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Lost in Life

​My goals with this paper were to write about a personal topic and control my use of descriptive language. I wanted to describe the details of the scenes without confusing the reader on what was happening. I would like to improve on "exploring the larger idea". A couple of people suggested that I expand on my larger idea but I don 't know how to do that without including a lot of irrelevant language. Writing my scenes went well. 

One, three, five, six. I count my steps slowly and press my toes into the carpet, avoiding making noise. My mother’s room is dimly lit with the door slightly cracked. Sharp rays of burgundy sunlight peep through the curtains. She takes place on the left side of the bed with her elbows on top of her crisis-crossed thighs. The palms of her hands are pressed together and gently covering her face. Murmured speech is what causes my feet to stop, wait, and listen. “I come to you today Lord to thank you. Thank you for my children and to ask you to strengthen my health. I try to..to trust that everything will work out but it’s hard. I ask that you teach me the meaning of life and my purpose in it. God I ask that you be with me every moment and strengthen my health. I need to be here for my children and family. Please God.”

I sit on the steps, listening to my heart break. She’s praying for her health as if she isn’t going to make it. I contemplate any signs of sickness that I have seen her show but, I don’t really know exactly what is going on with her. In the blink of an eye I questioned my priorities. It is so easy to forget what matters and get trapped in the valleys and peaks of life. Slowly, I sit down on the step, careful not to let her know that I am listening. As I sit down I can see more of her burgundy and white mixed covers. It is now visible that her hand is pressed against her Bible. Her silky nightgown falls over her body and puffs up at the shoulders. Her hair tightly wrapped, tied, and covered for bed. I began to deeply worry for my mother.

This is the moment I realize that I am truly getting older and so is she. Thoughts of my future, life without my mother, and death run marathons through my head.

The weeks following flew by and somehow we ended up meeting a doctor. Even as I walk off the doctor’s elevator those same thoughts run marathons through my head. The hairs on my arms spike up with each step I take. One, two, three, four. Trying to suppress the loud beats of my nervous heart, I open the doctor’s doors. Light wisps of cool air push me to the front counter. “Hi, I’m here to see Dr. Bashira” my mother says, so calm it scares me. She rummages through the paperwork signing her name away. I drag my feet to the seating area, sit down, and wait. Soon, she sits next to me and sighs. "We're gonna be okay...you hear me?" she suggests. I couldn't hear her. The comfort I always feel when around my mother was so far away. She was just as nervous as me if not more and trying to reassure me didn't work. For a couple of minutes, all that speaks is the guest tv. “Ameena for Dr. Bashira" an assistant says cheerfully. God be with me. God be with me, is all I can say.

Forty minutes seemed like eternity. She appears in front of me smiling as if life was perfect. As if the same thoughts running through my head simply skipped over her’s. Strength is plastered all over her face. We return to the front counter then float out of the office. Blessed we are.

My mother’s health has led me to question life a lot more. I think about what I should be doing, what I’m going to do in the future, and how easy it is to stay tucked in the wrapping paper called life. I do not think that all of us purposely get comfortable, but we do. Some of us want to avoid troubles like this, so we let ourselves drown in life’s harsh and rough sea. It is sad that such alarming and heartbreaking wake up calls, such as my mother’s health, are what wake us up from our self induced coma. A self induced coma let’s your life live on without you. It distracts you from the people that mean the most to you. It distracts you from fulfilling what you want to do with your life, whatever that may be. It distracts you from truly enjoying life. Don’t wait for a wake up call to realize what’s important in life.


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Advanced Essay #1: A Rainbow of Chocolate

I feel I did well at capturing a topic that I could honestly right about, I had a hard

time coming up with a topic but once I did I was sure about it and excited to write. 

The goal of my paper was to express the struggles that I have had personally and to 

communicate the larger message of tolerance and self acceptance. If I could improve 

one thing about my paper I would get to the point a little quicker, but all in all I don't 

think I did too bad with that. I am very happy with the final copy of my essay. 

too bad with that. 

It was a lengthy sweltering summer, prolonged by the delayed school year. We were members at a new pool in Flourtown, it was okay, there were two pools on the property and they were never cold, the back pool was filled with salt water which really exfoliated your skin. The main pool had two slides and a diving board. All in all, the pool was a nice retreat from the scorching sun. There was only one problem-the pool was half an hour away from our house and we didn't know anyone there. I was a fidgety 9 year old and my brother was a busy 6 year old,  but very shy, once we got bored playing with each other we’d just sit on the deck. My mom got tired of entertaining us, so we visited a pool that my best friend was a member of. It was a temperate day in August and I was so ready to spend the day with my best friend, my whole family was ready to have a nice relaxing day at the pool. Wherever the pool was it was at least an hour away, but I knew it would be worth it. We finally arrived and walked through the threshold, immediately my eyes started to wonder. As I carefully examined the pool I was confused.

“Where are all the white people?” I asked aloud

“There aren’t any” Olivia, my best friend responded. We shuffled over to our spot on the lawn.

“Well what do you mean?”

“This is a black pool” I didn’t understand, but I decided to leave it alone, my parents were looking at me like I was crazy, and I could tell that no one else seemed to have a problem with it. Olivia dragged me to the diving board so we could wait in line for our turn, I was less than excited to jump when I saw dirt at the bottom of the pool. As I continued to analyze the rest of the pool I noticed that it was basically falling apart. The tiles were covered in scum and falling into the pool. The floor was rusted and some spots had caked on algae. I couldn’t help but attribute that to the only difference that I’d noticed between my pool and that one, the black people. I know how harsh that must sound, but let me give you some background.


The elementary school I went to separated each grade into two sections: Enhanced and Immersion, kids who would be taught in Spanish. The students in the enhanced program were predominantly black, while the kids in the immersion program were predominantly white, I ended up in the immersion program with the white kids. I don’t know why my parents put me in the program, they just did, and I was happy there. Olivia was in the same class as me and I was making lots of friends, white ones.


It didn’t matter to me what race my friends were because my school always advocated for diversity. I was used to being around a rainbow of people, white, asian, black, hispanic, it didn’t matter to me. Until I got to middle school and realized how different I was from the other black kids. Fifth grade is when we started mixing the classes, I wasn’t excited. The reputation the enhanced kids had wasn’t good, they were always getting in trouble, the teachers never stopped yelling at them, kids were always getting kicked out of class, and the majority of the class basically lived in the dean's office. I knew they were troublemakers and I didn’t really want them disrupting my learning.


