Advanced Essay bu Luke W-S Nothing


My goals while writing this was to write something clean and to make it crisp and grasping. I feel for the first thing I did well was time management because I had almost everything done a full day ahead at least for each due date. I feel as well my ability to broaden the topic like nothing helped me write a good essay. I'd like to improve on describing because things such as describing, grammar is something to always improve one

Description of artwork:

My picture is a picture I carry everywhere. It’s a photo of me, my twin brother Aaron and my older brother Dessler. We at this time are hiking I am like 4, and so is Aaron. Dessler is about six. My twin brother and I are wearing red shirts. I honestly do not know which one is which in this picture. Until we were 6 every picture we look the exact same. My older brother has a white shirt on. Not plain, it has a picture on it consisting of other smaller pictures. We are on a trail at this moment. We were almost on the way back to the car as we take this picture. As we take this my older brother and one of us have our arms over each other’s shoulders. While Aaron and I lock elbows and 1 of us point at ourselves. All three of us have black basketball shorts on. We also all look extremely similar almost like triplets. As we take this there is a lot of shade in the background from trees. These trees make it a good spot for a picture with a fair balance of sunlight. The ground is a pavement. Gray and smooth so when we used to ride our bikes along this trail as a kid when we went hiking. I believe that we are a fair height and are extremely happy in the photo. Sadly I do not remember well as I was young. Finally, my brothers and I had fun this day and as a token to our friendship I carry this in my wallet.  

Dubois- Good description of articles of clothes

Declan- Talk about trees

Memory 1:

As we walk this trail we always begin walking by the creek. We continued down past the bridges to do our echos. As a kid making huge echos was fun. But as we finished our echos we saw a trail we never saw before. So we decided to walk down it. As we walked down it we soon realized we have no idea how to get back. As my brother panicked we tried to work our way back onto known ground. We were surrounded by so many plants and felt isolated into the forest. As kids we were afraid we’d become like the kids in lord of the flies. But after a while we saw a deer. Uncommon in philly even for a common hiking area sent us running like rabbits. We didn’t know that deers were not dangerous so the idea of one freaked us out. So we eventually ran into a place we knew. A commonly known rock that was known because of its unnecesary size. So we climbed the rock and found the trail we needed so we wouldn’t be lost anymore. So that day we learned things such as deers are scared of us and that when you are lost don’t panic and manage your surroundings.

Memory 2:

As a kid I would go to camp every year. It was an overnight wilderness camp and we every year played the best game ever. One that is very hard to play if you have no athletic skill, critical thinking and self awareness. Usually this made my team lose every single year(misunderstood the game). So this game is mission impossible. Like the movie you are given a task to find the pieces in 4 different parts of the camp. You have 60 minutes in the middle of the night to get as many as you can and to return to the base. So a few years ago we started and five minutes later many people screwed up on my team. They were afraid of all the trees and the surroundings. This was frustrating. So early in the match the people who search for you and if caught twice you lose we were caught because another team was too loud. So here is the relation we ended up after two objects getting lost. A few of our teammates were unaware of what to do and the surroundings scared them so we had to turn in ourselves so those kids would leave the group. After the third object we were almost found again. At this time we hid in bushes and I kicked a beehive. Stinging me a dozen times along with my teammates. So when we returned I had cuts and stings everywhere and by being handed every single year bad teams I lost every single time. But through the cuts and stings I had a lot of fun playing the best game ever.

