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April 2019

"Money & Work"

Less is More



    Thoreau directly addresses his views on “Money and Work with his belief less is more when it comes working and spending. I appreciate that Thoreau believes that everyone must follow their own path and if you don’t agree, he respects the diversity of opinion. Thoreau doesn’t believe in the "spending of the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty”. Thoreau weighs the worth of money earned for digging in the dirt to the “importance of a man’s soul”. Instead of working, Thoreau makes compromises by living a simple life and passing up luxuries. “If one would live simply and eat only the crop which he raised, and raise no more than he ate, and not exchange it for an insufficient quantity of more luxurious and expensive things, he would need to cultivate only a few rods of ground”. The benefit of this approach to spending and consuming is that Thoreau only has to work six weeks of the year to “meet his expenses” and then has “the whole of my winters, as well as most of my summers, free and clear for study.” This trade-off makes sense to me, as I would fully support working hard six weeks of the year to have the rest of the year off. As Thoreau writes, life does not need to be a “hardship….if we will live simply and wisely.”

Power of Place

Ward Hall



“There are places I remember all my life”-The Beatles

    It’s often the case that memorable places are carved out of locations where one has spent meaningful time. While there are other places on the Fenn School campus where I have created great, and in many cases hilarious, memories over the past six years - like the gym, gym lobby, and turf field - Ward Hall comes to mind as a place with that power to be truly memorable for me. As I’ve sat in my senior seat these last few weeks since Spring Break, I have seen evidence of time winding down in this special space and this assignment has forced me to think about what it is about Ward Hall that makes it so special. Perhaps the most obvious is the opportunity to all be together, students, teachers, staff, for 10-20 minutes, watching a performance and sharing news and announcements. This shared experience is what helps us builds our Fenn community. It is also true that the patterns, repetition and traditions in our meetings are calming in a world that sometimes feels unpredictable. Each and every Fenn School day (except tuesdays) after first period, students begin to file into the Hall through it’s large green doors. Once every student has been seated in a seat that for the year has been their own, Mr. Boonisar begins the meeting with an opening message followed by a brief reflection, business and announcements. Each meeting closes as it began with another chance to reflect and then we file out, oldest to youngest. The silent reflection felt long in 4th grade and by 9th grade never feels like enough. The Hall, both inside and out, is architecturally beautiful. It’s steeple stands tall watching over the campus. Inside, the banners are proud reminders of what we value: empathy, courage, honor, and respect. The last senior reflections are being shared and I have found myself starting to picture our class leaving graduation and filing out onto the lawn to shake the hands of our teachers who line the paths to Ward Hall. Here in the shadows of this special place I will say goodbye to six years at Fenn knowing that anytime I step foot on campus and wander into Ward Hall I will find myself instantly transported back to some of the best and meaningful moments of my Fenn career.

Nature Paragraph

Round the Corner


“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” -Frank Lloyd Wright

         In the front yard of my house life moves by fast - cars commuting to work or driving into town to do errands, people walking their dogs, and running for exercise. Life is in full motion in front of 35 Attawan Road. But, tuck round the corner to the back of my house and there is conservation land as far as the eye can see. Here I sit on the cool stone wall, a wall whose construction I admire because it is dry laid. It’s quiet in the backyard, as if I have turned the volume off of the tv, but the screen is left on. At first glance, there is no movement, just trees whose limbs stretch into the sky and are trying desperately to push out new leaves. Below tall grasses are still dried out from the harsh winter and waiting for rain and sun for new growth. If I sit there long enough I start to see movement. Not the kind of movement out front of my house, but the movement of birds that have made their home in the wetlands behind my house. There are two hawks that criss-cross the sky in a slow gliding pattern. They are serious and deliberate in flight. And, there is a small bird that darts behind them. I imagine it is an annoyance to the hawk, but its’ pestering flight is hilarious to watch. I’ve seen a lot of wildlife emerge from these wetlands - fox, a coyote, and endless deer. It’s pretty amazing that this all goes on in my backyard, while the hustle and bustle of our busy lives goes on in my front yard. This has left me wondering which side of the house I prefer? I try to come to some answer, but the question is hard and I selfishly don’t want to ruin my time on the wall forcing an answer. This chance to slow down is good and I just want to enjoy it a little longer.

Thoreau on Clothing and Shelter

Agree to Disagree


 “Agree to disagree”

- John Wesley

    It’s not necessarily a good place to be when disagreeing with the philosophies of a legend like Thoreau. But, as John Wesley, an Englishman, shared at the memorial service of his friend in 1770, it’s ok to “agree to disagree.” While I agree with some of what Thoreau writes in his essay on “Clothing” and “Shelter”, I would respectfully disagree with much of it and hope that Thoreau is not shaking his fist at me from above.

