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Newtons way of Change

To start off, I want to say that I went to multiple trials and errors in order to come up with my final product. Creating good art that is able to speak and explain to the audience without actually speaking is very difficult, however it is something that I am very good at. 

Just like everyone else, I was given the task to answer one of my 11th grade essential questions which was “What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?”. Below is a brief description of h I came up with the idea of my painting, and what It represents. 

FIrst, I wanted to focus on a person that changed the world. I didn’t want to focus on someone that represented an ordinary American , but someone that was different. Early, in my english class, I researched up one of the greatest scientist of all times named Isaac Newton. I found that he suffered from a lot of different mental illnesses so what better person to chose. Next, I had to think to myself, “How am I going to show his role in creating and sustaining change.?”  and that’s were I got my Idea from. 

I wanted Newton to look different from the other people that were displayed in the painting, I also wanted them to look somewhat lost and show lack of individuality. This is what made me come to the conclusion that I would make the people faceless and make them all have the same body shape. I then wanted my painting to show the Newton is some how letting them know that It is okay to me different and have some type of malfunctions on your way to success. This is what drew me to the conclusion that I wanted to have a path that is interacting with newton and that was also curvy to show that there is no straight path to success. 

In the large picture of Isaac Newton, there is his successes and his inventions on his face , and on the outside written throughout the picture there are his distractions and his disorders. I did this to show that majority of the time, your good out weighs your bad and in Newtons case that is what happened. He was a very successful individual who had problems along the way. 

To go with the idea of the good out weighing the bad, the path is a light bright orange and the background where the faceless people and his flaws are, is this dark royal blue. 

At the top of the paint there is a quote that talks about change and hoe you have to change your thinking in order to change the outside world. Over all, I think this piece is very clear and it answers the essential question in many different ways.  

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Should Murderers Receive Parole?

When it comes to the judicial system, the list goes on about how many things should be corrected and just completely exiled from the laws. One of those decisions being on whether murderers should have parole or live the rest of their lives behind bars. Taking into consideration that some murderers aren’t just one time offenders, some have killed numerous people before actually getting caught. By giving a murderer parole, it sets the family and those involved into a state of injustice and unsatisfaction.  

Once trailed, the convicted receives either 3 options, life in prison, the death penalty or the institution for the criminally insane. For those who receive life in prison, doesn’t always mean a life behind bars. This can only be true if the convicted has what it known as parole. Parole is when a prisoner can be released from prison either temporarily or permanently on account of good behavior. With parole, the person may receive a release date after at least 12-13 years behind bars. Though, it usually depends on the crime committed. For the more harsher crimes, such as killing more than one person, they do receive first degree murder without the possibility of parole. If given a permanent release, this would mean that the murderer gets to walk free as a citizen again. 

After a loved one has been murdered, families don’t really want to hear about the facts and the rights regarding to the convict’s sentencing, unless it contains them being locked up for the rest of their days. The thought of that murderer having the possibility of parole puts them at unease. To know that while the reason for their sorrows is now walking free to live their life and start a new, can be painstaking to absorb. None-the-less, many families frown upon this rule in the judicial system and choose to stand against it because adults aren’t the only people to be murdered, children are too. With that being said, families don’t accept 12-13 years as a fairly ruled punishment, giving the fact that those children either didn’t even experience 12-13 years of their life or just made 12-13 years, which will still never equal out to a life time they will miss out on.

The corporation called Parole Block Program sponsored by Parents of Murdered Children, Inc. is a national organization built around families that have loss their loved one’s due to violence. It helps families to cope with their loss and gives them a chance to take control on whether their murderer should remain behind bars for the remainder of their sentence instead of having the possibility of parole. They write to the courts and highly recommend that the prisoner stays locked up with a reasonable explanation to back it up. Many people involved in this program don’t just do it for themselves but so that others don’t have to go through what they went through because the murderer was released back into society. It also comes down to the prisoner serving their rightful sentence, due to the fact that parole cuts their time in more than half of what they should be serving, resulting in some not serving their appropriate amount of time. The way PBP works, is they try to work with the courts and not so much against them by simply asking the courts to let the prisoner serve their sentence in full, and not necessarily asking for a longer sentence. An example of one story takes place in Omaha, Nebraska: “A paroled killer was sentenced to 20-60 years in prison after shooting a 25-year-old man to death. This was just one month after his parole from prison, where he had been incarcerated for almost 12 years for another shooting.” The family felt cheated out of justice and thought that the courts made a huge mistake, yet what hurt the most was that there was nothing they could do. If it hadn’t been for him being on parole, he wouldn’t have been able to claim another victim. 

Through the selfish, cruel acts of murders, many families and lives have had to suffer upon the hands of those that lack self control. If every other citizen has to follow by the rules, then those who commit the act of murder should face the consequences. Thus, answering the question of if murderers should receive parole. Taking the life of another isn’t anything for anyone to decide upon because a life is something that you can’t get back, unless its a miracle of chance. Either way, it impacts everyone involved in that person’s life and is too painful for the families to see the murderer only serve half of what the deserve. The loss of loved ones, causes depression, anxiety and other emotional and physical distress, so technology the murderer doesn’t just take one life but the whole family and loved ones.The courts and judicial system should highly reconsider this rule for future families to at least give the families’ some closure and real justice. 

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Where's Ms. Debby?

I switched middle schools in the seventh grade which made it hard for me to find myself.  Since I was twelve turning thirteen, it was a transitional period into something different.  It was the stage from child to teenager where you find out who you are as a person, a member of society, where you are classified in the school’s popularity contest and ultimately who you will be for the remainder of your life.  I did not know who I was, I flew under the radar so I was not a member of society and I was not popular but teased and isolated.  This led to not having a lot of friends and evasion of socializing with my peers most if not all of the time.  The only thing I had to help me cope with this void I had inside was art.

I loved art because I was able to express what I was feeling with paint, charcoal, and clay.  What made it better was my art teacher, Ms. Debby.  She was an older woman with curly hair with gray streaks but nonetheless, one of the kindest people I have ever met.  She was always smiling which would sometimes suppress my somber, distant persona.  She was warm and she accepted me and at the time, this was an alien concept.  Usually I showed carelessness and neglected to work with anyone, whether it was mandatory or not.  My emotional coldness and lack of empathy for others was immediately dismissed whenever she was around or I was making art.  Another thing art gave me was a circle of friends who felt the same social awkwardness.  They were all in an oddity that was unexplainable to the people who were apart from it.  Art was an outlet that gave some happiness and people who were in a similar place as I was.