Frustrating- Indee

Awareness- Lukas

Surroundings, cuts- Xavier

Relation- Jake

Kicked, Misunderstood- Zeshawn

Memory 3- I remember this game as if it was yesterday. The 2008 world series brought joy to all Philadelphians. Brad Lidge exits the bullpen to try and earn a save so the Phillies will win the world series. First up to bat is Evan Longoria 3B for tampa bay. After two pitches he gets to a 0-2 count, leading to a foul and an end result being a popout to Chase Utley leading the Phillies to their first out. We are a third of the way to being champs. Dioner Navarro comes up to bat. Lidge takes him to an early 0-2 count. Navarro anticipates and takes the ball to shallow right field for a single. Next the second basemen for Tampa Bay comes up to the plate. Ben Zobrist. After the 1-1 count the pinch runner steals second base putting a runner in scoring position for tampa bay. Zobrist on the 1-2 count lines it to right field making the phillies only one more out from being world champions. The next batter earlier in the matchup hit a homerun to center field. The first pitch results in a foul ball making an 0-1 count. The next pitch is a check swing by the batter. But the umps say that he went around the plate. The 0-2 count put the longest time between pitches for phillies fans. “The 0-2 pitch swing and a miss, struck em out the phillies are the 2008 world champions of baseball”.- Harry Kalas. At this moment my brothers and I dogpiled celebrating the win. One of the best nights ever, happening with the people in the artwork above my brothers.


by Luke Watson-Sharer

Nothing sings, talks, walks and sleeps. Nothing has the ability to persuade.  Nothing has skills and concepts. Nothing has been here forever. Nothing tells us everything we know as nothing but everything as well. Nothing is our freedom as well as our dictator. Nothing is action; it is idleness. Nothing has power to give and take life.

Part 1: Action and Idleness

The sun, poised above the zinc roof, fried the wilting branches of mango and avocado trees.  Both trees gently cried for rain. Together, roof and trees, sheltered an elderly, blind woman relaxing on the veranda.  With each gentle push with her worn, calloused feet, she moved the rocking chair against the cement.  It was another afternoon waiting for another evening.  

She would wait for her great-grandchildren to walk the dusty path home from school. She would wait for  rain to quench the dirt’s thirst.  She would wait for the night’s news of the day’s events.  She would wait for the sun to quickly disappear and for her bed to plead for her presence.

The elderly woman would spend the afternoon anticipating the wealth of family and food.  Her movements were slight.  Her gestures were nearly invisible.  Her memories were wrapped into her lap blanket.  She counted the tassel of thread, worn with her thumbs.  Then, tapped her feet to a tune no one could hear.  Nothing”,” but still air waiting for a splash of rain.  The elderly blind woman did nothing while remembering and foreseeing everything.

Part 2:  Idleness and Action

As they load the panga at the docks, they lose count.  One, two, three, four…. the count fades with the thump of another load.  Ah, nothing.

The driver signals.  There’s room.  Climb down.  Steady.  Feed bags piled on heads to fill the panga.  Sit on top of feed bags of corn.  Shift.  Move the cobs to form a cushion.

They need to get on the panga.  The sun is here but then there will be nothing.  No light on the river.  No full moon.  Just the still, damp slap of the water on the river’s bed.  Soon the boat will remain idle.  Another day lost.  Tomorrow to gain.

Where will they go?  Anywhere.  Nowhere.   Escaping no food.  Escaping threats of breathing.  Forced travelers from all paths meander to the river.  Dying for prosperity as blind as a bat sleeping in the sun.  

The travelers walk the path, which leads to a boat.  The boat, covered in rust brown as bark; or it is red? The bark of mahogany draped before the river. The bark of a mutt snug against the first woman apparently in her second trimester.  Or, it nothing but a lump of air. A deep breath?  Then, she exhales relief; next Inhales fear.  Nothing to fear but caring for a child she will soon bare.

Behind her is a man missing an ear.  Does he hear?  The hole, instead of an ear, is formed from his head. It’s flat as a mid day horizon.  His two eyes that peer at the boat piled with what could be nothing.  As he bends, his white ripped shirt covers ribbs.  His frame as long and thin as the first woman’s is short and round.  They stand, lean and move toward the boat with nothing but their hope for a seat on cobs of corn. Nothing but full sacks.

More people move toward the boat. Just one more seat. Finally, the driver holds up his hand:  STOP.  He nods and then shakes his head. The boat is full.  20 pounds could cost a life.  Ah, but 20 pounds are nothing!  