Once the merger happened everyone was less than enthused, enhanced kids thought we were know it alls and we thought they were awful. Although somehow we ended up getting along, no one switched friend groups perse but we could now talk to each other without judgement. The more I got to know everyone, the more I wanted to befriend everyone, I mean those kids looked like me and grew up with similar experiences. The more we interacted the more I realized that I should want to expand my friend group. I was always taught to have a diverse group of friends but somehow I had ended up with mostly white girls, which was great but there were some things that they didn’t understand about me or vice versa. Like, why did I wear my hair a certain way? Why didn't I get sunburned? Why couldn’t I blush? So I decided to start trying to hang out with a new group of people, people similar to me, I wanted to be apart of their rainbow of mochas, cocos, milk, and white chocolates.


Quickly I realize that I hadn’t made the best decision, yeah it was true that these people looked like me but they weren't like me. The friendship that I tried to develop with them didn’t fulfill me anymore than my other white friends. They were just as intrigued with my blackness as I was with theirs, so I no  longer forced myself to hangout with them and turn into their version of blackness.


Being black is more than just following the status quo, wherever I go and try to fit in I just don’t and that’s okay. My “black experience” has been shaped by so many people and places, I guess that makes me a melting pot. But I realize that it doesn’t matter if I go to an HBCU like Hampton or if I move to a black neighborhood, I may never be accepted into the conventional stereotypical world of blackness that I was conditioned into thinking was better. After a long and traveled road I am finally okay with the black woman that I am. Okay with the black and not so black features that I have, I’m okay melanin, okay with the nose, okay with the lack of rhythm, and okay with the global community of black people that I help represent.


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Advanced Essay #1: You'll see them again

For this essay I wanted to talk about losing people close to you. It's something that happens to us all because it's about of life. You tend to feel as though it's unfair, like it shouldn't happen, but you can't control it. It's a sad thing honestly, but as time goes you must know that they are never lost. If you have them in your memories they'll be with you forever. For the essay I guess I used my scenes of memory to show how people feel when this situation happens to them, and that is a general overview of what would happen. To improve I would like to have more details within the seems (to really immerse you), and be able to let it all flow better so it seems smoother. Also, I would try to show my opinion a bit more for this. I kind of tell you but I don't think it was clear enough.


Have you ever felt like you have left reality. Like reality has completely lifted off from your body, your mind wandering to a dark place all because you hear a siren. I’m frozen in place, my heart accelerated, my mind blanked, and as the seconds slowly ticked by the door opens. I utter the words, “Hey Grandma” and she replies with her tears. Ideas flooded my mind of what was to come, but I wouldn’t have expected to hear “Fox was gone.” I had no idea how to react to the news. I didn’t know what to do or even what to say. The rage slowly consumed what was once “Kareem’s body”, the air seemed to flow around what emotions seeped out of my draining self control. The world became quiet as I stood there pondering if that was the truth, wondering how could he just leave like that. It was close to my mom’s birthday and we went out to get this new necklace, a diamond heart with a gold strip around it, and now he’s gone. I leave from my grandma's house with an emotionless face. As I start to walk home, a single tear glides down from my eye, trying to hug my cheek but only taken away by my humanity, and then I hear the words, “It’ll be okay.” It was like a surprise presents that you never want, but the twist was that this had no return policy.


It can’t be escaped. Time moves on whether you like it or not. Life has ups and downs for you to juggle with. A constant tug-and-pull, a test of your strength to see if you can keep fighting on. It’s  never easy. Those may put on a mask to show what they want to, but on the inside it gets to them too. Whether or not you’re capable of taking the lost, eventually it’ll hit you that it’s the reality. It’s sad but apart of it all.


A little comfort can’t hurt for the short term, but in the long run it hits you hard. Knowing those you love, those who may have shaped your life will just be gone one day. You can’t stop the future from coming, but as they go, may others take their place to fill that void. Holding on to the past will only slow down the time it takes for you to move forward. Just know you’ll see them again. One day you will, but until then, just silence.


It happens to us all. Whether it’s us personally or it’s someone close to us. I remember this one day it was me and one of friends. One day after school we decided to just walk around center city. Everything was calm, we were at peace, the world just seemed to move around us, but then she get a phone call. I didn’t have to hear anything. The only thing I needed was her clenching my hand and it was clear. She had told me that she knew that their time was coming to an end. Her mother, just barely holding a graps to reality, has seen the light. I never asked for the details but I knew she was sick. For the past few weeks she had been getting worst, and now it’s official. She had lost someone close to her as I had lost someone merely 1 month ago. I knew I couldn’t have the sympathy of losing my mother, but I still had it at the level of losing my uncle.


You never know what will happen in this reality called life. It’s full of surprises, full of twists, fulls of unforeseen events that come together to create your life. There is no real way to have full control of it all, but what you can do is just live your life the best that you can. Living in the past will not prepare you for the future, but understanding that those who once was has never left. Though you do not see them doesn’t mean that they aren’t still there. You don’t see them, but they still are real, they still live in your memories. That’s the best thing that we as humans can have. Our memories keep dreams, hopes, and our lives forever alive. Those who have an impact never leave if they will just stay there until you are freed. Until you see the world that’s unseen to the eye. The world where your life comes together and you can look back and hopefully accept your fate.


Throughout my life I had learned to accept the twist to my reality. You have to or else you can never live your life. LIfe is unpredictable, it has something for all of us, and we just have to live each day the best that we can. I wish that I didn’t have to lose that I loved, those you were taken from me, and even those that decided themselves. I just know that I will see them again one day so I just keep on living. My only regret is that I wish I could say, “...see you later.”


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Advanced Essay #1, Felix Schafroth Doty - Dank Friendship


Dank Friendship


My goals with this paper were to explore friendship for myself, and how I feel during this complicated time in my life. I was trying to figure out my priorities, and by just writing and writing and kept thinking, and so I was able to figure some things out. I think that I did a good job in reflecting on the paper, as well as the topic, and that my descriptive scenes were very well written. I would like to improve my description outside of the scenes, and how I interact with an audience that isn’t myself.


