Literacy and Liberty

Gun Violence in Schools: An Epidemic
Posted by: , November 19, 2018, 8:10 am
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Guiding questions:

  1. What is the effect of school shootings and gun violence on faculty and students’ mentality and morale?
  2. How has the response to school shootings changed over time?

Thesis (maybe): School gun violence has a significant impact on students and faculty, not just physically, but mentally as well.  As school shootings have increased in prevalence since the 1999 Columbine shooting, there has been more push for tougher gun laws with more restrictions.  As years have passed and more schools have been affected by gun violence, students’ ability to learn and the faculties’ ability to continue to function in a normal school setting becomes increasingly more challenging.

On April 20th, 2018, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, thousands of students and school faculty walked out of their respective schools to protest gun violence in response to the Parkland High School shooting that happened on Valentine’s Day of the same year.  My high school in Virginia, Douglas Southall Freeman, gave the students and faculty the option, after much deliberation, to partake in the nationwide event. At 10 A.M., hundreds of students from my school stood up and walked out of the class, many with protest posters in hand.  We all congregated on the baseball field, and a group of students began to read the names of the students and teachers who lost their lives in Parkland, as well as descriptions of their lives and their achievements. We had a minute of silence after each name was read. While the megaphone used did not quite reach the whole crowd, every person understood the importance of those moments of silence.  Throughout the United States, the prevalence of gun violence is high. There is no doubt gun violence is U.S. schools has an impact on both the students and faculty, but what is that impact? How do students react differently or similarly around the country, and how has the response to gun violence changed since Columbine?

Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 7:19 pm
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Is the key today.

We all grew up getting awards for

Merely showing up to school

And doing our work

Like we were supposed to.

Now, as I grow older,

I feel weak when I

Don’t get a gold star for

Participating in an event

That I don’t care about.

We all participate and

We have been taught that

We should be applauded for

Work we should already be doing.

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 4:37 pm
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My friend wrote a short article for the Washington Post called “I am 18. I belong to the massacre generation.”  In her depressing article, she discusses some of the largest mass shootings in her life time.  She begins the article by stating that her mother knew that the world would be a different place for Julia after 9/11.  It is a brilliant and poignant article about gun violence, one of the hottest topics in the U.S. at the moment.  I, myself, have been interested in this controversial subject for quite a while and would like to do some research on the issue.  In my essay, I would like to discuss school shootings, and their impact on students’ mentality, morale, and their ability to learn.  I think what I want to do is first focus on a single event, then go more broad throughout the essay.  I definitely want to go more in depth on this issue because of its prevalence in the U.S. today.

Sons and Daughters of Dickinson
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 2:23 pm
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Today, I walked to Old West and found my self in the incredibly hot Memorial Hall.  I looked around and, quite frankly, was taken aback by the sparseness of the room at first glance.  I was standing in the middle of the room, sweating, wondering to myself why there were no grandiose statues of war heroes or important figures in history, something that comes to mind for me when I think of memorials.  I live close enough to D.C. that I can take a day trip every once in a while.  Having been there, I was used to seeing the Lincoln Memorial and the new MLK monument.  These memorials are what I think are the epitome of what remembrance should be: big and in your face.  However, as I scanned the room, I looked carefully at the plaques and realized their significance was not to be undermined.  The one I found most intriguing was the plaque memorializing the soldiers from Dickinson who fought in World War II.  “IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF DICKINSON WHO SERVED IN THE ARMED SERVICES OF THE UNITES STATES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR,” it reads, followed by the names of those who served.  This plaque memorializes the people who went to Dickinson and gave their lives for their country.  It was quite profound reading all of the names of the men and women from Dickinson who served.  I realized that a memorials don’t need to be in your face to get their message across. I was concentrated more on the aesthetics rather than the meaning of the memorial itself.  A memorial is about focusing on the memory of something or someone and allows for those looking at and interacting with it to look back on history to better understand the impact of past actions.

Sing to Read
Posted by: , September 20, 2018, 1:10 pm
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Learning to read was difficult for me.  I used to feel so insecure in my kindergarten class that I would pick up a book and pretend to read, even though I was just looking at the words and not absorbing any information.  I felt like it came so easily to everyone else, especially to the kid who supposedly had already read Harry Potter by the time he started school.  While other kids in my class were reading aloud, I was confusing my d’s and b’s.  I don’t know why, but it just didn’t come easily to me.

My parents were a crucial part of learning to read, they would take turns reading to me every night.  They read the whole Harry Potter and Hunger Games series to me, along with many more.  However, during my struggle to read, my mom would do this incredible thing that really helped me understand how letters and words fit together.  She would spell out words in song form.  The first time I remember her singing out a word to me was with the word “the.” “T-H-E spells ‘the’!” my mom would chant every time I came across this word on a page.  As I got older, spelling tests where a challenge for me, so I would ask my mom for help.  The word “appreciate” was especially hard for me, so she made a song.  She made a song for “necessary” and “caterpillar”.

I think the combination of reading to me every night and the fact that my mom adamantly made sure I could read and write turned me into the avid reader I am today.  I love writing essays and reading new books, and I have my parents, specifically my mom, to thank for helping me through my literacy journey.

Cards Against Humanity
Posted by: , September 4, 2018, 5:25 pm
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I played my first game of Cards Against Humanity over the summer at a beach house with some of my friends.  While I do not necessarily like the beach, I will vividly remember picking up a stack of seven cards and reading the outrageous sayings or words. Whether it be about insensitive topics, such as the Holocaust or slavery, or just silly phrases like “selling crack to children,” the game would never cease to make me laugh uncontrollably.  Yes, I love literature and history, but that does not impede the fact that I love to laugh.  I have struggled for many years of my life with depression and anxiety, so laughing was not very common for me.  However, being surrounded by friends and hearing them read aloud the cards each of us had put down made my day so much brighter.  Seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing them explode with laughter when we all heard the card that should most definitely win was such an amazing feeling.  When I would pick up that next card and read what was on it, I would just feel so happy.  The twelve-year-old boy in me was so excited to hear those dirty jokes.  Since this time, I have made even closer friends, and we now play in my friend’s dorm.  This game has helped me make friends because I am always up for a round, even with people I have never met before.  It brings people closer because we all share that love of raunchy humor, and we can all connect over that. While it’s not an integral part of what we learn in schools, like Frankenstein or Paradise Lost, or what we read for pleasure, such as Harry Potter,  I would argue it has still made an impact on my life.