The school’s popularity contestants were all befuddled that I and the rest of my fellow peers did not want to belong to their group.  This is a group where everyone is the same, have the same ideals, have same hobbies and many other similar compatibilities.  It is funny how the people who are at the “top” of the ladder want to include your presence when you find something more and sometimes even better than what they have to offer you.  In a way, they only want to see you feel better or make friends if it is under their terms and principles.  I found out soon after that I deserved better than that and decided to still be the “lone wolf” of the circle in my head.  I can honestly say that most of my friends have very distinct differences with me hence the phrase; opposites attract.  I can look back and say that the “clique” within my dreams did help me cope with the harsh reality that I dealt with everyday but scarred me psychologically with anti-social tendencies.

Ms. Debby’s inviting and welcoming personality changed me for the limited amount of time that I was with her.  During regular classes, I was the child/teenager who sat in the back and did not say anything.  Having an idea or a question would result in laughter and discrimination against me.  That is why people did not know who I was by name but as “the boy who we laugh at”.  But when I would go to art, I would always feel reinvigorated with energy.  Her infectious persona filled me with bravado when we talked about art or as person/member of society.  But all of this went down the drain when my principal decided to be a wet blanket and did not renew her contract.

By doing this, he was restricting her from coming back in the fall.  Many students already had an immediate disliking of the principal and this stunt was considered the last straw for us.  I usually do not follow the crowd but at that time, I didn’t have much of choice.  I had my own objectives and was not conforming to anyone even though they were allies in this case.  They were enemies that I had a temporary truce with until we could destroy the monster who wanted to spread unhappiness amongst all of us. 

We petitioned to have the renewal followed through as planned.  Since it was a known fact to everyone in my grade that I was semi-great at art (because of the time spent with Ms. Debby) I was assigned to design posters and picket signs.  When using words and understanding did not work, we proceeded with a bang: striking.  Almost every student did not do any work until we received word that Ms. Debby’s contract was renewed.  Something that was surprising during this entire experience is that not single punch was thrown.  Some of the students were very upset with the monster’s (my principal) decision and were bloodthirsty enough to start a riot but there was not.  He said that it was a lack of money because the school was relatively new.  Although, I knew that that was true, nobody except Ms. Debby was going to lose their job and some people were even gaining jobs as administrators. I can gladly say that even though I did not like or have anything in common with my peer group, they did show decorum and handled the situation like young adults instead of insane teenagers.  The only reason I did not feel anything any emotion towards Ms. Debby’s firing was because I was used to things falling apart and the amount of instability at my school.  Since Ms. Debby and I had a close connection, she understood what it meant.  She understood that I was internalizing it and known that opening up or showing weakness was not my strong suit.

Sadly, our concerted efforts did not work and Ms. Debby still left in the fall.  The next year when we met our new art teacher, I strayed away from art because I only had Ms. Debby’s bright aura to help me continue on.  Without it, I felt lost again in an oddity I cannot explain just like in the seventh grade.  Even though she was gone, she was not forgotten and I knew that she did not forget me as well.  Soon after this happened, I came to an absolution.  

Some things do not last forever but at this time, I did not want Ms. Debby’s employment to be terminated.  Therefore, I felt obligated to do something, but not just for me, for her and the entire administration.  I wanted to show people that I and my peers have a voice and that we should be heard since we are the resource that qualifies the establishment as a “school”.  By trying to change something, I went out of my comfort zone to fight for someone and something that I truly care about.  I partnered with people who I had nothing in common with but fought for a common purpose with and I can honestly say that they fought a hard battle.

As for Ms. Debby, I cannot say what happened to her but I know that she remembers my effort to fight for her job.  Wherever she is and whatever she may be doing, I hope that her co-workers treat her with respect and dignity.  But one thing that I will never forgive, is my principal’s stupidity in handling the situation.  He caused the uproar that made the students act like a pack of rabid wolves, smelling nothing but blood.  In the end since we fought alongside each other, I guess you may be able to say that we are a “pack”.

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Wanting what's best for my mom

There are many times in life when we want something to happen, however someone else might not feel the same way. It could be for a good change or a good reason but perhaps that someones does not want to be a part of it. This brings up the topic of my family and I wanting my mother to take better care of her health.

For the past three years my mother has been taking poor care of her health. She does not sleep or eat right, which are two important things human beings need in order to survive. In the past years, she has also gone through a lot, which could be some of the elements that were reflecting on to her health. My mother is a very hard working woman, my family and I really appreciate all that she has done but we just wished that she would take better care of her health. Knowing that she was not taking good care of herself had a huge impact on my family. We tried to help her to eat and get to sleep on time but she did not really take our help into consideration, which frustrated my family member because she was not willing to bring change into her health.

Everyday she has a very early start meaning that she should also be going to sleep early, in order to get the right amount of sleep, but she does not. She wakes up every morning, bright and early, before her sleeping childrens. Since I leave the house before everyone else, she comes and wakes me up first and then heads downstairs to prepare breakfast for everyone. After I eat breakfast, I head out to leave but I do not leave alone, my mother actually gets ready to drop me off to the trainstation. At that time I was younger but I was able to walk myself to the trainstation. I would tell her that “you don’t have to go,” but she would refuse to listen and would come along. I did not mind this because this was one of her ways to show that she cared about me. But I did not want her to come along because I wanted her to get some more sleep and eat since she had not eaten breakfast with me. Once I had told her “mom, I am old enough to walk myself to the trainstation, you do not have to come with.” My mother took that a bit too personally and got upset about it. The next day when she would want to come along again, I would say nothing. I tried this many time and I always got the same reaction. Then I realized that there was no point in saying or doing anything because she would just do things her way.

Everyone in my house has a different schedule, we all leave and arrive at different times, the only time we are all together is after 11pm. My mother refuses to go to sleep before her children. A lot of times I have to stay up really late to finish school work and she would decide to stay up with me until I finish. Once when she was staying up with me, I asked her to go to bed since she gets up before me but like before she would not listen. At home I alternate between two different languages, Bangla and English, I speak Bangla with my parents. One day my older siblings, Laxmi and Mithun, told me that I tend to have a harsh tone in that Bangla. I had no clue what they meant because when I speak, I can not tell the difference between my tone being harsh and not harsh. I also do not mean to do it, it just ends up happening and sometimes my mother takes that personally and ends up getting mad. At that point it is really difficult to make her understand my point of view.