There’s something about being with friends that makes every scene bearable. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sweaty, hot afternoon, with tiny gnats pecking at my eyes, or if it’s a restaurant with awful fries. When you are with friends everything seems one step up. If you’re watching a subpar movie, you can heckle it to no end and poke holes in it until it looks like a piece of swiss cheese. If you’re playing a terrible game you can laugh at it instead of getting frustrated and feeling the need to shatter your screen.


As I sit among friends in a restaurant with dank fries and a slight breeze rustling the trees outside, I take it, not for granted, but as a gift. I remember a time when I wouldn’t spend my afternoons in town laughing for two hours straight, but instead wasting away the waning light inside, rewatching stale episodes of old shows by myself. There’s something about wasting time with friends that makes it feel way more productive, and maybe even healthy.


I can definitely feel long times away from a social life taking their toll on me. If I spend too much time by myself or with family, I feel cramped and much worse about myself. When I spend time with friends, even if it’s a couple of minutes talking about nothing important, I can feel the stress washing off of me. Most of the time it’s a physical feeling; I laugh and feel the tension releasing from my muscles, like some kind of emotional stretch. I can feel relaxed after a day with friends, even if I have something pressing as hell coming up tomorrow, and I know that everything is ok in this way I can never feel in another situation, like a zen or a bliss is coming over me.


I remember one day I was working with some expensive equipment; a camera worth more than me and a glossy lens that I’m sure was fresh out of the box, taken from a pristine white factory with models for workers. I was trying to charge the batteries, but all of a sudden it wouldn’t turn on. I frantically tried flipping the dial from On to Off, trying to get a pulse from this dead machine. It even seemed to have lost its crisp click as I tried to switch it back and forth. I could hear the noise of a flatlined heartbeat in the background as I pounded away at it, trying to get it to breathe. I was fearing for my life. How could I afford to repair this equipment without chopping off my arm and selling it to the highest bidder? Freaking out, I called my friends trying to see if they knew how to fix it. They obviously did not, but just hearing them speak with me seemed to make it more manageable. Having someone to share the burden with made it all ok. Although it got fixed before anyone got in trouble, it was still a taught situation that seemed to be eased by the company of others. I would not have handled it with such finesse had I not had the help of my friends.


Recently I was trying to fix a serious issue. In one of my projects I had lost all of the audio, which was the essential element. I was wondering what to do, drawing a blank when I tried to problem solve. As I keyed my friends into this fact, they immediately hopped to, troubleshooting and brainstorming. I could see lightning above their heads. We managed to salvage the wreckage of the project and get a few chuckles from the audience, but if it wasn’t for my friends I would have crumpled into a ball and cried until it came time to get graded. There’s no one better than a friend to have your best interests at heart.


Not having friends in stressful situations is definitely one of the worst things for you. I would go as far as to say that it’s unhealthy. It may seem like moments away are good, and sure, sometimes you need to get away from distractions, but it’s much better to have someone there to set you straight and keep you going, by any means necessary. A friend can seem like they’re taking you away from what’s important, but maybe what you need is a reevaluation of what’s important. A friend can seem like a distraction, but they keep you on what’s important, and make sure that you’re ok at the end of the day.
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Advanced Essay #1: That time I went snorkeling


I don't think I had anything particular in mind with what to accomplish with this paper, but I had a decent story and I could be really blunt about the overall message without it sounding weird (hopefully). I think I did the story pretty well, as well as explaining the overall issue, though the transition between the two was awkward. 

To be perfectly honest, most of the time I’m doing anything, I just want to enjoy myself and chill out. There are very few things that make me want to be excited when I’m doing them, but the ultimate goal is always enjoyment or at least to be really chilled out. For me it’s escapism, which is either fine or bad depending on your philosophical or moral bend. To me, you’re coming into this world with nothing and leaving with nothing, so what else matters really but how much enjoyment I can get out of life?

So generally all I really do with my life is escape. I mean I have no moral qualms with it, and it is when I enjoy life the most, so escapism is a pretty go-to thing for me. There are some obvious drawbacks, which are lack of motivation sometimes, snapping out of it can even be difficult, though normally not a problem. So this story is just going to be one of those moments where I didn’t want to snap out of it, and one of the best times in my life that I can remember (a lot of that is due to escapism, so it may seem irrelevant to this but believe me, it isn’t.)

So over last summer my family and I finally got a chance where we were financially stable enough to go on a vacation to a place of our choosing, and since we had some inheritance leftover from my grandmother passing, we had some substantial wiggle room with the destination. This is one of the moments where escapism is rather important, seeing as my dead grandmother was the main reason we were going. To be honest she hated the idea of people grieving over her after she was gone, so do I, so I decided to simply not.

We finally decided to go to the florida keys, as it was as cheap as going to Wildwood, NJ (crazy thought but completely true). My dad was only present for the first half of the trip, but I can’t be honest and also say this was to our displeasure, as he was the main reason we were in the aforementioned financial problem. Again, escapism. I feel like the image that people get when they think of it is either being totally ignorant (ignorance is bliss), or being in a state with no worry. While neither are entirely wrong, they aren’t right either, it can be a much more subtle thing than that. For example, hear yelling, put on headphones and throw on music. It can really be as simple as that. But anyway, I’d say a part of the vacation where I saw this all a little more clearly was when I went snorkeling.

We had about 2 days left and I really didn’t want to go back to Philly. It was so laid back down there, people were either living penny to penny or off of retirement. Always so casual, no drama, people were just plain happy. So we decided to do something that we hadn’t really tried before which was snorkeling. I always imagined myself having that, “NOPE, NOPE, NOPE,” attitude about snorkeling but I decided to actually try it.

The ride over was as beautiful as the rest of the Florida keys, with pretty wildlife and scenic ocean views. We were going to a protected coral reef, so god only knows what I thought I was going to see before getting there. But when I got there I was honestly surprised. The water was more clear than it had been the entire ride over. I stopped looking at anything but the brightly tropical colored fish I could see 30 feet down. Once we got the signal to drop I didn’t even hesitate, despite seeing barracuda and sharks in the water.

