Two Achkars Plus One Math Class Equals Success

Siblings find pros and cons in sharing a class.

Andrew Achkar (pictured left) and Marie Achkar (pictured right) studying for a math test together.

Marie Achkar

Andrew Achkar (pictured left) and Marie Achkar (pictured right) studying for a math test together.

Marie Achkar, Staff Writer

A sophomore and a senior: separate grade levels, separate classes, right?

Not for the Achkar siblings.

Marie (senior) and Andrew Achkar (sophomore) are siblings at Saint Joseph High School. On top of driving to school together every day and having to eat at the same dinner table, the siblings also need to sit in a math class with each other — despite the age difference.

Andrew is mathematically gifted while Marie’s talents lie elsewhere, which explains why they are in the same class. And they have found that there are pros and cons.

“I find it to be helpful, but also annoying,” Andrew said. “It’s been helpful to have someone close by to talk about the class with and study together. At the same time, it’s my sister and she isn’t the easiest to work with.”

Marie tends to focus more on the advantages of the arrangement.

“Math is definitely not my strongest subject,” she said. “My brain does not process numbers as quickly as Andrew’s, so it’s nice to yell his name from my room and then, in an instant, help is on its way. I’m not sure he’s always happy about it, but I think it’s great.”

On a recent homework assignment, in fact, Marie’s plea of, “Andrew…help!” tore him away from an intense XBox matchup. It’s hard to say no to an older sibling. The time Andrew spent showing his sister how to work through the problems cost him a victory. But Marie got an “A,” so that was a win of its own. 

Although she is two years older, Marie is not bothered by the fact that her little brother is more advanced in certain areas. She is gifted in other subjects like English and Spanish that Andrew requires more help in, so she repays the favors. 

“It’s a nice trade-off,” Andrew said. “She helps me with writing papers and I help her with math.”

Being in the same house means assistance is only a quick shout away. And as siblings, coaching is easier since they know each other’s quirks, moods and personalities. But also as siblings, they may lose patience with each other quickly. 

In the end, though, the siblings agree that it’s hard to find a better tutor than one you’ve grown up and shared a life with.

On top of being in Mr. Dillon’s Precalculus and Trigonometry Honors class together, the siblings also were together in Mr. Reynolds’s AP Macroeconomics class in the first semester. 

“As much as he annoys me, I am going to miss him a ton next year in college,” Marie said. “He really is my best friend and we’ve gotten closer from being in the same classes together.”

With his sister out of the house next year, Andrew will be on his own in high school — no shouts for help, no running to resolve a homework crisis and no assistance with papers. 

“But I have to be honest, there’s upside,” he said. “I’ll probably win more on XBox.”