The driver says in a low, hoarse tone:  “The owner will kick everyone off if nobody follows.” Huh?  Everyone is quick to throw something. A small, knit bag, a pair of holy socks or even a new blanket. With the toss of each item, the sky turn grey. The stillness turns to twists of wind.   The clouds quickly fill with rain.  Then, splat and splash.

With no dusk, the sun is gone and the driver becomes skeptical. Why chance the nothingness of night on a river?  Why risk the sacks of corn?  Why expose the travelers to a watery grave?  The boat driver’s eyes suddenly fill with blood.  His veins drained of hope.  Hopelessness is nothingness.  

Surprised, the rain subsides. The remaining raindrops play a game of tag with the dust along the river’s banks. They are the center of civilization.  One hundred kilometers from nowhere. If only the boat could float and carry the woman in her second trimester, the long man needing a shirt, the old couple smug in their hugs along with the line of humanity clinging to the hope of surviving tonight.  Nothing else left of hope.

The driver makes the call.  His head tells him the river will be their guide.  The river will coddle them with sweet waves and sounds of nothingness under a dark, moonless sky.  He carefully reaches for the travelers, guiding them, assisting them, helping them sit between the cobs of corn.  Then, out of nowhere, the boat becomes unbalanced. The long, lean man tips to the right.  A streak of lightning brightens the sky.

The water splurges into the back of the boat as the lean man dives into the river’s waves.  Head first.  Feet last.  Disappear into the nothingness of river. Everyone gasps.  Who is next?  

 The rain is no longer tapping the river’s waves.  It is churning in anger.  The sacks of corn begin to sway.  Next, the woman in her second trimester loses her grip. She rolls off the sack of corn and into the river’s waves.  Her body bounces against the boat.  She grabs the side pulling a sack, and then young child, into the waves.

Where is the moon?  Where is the lightning? The sky has nothing to offer.  Only the clouds give.  They give rain and more rain.  The only light is the corn.

The boat quietly melts into the river.  The motor attempting to fight.  The driver treads water.  There are a few other bouncing heads.  Will any one remember?  Is it too much to forget?  Is there nothing left?    

The sun rose at 5 AM.  Bright, round, and licking the gentle waves of the river.  Cobs of corn were caught in a mango grove.   Nothing left to reveal the graves of longing for everything.  Receiving nothing. Their loss may seem like nothing in the midst of war but it was everything no one hoped for. Idling. Similar to those boys in the woods, knowing none of their locations, scared of what is to come and if they’d find a way back to the trail, waiting for a tomorrow.  Waiting for nothing.

Advanced Essay #1: Not A Forever Thing

In this essay I wanted it to somewhat be a new introduction for the type of writing that I want to be able to do in 11th grade.  I wanted to get out of my old writing habits and make it my goal to try something new this year. I think that I did a pretty good job in my first few paragraphs. I got my points across and used different descriptive techniques. Yet, I feel like I could’ve possibly carried that technique throughout the body of my paper more.

I don't want to write like this forever

   The ideas run through my head constantly, but I don't  know where to go from there. I can get a few sentences here and there and try to put them together but 50 percent of the time it's not simple for me.

   Sometimes it seems as if I have all the ideas in the world and can find a topic to write about in a heartbeat. Other times I feel as though my brain is like a math scatter plot. One point is way up in the positives and the other is low down in the negatives. While looking at all of my points on the scatter plot, I begin searching around trying to find a way for them to connect.