My heart rate shot up the moment I got into the water. I floated back up almost afraid to see anything that might have been around my legs. I just floated there for a moment, half pumped with adrenaline, half trying to get calm myself down. After about 30 seconds I decided to swim out with the rest of the people on the boat. I put on my goggles and snorkel and peered through the water below. And what do I find but a bull shark at the bottom. My first real instinct was to start freaking out, because there was a shark that could actually kill me right below me, only 15 feet or so away. But this is when I realized how subtle escapism can be. Google defines it as the, “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities,” which is exactly what I did to calm myself down in that moment. I closed my eyes for a good 4 seconds and just pushed that thought to the far back of my brain, ignored the reality of what it could do, because I had no power over that shark. I simply kept swimming along, looking for splotches of color that stood out, hoping it would be a fish to look at, or something similar. The vacation as a whole was one of the most chilled out points in my life.



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Advanced Essay #1: Perfection

Note: This essay was written to explain why achieving perfection may not always be beneficial. It shows that my love of cars was used as a means to push for success, but, interestingly, was detrimental to my academic career. I believe that it proves the point quite well, although slight refinement may help it a little.


Perfection


The smell of fresh carpet, and the lemony chemicals of cleanliness were especially noticeable that summer afternoon of 2009. As we walked to the end of the wide hallway double file, and began the stairs, our teacher told us we were free. Benjamin, Ali and I ran down the stairs and made our way to the Book Fair. As soon as we had made it inside, there were rows, and rows of books, pens, pencils and everything else ‘academic’ you could think of. As we turned to face the stacks of Guinness Book of World Records 2010, our eyes turned to the corner of the cover. Price.

Immediately, I put my hand in my pocket, and pulled out a couple of neatly folded bank notes. Two 10’s - $20 in total. ‘That should be enough’ I thought to myself, as I walked down the aisle. I made it to the ‘Alex Rider’ series, and picked up the first book ‘Stormbreaker’. It was about 10 bucks, so I had half left. I turned the corner, and saw posters - maybe a yard long and two feet wide. I perused the selection, and found one that caught my eye.

The blue and black outline of the car was artfully crafted. This wasn’t some ordinary car; it was shaped like a rocket. The whole 180 inches of the Ferrari’s width were crafted with gentle swoops of intakes, curvatures, and beautiful design. It’s sharp, triangular headlights, when matched with its ultra-low profile gave it a true Batmobile style look. Its overall sleek profile can only be really described one way… Imagine a triangular prism that slowly widens up into a flat, then curves back into a flat end. You then take this triangular prism, and slowly carve the edges away, till the sides are curved down. Using a saw, you cut vents into the corners, and add lights. The front grill is cut into the bottom of the triangular prism, and the whole design is removed of edges. The doors are added, and intakes are cut into the sides. When you are done this, take it to a master engineer at Ferrari, and they’ll finish it for you. What are you left with? An astonishing exotic called the Ferrari 612 GTO.

The second I picked up this poster, I walked up to the cashier, heart pounding with excitement. I stopped for a minute, and picked up an eraser, a few pencils, and a notebook. After buying everything, I knew exactly what I was going to do when I went home - draw.

Ferrari. Bugatti. Lamborghini. Those three brands were my subjects. Exotics. Similar to the academic subjects of Linear Algebra, Chemistry, and Philosophy, these were the most sophisticated of their individual topics. I studied, and prepared for my subjects to a master’s degree. Every single chapter of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bugatti were practiced until I got the A. With a pencil in hand, I used some pictures on the net as a reference. I used to first copy each individual line, in essence tracing the pics. After the overall shape was done, I used to repeatedly ‘learn’ the curves until I got it perfect. I used this method to put in the light reflections, and interior details of the cars. I studied the specific model of my manufacturer (eg. Ferrari F40) before I moved on to another model. This led me to perfect certain models to a 1:1 reproduction drawing; if angles, curves, and designs were considered questions on a test, I’d study till I passed with flying colors.

This love of faultlessness, and achieving the best, was a double edged sword. Although it pushed me to do the best I could do, it wasn’t possible with all the classes I had. It was truly difficult to achieve perfection when you had multiple assignments for 5-6 classes, all due at the same time. Also, I had been trying to balance drawing cars with perfectly completing assignments, and I noticed that I was slightly falling behind in class. More nights were spent awake, and I began getting late to school, because I simply could not wake up on time. I used to be an ‘A’ student, but now, this was dropping. Oddly, I remember the fragrant aroma of the classroom, and school, as a memory of my seeming failure. Although I had been emotionally, and mentally there 100% of the time, my body couldn’t keep up with this strenuous cycle of perfection.

Although some might argue that, in order to succeed, you must work as hard as you possibly can, I disagree. In order to achieve success, you must work smartly. Which assignments are due first? Which assignments demand more effort? I realized I had to work in a time-based schedule, where as though assignments were completed in order of their due dates. After doing this for a while, I was beginning to catch up with my peers, and establish my former rank.  I realized that the ‘top students’ were a group of teacher’s pets, and decided to fight the animals. In this strife, I worked to complete the assignment to the best of my ability, but in a time, and energy constraint. I worked in this manner until a month before school was out. My final report card was quite good, and higher then what I expected.


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Advanced Essay #1 Macedonia Waters

My goals for this paper were to make it flow so that it sounded like a story. I feel as though I told the story well in detail. I would like to add more descriptive writing my paper.


We boarded the boat as my dad paid the 500 denars. This was going to be our last day in Macedonia before the summer would end, and I wanted to go on a boat. So, we went on the boat and we rode around the lake by the mountain. I brought my camera so I could take pictures. Macedonia is beautiful for pictures of the sky, the beach, the people, and just about anything that you could see. Since this was my last day there, I made sure to take any pictures that I could have missed during my time there. I underestimated the stability of the boat so I felt like I was on a roller coaster, wobbling up and down, up and down. I took almost 200 pictures in that little time on the boat. We had around 10 more minutes on the boat before we were back so I put my camera away. I spent the rest of time looking at the beauty of the lake and surrounding areas. A smile creeped on my face and my dad decided to comment on it. He said, “Why are you smiling so much.” Without even saying a word, my mom took the words right out of my mouth. “This is her happy place,” she said. We got off the boat and left Macedonia. When I came back to Philly, I went to the dining room table and saw a painting that had reminded me of the last day there. I smiled again as I reflected off of my summer.