My mother says that she does not have the time in her schedule to get enough sleep or eat well. This made me sad because it showed everything she does for us, does not give her time to do things for herself. One day when my siblings and I were in the kitchen my mother was repeatedly telling us to eat. My brother, Mithun, told her “mom, you constantly keep telling us to eat and take care of ourselves but why don’t you do the same.” My mother was busy cooking so she responded “then who is going to do all my work.” She does a lot for our family and she does not want to give my siblings and I responsibilities because she thinks that it would be pressuring us. When in reality we actually wanted to help out because her doing so much was affecting her not being able to take care of herself. If we had more to do then perhaps she would not have so much to do and would have more time to take better care of herself.

Everytime I or anyone in the family tried to make a change in her health, she would not pay it any mind and that would make us really mad. We showed her that we cared but she just stuck to doing things in her same way. Then I think what did I do wrong? Did she think that I did not care or is it that she did not want to me to care? Whatever the case it got me really angry. But I learned to control what I would say to her, because first it probably would not matter and second she would probably mind. There was obviously something wrong, but I just did not know what it was; that made it hard to help change her health. Maybe its the fact that human being do not have the ability to make other do what they want, even if it is for a good cause.

Overtime we all realized that this was, obviously, something we could not change overnight so why not take baby steps and see where they led us. To make things a bit easier for my mother, my siblings started do more around the house; my mother still did not allow me to get involved. Wanting to change my mother’s health is still possible, however the results would come in a slow pace. I have learned that when someone else is involved in the change I want to make, I can’t force it upon them that I have to wait and be patient.

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Literary Lens English Benchmark

By: Penelope Deoliveira, Micha Getz, Jamria Carter, Brycent Itzko 


The collaboration in our group could have been better. We should have recorded earlier and their where a few-falling outs between our group members. At some point it became stressful because either someone was not willing to record or willing to contribute to the project. No one wanted to take the leadership role in the project, and at first our group ran into a few technical difficulties.  However, in the end we quickly worked together to produce an okay video. I contributed to the project an edited video, and analysis to the Feminist lens. For the video I used live-game footage, actual comments from players using these lenses to better help the audience understand the game itself. 


First I researched the Marxist Lens. Then I set up and filled out the storyboard. Next was the writing of the script, which I helped write and edit, and finally there was the acting. I contributed a lot of time and effort into these, but it wasn’t really high in group collaboration. We each worked on our separate tasks and tried to complete them as well as we could, and we did well, but the group didn’t interact that much.

The pinnacle of the group work was the actual filming of the video, Everyone kept to their tasks really well, and though it took us a little time to get started, it was rather simple once we had got it going. Our group gathered itself quickly after every take and learned from its mistakes in order to improve for retakes. We held our composure well even though we were in a crowded hallway. I honestly didn’t think that we’d get the project done in time, but the cohesiveness of the group allowed us to finish quickly.

Instructions for Leaving Feeback

Get out your headphones! During class it is your job to watch at least four videos. WHen you are done, leave a comment and answer the following four questions for EACH PROJECT, in complete sentences:

1. Describe how you agree or disagree with their analysis. If you agree, add a few sentences extending their theory about their text. If you disagree, use the lens to produce an alternate analysis of their text.

2. Did this video push your thinking at all? Did it encourage you to look at the world in a new way? Explain why or why not.

3. What other book, film, movie, TV show, etc. does their project remind you of? How could you apply their analysis to this other text?

4. What shout-outs do you have for this group and their project?
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A flawless Lit Lens



I contributed in brainstorming general ideas for making our video. I also added my thoughts to our analysis on the feminist lens, how the song we chose relates to this lens; as well as helped without the storyboard. Lastly, I  recorded myself reading a paragraph from our analysis, which i'm the most proud of. I'm most proud of my contribution in recording for the video because I will usually do anything to not have to show myself in the video. No specific reason why I do this, but i'm proud I got over it.


While working on this project I found that I was able to contribute with a fair amount of equality. I feel that I contributed most on the actual analysis. I was able to come up with good ways of looking at the video through the feminist lens especially. However, I am most proud of the work I contributed while we were brainstorming. Although our project didn’t have a particularly new or interesting theme I felt that I was more able to express ideas than I have been in the past. Our group worked well together and we found ways to use what we had.


I think my largest contribution to the project was suggesting the song, “Flawless.” Along with that, I was able to give creative ideas and write things such as the introduction and conclusion. An accomplishment I had was letting go of some control. Usually, I like to lead group projects, but I decided to not “take control” and let someone else do it. It turned out great because I saw some really amazing leadership skills from my project partners. My group worked well together; we had good communication and fair treatment.


My biggest contribution to the project was creating a part and editing the video. It was a bit stressful and tedious since i ran into multiple errors and I had to recreate the flawless video since we could get the actual video anywhere. My accomplishment working within this group was sticking to the plan and making sure I always had something to do and staying busy even if it was hard to find work. We all worked so well together getting our parts done and turned in on time. We all communicated well and did what we all said we were going to do.


Literary Lens Video Analysis Benchmark

• Enthony Chhin • Alexis Dean • Kenyatta Bundy • Naihema Powell •



For this quarter 3 benchmark, I wouldn’t call myself the leader because everyone equally contributed to the group to make sure that we made the best video that we could possibly make, but at the same time in any category that was my strong suit, I would take somewhat of a leadership role. Same for my group members. A moment of collaboration that I am proud of is when we began recording the videos because it felt like we as a group got to interact with each other. I contributed to my group by making sure everyone had the deadlines of things in mind, I also re-did the script because it wasn’t fitting the requirements and I also put the whole video together. But in the end, I’m glad that my whole group contributed equally and we worked in a way where people were doing things that were in their area of strength to avoid problems.


When it comes to this English Benchmark, I believe that I made a healthy contribution to my group and the work that we had to get done. Due to my analysis ability, I completed the analysis of both the marxist and feminist lens when applied to our scenario. I also contributed to the creation and editing of the final script. The last thing that I did, along with all of my other group members, was be a part of the live acting for the video. Of everything that I contributed, I was most proud of my ability to work with my group. I was most proud of the leadership role that I seemed to take when it came to aspects that I excel in, while allowing other group members to take that lead role when they were in their area of expertise. 


I think I personally contributed a nice amount of work to this project. I spent three days watching video clips and analyzing them as well as providing my group members with input to the main idea of the project. I acted in the video and contributed to the video by filming the parts I was not in. The moment of collaboration that I am most proud of had to be yesterday because as of yesterday our project was nothing. There was no filming done or anything and we got together and worked until it would finished to make sure that everything was done before Friday, regardless of obstacles. We used a substitute character and worked for 2 periods to record and get everything ready for Enthony to edit. So the effort we put forth to work together is what saved our project. 


