The Fenn Voice Assignments & Projects Fitz's Blog Design Writing Plans Punctuation Rules TheCraftedWord.org
Fight Or Flight Blog
Over this past summer, I faced many situations in which I had to decide between “fight or flight” as my dad and I hiked across Yosemite. Although we conquered many long and strenuous hikes during our nine day trip, none was like the hike up Half Dome. Days before our journey, we read up about what a trek up Half Dome would really entail. Statistically, it takes somewhat experienced hikers anywhere from 10 to 14 hours to complete, and it is described as “the marathon of hikes”, “the ultimate Yosemite day hike”, as well as “the one you can't die without doing, and the one you're most likely to die while doing.” Once we learned of Half Dome’s reputation, I was a little intimidated. Although we had powered through many arduous trails over the past few days, it was clear that this hike would be the hardest physical activity I have ever endured. For me, Half Dome was my Scylla, and thinking back on it, I feel like I was running through Odysseus’ and Circi’s conversation before he fled from Scylla. “Deadly Charybdis —can’t I possibly cut and run from her and still fight Scylla off when Scylla strikes my men?’ ‘So stubborn!’ the lovely goddess countered. ‘Hell-bent yet again on battle and feats of arms? Can’t you bow to the deathless gods themselves? Scylla’s no mortal, she’s an immortal devastation, terrible, savage, wild, no fighting her, no defense just flee the creature, that’s the only way.” Although Odysseus managed to tame his ego and flee from the six headed beast, I decided that we were worthy to conquer Half Dome. Despite the fact that I could barely stand up from the soreness in my legs the next day, I think that taming that monster was one of the best decisions of my life. The day of that notorious hike, I pushed myself beyond anything I had ever accomplished before and learned that if there’s something that you truly want to achieve, you can succeed, no matter how daunting the task.
The Polyphemus In My Life
By Colby Bloch
Perhaps one of the greatest academic struggles that I face at Fenn is public speaking. As far as I can remember, I’ve considered myself to be relatively quiet and reserved so it’s no surprise that I’m not exactly the most adept at this vital skill. Something about being the center of attention in front of such large crowds makes me considerably more nervous than if I were presenting to a smaller group. At one point, because of my lack of public speaking prowess, I decided that I would simply never conquer my fear of being in the spotlight and hopefully one day I would magically get over this fear. However, this all changed in 7th grade when a classmate of mine, whom I was discussing about Net Neutrality with over the weekend, proposed that we give a presentation about it in All School Meeting. This thought had never even crossed my mind, and I was intimated by just the idea of giving this presentation. With a good deal of encouragement from Liam and the realization that this fear would only be dealt with by experience, I decided to go through with the plan. On the fateful day of the presentation, I stepped up to the stage of Ward Hall with a mix of dread and anticipation. “How did I end up here?” That thought continuously raced through my head as I stared at the auditorium filled with keen and watchful eyes. I saw the blinding glare of the spotlight as it shone from above the heads of the audience. Standing before the podium, I mustered the courage to announce the opening line of the speech. Once it was over, I let out a huge sigh of relief. Although the delivery of my lines wasn’t perfect, I was certainly satisfied with my performance. From that experience, I learned the true importance of taking the initiative and seizing any given opportunity to face my fears, instead of hoping for a savior to arrive or a miracle to occur.
English Activity Reflection
Last week, Adam Aronovitz lead us through an exercise involving the poor but recently liberated country of Minia, and the extremely wealthy and empathetic country of Mara. In summary, the luckless citizens of Minia had been ruled over by more powerful countries for as long as they could remember. However, they had recently regained their freedom, and have been anxious and proud to exercise and keep their sovereignty, as well as stay as independent as possible from outside influence despite the poor conditions of their country. Mara, on the other hand, is considered to be the best off and wealthiest countries in the world. Many of its citizens fell guilty that they have so much, while others have so little, so an envoy has been sent to Minia in order to fix this problem.