   I feel like when I have nothing to write about and my brain seems empty, I always resort back to a certain topic. I find myself not knowing and deciding to write about my Grandma. Specifically her death. I don't want to be that "writer" who only writes about the most sad and depressing moments that they've experienced.  I want to show that  I've experienced more than that. I don't want all of my writing to be about times that I've dealt with loss. There has been infinit of times when I've had the exact opposite of a loss and have gained and found like no other. Yet it feels like those bad times stay with you day in and day out. I seem to remember a loss 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

   Yesterday's writing assignment felt like one of those days for me. I wrote a journal entry style excerpt. As much as I wanted to pick the most fun or the funniest memory possible, I couldn’t gather myself to do it. Instead the entry said,

   “They say April showers bring May flowers and I am more than ready for these flowers to bloom. I’m tired of the rain. I’m tired of the dreariness. I’m tired of the gloomy days. Can this last day of showers be over already. Tomorrow is the first day of May I hope for the sun to shine and the birds to chirp like all of the cliche things that you hear about in the stories. But I know it won’t be that simple. Today’s my last day here at my grandma's house before the new owner comes to pick up the keys later tonight. After 15 years of spending most of my days here and it being the family house for the last 40 years I’m distraught. It’s all going to be over. Everything is moved out ready for the new owners to move in. Yesterday we took the final pieces out of the house and all I remembered was my mom putting my grandma's silver antique tea set into the trunk of her car.

   The memories began to pour in. Always wanting to use it and have a tea party with my grandma. Wondering why it didn’t sing or dance like the tea set from Beauty & The Beast. Or even the times when I use to sneak and open the china closet door to pretend to pour tea but finding money hidden in the tea pot.

   Those memories led me to even more memories of when I didn’t mind the April showers. The memories that all took place before July 17, 2011. Before my grandma passed away. Back when when everything was ok. When everyday was a good day. Oh how much I pray for those days again to bloom like the flowers in May”.   

I don't want to write like this forever

   I was explaining a time when I felt sad, vulnerable, and confused. It was like a trip down memory lane. A time when change wasn’t something that I wanted to get used to. Everything that I became accustomed to was suddenly turning into the opposite. I believe that change is good, but when it hits you full speed while you're not paying attention, it become hard to adjust.

 But I want to grow as a writer and find a way to write like I haven't before. I want to dig deep into my memories and pick out the old fun ones that I can't help but smile about when I think of them. The memories that aren't so clear and I have to get the rest of the details from my friends and family. The memories that are so positive and will eventually surpass all the ones that involve any type of loss.

I don't want to write like this forever

  Maybe this is one of those moments. The writing assignments are being thrown at me left and right and that proves that it’s time for me to progress as a writer. With each essay I want to strive and create new ideas. Although all authors occasionally have trouble brainstorming ideas, no one wants to be a redundant writer. I want to take time out to think of the most unique things possible I don't want to be the writer who struggles with getting in touch with their writing and finding ways to be good at it. I want my writing to be able to flow out of me and onto my paper. I want my papers to be full of alliteration and the reader to not be able to hold back their anticipation of reading the rest. I want my writing to sound like lovely music to a trained ear.

    I'd like my writing to be great for me. I want to show myself that I've improved over the years. I'd like to prove to myself that poems are more than rhyming words and that my analytical essays are more than online facts. Not only do I want my writing to be remembered by others, but for me to love and remember it too.

Advanced Essay #1: Unprecedented Paths

This paper was written to show how much power friendship can really have in shaping all of our lives. I feel that through this essay, I was able to describe my experience very well, and show just how important friendship is to me. I think that I could improve making the larger idea just a little stronger​, even though I think I did a good job strengthening it in the revision process. I could also improve the overall flow of the essay. Overall, friendship can mean something different for all of us, but there will always come a time when we will need the support of others in our lives.

I entered the doors on the ground level of the school theater. As I walked across the blue vinyl flooring, I took in all of my surroundings. The cushioned seats, the soundboard on the mezzanine level, and above me to my right, the stage. I watched as my band instructor, who also happened to be in charge of soundcrew for the play, walked down the carpeted stairs from the mezzanine. Smiling from ear to ear, he instructed me to get on the stage and help the blonde haired girl he called Cosette untangle the wires. “Jules, this is Cosette. Cosette, this is Juliana.” The small blonde girl had a friendly smile, one that told me I was safe, and I waved my hand smiling back to greet her. I have a feeling that she could tell I was nervous; this was my first sound crew rehearsal, and my social skills back in eighth grade weren’t anywhere close to where they are now. I still had yet to feel the importance of a true friendship in my life.

