What makes a Commonwealth student tick? From the classes that capture their attention to their favorite books, foods, and even paradoxes, their interests are hampered only by their imaginations—and, perhaps, the hours in a day.
Throughout his time at Commonwealth, Parth Garg, of Boston, has enjoyed trying new things, though there has been one constant: speedcubing, in which he competes professionally and practices about 1,000 times a week. Keep reading to get to know him and his unique hobby a little better.
Getting to Know You
What is bringing you joy right now?
Getting to be back in the daily routine of school is pretty good.
What are you doing to recharge?
I play a lot of video games, a lot of strategy games. Oh, and I speedcube. (More on that later...)
What is your favorite book (or a book you've re-read)?
I like Agatha Christie. Murder on the Orient Express is quite good. The A.B.C. Murders is really good, too.
What is the most intriguing paradox?
I think the grandfather paradox is quite interesting. It's the idea where you go back in time and kill your grandfather, but then how is that possible if you've never had a grandfather who could make you exist.
What's your favorite comfort food?
I like South Indian food, especially these crepes called dosa.
Pen or Pencil?
Pencil. I can't use pens because I'm left-handed.
Life as a Commonwealth Student (and Beyond)
What are your favorite classes?
Computer Science 1 last year was my favorite. I was able to learn a lot of new things in which I didn't really have any experience, and I was able to make new things.
What has the hybrid learning experience been like thus far?
It's challenging, but I think we're getting better at it. There are a lot of little quirks you have to deal with. It's hard just being on Zoom for six or more hours every day, having to manage your assignments without being in the classroom, and scanning everything because you can't pass in papers.
But, overall, I don't think my work habits have changed that much. I think it's important to use the tools your teachers are giving you.
What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
For extracurricular activities, I am a part of the Math Team and Model U.N. club. Math Team I enjoy because I like math overall, and you get to work with people who share interests that you wouldn't necessarily experience at other schools. And you get to compete a little bit, which is fun, because you have a goal. Model U.N. is a pretty common high school club, and I just do it for fun.
For sports, last year I did sailing and fencing. This year, I did fitness and I'm going to do fencing again. I didn't think I would have enjoyed sports, but I got to try new things, and it's easy to switch if you don't like something—that's one thing I like about sports at Commonwealth. I went to a school in Brookline where you had sports five days a week, and you do your competitive matches on Wednesdays and Fridays, and it just got to be a little too much. Here, it's laid back, but you also get to try new things.
You mentioned that you speedcube; what has that experience been like?
I have been professionally speedcubing [solving twisting puzzles, like Rubik's Cubes, for time] for about six years now. I got a Rubik's Cube when I was eight or so, and my dad taught me to solve it. And then I had the motivation to just want to do everything. So I eventually just learned how to go faster and faster, and embraced other variations. Right now, my average solve time is about eleven seconds, and my best time is six and a half seconds.
From my experiences speedcubing, I've learned how to handle competition. I used to get really frustrated. But now, I don't really think about a clock. You just do what you have to do. It's very systematic; you're just doing a set of steps, a thousand plus times over a couple hours, and there's a rhythm.
There's also less pressure because I practice a lot. Over the summer, I can hammer out multiple thousand solves per day. But now it's maybe 1,000 a week, if I'm lucky.
Overall, I realized that you're going to do as well as you're going to do, so there's no reason to go for those extra points. Just be happy with what you can do. When it comes to academic pressure, I think it's a very good lesson to learn.
What do you see in your future after Commonwealth?
Commonwealth as a whole lets you experience a lot of things. I think I want to do something with computer science, because I like doing and making things like that, but never say never.
How has your Commonwealth experience changed the way you look at the world?
Commonwealth values a diverse education. When I first heard about the Ancient History class last year in which you have to write a six-page research paper, I thought that I was probably going to hate every minute of it, and that I just need to do it for the grade. But then, as I was researching and writing, I learned to experience and enjoy things that I probably wouldn't have tried by myself.
What's your advice for students considering Commonwealth?
I would tell them that you can try as many things as you want here—and fail at as many things as you want, too. Don't be afraid to do something you don't know, to try something you've never tried before. Freshman year is pass/fail for a reason.
Commonwealth as a whole is very helpful. When you don't know something, the teachers are willing to go out of their way to help you. They're committed to you.