Fitz English 2015: The cold, still January air outside gently settled over Fenn. The kind of air that was refreshing upon getting out of the dry superheated air of the car, but grabbed at the inside of your lungs in a raspy way. This raspiness did not help my current condition for I am certain I am coming down with something. Although there is not often much to write about early in the morning I will try my best. This morning I woke up to the sound of the blender downstairs. Although usually an unpleasant sound this morning it seemed softer, gentler. At first I thought it was my radio going haywire but when I opened my eyes I realized it was in fact the blender. Last night I had gone to bed early (about 8:55) in an attempt to fight off whatever I am coming down with. Unfortunately, this resulted in shunning much of my homework so I will have a lot of work to do tonight. Yesterday I had a semi-official wrestling match for the first time in my life. Going into the match I was unsure of what to expect, I just thought to myself that I had to appear confident. "If you can't make it, fake it" echoed in my head as I crouched down and moved up, changing levels and distances away from my opponent. I tried my best to look like I knew what I was doing and ended up taking my opponent down with a sloppy single leg that somehow turned into a headlock. The second and third periods are blurs but somehow I came out on top 13 points to 1. It was an exciting experience that left me gasping for 15 minutes. I can't wait until I wrestle again. Hopefully next time I will have sharpened my moves and learned even more.
It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win.
–John Paul Jones
I stared at the blank screen searching for inspiration. Finding none, I turned my head and looked outside to where the weather was cold and dry. Frost iced the rooftops that were still hidden in shadow from the rays of sun that stretched across the barren landscape. Those same rays just a few months ago had given an overwhelming surplus of heat. That surplus had given my face many a time (and occasionally the rest of my body) a bright red hue. In those days I had wished for the cooling touch of winter, now I longed for the warm rays and long days the summer sun provided. I feel that this longing for different days is often accompanied by repeated days of unpleasant weather, but fortunately weather is often changing and usually pleasant. Unfortunately, the weather today was unchanged and unpleasant matching the past few sunny but cold days. This is the kind of weather that gives me the impression that it is a warm and beautiful day outside until I feel the chill of the cool air outside fortress of sheets and blankets that I amass during the winter. As my eyes moved to the barren branches on the trees, I thought back to the beginning of the year when the air was warm and the excitement for the new school year was almost tangible in the air. I remember the excitement that permeated my being when I discovered that all of my teachers were exceptional (as many are at Fenn).
One of the things I have found incredibly enjoyable is to look back on pieces of writing that I wrote some time ago. This is interesting because tomorrow I won't be the same person as I am today, and today I am not the same person as I was yesterday. Although these changes are minute, they do occur and looking back years (or even months) to see what I have written is a riveting experience. I know, in the future, when thinking of eighth grade, I will look back to my blog where this change (although it has only been months) is already apparent. I can't help but to think about my changes as a writer this term.
In order to tell the tale of how I went from a writer who produced choppy strings of words and knew nothing about punctuation, to where I am now as a writer who produces only semi-choppy strings of words (that occasionally flow nicely) and knows a little bit about grammar, I need to tell you where I started. I believe that my writing journey began when I started to read. In preschool I, as well as my peers, saw no need to learn how to read. I was getting along just fine without reading so when my mom tried to teach it to me I resisted. She came up with a program called "reading workshop" and she sold it to me by making it seem like the best thing in the entire world *spoiler alert* it was. This "reading workshop" transformed me from a toddler who saw no point in reading into a reader that no book was safe from. Whether it was The Magic Treehouse or The Secrets of Droon when I was younger, or more recently, Roots by Alex Haley and the Mississippi v. Darren Wilson Grand Jury Transcript. I have enjoyed almost every book I have ever picked up, but my favorite genre of all time has been fantasy novels. For the next eight or so years after I discovered written language, I was never without a book to dive into during my free time.