I haven’t been on boats a lot of  times in my life. The only times I remember going on boats are in Macedonia. I had previously talked to my parents about going on a cruise, but it hasn’t happened since my dad was scared after watching Titanic. Another time I remember going on a boat was a couple years ago when I was in Macedonia. There is a big boat that takes people to a place near Albania, another country. It is called the Shundaum. We had a wedding near that place, so we all decided to take the boat to go there. It takes a long time to get there because we only had one car and too many people.  But I do remember the fun memory of going on this boat with my cousins. We spent the first hour playing this card game that none of us knew about. My oldest cousin taught us how to play though. She joked, “ if you lose 8 times, the rest of us have to throw the you into the lake.” Which, granted, didn’t happen because the game is supposed to be played on the beach and not on a boat. Also because there was no way we could possibly throw someone off this huge boat we were on and somehow get them back on. Then, the next hour was spent outside where some took pictures, some people sat down and ate, while others conversated. I was the one being mesmerized by the lake as my toes were touching the water, and the wind was blowing on my face. The hour went fast and we had to get off. I just kept thinking of how long it would be before we could get on it again.


I am still trying to figure out if I find my peace with the water or the boat. Either way, I get overjoyed during any trip with them. In Macedonia, I am almost guaranteed to be going to a beach every day, so I usually start my day feeling great. My mom screams to all of us,”Get up now, or we are going to the beach without you!” This will do the most to wake all of us up. Occasionally, if my cousins and I feel like it, we might go on the paddleboats. This also overjoys me because of the whole trip. Going farther past  the land, as the water gets deeper and clearer, I can see the bottom of the lake look like I can reach it just by jumping in, but I know I wouldn’t be able to. This past trip there, I had purchased an underwater camera, where I brang it every time we went on the paddleboats. My cousins always love to take pictures or videos underwater, so it does come in handy for new facebook profile pictures or new instagram posts. One day, we actually went on a trip to this new water park that was just built. Inside almost all of the slides, they had this feature of colored lights as you went down the ride. Even though I tried multiple times to record it, I failed miserably since the slide was very big and the camera couldn’t withtake the whole frame. Either way, all these places that we went to where I could swim, I was happy.


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Advanced Essay #1: Let's Get Lost

My goals with this paper were to get across a point that we shouldn't worry so much, and we should

enjoy life for what we have. I feel like I did well with good description of the scenic set around me.

I'd like to improve the sense people are getting of my larger idea.


I found myself waking up around 7 AM, and I had no ability to fall back asleep. I’m not sure which it was, it either could have been the strong sunlight beating through the tent walls, or it could have been the early morning chills in the Fall. I absolutely have no business being up this early. I was still lying down with my eyes open waiting for my cousin to finally get up. I grew bored of just waiting for something to happen. I unzipped the tent slowly, quiet as possible to make sure I didn’t wake anyone. That sunlight became even more intense without the tent walls to protect my eyes anymore. I rubbed my eyes and threw over the hood on my jacket. I made sure to zip the tent wall back together. Directly outside my cousins tent, was his camper where everyone else was sleeping. I doubted any of them were up. I needed to do something, so I grabbed my bike on the side of the camper and went out for a ride.


I kicked off the side of the road and my journey to nowhere began. It was clear I was still exhausted. My legs could barely push the pedals around. There was no way in hell that this was going to stop my ride. I was still unclear of the geography of my cousins campground. That just added onto the fun of the ride. In a matter of seconds, or so I thought, I was heading over this tiny bridge across a pond. It was beautiful. The countryside of upstate New York was peaceful. I could finally get away from the honking horns, the SEPTA trolleys in the mornings. I could replace the grey pavement with green grass any day. Birds were chirping to one another, and not to sound too poetic or anything, I absolutely could tell that they were talking to each other. Possibly even bragging to each other about that they could fly and I couldn’t. That's just the dream, to actually fly.


I  was still riding around the campground with no sense of time. It must have been at least 30 minutes since I left the tent. No one even knew I left. They could have either been worried, or still asleep. I was really hoping for the second option. If it was the first option (worried), my crazy aunt would have freaked out and yelled at me when I got back. There was no way I would stand up in front of her and take that vocal beating from her. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to death, but she can be a very tough cookie in a flip of a switch. Like I said, I didn’t know my way around the campground at all. I found myself on a bike trail at a turn I had never seen before. I knew I wasn’t lost. All I had to do was turn around and bike back.


There were red & yellow leaves on the ground that would crinkle under my tires zooming right over them. I was under the trees, protected by the shade as I enjoyed this harmony. As I kept biking, I remembered how I got there instantly. I was beginning my ride back, and it was a quick one. More people were awake and spending their time outside. Since other were people awaking, I knew my family back at their camper was as well. I started riding as fast as I could, as I thought of excuses why I was missing in the morning. I’m probably just going to say I went to the public bathrooms so I didn’t wake anyone by going into the camper to use the one in there. I really didn’t think it would matter that I decided to go out for a bike ride. I can just tell them that. It’s honest, and endearing.


I was on the same road as the campground, and I could see my cousin rising out of the tent we slept in just that previous night. He looked a little confused. He turned his head side to side trying to find site of me. I yelled out his name. “Josh!” He saw me, and looked even more confused. I rode up to the tent to approach him. “Hey bud, where the hell were you?” as he said that jokingly. I began to explain to him that I was so bored I decided to go on a bike ride. And instead of him asking me why, or asking me how was it, or even asking me how I didn’t get lost, he said this, “My mom is not hearing one word of this.” He hit the bullseye with that one. Aunt Jessica will not be let on about my little adventure out of boredom.
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"EVAN" Official Selection- All-American High School Film Festival (https://www.gofundme.com/2z56pa6j)

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With nine of our films winning awards at various regional film festivals, 2015 was a break out year for Rough Cut Productions 

Perhaps most impressive is "EVAN", which we recently learned is an Official Selection for the 2015 All-American High School Film Festival, the most prestigious of its kind, from Oct 9-11th. Literally thousands of films produced by young filmmakers from around the world were submitted and we made the Cut!

We've set up this GoFundMe to help subsidize the unfortunately high costs associated with our film team attending this amazing weekend. 

"EVAN" will be officially screened at the AMC25 in Times Square on Sat, Oct 10th, all attendees will benefit from a full weekend of workshops led by industry professionals, and the Festival rounds out with an Awards Gala at Kings Theater in Brooklyn. 

