The WW Fenn Decision

No Ghost Writing

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“When a man starts out to build a world, He starts first with                         himself”-Langston Hughes

        For the past three years I have selected a famous speech to memorize and present for the WW Fenn. However, I have come to find that often speeches spoken by prominent people in history, like JFK, were not actually written by the speaker, but rather by a speechwriter. With this in mind, I knew that choosing a piece of literature versus a speech would be a better choice. Barry Hannah, who was an American novelist best describes literature as “history of the soul.” I agree with this statement about literature and began to search for meaningful poems to pick from. I focused my search on poems mostly because they are the easiest way to get a message across in a short time frame (1 minute and 30 seconds). Sometimes it takes a whole book to get a similar message across. Others believe that poetry is “the crown of literature” (Somerset Maugham). With a couple of poems in mind I had an important decision to make around the tone of the poem I would finally select. I chose a more meaningful poem instead of a silly poem. I was especially interested in the writing of Langston Hughes as we had studied the civil rights movement and Hughes was one of the best writers of all time and was an activist in against racism. Hughes’ morals are obvious in his poetry and share a powerful message. In “Let America Be America Again”, he conveys a powerful message about what America has become and that message resonates with me very much. At the beginning he repeats the title and uses parallel structure “Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain.” In parts of the poem he speaks about different types/groups of people who have been neglected “I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land” and provides them with a voice. Here he again uses parallel structure with “I am.” He concludes his poem by speaking how we the people must take back/redeem this America that it used to be. The poem, as it talks about letting America be America, again seems to relate to some of the political battles, topics, arguments today in the battle between Republicans and Democrats. So, in that sense this poem is very relevant to today’s world. In conclusion, the decision of which piece was mostly based on how powerful/meaningful in was. Langston Hughes writing was easy to interrupt because he used many of the writing devices that we learned in the sentence building packet.

 


Friday Mornings at Fenn

The first part of the day

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                        “Every day is a new beginning”-unknown 

            It was a crisp morning, colorful autumn hues made Mother Nature proud. Frosted ground began to thaw as the sun broke through the charcoal colored clouds. This Friday  morning could be any Friday morning and the repetition of events between 7:45-8:15 am week after week is almost comical. Boxes of frosted donuts make their grand entrance through the chipped, weathered door of the gym. This weekly sale attracts students who eagerly wait with their coins clanking in their pockets. The assortment of donuts is spread across the foldable plastic table. The cash box is kept tucked away from arms reach. There is the usual Boston cream, chocolate glazed, and jelly. But the type everyone had their eyes on is the seasonal pumpkin donuts whose numbers are dwindling as the lower schoolers have been first in line. Patiently waiting students handed the clerk their payments and the transactions are complete with a smile and a bite. For the next thirty minutes a series of chrome and silver cars pulled in to the half circle in front of Ward Hall. They are predominantly SUV’s ranging from Chevy Silverado’s to Jeep Grand Cherokees. Each releasing carbon dioxide into the air as parents eagerly drop off their boys. Traffic grinds by until the last student has been dropped off.

            Today’s weather is different weather than usual for New England in October. Arctic wind wrestles with the heat from the south as two competing climates collide. Students flow into the gym lobby lugging their heavy packs of binders, books, and homework and almost on queue drop them exactly where they stop walking. Inside heavy down-coats are taken off. Students stroll into the gym and reach for the deflated Wilson basketballs in the bin - picking them up and launching them into the frayed nylon nets of the hoop. Groups of friends congregate and start a pick-up game of which always turn competitive. On the opposite side of the wooden gym floor the soccer players start their own games. The shoes of the players move the well-worn ball across the hardwood floor in hopes of putting it into the opponent’s net. On the other side of campus is the library. Natural light seeps through the large glass panes and provides the readers perfect visibility. Some admittedly rush to complete their homework in a last minute push before the day’s start. Book bags are spread across the oak tables. There is  steady stream of students walking between the library and gym until the clock strikes 8:15 am and all students file away into their advisory to start the long day. There is a chaos to these mornings that repeats itself each week. At times it grows a little old, but for now I will cherish them as their numbers are decreasing each and every day of 9th grade.

 


How do you respond to new experiences and meeting new people who are very different from you?

Unexpected Friends

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We were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be.”