After I felt that I had gotten the hang of reading, I attempted my first book. In second grade I set out on a quest to write (by hand) the tale of six children (each character was based off of my best friends) who were orphaned after an earthquake had wiped out civilization while they were at school. These children would inherit magical powers as they fought for survival in what I now would describe as a post apocalyptic world. I attempted an "updated" version in third grade where different friends were used as main characters. In fourth grade we made a weekly newsletter where I experimented with many topics, and in fifth grade I attempted multiple short stories, all of which had to do with magic. Fifth grade was probably the year in which I read the most, with one hundred and ten books under my belt during the school year. After fifth grade, increased school work, as well as other factors began to draw this golden age of reading to a close, but I still read whenever possible. Sixth and seventh grade merited very few attempts at creative writing or at learning grammar as I.S. (Integrated Studies) had us writing papers about social studies instead of what we were crafting our imagination (which I had no problem with as I found this area of writing very intriguing).
This year, after a fantastic trip to Windsor Mountain where I felt that our entire class bonded together, we came back to Fenn and created a blog. I didn't know much about blogs, but I went to work and crafted a green blog with a forest theme that I really liked. I wrote my first two blog posts with a fair amount of ease and thought I was off to a great start. Over the next month I wrote one blog post a day, and then slowed down to an average of one every other day. Every blog post was a learning experience and I believe I have gotten as close to perfection as possible on a few of the pieces in my portfolio (although every time I reread these posts I find an imperfection I must fix). I have spent hours and hours on blog posts (working on the format, endlessly editing them and, of course, crafting them) and I know that I will never be finished working on my blog as my classmates and I continue to strive for perfection. I have had many memorable writing experiences in this past term. One of these was my first podcast. At a lengthy nine minutes it is hardly short or to the point, but it is a start and something I hope to do more of in the future (especially in the winter term). The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is a timeless classic that we read and wrote about. I enjoyed crafting an essay about the major themes in this riveting novel. These are just two, out of many standout points in the past term.
I look now at how much I have grown as a writer. Fifty blog posts through the year, I now understand grammar and punctuation like I never thought was possible (although I still have a long way to go). "Practice makes perfect." A quote that has been uttered thousands of times to children making a first attempt at sports or to a student struggling with math. I find that in no place is this quote more true than it is in writing. If you fail to practice writing, you will fail when you try to write. However, if you practice daily, the blunt tool of the keyboard will transform into a toolbox of opportunity. From this toolbox you can create vivid scenes with words that are rarely used and you can tell the reader exactly how you would say something if you were to read it aloud through punctuation and italics. For me, this is why writing is special. It allows you to communicate precisely to people that you would have never had any contact with if it weren't for your written message.
Another thing that is fantastic about writing is that anyone can do it. It is as simple as connecting a keyboard, uncapping a pen, sharpening a pencil or even drawing in the mud. So as I look at the once blank page now filled with my thoughts in the form of words, I wonder where I would be if I wasn't willing to try something new. What if I never tried to read? What if I never tried to write? What if we were all afraid to try something new? I feel that a fantastic way to go through life is to meet any new opportunity or experience presented to you with enthusiasm and a warm smile. If you do this, it will allow you to the best you possibly can be in everything you try or do. So as the sun has gone down I reflect on how many new things I have tried and how much I have learned over the course of the fall term. I look forward to what is left of my experience at Fenn and to the growth and new opportunities the rest of the year will present to me, as a writer and as a person.
"The American flag is the symbol of our freedom, national pride and history."
The glorious stars and stripes of the American flag are disrespectfully slung through the air sending a pang through the hearts of those witnesses who have sacrificed so much for this flag, now, after standing up thousands of times only to be beaten down while fighting for our freedoms and putting themselves in mortal danger, these battle scarred veterans are too old to stand up for Old Glory and its painful mistreatment. Her colors darkened by the crystal clear kerosene that has permeated her fabric. A lighter is held to the bottom of the consecrated emblem as flames, slowly at first, lick upwards and eventually consume the flag as witnesses watch in a state of helpless horror. Burning the American flag should be illegal because it is a symbol of the United States, it is disruptive and violent, and so many men and women have sacrificed so much for the flag and all it represents.