    On the topic of “clothing” Thoreau warns that people that require men to buy new clothing are misguided. “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” Thoreau knows if it is good enough for himself and “fit to worship God”, it doesn’t matter how old it is. Thoreau’s focus on what’s inside the man and not what he is wearing leads him to believe that “the old (clothing) will do.” I totally agree. Any business that requires a new wardrobe, is focusing on the wrong things. Which leads me to question Fenn’s dress code. Why force Fenn boys to buy special dress code clothing. Thoreau would hate that. This is a place of learning, why wont the clothing we already own be sufficient? What is so important about a collared shirt after all? Do those khakis make you smarter? Thoreau and I agree on this one. Whatever you already have should be sufficient and if it isn’t, beware.

    But, Thoreau becomes a little too judgmental in my opinion when discussing the manner in which men follow fashion trends. He refers to generation after generation following new trends and laughing at old ones. He describes this behavior as “childish and savage.” This is perhaps too strong a stance for me. While I don’t believe people should be forced into wearing certain clothing to meet certain requirements I have no problem with people enjoying fashion. Everyone has a right to express themselves, including in clothing, however they like, and if that means following trends, I am ok with that personal choice for them. I’m also not sure why Thoreau is so upset with the fact that clothing manufacturers make money off of these clothing trends. He seems upset that the “principal object (of clothing manufacturers) is not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched.” Thoreau’s criticism of the factory system is wrong. In a market economy, people make things not just for the betterment of man, but for the profit as well.

    On the topic of shelter, I couldn’t agree more that man “yearns to be outdoors.” I do believe that as Thoreau has said that this desire to be outdoors comes from our “primitive ancestors”. We have built houses for shelter, but as our roles and jobs have changed over decades, we find ourselves indoors too much. Getting outside and connecting with nature, will always be important to man, no matter how advanced we become as a society.

    Thoreau furthers his argument for being outdoors by shaming those who work tirelessly to own their own home and this is where he loses me again. Thoreau argues that men “toil twenty, thirty, or forty years that they may become the real owners of their farms” and that this is a waste of a lifetime, especially if earning it has required men to work in jobs that they don’t like. Then, according to Thoreau, “the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that has got him.” I agree with Thoreau that a life spent making money in a job you dislike is not worth the house you can buy with the money. At the same time, I understand man’s drive to own their own house because it provides reassuring shelter and security that only a home can.

    I agree with Thoreau that “herd” mentality is always a mistake, whether when buying a house or anything else in life. Thoreau warns if you try to keep up with your neighbors’ men will remain “needlessly poor all their lives because they think they need to have such a one as their neighbors have.” I think it’s perfectly fine to want the security of owning your own home, but a mistake to worry about how your home compares to others.

    There’s no question Thoreau’s writing and philosophy on life have been studied and respected for decades, but that doesn’t mean that everything he says is always agreed upon by everybody. I’ve discovered through this exercise that is possible to respect the writing and philosophy, but not always embrace it. I finish this essay the same way I started with knowing it’s ok to “agree to disagree.”

Basic Necessities

Food, Shelter, and......

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"Basic needs: backbone, wishbone, funnybone"- Raven O'Keefe  

        If necessities are truly “most basic” would they change, as the phrase suggests, by the “stage of your life”? For me, the answer is “no” but time will tell. I consider basic necessities things I always needed throughout my life key to my existence, regardless of my “stage of life.” Thoreau lists food and shelter. I don’t disagree. However, Thoreau’s list focuses on physical needs. Realistically, he has a need for funding for his food and shelter, so I would add income to his list, as not everything he has at Walden Pond is found or made from nature by his own hands. I would add to Thoreau’s list the need for things that fuel your heart and mind. I wouldn’t imagine living without a supportive community – big or small – wouldn’t matter. I would add that something that provides happiness in your life is a basic necessity – could be a person, but also could be a hobby, or a place. I consider opportunities for physical exertion and thinking to be basic necessities, to live for any significant time on the edge of Walden Pond. This list feels complete, but only time will tell, and Fitz asked for 200 words!



