Your support will help cover the following costs:
-All-Access Passes for our film team ($275 per)
-2 Nights in a Hotel ($250 per)
-Transportation to/from NY ($50 per)

Help Jenny, Sieanna, Brian and Marshall be present as months of their creativity, professionalism and passion is celebrated on the big screen!


https://www.gofundme.com/2z56pa6j


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9th Grade Technology Class

The 9th Graders learn about networks in order to understand all the Acceptable Use Polices in their lives. We begin with their home network.















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100% Spanish

¡​Felicitaciones! Congratulations so far to both B band and E band Spanish 1 for speaking 100% Spanish in class today. Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to a great school year learning Spanish together!

Here are some of the things we've learned to say in Spanish so far:
  • greetings in Spanish along with their signs in ASL
  • how to ask someone his/her name and to say your own name
  • some frases útiles (useful phrases) in the classroom
  • We learned this song: "¿Cómo te llamas?" by Gonín
So if you have a student in Spanish 1, greet them in Spanish!
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Mr.Gerwer Letter of Introduction

Dear Science Leadership Academy Families, It is with great excitement and humility that I write this letter of introduction to you as newly appointed Co-Principal of Science Leadership Academy. Last year I had the opportunity to get to know our wonderful students, staff, and families and the unique culture of our community in the role of Intern Principal. My work took me into classrooms, across hallways, on trips, and anywhere else I needed to be to support our students and teachers. As co-principal, I will continue to focus on empowering members of our community to be the best versions of themselves by offering constant support and fostering commitment to our core values. 

Before coming to SLA, I was in the classroom for 12 years. I started out as a special education classroom assistant in Sacramento, California, then came to Philadelphia as a high school English teacher and Special Education case manager at Frankford and Dobbins High Schools before becoming the Special Education Liaison at Dobbins High School. My work has always centered around finding ways to design, create and support learning environments that are flexible in terms of student learning styles and abilities. In addition, I share SLA’s belief that students should do purposeful work based in their experiences and passions with the support of a caring community. 

As September approaches, all of us at SLA are working to make sure that the upcoming school year will be one which continues and enhances our legacy of innovation and success. We have a lot we are excited about in the coming year including integrating our new CTE programs fully into the life of the school, weaving in more interdisciplinary projects, and continuing to build on our ability to create learning opportunities that allow the application of unique skillsets, abilities and experiences. I look forward to working with Mr. Lehmann and the rest of the SLA community to grow our school. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions. I look forward to the upcoming school year and the chance to get to know everyone. 

Sincerely, 
Aaron Gerwer 
Co-Principal 
Science Leadership Academy 
agerwer@scienceleadership.org
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Girls Volleyball Practice to Start 8/27


Tryouts for both SLA Center City and SLA Beeber students will take place on August 25th & 26th from 1:30 pm - 4pm at SLA Beeber, located at 59th and Malvern Streets. PIAA sports physicals are mandatory. Bring knee pads and a bottle of water.

*For incoming 9th graders at SLA Center City, students will meet immediately after the Summer Institute and travel to SLA Beeber with the volleyball manager. 

Updated Pre-season practice schedule
8/27: SLA Beeber, 1-4pm
8/28: SLA Beeber, 1-4pm
9/2: Lloyd Hall, 1-4 pm
9/3: Lloyd Hall, 1-4 pm
9/4: Lloyd Hall, 1-3 pm

* 9/8: First game of the season against Saul HS

For any questions contact coach Karina Hirschfield at khirschfield@scienceleadership.org.
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Ultimate Frisbee Captains' Practice

There is an optional practice for all Ultimate Frisbee players - girls and boys - directly after Summer Institute on Tuesday through Thursday, 8/25-27. The teams will be leaving from Science Leadership Academy at 12:10 and will play through 2:30. Contact boys co-captain Jonas Bromley at jbromley [at] scienceleadership.org for more information. 
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Cheerleading Mini-Clinic

There will be a competitive cheerleading interest "mini-clinic" on Friday, August 28, 2015 at SLA @ Beeber from 10AM-12PM with Coach Peggy Gilligan in the gym.  Please come dressed ready to work out.  Try-outs for the team will take place during the first week of school.  Please make sure that if you are planning on trying out that you have a CURRENT PIAA physical.  Coach Peggy will have extra copies if you need them to take to your doctor. 
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Girls Soccer Practices During Summer Institute

Girls Soccer practice/tryouts will be held on the following dates:
Tuesday-Thursday, August 25-27 time TBD
Tuesday-Thursday, September 1-3 time TBD

We will meet at SLA 20 minutes before practice begins to walk to the field together. Players must have shinguards and water to practice and may not compete without a PIAA physical. 

Contact Ms. Siswick for more information at zsiswick@scienceleadership.org
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Cross-Country Practices to Start 8/25

All students are welcome to join the 2015 Cross Country Team! All runners at every level are welcome.

Practice begins on August 25th, rain or shine. Please bring a water bottle and a piece of fruit. Here's the pre-season and beginning of school schedule:

8/25, 26, 27 : Practice from 7-8:45
9/1, 2, 3 : Practice from 7-8:45

9/7, 8 : No practice

9/9, 11, 14, 15, 16: practice from 7-8 am

On 9/18, we will resume our regular after-school practice schedule.

The first meet is scheduled for 9/10 at the Belmont Plateau.

Please email Coach Owens with any questions:

sowens@scienceleadership.org 
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SLA Summer Technology Program

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For the past three years SLA (SLA refers to both campuses of Science Leadership Academy, SLA Center City and SLA Beeber) has been running a summer program called SLA's Summer Technology Program. This program is in partnership with the Ellis Trust, The Charles E. Ellis Trust for Girls (The Ellis Trust) helps eligible young women in Philadelphia excel in high school and be prepared for postsecondary success.


This program not only empowers our students to be technicians that can fix all parts physical and software related to our one to one laptop program; they are also empowered as ambassadors of our school and the "SLA way". The girls participate in and help manage the events that take place at the center city location all summer long.


The program starts the weekend after the fourth of July and lasts until the last day of August. During this time SLA hosts a Summer Teacher Institute and a student Summer Institute.  The summer also holds tours for perspective students, interviews for perspective transfer and new ninth grade students and phone conferences with principals from both campuses.