Old Glory: the flag of The United States of America has been the consecrated symbol of our great republic since the great Civil War. The facts are this: you would never destroy the statue of liberty, you wouldn't loot the White House and any valid citizen would never think deface a memorial! Why should a flag, our flag, the symbol of freedom and justice that is flown from sea to shining sea over the heads of citizens and selfless soldiers alike, be any different? In the words of Frank Sinatra when he wrote to president Bush of his valiant attempt to outlaw this despicable act "I must add that if torching the ultimate symbol of decency and freedom in the world is our generation's expression of freedom of speech then surely the matter now rejected by the court must enter the legislative arena where this monumental wrong must be righted." Frank also mentioned that Old Glory is not only the symbol of the United States of America but burning our emblem is disruptive and violent.
Burning a flag is not peaceful by any means. The first amendment, which I am positive those of us who somehow think that destroying the emblem of our nation is a constructive action, will use as an argument, grants citizens the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government. This is not peaceful, it is violent and disruptive and it should not be legal.
Over 2,750,000 men and women, each with families, each with loved ones, have sacrificed their time and have been killed or wounded in US military combat. Now, somehow some of us have gotten the abstract idea that it is ok to burn the flag these selfless souls died to protect. They sacrificed so that you and I could enjoy the freedoms we have been granted. By burning the flag of our fathers you are disrespecting all who have sacrificed to give you your freedom.
In conclusion, violently destroying the emblem of The United States should be illegal because it is sabotaging the symbol of a country that spreads decency, freedom, and justice across the globe, it is spitting on the graves of those who have sacrificed their mobility, years of their lives, and sometimes their life, so that we have the blessed freedoms which too many take for granted and because it is not protected by the first amendment because destroying a flag is violent and disruptive. This immoral, violent, and destructive act should not be permitted in the United States or anywhere in the world. I hope that you understand why burning this symbol of freedom and justice should be illegal and I hope you move to respect those who have fallen for our country and outlaw it.
In Social Studies we are debating the topic of flag desecration. I was assigned to the anti-desecration side and I thought I would piece together the best arguments I could find and turn the short paragraph we were assigned to do into a well written essay. With this piece I am finding that a writing piece is not finished but it is abandoned as I am continually making edits, and then revising over and over in an attempt to make this essay more vivid, persuasive and moving. This essay does not represent my personal opinions.
"Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand."
- Neil Armstrong
After burning through a fantastic first installment of Sherlock Holmes I have started the second book: The Sign of Four. Promising an even more complex story than the first book, I can't wait to see how Sherlock attempts to solve this puzzling mystery. The mystery is this: The daughter of a British commander who has spent much of his life in India has returned home and has sent a telegram to his daughter. The daughter shows up at the location the telegram said they were to meet, but he has disappeared. Six years later, a box containing a pearl shows up at the daughter's doorstep, this repeats for another six years until the daughter gets a letter telling her to meet a stranger if she wants to right a wrong that has been done to her, and if she wants to discover what happened to her father. So, she naturally enlists the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they head. This mystery seems even more unsolvable than the previous one and has me chomping on the bit to see how Holmes unravels the strings of this misterious tail. The second book of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes seems even more engaging and fantastic than the first and I can't wait to finish reading it!
In Social Studies we have been working on a Legislative Branch project. Myself, Callan, Nolan and Lucas decided to band together and write a bill to the Concord government in hopes of repealing the bylaw that banned the sale of bottled water. I am responsible for the bill and the first and last paragraphs, Nolan wrote the second, Lucas the third and Callan the fourth. I hope you enjoy reading our letter to selectman Lawson!
Dear Selectman Lawson,
We are four boys from The Fenn School down the road from Concord Center. We frequent the town center and love spending time there, except we cannot purchase bottled water. The bottled water ban should be repealed because it is causing Concord residents to drive into other towns to buy bottled water. Unhealthy drinks have not been banned which is forcing more people to buy soda and other readily available unhealthy drinks. Unfortunately the water that can be purchased is awkward to carry. It also causes people to waste drinking water that they don't drink because there are only large amounts of water sold. Another burden on the economy, is that water in other containers (mainly glass) is very expensive. When Concord residents, every week go into other towns and buy water there, they not only are taking money away from the local Concord economy, they are emitting greenhouse gasses in order to get the bottled water. This is causing the problem the ban was supposed to fix. With obesity a growing problem, the last thing we need is to exasperate it by encouraging unhealthy drinks to be consumed while condemning healthy pure water. When someone buys bottled water, it is because they want it to be portable and to be able to quench a slight thirst and these massive bottles . I hope you sponsor our bill or make a bill to repeal the bottled water ban and continue to support the environment.
