Independent reading is a good skill to have, but do you think it’s a skill I have? No. If I had the motivation and time of day to read for my own enjoyment, then I don’t even know. I have to force myself to sit down and read so I can get the points for AR, but all in all, I support independent reading. Independent reading is a base for very important skills that people use in everyday life.
As a school, I feel like we are taking the right steps to encourage independent reading, We have a plethora of different books that accommodate to the diversity of different interests that the students of BHS have. BHS’s library is also a very comfy and cozy environment. Having to keep reminding students of the benefits our library has and being in the library more often should allow students to browse for much more than an AR book.
Going to the library and picking up a number of different books, I selected the book ‘Release’ by Patrick Ness. It is about a boy who is gay and is faced with the struggles of living with a very religious family. I was drawn to this more than the other books I looked through due to how this book can relate to a friend of mine. I could connect with this book because of that friend, and see how a book can depict her situation, I can receive a better understanding of what she is going through. After reading the first paragraph of “Release” we see that the protagonist, Sam, lives in a strict household. He is getting ready to be going to a going away party. Sam wants to escape this small town in Washington, and my expectations for this book are going to be his journey of leaving Frome, Washington. My initial reaction to the first chapter of “release” was how relatable it was. Being a teenager and living with strict parents was pretty relatable.
As McGarry was walking around the room with the purple hat filled with possible topics I would have to argue for, I was pretty nervous. Not nervous in the sense that I was scared, but I was anxious about the possibility of topics I could choose from, I did not want to argue for a topic I didn’t agree with. As McGarry finally made his way to our table, I picked out a slip of paper, unfolded it and read “Abortion-Pro.” I was anything but ecstatic when I read those two simple words. With myself being pro-life and passionate about pro-life I knew this was going to be a challenge, and I knew I was going to struggle to try to argue for something that I have always argued against.
When you type the word “Abortion” in the Google search bar and click enter, the information for Your Loving Choices pops up on the right side, providing you with the phone number, email, website, and address. Other websites such as Planned Parenthood and WebMD, and even a list of very current articles that involve abortion pop up as well. Arguing for abortion, a logical way of approaching it would be talking about how legal abortions are one of the safest surgeries, and illegalizing abortion would put women in an even more uncomfortable position. An ethical issue regarding abortion is for sure women’s rights and religion. People who are pro-choice are usually all for women’s rights. Pro-choice argues that politics shouldn’t be in control of a woman’s body. Pro-life argues that abortion is murder and abortion interferes with their morals. Having religion being a foundation on how you think and how you form your opinions, issues such as abortion draw in a lot of emotion.
Reading the title “a smile,” I immediately thought this was going to be a nice, happy, and laid back poem. Boy was I dead wrong. This poem did everything but make me smile. My first read through this poem had me so lost, and I had no clue what was going on. My initial thought was that it looked like a bunch of words were thrown onto a piece of paper. Having a number of different stanzaic forms for sure threw me off. My first question I would have would be why the different types of stanzaic forms? Why was the poem organized the way it was? I had no idea if it was just for presentation, or if there was some sort of deep philosophical meaning behind it.
After reading this poem a billion times, and barely knowing what the hell was going on, I came to the conclusion that this poem was about someone who’s hurt, depressed, anything but smiling, faking a smile and painting a persona of happiness. The bear is a metaphor for problems. This person is being chased by his problems, and he can’t escape. I merely thought the title “a smile” was ironic due to this being one of the most depressing poems I’ve read. Well after a discussion in class, we were told that the title is so much more than just the title. It plays a big role into the theme of the poem. So I scratched that idea of the poem being a joke, and started fresh again. I was struggling a lot trying to decipher what in the world was going on. If it weren’t for the help of other classmates and the footnotes at the bottom I would be completely lost. Other than complaining, I was a big fan of the Eagle’s reference and having Hotel California, Already Gone, and Love Will Keep Us Alive being used as allusions throughout the poem.
I’m not saying I disliked the poem, yes it was very confusing, but if it’s a good poem you can’t just read it once and understand what’s going on.