The tradition, for the Ellis Trust, back when they had a brick and mortar school was to graduate each girl with a sewing machine. From the onset of the Summer Technology Program SLA's tradition has been to reward each girl with a laptop and printer for her service to the school. This tradition started with Diana Laufenberg for a graduate in 2013.


The SLA Summer Technology Program was started by Rafaela Torres, Chris Lehmann and Marcie Hull. The program has continued with the help of Mary Beth HertzAdrienne Williams, Jeremy Spry and Chris Johnson.


In the next weeks I plan to showcase all of the girls currently working for the SLA Summer Technology Probram. If the internet has any questions for them, I will be happy to include them in my interview. I plan to ask them about their experience and have them reflect on personal gains of having an experience like this one.


Current Members:

Marcie Hull - Technology Coordinator

Stephen Jones - Computer Support Specialist

Amir Davis - Digital Service Fellow

Leyitha Achoute, Student - SLA Beeber

Jaidah Murray, Student - SLA Beeber

Corinthia Bell, Student - SLA Center City

Tamira Bell, , Student - SLA Center City

Tiarra Bell, Student - SLA Center City


Past Members:

Abdur Saaba - Computer Support Specialist

Alisha Rothwell, Student - SLA Center City

Bailey Collins, Student - SLA Center City

Aateeyah Sharrieff, Student - SLA Center City

Dejanhia Johnson, Student - SLA Center City

Imani Rothwell, Student - SLA Center City

Korah Lovelace, Student - SLA Center City

Katherine Hunt, Student - SLA Center City



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SLAphotolab "I am not the same any more" Exhibition (Tues, 6/16 630-830p)

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Another 75 students have completed an entire year of photographic studies. Come see their amazing work!

Join us for our 3rd Major Show since we formed in 2014.


All images are available (print to order) to help support the growth of our programming at Science Leadership Academy for the 2015-16 school year.

Help us
spread the word far and wide so we pack the house.

https://www.facebook.com/events/612268388875619/ (Links to an external site.)

for more info visit our site- roughcutproductions.org

Hope to see you all there,
SLAphotolab
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The Real Cost Behind Cheap Prices

In my first blog post, I explained all the research I did on sweatshops. To remind you guys, a sweatshop is a factory or workshop usually in the garment industry where workers are exploited by being forced to work overtime, receiving low wages, toiling long hours in unsanitary conditions where they are exposed to health and safety hazards, violations of labor laws, and sometimes sexual harrassment. I read about many appalling cases where workers were abused and forced to do awful things like getting an abortion to keep their jobs. That lead me to wonder, if workers are being treated in such conditions, why do sweatshops exist? As I clarify in my second blog post, which you can find here, I learned that sweatshops are becoming the foundation of a ¨fast fashion¨ industry characterized by the relentless drive for speed.

Now, since violations of labor laws are being made all over the world, what is being done to raise awareness and elicit positive change? There are organizations around the world that are helping to ensure that the fundamental rights of workers are respected. A great example would be the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organizations from 16 European countries who educate and mobilize consumers, lobby companies and governments, and offer direct solidarity support to workers as they fight for their rights and demand better working conditions. Recently, they have helped to gather 30 million dollars in compensation for Rana Plaza workers after the building collapsed killing over 1100 sweatshop laborers. Another organization against sweatshop labor is the Fashion Revolution and they strive to change the fashion industry into an industry that values people, the environment, creativity, and profit in equal measure. To raise awareness, they ask people to participate in their Fashion Revolution Day on April 24 every year which is also the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse. To participate, you can do the following:

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My opinion on these tactics is that raising awareness is the right way to go. People do not realize that the instant gratification of a cheap new shirt is far outweighed by its social and environmental impacts. We are talking about a form of modern slavery here! If more people are becoming aware and showing support by asking where their clothes came from, spreading the word on social media, donating money to non-profit organizations, and avoiding brands where clothes are unethically made, companies will be pushed to make improvements by monitoring their supply chain and ensuring that none of their clothes are being made in sweatshops.


For my Agent of Change, I put up a clothing line signed by pledgers who agreed to purchase only ethically made items for the next 35 days. I first had to explain to them what a sweatshop is and how raising awareness would help with this issue and then I told them what brands they were able to shop at and what brands they should avoid. I was trying to raise awareness as well as getting people to avoid stores that have their merchandise constructed in a sweatshop. I felt very hectic trying to get signatures because I had to do a lot of talking over and over again and then they did not even sign the pledge. I was surprised that people were very honest and they did not sign my pledge just to sign it, the ones who knew that they were going shopping soon turned me down. As a result almost all of my friends refused, but they said that they felt bad. Because of this I was very frantic and got tired of repeating myself so much. I think that I could have made this better by going to advisories and explaining all at once what my agent of change is about. That way, I would not get tired of speaking and I think I could’ve gotten more signatures. What’s left for us to do is to abide by the pledge, and remember the real cost behind the cheap prices every time we shop unethically.


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An ending to an agent of change

Agent Of Change


  • The purpose for my Agent of Change is that I want to get other people’s perspective about what’s happening today. With people’s thoughts combined, I can be able to do more that would help and understand and focus on the main concept to prevent violence and brutality.

  • I have permission to go around Philadelphia and getting people to understand the concept of what really happening in our society right now, considering the things that has already happened such as the I can’t Breathe Eric Garner case.

  • I have emailed my parents about this and they believe that there can be a chance for me to take advantage of it, to do everything you can to change and prevent as much as I can. I have also emailed my neighbors, friends, classmates, as well as my family members.

  • I am also working on a website so everyone can see  and hear my opinion about Domestic Violence and brutality with different topics upon what we can do, how can we prevent Domestic Violence and get opinions out there on social media so everyone will be able to see.

Hyperlinks: Blog Post 1, Blog Post 2


Things that have been done is sharing my blog out there, being able for people to see what they believe in and what they have to say about it is really important for the matter at hand. I’ve gotten so many feedback from people who inspired me to do more than this, that they acknowledge me to put my opinion out there, to put everything I know so far on a working piece that people can see and reply on. That is the reason why I created a website.

Link: Nate's Website

My opinion in the way these changes is talking about more and being able to do something, go on strike, talk about it to other people, do as much as you can to get the word out there, this isn’t a fight for ourselves, this is a fight to prevent violence to every black lives out there.