A problem the ban has caused is Concord residents are forced to commute to other towns so we are able to buy plastic bottles for sports and other occasions. Many of the citizens enjoyed being able to buy a cases of water and have a bottle handy at any moment. One example is my family, we have to travel to a grocery store 20 minutes away to get our water instead of making the quick trip to the local Crosby's in Concord. This also hurts the environment because of all the greenhouse gasses given off in a longer commute. Another effect of buying bottled water in other towns is, the money we're spending on the water could be going to the Concord economy, but instead it's going to other towns in the Concord area.
In Massachusetts, along with the rest of the United States, obesity is a problem for many of the citizens. In the U.S. two in three adults are overweight or obese. As a growing problem it needs to be addressed. One main cause of obesity is drinking unhealthy sodas or energy drinks. With the ban of small sized plastic water bottles, kids in town are almost forced to buy unhealthy drinks. For example, on Tuesdays, Fenn dismisses at 12:45 without giving kids lunch. Many kids like to walk or take the quick ride into the town center for some pizza and dessert. When we go into a place like Comella's or Sorrento's (supporting our local economy), we order our pizza and want a nice, refreshing drink to have with it. If you want a drink which you can carry around with you after you are finished with your meal, water is not an option because there are no bottles that are an acceptable size. I know that Sorrento's offers a pitcher with some cups, but it is unsatisfactory to keep on getting up to go to across the room to where the water is located, and refilling your cup, so that you can quench your thirst with a whopping two ounces. Kids, and even adults will go for the much simpler choice of grabbing a soda, Gatorade or an energy drink. If you have those drinks every once in a while, they are not too bad, but the constant drinking of them is extremely unhealthy and can lead to many more health problems besides obesity. It is too much of a waste to purchase large bottles of water or to have the small cups that only few places offer. We need the much healthier choice of water back into the restaurants, markets and stores.
The ban in Concord has created another problem, specifically with the new bottles. A big number of stores in Concord are selling a new type of water bottle made by the company Voss. These bottles are made out of glass, and have many problems. These bottles are much bigger and bulkier, made out of a harder material, yet the material breaks easily when hit or dropped, and still has a thick plastic top. Another problem is that the bottles cost much more than the plastic ones, and when given the choice between the glass, bulky, expensive, water bottle, and the cheap soda, people choose the easiest and cheapest option. This is one of the biggest problems. We believe that a new water bottle should be instituted to the restaurant or another idea. The ban itself has many issues that have to be worked out, and I think that it should be looked more into.
We urge you to repeal the ban. The bottled water ban should be repealed because it is causing Concord residents to drive to other towns to buy bottled water, unhealthy drinks are now the standard beverage, and the water that can be purchased is awkward to carry and causes people to waste drinking water. The bottled water should be repealed and we hope you attempt to pass new legislation, assist us in our efforts to make this an issue at the next town meeting, and/or help us revise our bill. Thank you for your time.
Our current suggested bill is as follows:
To determine whether the Town will vote to repeal in its entirety the bylaw known as the "Sale Of Drinking Water In Single-Serve PET Bottles Bylaw" passed under Article 32 on April 25, 2012 at the Annual Town Meeting and approved by the Attorney General on September 5, 2012, or take any other action relative thereto.
William Locke, Lucas Lisman, Nolan Moore, and Callan Fries
“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog,
when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
― Jack London
My mind foggily boots from its nightlong slumber. My mom has shaken me and awoken me to another Monday morning. A lot of people don't like Mondays and I don't like them either. Not because it is the beginning of the week, but because people are particularly grouchy on Mondays. I started mentally preparing for the opening day of grouchy people, and for a week of studying for finals when I realized I had been awoken for the move! It was Sunday and I was off to Lynn to help a family from Dorchester move into a new home through Heading Home, a charitable organization that is attempting to end homelessness in the Boston area and day after day they are moving families off of the streets and into permanent housing.