~ Ishmael (Chapter 10 from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick)

           They often say you cannot judge a book by its cover and I know first hand that this expression applies to people as well. I have found over the years that sometime it is those who may seem at first the most different from me, that turn out to be good friends, partners, or teammates. In the fall of 8th grade, I joined the Teen Leadership Corps at Cradles to Crayons. As I drove into the Brighton headquarters I was immediately having second thoughts given that I didn’t know a single person who I was  going to be working with for the next six months. The group was made up of teens from the Metro Boston area. As I walked past the bins of clothing at the back of the warehouse, those that had already arrived for our first meeting were sitting on a series of short bleachers arranged in a semicircle. At first glance, not a single person was smiling or making eye contact with me, or anyone else. There were just a lot of people looking down at their phones and waiting for the leader to start the meeting. Reluctantly, we went around the room and shared a little about ourselves - the name of our school and hometown and a little about our family life and hobbies. Based on this cursory demographic information, we appeared to have nothing in common. In my head, this six month volunteer position could not go quick enough - I admittedly had little hope for the experience and I’m sure I projected my concern with my attitude. The next week, I tried to get out of going, but I was forced to go. This pattern repeated itself for several weeks until at some point, a point that I can’t quite identify, I found myself enjoying going. As I reflect on what changed for me with this experience and these people, I can see that when we started to work together on fulfilling the mission of Cradles to Crayons, when we started to brainstorm, plan and implement some of the programs we had come up with together, we discovered that while we had little in common demographically, we shared something much more important, values and goals. At the end of the six months, having created several clothing drives together, we were actually quite close. I learned a lot from my time with the Teen Leadership Corps, but one unexpected lesson was that you never know what subtle things will bring you together with others and sometimes, those connectors are below the surface in less obvious ways.

Since this experience, I have found that it is a lot more powerful when you enter a new group to look for what you have in common, rather than what makes you different.

 


Wise

A  Decision

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“The fool speaks, the wise man listens” -African Proverb

 

    When presented with the choice between being “happy and ignorant” or “wise”, I am at first struck by the fact that the two choices are not exactly parallel. Quite cleverly in the question there was no well-being associated with being wise. In other words, it wasn’t “wise and unhappy”, that was not part of the question, although some may have inferred it. While there are many definitions or interpretations of “wise”, most agree that wise means one who has or shows experience, knowledge, and good judgment. To me this is the greatest achievement one can obtain. In fact, through history different cultures and societies have praised the wise. In the Native American culture the elders in the tribal communities, were considered the “wisdom-keepers” and held in the highest regard. In Ancient Rome, people put their faith and trust in those with wisdom and experience. And, in more modern times, the countries of India, Korea, China, and Africa have shared similar respect for the wise amongst them. There is good reason for these cultures to lean towards the wise. It was proven by the scholars Nisbett and Grossman that being wise is directly correlated with happiness.The findings were that "wise reasoning"--practical and thoughtful, helps us navigate important challenges in social life (leads to happiness). In the study the wiser a person was, the greater their well-being (figure 2). Now one may be wondering how one might measure the characteristic “wise”. The truth is that it is not too difficult. The studies used a series of accounts of social conflicts and recorded responses to create a “wisdom score”. Ignorance perhaps leads more immediately to happiness, but over time, wisdom creates a more permanent and meaningful source of happiness. Based on this research, if being wise also leads to happiness, I would sooner be wise than ignorant as those that are ignorant lack knowledge and awareness and are uneducated and unsophisticated. If one is guaranteed happiness no matter what, wouldn’t you rather live with wisdom than ignorance.  




The Power of Collective Tradition

Tucker Winstanley

Freshman English

The Tranquility in Traditions

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“It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition.”

~ Henry James

    There is something calming about traditions. Despite the chaos of December, each year on December 24th at exactly 6pm, a sense of peace comes over me as the characters in the living creche assemble at the front of our church. In succession, the lights are dimmed and the candles glow. The members of the Trinitarian Congregational Church, people of all ages, are squeezed into wooden pews, children are restless, and all eagerly anticipate the telling of the Christmas Story – a story that occurred over 2,000 years ago, but is just as important today. Reverend Lombard steps up to the altar and begins each year with the same words of caution. “Our time to wait is over. Christmas Eve is here. Our days of preparation are completed. What has not been done will now have to be left undone.” He is right, because at this point, anything that has not been purchased, made or wrapped, will have to wait until after Christmas. While that might seem stressful, it brings calm over everyone, including me. Nothing can be done now, and so we allow ourselves to sit back and relax. As the Christmas Story is told, the fourth and fifth graders act it out. There are shepherds watching flocks by night, messages from angels, a couple looking for a place to sleep, three kings, and of course a baby. Word for word, the story is always exactly the same. Occasionally, there is excitement like when a program caught on fire, or when the boy playing Jesus threw up in the creche. But, those moments aside, the ritual of listening in silence, the ability to anticipate every word, brings calm and peace. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when dressing up for Christmas Eve service is at the bottom of my list, but when I settle into my seat, I am reminded that Christmas is more than presents – it is traditions passed down through generations. There are traditions that are built around things, like gifts and food, but the traditions that are built around ideas and stories, are the most powerful.