Literary Lenses Benchmark

Write Ups


By doing this project, I got a chance to reflect on the different lenses we learned in class while reading the Great Gatsby. It helped me understand all of the lens more by actually relating them to things that we watch everyday. Everyone in the group took part in each aspect that we had to do. From writing the script, to creating the storyboard, and recording, we all took part in it. But personally, I think I contributed a feeling of excitement and motivation. When recording, I couldn’t remember my line, but after a few tries, I got it.


This project was fun to do. Looking at common things in our lives through different lenses definitely changes my point of view. I’ve began looking at things through these lenses subconsciously. I think that Family Guy was a good choice to analyze for our project. I think the moment of collaboration I’m most proud of is the rap by Ronald. We had discussed this from the beginning of the project and finally got it filmed the day before the project was due. It took a lot of attempts to get the final shot and it was very relieving to finally have it done.


I’m particularly proud of our final product in this benchmark. I contributed to analyzing what the Marxist Lens is in the show Family Guy. Another thing I did was putting the screenshots from our episodes we chosen. I also contributed to actually being part of the video and putting some of the script together.

The moment of collaboration that I am most proud of is when we decided as a group that we should have a rap in it. I felt like we collaborated on what we wanted to have in the video, which showed that we were talking as a group and not individually.


For the quarter three benchmark, we all worked together as a group, analyzing our lenses that we learned while reading “The great gatsby”. Feminist lens that take us on a journey through the feminist aspect of different situations that can occur in real life, Also we touched upon the Marxist lens. I contributed with analyzing the feminist lens for our family guy scene when peter assumes Lois of being a prostitute, Also I wrote the ending spoken word of our movie to reflec all of the things that we've analyzed. Thinking about it now, looking through the world, media, and everything else does change my point of view and makes me thinks about the different shows, movies, and songs that I listen too. I enjoyed this project and I'm proud of the work that my group and I have accomplished during it.


Lit Lenses on American Apparel

Write Up

Jian Zhang-

During this project, I was in charge of keeping things on task. Thankfully that wasn’t really needed since everyone was on task the whole time. I worked on many different bits of the project such as the research, data collection, edited here and there, discussions and some other things. Videos are the only thing I didn’t help much on since I have no idea what to do with them.

The part I am most proud of during this project was how well everyone worked together. Most of the time people just spend days arguing over things that doesn’t really matter or they just refuse to do much work. However this group got it’s stuff together on the first day and started laying down a reasonable and detailed plan. We followed the plan we made and worked things out in group discussions. Even when we do have disagreements, we solved them by talking with one another instead of just refusing their ideas. This made the project much easier then it could have been. With everyone pitching in to do the work, it was a very enjoyable experience.

- Pierce Luck

For this Project, I have contributed insightful thoughts and opinions into our group discussions analyzing American Apparel. I researched and found controversial ads,videos, commercials, and pictures that we used during our project. I was in charge of analyzing American Apparel using the Marxist lens with the help of my peers. I helped create the script for the Marxist portion of the project. I also did voiceovers, and was involved in the recording of the video, recording scenes for the feminist lens. The moment of collaboration that I am most proud was discussing the sexual appeal that the company sells. My Job as Secretary of the group kept our work in order, especially with our storyboard checkpoint.

Crystalle Hutchins:
I felt that I was a key part in helping all four members of my group collaborate effectively. I gave ideas and the group either agreed or tweaked them a bit with their own input. I, with the help of Nikki Adeli, wrote the script for each scene of our lenses. Once we recorded, I edited the video to make the final product.

I’m proud of how quickly my group recorded our scenes for the lenses. I think this showed how knowledgeable we were about the topic. It only took us one class period and we had time to spare. I loved how passionate my group was about the subject when researching. I knew that using American Apparel’s ads would engross our attention, making the project seem more enjoyable than a laborious task.

Nikki Adeli

When we first listed our strengths and weaknesses, I listed a weakness of mine to be time management. Therefore, going into the project, I not only wanted to be a great team member and collaborate with the group, but also work towards overcoming my weakness.

As a team member, I had multiple roles which I had managed nicely since I met my personal time goals that I had set for myself. I worked with Pierce to research the marxist lens and the application of Karl Marx’s thoughts to the American Apparel ads to make our analysis and video seem realistic. I also worked with Crystalle when writing the script to make the script as creative and unique as possible.

When it comes to collaboration, I had 2 great moments. The first was the researching in the beginning. We were all actively working towards a successful project and the work was equally separated. The second was when we were filming. None of us were absent in the moment, but very much present and working hard to create the best product we could.


“What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?

For my english class we made to pick away that we was going to answer “What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?”. I pick to make an audio because It will help answer the question, “What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?”.  Most people are good at writing how they feel, fact, or making story, but I feel when I write it is harder for me to get what I want to say. It’s harder because I don’t know how I’m going tell the information with other repeating over and over the same things.  When I’m writing sometime I start to get off topic and that a way you can lose the read, and I don’t want that. But when I talk about it I can give you the facts that you need and now get off topic.

This audio will be a question and answer this will help some some of the answer about the main question. To answer the question I will give an example of what creating and sustaining change is so people can know what I’m talking about. I will bring up an issue that is happening now or did happen and talk about it . Then I was give my opinion and other so I can show “What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?” is. I will also talk about the people I mention in my speech. I will give fact on what they did and how they did it. The will show people how the change happen .

Something that we all know is the guy who set himself on fire so he can make a change. Change can happen in a lot of ways, but every change that we was teach about in school or seen on the news was started but someone. Most people are scared to stand up for their right until someone else stand up by them self. So when I was ask “What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?” my answer would be Yes we do need a individuals  to help create a change. This is shown in a lot of way. For example Gay right, the right to sit anywhere on the bus. Most people are scared to break the rules because they don’t know what’s going to happen to them. So that why people don’t want to but when some do for something good then other will be there for them.
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TUPAC by Sophie, Jaaz, and True

How we came up with the idea-Jaaz

How we sought out the idea-True

How Tupac created change-Sophie

How we came up with the Idea

When first getting this project, True (black) and I wanted to do something unique, so we agreed on doing a movie. Thinking about a person who made change that we both knew about we choose Tupac. After deciding, we had to think of scenes where we could show how he changed his environment. Then we thought about it, we needed another person so we asked around to who else wanted to be apart of our greatness. So we asked around, and with a lot of luck sophie said she would be apart of this great movie. As we started to write the script, we came up with scenes that fit into Tupacs attitude, and into what he was about. The process took time, but after we had a thorough idea, we were set to start filming. However getting to the idea wasn’t easy we had to make sure that we weren’t just putting information anywhere, or just saying anything. Everything had a meaning in our project, and that was a little bit difficult because that meant we had to make sure the script didn’t have holes. But however after we came up with the idea our project basically finished its self.   