As I studied her and gathered my first impressions, it began to feel as if I were staring into a mirror. Her eyes weren’t coated in black eyeliner as mine were, and her slightly blonder hair wasn’t flattened down by a straight iron; it was still straight, but had a little wave to it. Even our facial features were strikingly similar. It didn’t take long for our band instructor to notice this similarity between us, and thus I was soon given the nickname “Baby Cosette.” In the duration of the three other years we had been attending the same middle/high school, with a population of only five hundred kids, it was hard to believe that I had never once seen her in my life before. Somehow, everything was meant to align in this moment, and it was finally time for her to be introduced into my life, and me into her’s.

It’s been a little over two years since that first interaction occurred. I put down the eyeliner and the flat iron, and my hair is a little shorter now. After deciding she needed change in her life, Cosette’s hair is now red (and she’s grown fond of wearing a fedora nowadays). I can’t imagine the paths I could have taken if the one that led me to her had never existed. My life was sailing towards treacherous seas, and this ship would not have stayed grounded if it wasn’t for her anchor. I would have gotten a lot more hours of sleep, but sometimes the best conversations happen at three in the morning. If we didn’t have each other, our greatest secrets would stay trapped inside our heads, bouncing off of each part of our brains and begging for a way out through our mouths. There comes a time when everyone needs the support of someone else. We weren’t built to bear all of the weight of the world on our shoulders alone, or keep every good moment to ourselves. Humans share ideas and become stronger through friendship, as we gain a new perspective in which to look at the world around us.

For someone who has been to hell and back, Cosette is filled with so much life. Pain, sorrow, emptiness, happiness, wonder, amazement, and even pure joy- she has seen the whole spectrum. Her resilience is like none other than I’ve seen. Everyday she fights to stay alive in a world that has wanted her dead. She is my inspiration and all that I strive to be as as a person. We all need that one person to look to in our lives.

A lot can happen in two years, let alone one year. You meet new people, and two friends become a group of four. New memories are made. Sometimes it’s staying up until the sun rises just to change the lyrics to some song in hopes that it’ll give us all a good laugh. Other times it’s dancing around in separate rooms to celebrate an important event in our lives. You all wind up growing together, and ultimately become stronger people. With friends like mine, you never know what you’re in for when you wake up the next day. You could be hearing the best or the worse news of your life, and there’s nothing that you can do to prepare yourself. So you hope for the best, and move through life with as many laughs as you can. That’s what friendship is all about.

I’ve never had much of a history of being terrified of change. To some extent, change brings out a fear in us all, no matter how small. We are creatures of habit, we can’t help it. This being said, I’m quite terrified of losing my close friends. Everybody seems to have some sort of plan for their future, or at least have some idea of the road they’re going to travel down. I feel as though I may be left in the dust, as I have no sense of direction. I’m is just another lost soul trying to make her way through this complicated world. However, I’m sure a lot of people feel this way too. As long as I’ve got my friends by my side though, the world shouldn’t be as much of a scary place.

Advanced Essay #1- The Get Back

​After writing this essay, I learned things about myself that I didn't realize. I learned in order for me to fully move on with my life and no longer hold a grudge, I have to forgive people who hurt and let go. I was really able to connect with this writing piece because having my best friend and boyfriend kiss was heartbreaking, but made the writing even stronger. I could have improved on my larger idea though, and reflected more descriptively. Overall, I am very pleased with my work. Enjoy!

Have you ever been betrayed so unpleasantly by someone you would have never expected to do so? The feeling of your heart crumbling into a million pieces, scurrying to your stomach and turning into butterflies. Knowing that the person never had good intentions since you two first met. A sweat breaks out like a disease and you just want to run far away from that person and the world. Personally, I have experienced these feelings more than once. Not only was it by someone I loved, but also by people I considered to be my best friend.