I have recently taken several surveys from different websites, as well as wearing a pin on my bookbag that says I can’t breathe on it representing Eric Garner. I have been apart in a donation for blacks lives matter, me and my mom who donated $20 together.

Doing this project was a dream come true for me, I feel like I have gained experienced a lot from this knowing the right path to take for human rights, as well as knowing my rights as a citizen and not abusing them, but knowing how to respect one another, but if we see others who are not respected or giving a good influence on others Don’t think were just going to stand by and watch, were going to do something about it, Doing this project was stressful but overcoming, I did it for a worthy cause and something I can see myself leading an example. A remembrance for the rest of my life. As i said, I learned how to be a better advocate and a lead of confidence towards others. What I learn from others is to do, then to think, because doing will get you somewhere in life more than thinking. What I think I could have done better is the deadline, I’ve noticed that I am really late and a little slacked off at the very end, but I am able to try my best finishing strong at the end. I think there is nothing left to do but to keep on fighting, we still need creative ideas, victory for us citizens isn’t done, what we need to do is Think before we do, we do take action before we think but if we want to surpass this, we must think of a way.

Annotated Bibliography


Editor, Author, or Compiler Name (last name, first name). “Name of Page (in quotes).” Name of Institution/Organization Affiliated with the Site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation/last update (if available). Medium of publication. You date of access. Website URL.


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History Final Portfolio

This year in History has been an eye opener for me. This class has help me to see the world in a totally different light. Before this year I felt like I had vague understanding of the world in some aspects. I knew the surface of some topics, I never took the time or energy to actually dig deeper. I want to thank Mr.Block for aiding my classmates and I on this wonderful adventure. From pollution to colonization, our learning has been broad.  I’m able to teach others what I know and ideas that I have explored. Mr. Block helped us to see both sides of global issues. It’s always easy to see the obvious side of things but it’s harder to play devil’s advocate and try to understand the not too obvious side of the story.  I enjoyed learning how to do this, because if you know both sides your arguments are stronger. The courses I enjoyed the most this year were the Modern Revolution course and the Sweatshops trial.  

As mentioned in the previous paragraph the first course that was meaningful for me was the  Modern Revolution course. With that course we studied many old and modern day revolutions. We explored the Arab Springs Revolution along with the Yemen Revolution and we researched information about the Haitian and French Revolution. After exploring all of the Revolutions we were asked to create a digital story that answered an arguable question about Revolutions. My question was “ What does success mean in a revolution ?”.  I was very proud of my Digital story, because I feel like people define success differently. At the end of Digital story I wanted people to know that  “just because the initial is not reached in a revolution doesn't mean the revolution was unsuccessful.” Researching different revolutions also help to see that the use of non violence is always better than the use of violence. Non violence sets you apart from your opposer when they are using violence against you. It helps you to still have respect for yourself and your people. It tells the opposer that they can take everything away from you except your pride. I think that’s an amazing idea and concept to understand. While exploring the Arab Springs Revolution I came across a quote that really touched me and will always stick with me. Political Professor Gene Sharp said ”Once the regime was no longer able to frighten people and people then act wisely and keep non violent discipline, which is extremely important, then that regime is in big trouble”. This quote said to me that once you no longer fear your opposer, your opposer is in big trouble because basically now you’re unstoppable. It’s very true, because when you’re no longer scared you have nothing to lose and people who have nothing to lose are the scariest. The Modern Revolution course will always be one of my favorites.

The second course I mentioned was the Sweatshops trial. Trials always helped me acquire understanding skills. Knowing all sides to a story always make your individual argument stronger. Although the verdict for the trial charged my group the Elites with the most guilt points I still believe capitalism was the most responsible for the treatment of the workers. After the trial I realize everyone played in a part in the treatment of the workers even the workers themselves. It wasn’t just one person's fault. That helped me to see something with the bigger problems we have in today’s world. We do things but don’t take in consideration the effects it has on other people all around the world. It’s an unending cycle that I don’t think will ever stop.

Throughout the year I found answers to a great deal of questions I had. I feel like I changed as a person. My inquiry and research skills have really improved. History has really changed my thinking so much that I’m actually thinking about looking into teaching history for my major. I want to open the eyes of people and fill minds with knowledge just how Mr. Block did for my classmates and I.  


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Animal Care-Grows and Glows

Throughout my You and The World project I had my ups and downs or my Glows and Grows. My Glows was the original research where I visited a animal shelter called The Paws Center and another animal shelter The ASPCA Center which is well known and I interviewed an animal volunteer. Another Glow is my Agent of Change where I made an Outdoor Protective Shelter for Homeless and Abused and Abandoned Animals. A Grow is my timing on the Agent of Change because if I had more time I could have fund-raised more money to build a better and bigger shelter than the one I built. Another Grow was the fundraiser because it was not really planned out as it could have been and students did not take my sale seriously and when I stepped out for a moment another student stole two products. I wish I had found a good place with homeless, abused, and abandoned animals where I could have put my Shelter, it could have been a better helped in a more populated area. My shelter will help better where help is needed. I want to know more about animal interest like toys and treats to add to the shelter so it can become more of an interest. My original research went well because I received a tour of the ASPCA building and I was allowed to interview one of the workers. If I could I would change the date of my visit because the first day I went I missed the worker I was going to meet because she clocked out the second I arrived. My Agent of Change is starting to work and a lot of the food and water supplied are disappearing which means it is useful. So my Agent of Change did have an impact I hoped for.
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La Copa Mundial 2015 (World Cup 2015)

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​¡La Copa Mundial ha empezado (has started)!

Use the images and links below to help you answer the following questions about la Copa Mundial 2015. Respond in the comments:
  1. ¿En dónde es la Copa Mundial?
  2. ¿Cuándo es?
  3. El lunes 8 de junio, ¿los Estados Unidos (USA) jugó contra qué país (country)? ¿Quién ganó (won)?
  4. ¿Cuándo es el próximo (next) partido de los Estados Unidos? ¿Contra qué país?
  5. Mira el mapa de los equipos participantes. ¿Cuáles (Which) equipos son de países hispanohablantes (spanish-speaking)?
Click on this link to the official website of La Copa Mundial. Look around and find 3 other pieces of information that you understand en español.
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