 


Tucker Winstanley

Fitz English

Mid-term Literary Analysis

 

The Simple Pleasures That Sustain Us

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“I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”

~ Oscar Wilde

    In a little small sea-town in Wales, there is a working-class community, that has had the most wonderful Christmases over the years. Each Christmas contributes memories that are locked in the minds of the residents of the town who find comfort as adults in reminiscing about the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes that uniquely belong to their childhood Christmases. In “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”, Dylan Thomas captures how a grown man happily reminisces to his friend about his memories as a boy in this sea-town. What becomes clear through Thomas’ writing is that years later, the memories that have defined Christmas for this man, are not based on the materialistic things, but based on shared, sometimes funny, experiences and moments with friends, family and neighbors.

    Thomas uses snow throughout his poem to show the passage of time and to emphasize that the special memories from childhood are based on simple, found in-nature, not store-purchased things. Thomas’ main character doesn’t remember the year of each of his childhood Christmas memories, but he does remember the snow that accompanied each fun memory. As he tries to remember past Christmases, the man “plunges (his) hand in the snow and bring out whatever (he) can find.” (p2)  Every one of the memories from his childhood that the man shares with his companion include snow: snowballs thrown at cats, knocked over snowmen, snow-clogged side lanes, backyards full of snow, snowy footprints on pavement, snowballs in mailboxes for unexpecting postmen, and carols in snow-felted darkness. The man has a special connection to the snow and it comes to represent all of the fun he had with it. The pure white snow that wraps his village represents the fun that wraps his Christmas memories. Snow, is everywhere in this town and it isn’t just any snow as the man refers to it as “our snow”, which he is using to say “our memories”.

“Our snow was not only shaken from whitewash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunderstorm of white, torn Christmas cards.” (p3)

    It is obvious from the way Thomas describes the snow that he is talking about more than snow, because snow doesn’t fall the way he has described it. But, through parallel structure, the author uses the repetition of snow to emphasize the importance of pure, white, simple snow and indirectly the importance of simple, experiences and moments. By repeating the snow, the author creates a pattern in the man’s childhood memories that he can look to later and connect the fun he had in the snow with the fun he had with friends and family.

    To reinforce the concept of simple experiences, not materialistic things, defining Christmas, the author addresses the presents given and received in a way that shows that they are insignificant. The man is less focused on the presents than his companion, who keeps asking him to “get back to the presents” (p4) and not get lost in the memories. As the man reluctantly describes the presents they sound less than wonderful.

(the useful presents) “… engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like a silky gum that could be tug-o’-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o’-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes..bags of moist and many colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose…(the useless presents) and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow…” (p4)

    The man divides the presents into two categories, the “useful” and the “useless”. However, both the “useful” and the “useless” presents are described with similarly negative adjectives and connotation. In addition, the fact that Thomas only allows two paragraphs of the poem to be about these materialistic things also shows the reader that the presents aren’t what makes up the man’s memories, it’s the moments that make the memories.

    “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”  has no real plot and yet it has deep meaning. Thomas’ writing is entertaining, but it also has a message for the reader. Thomas leads the reader to see that meaningful Christmas memories are not based on things, but on moments. The message is subtle, but it’s there, and the reader is left to think about not only their own Christmases over the years, but what has created memories over their entire life.

 


Thanksgiving

 

So Many Reasons to Give Thanks

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Colorful autumn hues spread across the forests

White snow conceals the green grass of the field

Leaves scatter the frosted ground

The orange pumpkins begin to rot, which signals late November

Wild turkeys graze the vast land with the occasional gobble

Orchards share their rich produce

Thanksgiving marks the end of autumn and the start of winter

 

For Thanksgiving brings all people together

All religions, ethnicities, and beliefs

Celebrated in Canada, United States, Caribbean islands, and Liberia

This holiday does not divide people, but rather brings people together

Whether it's Pilgrims and Natives, new friends and old friends, or anyone

 

A time of thankfulness

A time of forgiveness

A time of happiness

For me Thanksgiving is a time of family and traditions

A time to gather around the table

Thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude

Having the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

 

This year as Thanksgiving rolls around

Never take for granted the time with others

Thanksgiving is a special time to enjoy

Make Thanksgiving last more than a day

Cherish what you have

Realize what you have is a lot

I am thankful, are you?




The Power of Hard Times

 

A Story of Recovery

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“You may have had unfair things happen to you, but the depth of your pain is an indication of the height of your future.”