The only way one can be betrayed is if someone trusts or opens up to another person. Having someone you trust throw everything away like a useless piece of trash is hurtful, especially if it’s a person who you’d thought never leave your side. The feeling of a loss is distressful- regardless of family member, friend, etc. The main way to cope with a loss of someone you thought was your friend is to remember whoever you encounter in life is either there for a reason or a season, but you must be open to this and remember not everyone is meant to be in your life.

I was in the eighth grade. There were 7 other girls whom I considered best friends of mine, we called ourselves “The Crew”. Each of our parents knew the other’s. Everyone was close and no one could break our bond, which was as strong and sturdy as a leather belt. At least I thought it could not be broken. We told each other everything, and could open up about the worst and best experiences that we have been through. Those seven girls meant everything to me, and I could not bear the thought of losing them as friends.

I had a crush on this guy, Dom, since my eyes were first placed on his round cocoa brown face, which was in the sixth grade. He never paid me any mind at first, though, which was pretty embarrassing. After a while I began to lose interest because “spitting game” was getting played out like a repetitive song on the radio. Right when I was over him, at the start of eighth grade, he started to begin liking me. How coincidental. Me, being the weak, insecure, and naive person I was, jumped right back into liking him because I was finally getting the attention I had desired for so long.

Months passed after talking and we had finally decided to make our relationship official. This day, November 13, 2012, meant everything to me. Simply because that was the day that had started the small, yet noticeable, crack in the Crew’s bond.

One dreary winter day, I received a phone call from my boyfriend. His voice was quivering and I could tell something was bothering him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, nervously.

“I need to tell you something.” he said, voice shaking like a massive earthquake

Those six words can either be the best news one could receive or the worst. In my case, it was the worst.

“Suzie and I kissed….” he said blandly.

After he said that, the rest of the words that followed were completely shut out. It kept replaying in my head like a scratched record. Those emotions began seeping in. Heart crumbling, evil butterflies, realization, breaking out of a sweat. Before I could even think about what to say, tears began strolling down my face, they were unstoppable. Not only was he supposed to be my boyfriend, but Suzie was supposed to be my best friend in the Crew!

A very wise man, known by Drake, once said “Tables turn, bridges burn, you live and learn.” Tables turning and bridges burning is exactly what happened in this situation. The tables had unexpectedly flipped on me with no warning by either my best friend nor my boyfriend. They both burned the solid, loyal bridge with me by going behind my back and plunging a 16 inch knife in it. The pain felt was both physical, emotional, and intellectual. Although this happened, life is about learning lessons. These lessons won’t always be learned the easiest way, there will be different trials that will break you down and build you back up. Yet, the key to succeeding in life is learning from the lessons and not making the same decisions that have no benefit to you.

Which brings me to the other question, what exactly had I done so bad to Suzie for her to do this to me? What motivates people to selectively decide on which knife they’ll plunge into their loved one’s back? Is it jealousy, envy, or even hatred? Then I thought, maybe she’s had a problem with me all along but placed these issues behind a mask just to get close to me. They say “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” for a reason. I finally realized that the reason people betray is because their intentions were never pure from the start, which accurate in Suzie’s situation. In conclusion, going through the many lessons I learned from fraudulent friendships has honestly made me stronger as a friend and person.

Advanced Essay#1: The Larger Idea on Relationships

My goals with this paper was to show that  that what you attribute to a relationship should be more than just a title and occasional conversations. Relationships should be cherished just as the memories you make are. With this goal in mind, I believe that I did well on my whole paper overall. I found my essential idea and enlarged it to what the foundation of relationships are. In addition, to how they should mean more of a deeper connection to the other person than just words. I don't think I would want to improve anything. This is the first English 3 piece that I have published this school year and I feel very proud about it.