How we showed created Our Project

The way we went about representing Tupac’s life is by reenacting what could’ve been key moments in Tupac’s younger life and during his career that represented how he changed the world around him. We started by establishing his personality. Tupac was always intelligent and friendly to others, he just feared no one. We also wanted to show how passionate he was about rapping and providing for himself and his family. Tupac over the years never let the publicity of his own rise to power change his views and perspective. He always put his family first and made sure people close to him were ok. We wanted to show Tupac’s lack of change over the years, helped change everything around him. We also tried to demonstrate this by creating what could’ve been the creation of the hit single Changes. In the song, Tupac talks about how he sees the world around him and what needs to be done to fix all the wrong thats going on.     

How Tupac Created Change

Many people know the name Tupac, and most are familiar with his name. However, most are not familiar with the how just one rapper, one gangster, was such an influence on the music industry. His music had such an influence on the individuals living in America’s ghettos. He spoke out to woman, and how men too should treat them as their own mother; with respect, and not let unmatured men bring them down. He talked about the man, how they need to work hard for their families. His music identifies the injustice that came to victims of racism. He realized the struggle of all the different races that were down upon the white man. He had a very political conscience, which you could determine from his lyrics. When growing up, he lived in a very diverse environment, especially when living with Leila Steinberg. She made him read deep writings, like feminist books. According to a Harvard study, Tupac was more “well-rounded” than an average freshman college student from an Ivy league school. Just listening to his lyrics you can tell that he was trying to get his point across. Take for example his song “words of Wisdom”. In one of his verses, he states “No Malcolm X in my history text. Why is that? Cause he tried to educate and liberate all blacks. Why is Martin Luther King in my book each week? He told blacks, if they get smacked, turn the other cheek”. Tupac fought for human rights in his music by creating awareness. Sadly after he died, all his good music went with him. However, his mother, as well as his role model, founded the TASF (Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts), which is a performing arts center that offers programs such as drama, dance, and creative writing classes. This allows kids all of over the area a let out, a gateway to themselves, expressing their beliefs and opinions through creative writings of all sorts, just Like Tupac did.

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Little Help

One problem that I've noticed and am bothered by today is the racial injustice towards African Americans seen on the streets and in courts today. This is a problem that has been around for far too long and while it is well known I feel not enough is being done about it. There were some instances where people marched because of an injustice ruling, such as the Treyvon Martin case. However, a few weeks after the ruling  the controversy died down, nothing changed and other injustices continue to happen. My project is about how messed these injustices are and telling people that they have more power than they think and to rise against the racial injustices so that no one has to suffer from them again. To do this I will tell people to realize what’s going on and that there are bigger problems than having the newest phone or sneakers. I wanted to deliver this message in the form of a song because to me music is one of the best forms of self empowerment and is something I wish to pursue in life. Many musicians and artists before me have empowered people with their music and I wish to follow in their footsteps and do the same. I was going to do a cover of an already written song and rewrite the words myself to deliver the message that I discussed above. I do not think I am a singer and this is my first time recording my voice so I bless your ears. However, I do play the bass and wanted to “show off” on this project so the bass line will be provided by me. I plan to make tweeks of my own to the bass line so that it won’t be an exact copy of the bass line in the original song. If I had more time I would try to include more instruments played by real people or make a completely new song.

Look at what's happening

Trying to understand how

the freedom we once fought for isn’t there

where did it all go wrong

Cause, its time to bring injustice to an end

It doesn’t have to be like this

We can make it well

we can make change for the better, baby

With a little help

Lets start by acting out

we need to start working together, no more fighting amongst each other now

is it so hard to ask

to focus on the fight that is at hand

we can stop this racial mess

it just takes some work and a whole lot of effort

It just can't be done alone

you have more say than you think

Don't you know that

You can make change for the better, baby

With a little help

It doesn't have to be like this

we can make it well

Its time to fight like we used to

there is nothing else

'Cause we can make change for the better

With a little  help, you know

That's how you make this wrong a right, yeah

It doesn’t have to be like this

We can make it well

we can make change for the better, baby

With a little help

(Just want to let yall know this not my real voice, but don't be surprised if I'm nominated for a Grammy.)


Literary Lens Q3 Benchmark

In our English 3 class students, were asked to built and construct an entertaining yet informative video that takes any type of movie, show, article and or recorded/documented aspect of their surroundings of which they will help the viewer see in one or more of the following lens feminist, marxist, and new historicist. 

By: Betty Louis, Liza Cohen, Timothy Ingram, and Emily Jenson.
Our Reflection:​

Liza’s Write-Up:

The group and I worked really well together to finish this project on time and present it at it’s best quality. The group worked sufficiently by meeting our goals on time. By doing this, each member of the group put in a great deal of effort and contribution to the project. I, personally, liked playing the role of managing the group; making sure we were up to par with doing things on time and meeting the correct requirements. Before we starting to make our video, we took the proper amount of time to do some thorough brainstorming. Each day in class, I would raise ideas to the group before going through with them. This was important since the project was a team effort and I didn’t want to make decisions that my group didn’t agree with; without communicating with them first. Aside from that, I helped with the physical portion of the project; by organizing the video. The imovie wasn’t on my computer. Therefore, I used the work-time given to us in class by helping my group member with the video. I helped put slides together. While she put everything in the video, I organized it. So, I was contributing to the organization aspect of the movie. In general, I did the daily requirements of being in a group project by making sure I recorded my lines from the script every day and regularly asking my group members if they needed any extra assistance with any portions from the project.

A moment of collaboration that I am the most proud of is when the group and I would record our scenes for the movie. This made us get more enthusiastic with the project. Each time this happened, we got excited when it triggered us to get new ideas to make our video even better.

Betty Louis- Write Up

In this project I personally contributed my technology skills and ideas. In the beginning of this project I helped by suggesting clips of the movie that we chose. Once that was discussed and decided I helped with giving out websites and other ideas each group member could use in order to download the clips and the movie into our laptops. During this whole project I was the one that made sure everyone emailed me their recordings and I put them all together in one whole video. After that was done I checked in with my teammates and allowed them to see it in case there was anything that I missed. Once I got some feedback from them I made some minor changes,  exported the video from imovie and uploaded it. I am very proud at how well we all contributed to the project, collectively collaborated on our ideas, that we all were able to finish and turn in our benchmark right on time, and exceeded in following our goals. One moment that I’m really proud of is how in class we all suggested our ideas of how the flow of the video would be. Whenever there was an idea put on the table we would all think about it. If we all agreed on it we’d keep it, if it wasn’t we’d professionally talk about it and make some improvements on it.  