Lynn was a familiar town to me because my grandmother had grown up in it. Filled with beautiful homes and grand buildings it had fallen into disrepair after route 95 was built away from the town and the mill industry had moved south. If you look past the rust, tree stumps, and the peeling paint you can see what was once a grand town that any would have loved to spend time in.
Walking down the alley to the apartment I saw a truck packed to the brim with furniture, furniture, and some more furniture to compliment the furniture. I was handed an extremely heavy box packed with books. I went into the house and inwardly cursed wrestling on Friday for making me sore as I headed up the stairs to the apartment on the second floor. The next hour was a blur of walking to the truck, picking up an object either by myself or sometimes pairing with someone else for the heavier items, heading up the stairs and dropping off the object in its own spot and then heading back down the stairs to repeat the process. Assembling the crib was another memorable process. It started out as about 15 bolts, four panels of wood, two sets of wooden bars, and a base. These abstract parts would soon be screwed, bolted and nailed into a structure that anyone would be proud to say they made. Over the course of the morning the dirty, empty apartment had been transformed into a clean, decorated, and festive home. I couldn't believe how fantastic the apartment looked and I wonder how the family will feel as they go to sleep in their new home for the first time ever. I loved helping with the move and would love to work with Heading Home in the future.
"How often have I said that when you have excluded the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
- The Sign of Four
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
A Study in Scarlet, the first book in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has withstood the test of time and has been hooking readers in for years and years. First published in 1887, it soon captured the awe of all with its now classic tales of mystery, deception, and murder. Made up of many stories (I do not dare say short stories for each is about the length of a normal book) each features Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes attempting to solve mysteries that no other detectives could ever hope to solve.
A Study in Scarlet starts off from the perspective of Dr. Watson, a former doctor in the British military who is injured in the call of duty and finds himself rooming with Sherlock Holmes back in England. Watson, after discovering Sherlock is a private detective, forces him to go on an investigation which will become the most interesting mystery Holmes has ever come across. Doyle masterfully crafts the story from Watson's perspective for the first part of the book. After Sherlock, Watson, and two other detectives have conferred and have shared the clues they have gathered about the murder, a cab driver alerts them a cab is ready. Watson and Sherlock make an exit and the cab driver is reaching into the horse driven cab when Sherlock suddenly slams cuffs onto the wrists of the cab driving murderer. As quickly as Sherlock slammed the cuffs onto the suspect you are whisked away into a story of pioneering and survival in the midwest which is told in the third person. All ages would take an interest in this epic tale, although some may have trouble with the vocabulary. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is certainly the most famous collection of mysteries that one could come across. Doyle keeps the reader interested with vivid description, cliffhangers that make you want to turn to the next page as fast as you possibly can, and active dialogue. Doyle has beautifully crafted this myriad of stories in his own unique style.
I will remember A Study in Scarlet as a fantastic murder mystery. It has sucked me into The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and made me want to read more. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read.
- William Locke
Video games: kids love them, parents hate them. Everyone has played a video game and most kids are familiar with major titles in the genre such as Halo, Destiny and other popular, FPS (first person shooter) games. I have tried quite a few video games but I rarely like them. The Halo franchise has too much violence and shooting, and Call of Duty has made the same mistake. My favorite video game franchise is Assassins Creed, specifically Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag. With a riveting story line, fantastic graphics and a great free play mode it is the best game I have ever played. You begin as a privateer Edward Kenway who's ship has just been sunk. Over the course of the game you upgrade your gear, and ship and battle alongside or against legendary pirates such as Blackbeard. Assassins Creed is my favorite video game because of the riveting story line, fantastic graphics, and its great free play mode. Although now a new Assassins Creed has come out I strongly suggest you try Black Flag first.
I'm William Locke, a Fenn student who loves to write! The more you write the better you get!