Channing seems to float along her busy schedule without any trouble, save for the occasional yawn. Like a 35-year-old man, leaning against his Jeep Wrangler in suit and tie, Channing says it's all about "work hard; play hard." Of course, her play means no homework on Friday nights.

     For as long as she can remember, Channing has always had long school days, but they did increase when she entered high school. And there has only been one time she has felt burnt out. It was third quarter her sophomore year and it lasted about a month. She hasn't felt that way since.


HER FAMILY: The Hancocks (l-r) Sterling, Marguerite, Russell, Sinclair and Channing take an hour for dinner every day. This photo, taken out of sequence, shows the family sharing a meal before Channing's mother, Marguerite, leaves on a business trip to China.

"I've found a lot of tricks to doing things. Not tricks, that sounds like I'm cheating," she said. "It's more like time savers. Like to keep up on my reading, I get the audio so I listen to it while I'm driving. I put my vocab up on my wall while I'm doing my hair. Things like that so I can do two things at once."

     Weekly photographer Norbert von der Groeben spent one of those dawn to midnight school days with Channing, chronicling her throughout the plethora of activities in which she is involved.





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