It was the evening before my mother’s surgery and I had just got home from a hard day of volleyball, school and homework. Entering into my house I first spotted the lime green walls popping out at my eyes with its clean white border assets.  Then on the largest wall in the room, on the left is my favorite painting in the whole home. Placed delicately in a white, 8x11 picture frame is an African-American mother and daughter. They are sitting on a oak hardwood living room floor. The child sits in a pure white leotard in contrast to her mother’s much darker and rich burgundy v-neck leotard. Neither of them are wearing dance tights. They even have one incurably small fragment of their hair in the same spot that is short. It curls over just enough on the mother to touch her forehead. My mother was sitting underneath it on the largest of our 3-piece chocolate furniture set. With her black hair pulled back slickly into a ponytail, and a black tracksuit on she called me over.

“Hey, how was your day?”

“Pretty tiring but I’ll be alright. ” I replied. Then my eyes rolled their way up to the painting above her head and I smiled.

Whenever I see it, I instantly think of myself and my mom. As if I was looking straight into a puddle and saw my reflection. It reminds me of us because the two in the photo provides an instant story to your eyes. Appealing at your senses, showing you to have integrity, to be strong and providing a much deeper connection into their relationship than what small words and sentences could provide. Its description is deep but a picture is worth more than a thousand words. In my case, this picture to me was worth more than just words but it truly gave me the sense of what a relationship should be about. I sat down and listened to my mom talk about her day. Yet, running hastily in my thoughts were questions like

“What key components attribute to a healthy relationship and strong bond?”

I answered that question with the simple thought of how having similarities and common interests lead to connections. The vitality of it though it how it’s delivered--communication. Whether it’s father to son, boyfriend to girlfriend or mother to daughter. Filling in the blank scenario, I used my mom and I. Her eyelids has the same almond-hooded shaped as mine, with dark brown eyes to compliment the fold of brown skin above the socket line. We even smile with the curves of our lips making a similar up parabola shape.  With her round face she would draw a smile with her pearly whites and then give me a large warm hug.

Our relationship is like a key and lock. Our bond is close enough some would consider not only do we look like twins, with our similar eye and lip features, but we act like them too. She’s my best friend, finishing my sentences and knowing spectacle of a detail about myself. Supposedly because I am, nonetheless her daughter but our relationship was more than an overbearing mama bear and chubby cub. Hard situations can make or break people, I was once told. So when I was told on our dark-brown sofa that starry evening about her diagnosis with stage zero cancer, I was terrified. My body felt paralyzed for seconds. Minutes flew by and she still was talking, using descriptive words and providing facts but my mind had muted her tongue. It was like being in front of a television with open ears yet there was no sound. Images appear on the screen and my eyes are open just reading the subtitles. My tear ducts filled with buckets of salty tears ready to stream down my fat cheeks. The first tear was for strength. Such as the woman in the picture, I knew my mother was strong. Her bare feet also touched the ground such as the painting, clenching on to the dark green berber carpet. She couldn’t bear to tell me that no more than I could hear it. My finger lingered over her hair. Touching the smallest fragment that curved over onto her forehead, homogeneously to the picture above the crown of our heads.

I knew she was strong but when she went into surgery a first time I was panicking. Praying constantly to God, I was reassured that she would be fine and she was. Yet not all of this black heavy mass was removed so she chose to have breast reconstruction. I know in my heart that mom is strong like the barefoot woman in the painting on my vivid green living room wall. While, this memory taught me that what you attribute to a relationship should be more than just a title and occasional conversations. Instead, It should have a sensational euphoria no matter what the situation is, but who it’s connected with. This moment happened like lightning struck the evening sky just as I looked up at it. Rather it would be a  sight that I would see into the sky even after it was gone.  


Advanced Essay #1: Strange Skeptic

Homoskepticism is much like homophobia. It damages families and destroys friendships.