In my opinion, problems arose the moment the two countries began to negotiate. This can be attributed to the hubris of both the Minian party and the Maran party. Hubris was exemplified by the Minian party when they were not pushing themselves to understand the point of view of the Marans. Despite the severe lack of resources of the Minians, they arrogantly refused the offers made by the kind and helpful Maran people. Although it may be argued that the Minians were wary of another conquerer, an understanding of the Marans’ point of view as a wealthy and peaceful country looking to give help to those in need would vanquish those fears. The Marans, however, can also be attributed with hubris. When the Minians originally turned down their donations, they were shocked that such a small and seemingly helpless country was rejecting them and their hospitality. They stubbornly held their ground, and refused to negotiate with the fearful Minian party. This made it look to the Minians like the Marans were trying to take advantage of them in some way through their proposal, and thus, they retreated into their turtle shell, continuously denying the Maran offers.
With a little less arrogance and a little more hospitality from both sides of the deal, perhaps the two parties would have left the meeting feeling content, instead of unsatisfied and angry at each other. Despite the benevolent intentions of both sides, they were unable to come to an agreement due to the uncompromising nature of both parties. To conclude, in order to find harmony with people or groups who have drastically different opinions from yourself, you must sometimes shed your hubris or arrogance in order to cultivate a dialogue. Otherwise, you might find yourselves walking away frustrated and discontent just as the Minians did.
How we can improve as leaders and role models
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” - John F. Kennedy
One aspect of the ninth grade year at Fenn which is integral to our experience is our growth and development as leaders. There is no greater skill to learn than that of leadership, because it can be applied to any struggle or difficulty that comes your way in life. However, leadership is not a skill that you are born with. You must gain an understanding of leadership through experience and experience alone. As the 9th grade, we are the role models of the school, and therefore, learning to be great leaders is not only important for our own development as students, but also extremely important in bettering the school as a whole.
Becoming leaders should be the capstone of our Fenn experience for a multitude of reasons. One example of this is that the 9th grade has arguably more influence on the younger students than even teachers do because the students genuinely look up to us as role models. Whether they realize it or not, they are looking at us to set an example for how a student should act. But how can we lead the younger grades without leadership? Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t opportunities in the 9th grade to learn and grow as leaders. In fact, there are actually quite a few of them. We can step up as captains of our sports teams, in the Big Brother program, setting a good example in All School Meeting, or simply by our daily interactions with the younger students in the hallway. While each of these opportunities provide a great foundation for our education as leaders, they provide just that. A foundational understanding of leadership is a great start, but I believe that we can all strive to be better leaders and role models of the Fenn School.
We have the potential to make a lasting and true impact on the school, as well as gain leadership expertise through our many student government positions and committees. From an outside perspective, it seems as if these programs have been unable to get stuff done and make a lasting impression on the school. Whether this is from a severe lack of efficiency in the process of our students, senators, president, and vice president bringing their ideas to light in the past, Fenn simply not giving senators enough time to meet everyday, or some other reason I am not aware of, I don’t know. One thing I do know, however, is that if students were given more unsuperficial ways to visibly leave their mark on the school, they will grow as leaders, and their actions may even influence younger grades to aspire to lead as well. One example of a student turning a relatively unimportant and inconsequential job into an opportunity for leadership was last year, when Theo Randell was running the school store, he truly stepped into the leadership role and held accountability for everything involved with it. If there was a problem that needed to be addressed with the behavior of the lower school in line, he would address that in all school meeting. When everyone realized that the spot that the school store was situated in at the time was holding up the line and slowing down the process as a whole, he recommended that the school store be moved to the old makerspace, an idea that has been kept to this day. As upper schoolers, we have more influence than we think, and if something isn’t right we may have the power to fix it
While there are many opportunities at Fenn for leadership growth, there is always room for improvement and nobody is a perfect leader. Some of our leadership programs should be taken more seriously so that we may have a greater visible impact on our Fenn community. Also, there are opportunities to step into the leadership role even if we are fulfilling a seemingly mundane task, and the influence we have over the school as 9th graders should not be underestimated. To conclude, leadership is a life skill that we can use to succeed anywhere our life may take us. It is an integral aspect of our 9th grade career, and it should be a capstone of our Fenn experience.