Timothy’s Write-Up

         These past two weeks my group and I worked real good to finish the final product for our quarter three english benchmark. We all took time to set out the rules and goals as a team and we all follow them to have a complete benchmark. In this project I personally contributed to giving out ideas on what should be done for the whole benchmark. I contributed with finding all the information on the lenses so as a group explain what the movie have to do with the different lenses. I contributed to recording my part and more to make an actually video for the final design based on the movie Taken. They last thing I could equally I contributed to was finding the right clips in the movie Taken to compare the lenses to the parts in throughout the movie. They moment of collaboration I am most proud is when we all came together to give out the ideas because we all gave out personal ideas on what we should do. Also I am most proud of that because we came to one final agreement without any arguments or disagreements on what video we could analyze into all the different lenses. At the end of the product I am happy because we all worked hard to complete this quarter three english benchmark and finish it as a group.


Over the past two weeks my group and I worked consistently to complete our quarter three benchmark. We worked well together, setting deadlines and goals. I helped chop up the movie in imovie and edited out what we needed. I wish I had been in class more and contributed more to this project, I really did not do as much as my groupmates. They were awesome and reminded me gently about things i needed to do and worked with me through the process. Overall i understand the lenses more now and even find myself subconsciously analyzing movies and tv everyday now.

Don`t Walk All Over Me!

For my project, I decided to create a painting that represented change. The reason I chose a painting is because it's my passion. Why not have a little fun representing one of the biggest insecurities that I have? Which was one of the biggest difficulties of this project. Challenging my inner self and trying to find what I really want to change was the tough part.

When you look at my painting, it's a path. There is grass along the sides and in the path my name is written with footprints all over it. When I was young, I was always an introverted child. My mother would never let me anywhere but the steps. I was dropped off and picked up from school. Due to that, I was never a big fan of large groups of people. 

Years later, my mother left home to be with another man. Being the oldest child, I was kind of forced to become an adult and take on the role of the mother. My favorite characteristic that I took on from this experience is being a loving and caring person. I feel as though I developed the characteristics of a mother. I have an ability to see the good in people and extend my hand out even to my worst enemy(if I had one). People knowing how nice and forgiving I am, tend to take advantage of that. 

The painting represents me being taken advantage of, people walking all over me. I want to be able to say no and not drown in my thoughts for the rest of the day. I want to be able to live life free without a care in the world. Regular teenagers don't care much about things, but for me, everything gets to me. I can even say that if a teacher says a smart remark towards me it bothers me. 

Even though I know it's not going to go away over night, it's something I know I need to work on. Over these past years, I've come to realize that this is a cold world. Growing up in Philadelphia it's even colder. People will do anything to you, including murder, and forget about it the next day. That is why I thought it was needed for me to toughen up. 

Overall my project went well, I think I did a good job at representing my fear and the change I failed to make through the years. Looking forward to more projects like this one.

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Be the Change you Want to See

My Video:

Change is an enormous topic to tackle. The only way I felt completely confident that I would be able to express my thoughts was through video. The creative aspect of it enables me to send a message that I would be able to using words. I am a big believer in the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is also why I chose to use more visuals than text in my video and let the pictures take you through a specific event in history.

There are literally a million ways I can portray the message of an individual creating and sustaining change. However, I chose to focus on the topic of racism and the individuals who have helped change the perspectives of others. Racism is a very powerful indicator of how much our country has changed and how far it still has to go. We have all stories of racism or have encountered them ourselves, but I decided to focus on an event in our history that hasn’t been taught in school or hasn’t been talked about among peers.

My video opens with the march that occurred on January 17, 1987 in Forsyth County, GA. A march organized by many leaders such as Hosea Williams and Coretta Scott King to lower the level of racism in a county that suffered terribly of segregation. Georgia is the sixth most racist state in our nation. Forsyth County started with just one black and over 100,000 whites. Slowly the number of blacks has progressed but the ratio is still very unbalanced. What I am getting at here is that change is not possible without the hard work and commitment that happens behind the scenes. And although the county’s diversity has come a long way it still has room for change and that room will never fade. Like Dean Carter said at the Forsyth County march: "Today we have embarked on a journey, a journey that will take a lifetime to fulfill, the journey of worldwide brotherhood and understanding. Without this, Forsyth County, Georgia and even our nation will fail. Without brotherhood in a community, violence and intimidation will exist.”

You can’t sit back and expect change. This expectation is unrealistic and will never happen. Along with this comes the fact that change is constant. Nothing is ever perfect, which means things can always get better. Without the help of each individual a change cannot occur. We must go forth and conquer!


Creative Piece

One of the most popular teen girls clothing store is Forever 21. They have cute clothes for reasonable prices. The only problem with the store is the trends they come out with. They just recently came out with their spring line. The spring line consist of floral prints and bright colors, which is normal for girls to where in the spring.

The one thing about the line is the clothes are very appropriate for teen girls or the spring. The clothes are very revealing and sexual for girls my age. They are made where girls bellies and a lot of their legs are showing. For example they have tops that look like bathing suit tops and very small shorts.

During this project I put my self in two different positions. One as if I was a designer for Forever 21’s spring collection and the other was as if I was designer for Kohl's. I made one outfit that could be transformed into another. Both outfits are made for teen girls in the spring but both give off different meanings.

The outfit designed as if I worked for Kohl’s is a dress that shows her back and legs below her knee. The outfit demonstrates as a teen girl its okay to show skin but not too much. The other outfit, made for Forever 21 is a crop top and little shorts. The crop top shows from just above her belly button to her waist. The shorts stop right under her butt and show all of her legs.

The message from both outfits show the difference between how girls can change from looking 16 to 26. Wearing certain clothes can change how old you look. It can also change how people view you. Over time girls have changed how they dress because they are trying to fit in with the new trends. 

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My Father's Keeper

By: Symone McCollum; Fire Stream (Personal Essay) 

I used to imagine what the perfect father would be like. I used to imagine that he would take me to school and pick me up. I used to imagine that he would be more than a best friend, but my only friend. I used to imagine this big husky guy that protected me from trouble and people who wanted to hurt me. I used to imagine that he’d love me until he grew old. I used to imagine him taking me to the park and pushing me on the swings or chasing me in a game of tag. For some reason when I would imagine these things, I never imagined my father fitting any aspect of this “perfect father.”