Poetry is so much more than rhyme and putting your emotions into words. I give so much credit to poets, because I have no idea how they do it. I don’t hate nor dislike poetry, it’s just something that doesn’t get me excited. My experience with poetry wasn’t half that bad. It was better than most. Indulging yourself into a piece of work and depicting the meaning of every stanza, line, and word was for sure an experience. I’ve been a fan of the work we’ve read so far in class, except my dislike poem. I thought having to go through the sound and sense questions were a pain, but they honestly really did help with trying to figure out what the meaning of the poems were. Finally being able to understand what a poem’s true meaning was after analyzing felt pretty good, and my dislike for poetry grew smaller and smaller. Writing a poem put me in a completely different perspective. It was pretty difficult, even to think of what to write was hard. When finally coming up with an idea and trying to put my thoughts into a poem is what really threw me off. Having to write a poem, and instead of analyzing one really allowed myself to go more in depth with poetry. There is definitely more to it. Although struggling trying to write in stanzaic form I do prefer it over free verse. It helped me keep my ideas and words organized, instead of spilling my words out on paper. Through all the struggle of reading and analyzing poems, I love the use of repetition in poetry, when it’s used correctly. My like poem, “ O, Captain! My, Captain!” by Walt Whitman, uses repetition throughout the poem. The use of repetition showed the importance of certain words or lines throughout the poem, but it also created a beautiful flow to the poem as well.
Poetry will never be my forte, but I might as well get used to it because it won’t be leaving me anytime soon. Although I have for sure gained a better respect for poetry.
Out of all the six-word short stories, I chose “It costs too much, staying human.” It for sure caught my attention out of all the others in the list. You can really use your thoughts and fill in the blanks. You could take the story to whole other meaning. I wanted my story to take place now in present times. Having the story take place now allows readers to connect about how they feel about current issues. Taking place in a small town in Maine, the story is set in the United States. The United States currently is already messed up in itself. They’re so many controversial issues going on, and a lot of hate. This time and place really set the mood for the story, symbolizing the brokenness not only in the country, but in the protagonist as well. The story revolves around a teenage girl with schizophrenia. All she wants is to be happy, but sadly she is her own worse enemy. She already has to deal with all the problems that being a teenage girl brings, so she really feels like her world is tumbling down. All Wendy, the girl, wants to be is happy. She constantly is surrounded by negativity from her own broken family. They’re embarrassed by her and her mental illness. Her family is very old-fashioned. Everything is done the way it would have been done years past before technology took a toll on the world. Wendy is confused and the schizophrenia doesn’t help one bit. “It costs too much, staying human” ties into the story by Wendy just wanting to be happy. Being happy to her is something that should be free, not bought. She is willing to risk anything and everything just to be happy instead of moping in her sadness. What will it cost for her to be happy?
From the beginning of working on this concept, I was lost. I had a whole other story set in mind, but honestly going through what I previously had, I needed to change my story. There was no connection, there were so many blank spaces that I did not know how to fill. The concept really developed from working on the character development assignment. Getting the point of view from my character changed the story completely. It was easier to come up with a new concept, and much easier to explain than what I had before.
A full week of notes wasn’t as bad as I thought as it was going to be. It was kind of a nice way to ease our way back into the swing of things. Refresh our minds from some of the knowledge that lapsed from our brains, but the second week of school we talked about the elements of a short story. Discussing setting was definitely a game changer for me. I never realized how important the setting of a story really is. I always just thought it was the time and place of a story and had little relevance. The setting plays a huge role in any story, so learning that, I also learned a new term “milieu.” The milieu is defined as the specific feeling of a specific people at a specific time. Talking about this term and comparing into events such as the Salem Witch Trials and the Holocaust really put it into perspective. The milieu isn’t just mood or tone, it really is something deeper than that. I also found out how unoriginal authors really are. Just changing the setting and certain rising action events makes a whole new story. This for sure reminded me of every Nicholas Sparks book ever written. Every exact story is the same! The only thing that I’d consider different would be the setting and character’s names. I don’t understand how Nicholas Sparks is considered an “excellent” author for basically repeating every single one of his stories, but that’s the business and he’s making money.
The second of week school was a little bit of a drag. Monday was really an eye opener showing me that we are really back in school and that my summer is over. Other than reviewing the majority of material that we learned in the past year, it wasn’t that bad. I joined more clubs such as SSA, and environmental club. We also had another football game that we “surprisingly” lost too, but yet again I got to take more and more pictures.
