During recess, students at the Second High School Attached to Beijing Normal University--like their counterparts across the nation--gather in the courtyard to do calisthenics. This exercise is meant to aid their vision.
Sophie Bai Yang, a senior at a Beijing high school, doing what she's done almost without interruption for years: studying.
Lunchtime brings a welcome break from the classroom at Second High, along with some McDonald's.
Daniel Zhou, in his bedroom at home, plans to study Norwegian and join China’s diplomatic corps.
After lunch, Second High encourages a 15-minute nap, although for many students, it’s just another study hall.
Sophie's parents gave her the larger of the two bedrooms in their Beijing apartment. She has long hoped to join the People's Liberation Army.
Senior Henry Fang Ce, who serves as class monitor, hopes to be an arms dealer someday.
Western culture has left a stronger mark on China’s Jiulinghou (literally, "post-'90s") generation--and on the lockers at Second High--than on any other in history.
Second High student Aidan Liu wipes away his mother Hung Wang’s tears at the Coming of Age ceremony held each May for the seniors. The students write letters to thank their parents.
At the Coming of Age ceremony, students also receive copies of the Chinese constitution.
Moments after logging on to see the gaokao results, Sophie and her mom, Dai Pu, celebrate her marks, which should be enough to get her into prestigious Tsinghua University.
Diplomas ready to be handed out at the Second High graduation in June.

The People's Education Army

An intimate look at a group of elite Beijing high-school students reveals how China's schooling system is one of the resurgent nation's greatest strengths—and biggest weaknesses.

Add New Comment