During my childhood, my father taught me typical things you learn how to do when you’re a child. He taught me how to ride a bike, how to cook, how to run the fastest, and how to use the video player. He was the strongest man I knew, but when my mother wasn’t around he would sit me down and give me four pigtails before school. He was heavy handed so it hurt when he did it, but every time he heard he squeal he would stop and apologize. To me, he was my superhero with a soft spot for his daughter. No bad guy could get to me as long as my father was there. He was my superhero best friend, and I was his sidekick.

Now, I notice that I might have been mistaken about my thoughts on my father. He was the perfect father before, but what’s the “perfect father” title worth when he was only that figure for only one portion of my life? It saddens me that he couldn’t be the man I expected him to be. It’s almost like the man I knew when I was younger was only a figure of my imagination. He would only appear when I wanted him to. Now, he only appears in my memories when I reflect on what I think built me into the person I am today.

As I grew up, I became content with the fact that my father would in my life at one point in time, disappear for a few months, come back and expect things to be normal. For a while, I would allow him to keep coming and going. My mother would try to warn me to not be hurt when he broke his promises of staying or taking me places, but instead of believing her, I would blame her for his absence. I would do this because my dad was my favorite parent because I had the most fun when I was with him. When I was with my mom it was strict and I couldn’t have as much fun as I could’ve with my father. When my mom would try to talk bad about him, I would defend him to the death because I wanted to hold on to the idea that he was the perfect father. Now that I look back, I wish I would’ve listened to my mother sooner. I wish I would’ve listened with open ears instead of closed and payed attention to the person who never left my side. She was my real superhero.

When I reached about age 12, I found out that my father was cheating on my mother. At this point in time, I saw my mom as the perfect parent because I realized that my father wasn’t there for me. When I found out, I told my mother because it was something she definitely needed to know. She then told him, which led into a physical altercation between him and I. I never felt to weak in my life. That, by far, was the most belittling moment in my life. What happened in that altercation is something I will never be able to fully forgive my father for, but I try to forget about it. When he left the house after the altercation, my mom and I packed a couple days worth of clothes and drove as fast as we could to her best friend's house so we could be safe for the night. I remember having to get ready for school the next morning at her house and pretending like none of that happened. I’m pretty sure that all of my classmates never thought that my life had any flaws. I portrayed myself as the happiest person who always kept a smile on her face and a loud laugh throughout the hallways.

At age 13, I found out that my father had a daughter by the woman he was cheating on my mother with. I found out by going to his mom’s house for my little cousin’s birthday party and seeing the lady with a baby in her arms with my father standing right next to them. He called me over and said “Symone, meet your sister Lyriq.” I was in shock. I felt 100 different emotions flowing through me at the speed of light. First, I was happy. I always wanted a baby sister or brother, but I never imagined that they would come into the world that way. I was angry because my father left my mother and I to go create another family with someone else. I was sad because I now had to share my dad with another human being for once and would have another human being called my dad their dad. I was annoyed because my father’s side of the family knew and didn’t tell me. When I met Lyriq, she was one years old. That meant that everyone knew for a year and didn’t mention not a word to me. What made it even worse was that the lady told me that she was pregnant with another child. I couldn’t even swallow the news about the first child, but a second? Unbelievable! But even still, there was nothing I could do to change how my life looked after that point.

As I started spending time with my little brother and sister, my relationship with my dad was almost nonexistent. He wasn’t paying attention to me anymore. He also would neglect seeing and spending time with me in order to stay home and take care of them. I was older, so I understood but I always questioned it. He could’ve tried to spend more time with me, but he didn’t. Even though I knew he wasn’t a good parent, I would always defend him against my mom when she started talking bad about him to me again. She would only do this when I would get disappointed in him not keeping his promises. Her favorite line was “Symone, you already know how he is. I don’t know what you expect from him at this point.” And she was very right. I couldn’t expect anything from him because he was never going to fall through… not even for his old sidekick.

He, though absent, contributed a lot to my spirituality. I am a lot stronger now because of his mistakes. I can endure almost any mental and emotional pain because I know that no one could ever hurt me as much as my own dad did and would continue to do. He failed to be the dad I needed him to be, but I kept pushing him to try. I didn’t cut off ties with him because he was my dad and I thought that the more I pushed him to be there for me, he would. I would act out in elementry school to get his attention, but that would only catch his attention for a few moments and then he would be gone again. What I want is to just have a good relationship with my brother and sister but unfortunately that involves having a good relationship with him too. I would want to tell my dad his faults so he can try to be a better parent, but that would be a waste of my time because nothing would change.

I’m not sure if I can still make change in our relationship because the problems are still occurring. I have not talked to my father since christmas of 2013 and it is now March of 2014. I don’t know any good fathers that could go months without talking to their child. Maybe I never saw a stable relationship between a father and daughter, but I know fatherhood was something my father would never understand and be able to carry out. The only thing I can do now is do everything in my power to make sure that my child never has a father like mine. I pray that I never fall in love with a man like my father because no child should ever have to know what it feels like to have a deadbeat father. I have no intentions on speaking to my father about his issues because talking to him is like talking to a child. All he’ll do is find a way to blame it on me and make himself feel good. I know this because he does the same thing with my mother when she tries to create a change in our relationship. He is who he is and I can either accept it or let him be. I’m tired of accepting his ideas of fatherhood because when he’s around I feel sad rather than protected and loved. I have always had something preventing me from shaking my issues from my father and I think I finally found out what it is...true bliss without him.


Matthew Schreiber Personal Essay

Personal Essay

Q3 Benchmark

Matthew Schreiber

“What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?

Coming close to death can make you very nervous about everything. Imagine if you spent your entire childhood hearing nothing, but phrase like “you’re lucky to be alive” or “you need to be careful, you don’t know what can happen outside.” This doesn’t help especially with the news always talking about the dangerous acts happening outside. Again and again i would hear the warning that if my back was hit hard enough I would become paralyzed because of the state that my fragile spinal cord.  As you can probably imagine, I grew up as a very nervous child afraid of the world and even afraid of everyone I ever came across. Most children are curious to the things around them and like to explore, but I sat instead of being curious, I was worried about what could or could not hurt me. This made me really distant from people and I wouldn’t talk to anyone until they talked to me first. This mindset I have went unnoticed by me for years until my last operation on February 3, 2011.