~ Joel Osteen

    The best lessons are learned through hardship. I experienced my own hardship when I was injured in the fall of 7th grade, but looking back I can see it taught me powerful life lessons. It was a typical autumn afternoon and I was at club soccer practice. After warm ups, I was having persisting pain in my right shin. I tried stretching but I had a dull ache that wouldn’t go away and hurt when I bent or moved my leg. After the practice finished, the pain continued long into the night and the days that followed. Surprised by how long the pain was lasting, the decision was made to get an X-ray followed by an MRI. At Children’s Hospital, they slid me inside a tube for the 30 minute scan and we were told they would follow-up in a few days; however, before we got home, the doctor called explaining my injury was more serious than they had expected. The hospital indicated I had one of the worst cases of stress fracture in both shins that they had seen in a while. For six weeks, I hobbled around on crutches that made my legs feel better, but my arms feel worse. At the time, I felt sorry for myself. But, looking back, there was something powerful that came out of this hardship. I learned I could lean on friends - in fact I needed to - and they were there for me. I learned how lucky I was to not have something more serious or life-threatening, and how satisfying it was to be pain-free. I realized that being able to play sports was a gift, and that as hard as it was not to be able to run around, in time the pain would pass and the injury would heal. There are many ways to gain life lessons and while hardship might not be the preferred method, it is reassuring to know that something good can come out of something bad—if you look for it.





Power of Place

 

The Field
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Time seems to stop in certain places”

~ Jacqueline Bisset

    There is something powerful about a place that despite having witnessed both your ups and downs, still holds a special place in your heart. Reynolds Athletic Field, otherwise known as Home Turf, is that place for me. A few feet past Fenn’s white buildings and bordered by rows of evergreens lies a 160’ by 53’ plot of green turf. This is my second home - a home that has brought a lot of joy, pain and disappointment. On an overcast afternoon in late-October, this field hosted the Fenn Varsity soccer game against the Rectory School. It was slated to be an easy game, and yet it was a nail biter and full of frustration and anger. In the 36th minute Rectory’s striker slotted a clean shot to the bottom right corner, 0-1. What followed was a series of trash talking which angered our team. The halftime talk helped us refocus and become more determined. It was almost like a spark was ignited in our team. After a corner kick ball was sent into the box the fight for the ball became a fight between teams and the referee sent both teams back to their benches to calm down. When the game resumed, a tripping offense led to a free kick just 5 yards outside the box. The ball was kicked to the left of Rectory’s wall and curved into the net, 1-1. With just 10 minutes left to silence the opposing team, a Rectory defender headed the ball and from the centerline of the field, our right back sent a long shot that slipped over the keeper and into the goal. Our bench emptied as everyone charged the field to celebrate. Driving home after the game, I was struck by the range of emotions I felt on the field that day. There were real highs and demoralizing lows and yet that field held a powerful place in my heart. Most people have a powerful place, somewhere of great joy, good memories and accomplishment or a place that reminds them of sad and heavy times. Or, like me, they may have a  powerful place may hold all of these emotions and that is pretty powerful, too.





The Power of Passion

 

Tucker Winstanley
Personal Narrative – The Power of Passion
10/31/18

The Ocean is My Refuge

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"Follow your passion, it will lead to your purpose"

~Unknown

    The ocean is a gift to all who passionately enjoy it. It brings me peace and calm in a busy world. Each summer, when school ends and soccer takes a hiatus, I move to Kennebunkport, Maine for the summer. There is much to love about this town – my friends from all over the Country, my job as a CIT teaching tennis, the local Ben & Jerry’s and candy shop, the beaches, skim boarding and tubing. But, I’d trade it all for my time on the water. This summer I spent every free moment on Nemo, a small whaler I learned to drive early in the summer. Nemo is my escape from  chaotic days. One day, in late July, I took Nemo out past the jetty to the mile marker. The seas were fair, with small rolling swells. My goal was to catch mackerel to use as live bait to catch striped bass back at the docks. I cast my line and it was not long before I had five in my live well. One might think with my bucket full that I would head back home and yet, I seem to always find a way to prolong my time on the water. On the water, time stands still, my head clears and my heart is full. It is a refuge from daily life. It’s an unfiltered connection to the environment. Except for an occasional engine roaring by, it is almost silent on the water. There nobody asks me to do anything. I have total freedom to just be. I know it’s not realistic to think that I can always have this peaceful, carefree time, but I cherish it. There’s no question I am passionate about my time on the ocean. I would never presume that you are, but I hope that you have that place that you are passionate about, that brings you peace and calm, and visit as often as you can.