Economy Essay

A Start to Walden    


Why should they begin digging their graves as soon as they are born?”-Thoreau


            It’s the second week of Senior Spring for Fenn’s 9th grade class and I for one was fully expecting to cruise a little into graduation, until I read Thoreau’s piece on Economy. Frankly, this first exposure to Thoreau has left me thinking he is rather confusing because he contradicts his own advice. He claims to lead a simple life and “require(s) of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life” and yet just look at his use of vocabulary – obtrude, impertinent, resignation, belies – could his writing being any less simple? He does apologize, although not for his vocabulary, but for writing so much about himself. No excuse needed here, because after reading this passage ten times (thanks!), he does have valuable insight on both where man should focus his work in life as well as the opportunity for man to make a change at any point in how he lives his life.           

           If this were a boxing match, Thoreau comes out of the corner strong in round one with several paragraphs pointing out the bad choices men make in spending their lives working towards the wrong goals. According to Thoreau, it is a “misfortune” to inherit money and professions. Instead he believes men make much better choices for how they will spend their days working, if they come from nothing and find their own way of making money. “Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they are called to labor in.” Thoreau believes it is important to figure out for yourself where you would like to spend your time working and not have it handed to you because working towards a career is easier than trying to get rid of one that is given to you. Thoreau believes “men labor under mistake”. He points out that men are employed by seeming fate and out of necessity, to collect “treasures which moth and rust and will corrupt and thieves break through and steal.” Thoreau says these men, so focused on getting things, miss out on “finer fruits that cannot be plucked from them.” This is his way of saying focus on the simple experiences and the “true necessaries", because when life is over you can only take the memories and not the “things.” But, what is man to do, after reading Thoreau’s warning, if he isn’t living in accordance with Thoreau’s lessons?

              Luckily, according to Thoreau, men who have not lived by Thoreau’s lessons still have hope because man can make changes to the way he is leading his life at any point in his life. “Alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear. It is never too late to give up our prejudices.” Each morning the sun rises and so what Thoreau is saying is that each morning man has a chance for a new beginning or “clear” slate. I believe that to be true. Thoreau also writes that man has to come up with what he believes to be true. “No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.” Thoreau was pretty specific about how man should live his life for experiences not material things. However, here Thoreau gives man permission to develop his own understandings and path. I’m guessing Thoreau is saying make your own path and come to your own conclusions, but keep it simple.

            Ironically, as I drove to soccer practice tonight, I passed by Walden Pond, Thoreau’s temporary home. I developed a sudden dislike of Walden Pond. But, Moby Dick was challenging and we got through it, so I’m hopeful Thoreau’s writing will begin to get easier.































Season Haikus

A Set of 16 Haikus 

“if only words could breathe”-Jazz Sethi



One starry march night

The spring peepers arrived

Start of a season


The new green leaves 

Contrast dark bark of tree

Sprout from soften buds


A clover in field

Green, with four leafs to it

Field with a clover


The cold fights warm

In spring, warm prevails 

Till cold comes in fall



To start off, I decided to stick with the traditional style to see how they sound. I tried to incorporate some of the sentence building techniques like imagery and action. In the clover haiku I used narrowing and expanding to convey a story. I tried to used the techniques that I learned from the crafted word.




Glass litters ocean floor

Crashing waves smooth the edges

Glass appears on beach


In summer’s day

Lawnmower’s buzz filled the air with noise

Time to fix up the yard again


Pollen’s thick yellow blanket settles

My eyes and throat feel the pain

Although, the bee’s are thankful


My boat rests on the surface

I cast my line into the vast ocean

Till the impending squalls come nearer



After writing my first four haikus I tried to branch away from the 5-7-5 syllable style. I recently read the crafted word haiku techniques and I learned that to make a more effective haiku it should be around 20 total syllables. In these poems after reading the crafted word I tried to work more on imagery and action.




Orange pumpkins dot the soil

harvested by eager trick-or-treaters

Spooky faces are carved


Piles of leaves cover the ground

ranging from brown-yellow

A time to start raking 


One early Fall morning,

I wake up to see the first frost

Signifying the coming of winter


When the clock struck 8:00

I walked into campus of white buildings

I traded my surfboard for ipad



At first I struggled to come up with ideas for the fall haikus. I felt like I had writers block for a while. Finally, a few ideas sparked in my mind and I started to write. I tried to be very descriptive and tried to use imagery and action.




I look outside to see mounds of snows

I was filled with excitement until I realized

cold lasts for 5 more months 


I took the sled out of the car

only to hop on it right away

zooming as fast as I can


Hot chocolates scent filled the room

Makes me forget about the cold

All it needs is some marshmallows 


A overflow finally freezes 

Immediately I grab my skates

The ice is as clear as glass



After writing my last haikus I felt that I improved as a writer. I always though that the 5-7-5 was the way to go but now I understand that to make it more effective you need to add more syllables. I learned this from the crafted word. I also used imagery and action.