It was the end of middle school. We had about three days left before graduation. Nikki and I had been officially dating for about two months now. Charlie, Nikki’s ex and my friend,  had begrudgingly accepted defeat. As for the rumors he spread, the ones about me being the Antichrist, had done whatever damage they could.  I was in math and Brian, a Caucasian, lackadaisical, stoner type, was doing that thing again. He stares at me from across the room. When I turn my head, we made eye contact. He doesn’t break it. His eyes are a turquoise green color. I usually break and try to focus on anything else, but comforted by the knowledge that I would never see him again, I decided to maintain eye contact. He leaned in, resting his head on one hand. I felt hot in the face. I was actively fighting the urge to look away. In waves I started to see him in a new light. His facial structure became striking. The unknowing dullness in his eyes looked happy and bashful. The urge to look away ceased. For the first time he broke eye contact. I should’ve felt good, successful, but I didn’t. I felt cheated. I should’ve felt victorious, but instead I was left with this feeling I can only describe as taboo.

The summer commenced, and I started my quasi experimentation. Later that year my grandfather passed. He had been suffering from Parkinson's disorder. His wife, my grandmother, had died from leukemia  two years earlier.

My grandmother never knew about my sexuality. This is partially because I didn’t know until two years after her death. I suspect that she wouldn’t have accepted it if she had known and I wouldn’t blame her. She grew up in the backwoods of Mississippi. Her parents were devout catholic farmers. Even though she worked to leave her old ways behind her, some things just stuck. She wasn’t necessarily homophobic but rather a homoskeptic.

When I was a child, my grandmother would take me to church. It was one of those big TV churches with the celebrity preachers. The preacher was a handsome man with California tan skin and shiny black hair.  There is one sermon that remains vivid in my memory.  Obviously the topic was marriage and homosexuality. My grandmother was apathetic  during his sermon. I thought back to her wedding and what that must of been like.

There’s a picture of my grandmother hanging above the staircase. In the picture she’s wearing her wedding dress, a white flowing gown with an equally white veil. The veil I s made of lace and forms flowers around the crown of her head.She stands before a decaying chicken wire fence covered in vines. A tall tree stands in the foreground, casting a magnificent shadow that gives the picture depth. Freshly cut grass covers her feet so her shoes aren’t visible. But based on her height I can Behind the chicken wire a glimpse of a sunny field can be found. The picture is originally black and white, but was eventually color tinted. Her lips are colored a baby pink, her skin a coffee creamer brown. Her smile seems painted on too. Her back is artificially arched. Her hands seemed calculated. they lie at her sides and meet between her hips where a banquet of white and pink roses is being tightly gripped. Her elbows seem dainty compared to her shoulder, broad from years of farm work . Even though her legs are covered you can tell her knees are buckled by the way she stands. The picture was taken by her young nephew, Tony.

My mother speculates that he too is gay. The rest of the family suspects the same, but chose to say nothing. They call Tony the lonely bachelor. He lives far away from the entire family, nuclear or otherwise. I’ve been told That his house is heavily populated with cats, but nothing else, no roommates or pictures even though he’s a natural photographer. Although I’ve never met the man and he doesn’t know I exist, I have some theories about him. I think he’s still in denial about his sexuality or maybe he doesn’t understand it. Growing up in Mississippi in the 60’s he was probably surrounded by homophobic and homoskeptic influences. That mixed with devout  catholic   influences could only result in self hatred and shame. He spent much of his time attempting to “pass”.  When he met his limit he ran away.

Although I live a very different life than him, I sympathize with him. If I wasn’t taught to be proud or strong, could I be reliving his life. Yes, I could have been just like him. Skepticism can be just as harmful as hatred.  

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 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 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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

"EVAN" Official Selection- All-American High School Film Festival (

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.31.54 PM
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.31.54 PM

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!

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.54.06 PM
Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.54.06 PM

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.

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!

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. 

Aaron Gerwer 
Science Leadership Academy

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

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] for more information. 

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. 

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

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: 

SLA Summer Technology Program

2015-07-21 12.13.58
2015-07-21 12.13.58

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