It’s unbelievable that junior year is here already, and i’m in awe at how crazy time flies. Summer honestly felt like a solid 5 minutes, but we’re back in the swing of things and have to go through all the motions that high school brings. The first week of school was okay, nothing out of the extraordinary. Walking through the front doors of Bloomsburg High School the first day at 7:30 AM was the most depressing way to start my week. I just had the best summer of my life, and now I have to spend 180 days waking up early, being stressed over school work, and having to deal with the stench that the sewer next door brings. The only thing that I would consider new would be having new teachers, new classes, and a new schedule, but other than that nothing really. I’m pretty stressed out about this year in general though, trying to balance good grades, maintain a social life, and trying to figure out a plan for what I want to do for the rest of my life. As much as i’m excited to make new memories and such my junior year, I hope it flies by.
Outside of school has been pretty fun for the most part. The perks of being in publications allows me to get into sporting events for free and take pictures, it’s a win-win in my opinion. Even though the first football game was a loss, it was fun being down on the field being able to take pictures and do what I love.
I learned that Emaley travels all around the world to preform different musicals, so that’s pretty neat. I did play for one year and that was stressful in my opinion, so kudos to her. My favorite story would have to be from the TV show “The Office,” in the episode “Stress Relief” in season eight. Dwight Shrute tries to teach fire safety in the office by locking all the doors and heating up the door knobs. He basically smokes up the whole building, making it seem as though the building is really on fire. The whole staff of Dunder Mifflin is in panic, and that lead to Stanley having a heart attack. The rest of the episode is Michael Scott, the regional manager, trying to get his employees to unwind. Everything Michael does trying to distress his staff, just makes it worse. Michael eventually gets his feelings hurt after seeing he is the number one cause of stress at work, so he takes a personal day. The following day he roasts everyone in the office which made them pretty uncomfortable before Stanley burst into laughter, and the rest of the office joined him.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K Rowling
J.K Rowling does nothing but impress me. Although Fantastic Beasts was different than Harry Potter, I very much fell in love with the story and the characters. Newt Scamander is a Minister of Magic for Magical Creatures. His job is to collect and take care of these magical creatures. On his way to New York to complete his job, all the creatures in his suitcase get loose throughout the city. A nomad, a non wizard, Jacob, catches him using magic, so he knocks him out with a spell. A wizard from the Magic Congress of the United States follows him. This wizard, Tina, tries to turn him in after she witnesses him knocking out this nomad. After trying to turn Newt in, Tina and Newt go and try to find the rest of the creatures. They discover that Jacob was bit by one of them, so Newt and Tina make sure that Jacob is with them all the time. The three go to Tina’s house afterward where we then meet the character Queenie, she is Tina’s sister. The four of them go through a wild adventure trying to capture all the creatures. Newt shows them the beauty of them, instead of the reckless image they have been given. Fantastic Beasts again is a great book, if you love to visualize and picture the story in your head this book would be perfect for you. This book brings the wizarding world to life and reading it takes you back to 1926 New York City.
Milk and Honey.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is a beautifully written book of poems. The book is separated into four chapters: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. All involving experiences from violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. I never wanted to put down the book, each and every page had me intrigued. Throughout the poems we see how she has dealt with sexual abuse and being nothing but a “pit stop” to men. There was only one that she knew she loved and someone who loved her, but it was only temporary because he loved her body, not her. As the book comes to a close it becomes empowering instead of heartbreaking. It shows that women are more than enough. You can only go up after you hit rock bottom. Reading through the free verse style of poetry everything flowed and nothing was misplaced. I’ve been nothing but pleased with this book. Rupi Kaur is an artist with words.
Freshman year was a great start to my whole high school experience. I breezed through freshman year with ease and such little effort, but I knew I had to turn it up a notch for my sophomore year. My goals for sophomore year are pretty straightforward. I would like to maintain high nineties in every one of my classes, resulting in a high GPA. To achieve those goals, I want to change my study habits. I don’t want to procrastinate, and push everything off until the very last minute. I want to get all my work done in an orderly manner, making sure I learn the material and have neat organized work. For being in high school and all, we’re still finding ourselves. So I would really like to step out of my comfort zone and try new things I wouldn’t picture myself doing. For example, auditioning for the play and different clubs that I might take interest in. Again, my goals for sophomore year are pretty straightforward, and I can’t wait to see what sophomore year brings.