It started when I got home on February 10 (a week after my operation). I was already aware of my limitations with the rods in my back. Now more than ever my Mom tried to limit all the things I could do. Stuff that I saw as normal, my mom saw everything as deadly and it made me realize that this is how nervous I act about everything. Now to go into detail by what I define as nervousness, I mean that I tend to overthink everything and it leads to me coming up with some odd scenarios. For example when I started to go downtown to go to SLA. My old school was right up the street from my house so going from up the street to taking a bus downtown and walking was something huge for me. This led to me over thinking over and over again about if something went wrong downtown how would I get home or what if I miss the bus that I usually take and instead get on a bus that causes me to be late because of traffic. The thought about traffic causing me to be late is why even to this day I get on a bus at 6:30 AM and get here at 7. I’m still worried about being late. As silly as this sounds even the bus ride itself makes panic in worry. I can’t explain why. I just feared that if something bad were to happen while I was on the bus. What could I do?

In the terms of thinking before you act, I wanted to do less thinking and more of the acting portion. I wanted to be a person who could live a normal day without panicking over the silliest scenarios. I could do everything without second guessing the decision no matter how small the decision was. It’s not that I want to be a person who doesn’t regret decisions (that’s impossible). I just don’t want to regret decisions that I panic over, but the normal person just brushes off.

Fast forwarding to sophomore year of high school is when i tried to make my change occur. I had known the routine at SLA and figured that there was nothing to be nervous about. I tried speaking out more in class instead of sitting there thinking to myself. However it just so happened this year was the year of majority class discussions. I absolutely hate group discussions. Mainly because people take what is said in discussions to heart and it causes people to react poorly to others points of view. Every day I would tell myself that if there is a class discussion then I should speak. I kept it as my mantra, but every time a group discussion came around, I would sit there think of scenarios about how people would react to what I would say and then getting nervous because of the reactions I brought up in my head.

I tried and tried again, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t change. I decided to find out for myself what was stopping me from changing. The best I can come up with goes once again back to my time in the hospital. Back in the hospital it would always be the doctors talking to my parents, never directly to me. instead I would sit their thinking to myself about what could go wrong and what was going to happen to me. This mindset of thinking to myself till I fill myself with worry has followed me throughout my entire life and I still have it with me today. When there are class discussion I am completely inactive to the discussion because I’m busy thinking how people will react to my thoughts. I’ve become a person who can spend his entire time just listening to other people talk because I’m just over thinking about everything.

In the end, I don’t think it truly matters if i ever change this part about me. My role in life would still be generally the same, regardless if I change how much nervous i am or not. An individual’s role in change should be to only change problems of the world rather than problems involving themselves. No matter what you would like to change about yourself, you can still make a change somewhere. However the difference between trying to make a change about yourself and one of the world is that you will know yourself if you change yourself, but when it comes to issues about the world, everyone has a different view on when enough change has occurred on a world issue. I really want to change my nervousness, but I know there are changes I can make as well. There are way larger issues than a person trying to overcome their nervousness. i would much rather have my role to help make a change in the world rather than attempt over and over again to make a change in myself.

Rosa - Visual Piece Description

The narrative around the Montgomery bus boycott is that Rosa Parks was just a poor seamstress who was tired one day and decided spur of the moment to not move her seat, and that her sudden arrest was what sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This is what is often taught in schools, but it is untrue. The reality is that she was politically aware and active, and her refusal was planned and organized by the NAACP. Her arrest and what ensued was a community effort. 

The title of my piece is Rosa. I chose to portray Rosa Parks in a way that shows truth. Her face is a collage made out of other civil rights leaders faces, pictures from the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, grassroots African American leaders, African American writers, and others. Rosa Parks was a face to the Montgomery bus boycott, but there were more people involved. This is why in Rosa I chose to have smaller pictures coming together to make up her face.

While sometimes an individual can be a face or a symbol to a movement, it takes many people working together to get things done. The idea that only certain special people can create change is useful when you want to prevent change from happening. This has idea been used  for too long to stop people from coming together in powerful ways (and, I believe, stems from a colonial logic and capitalistic desire and to own and be recognized). Not everyone could be Rosa Parks, but everyone could have been involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in some way. It is important to teach the truth in schools so kids can envision themselves as change-makers, too. One person can not do it on their own. We must organize! 

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Father and Daughter

(Personal Essay) 

Sometimes in life, people fail at a certain point. Failing is definitely normal in our human lives. Some people may even think it is unfair, when it comes to a difficult situation at a moment in our lives. To any situation, no matter how hard it can be to understand. I personally believe that, there’s always a solution to every problem. For an example, There was a time in my life, that I failed to change my dad personality and our relationship. Me and my dad were having a difficult father and daughter relationship because we couldn’t communicate with each other clearly and till today, we still continue to struggle.

When it comes to having a deep talk with my parents, it usually comes out as not what I expected to be or planned. Sometimes, I usually would want to talk to my parents about a serious situation or either getting advice from them. Starting a conversation with my dad can be pretty difficult, he would normally listen but at the end, it can turn out to be in a argument. At times, I question myself that is it even worth talking to my dad because it always turns out to be a debate? I usually failed, I tried to get in touch with me dad but it never works out. On the other hand, my mom is a sweetheart and understands the most because she knows exactly, what is going on in my life and knows exactly, who I really am. Just like they say, mother knows best.

This shows that me and my parents have a different relationship between each other. Especially, with my relationship with my dad. Our difficulties had started with family issues from the past. Having family issues is never a good experience nor a good thing. Especially, when your parents begin to argue or one parent decides to leave the house. When I was younger, around the age of six. My parents began to have troubles with each other. Everyday, when I came home from school, they began to argue in front of me and my siblings in the kitchen table. At that time, I was young and clueless because had no idea, what was going on or knew what they were arguing about. There was a lack of communication with my dad because he was never around the house. Especially, when my mom needed help from him, my dad was never present.

The first time when I realized, that my parents began to have problems was a night full of tears and frustration. On that same night, I couldn’t sleep. I was laying down in my warm bed and a deep silence was surrounding me. I looked outside of the window and saw there was a clear dark sky. I started to stare at the bright full moon, begged the moon to put me back to sleep. That night, I remembered my dad was going to come home early from work. Supposedly, my dad promised to return home by 9pm. When I checked the time, it was 2am in the morning on a Thursday. I couldn’t sleep without knowing my dad was safe. I was worried sick, I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid and there was fear inside of me that I couldn’t let go. 

I began to be curious, so I decided to escape from my room. Opening the door was a nerve wrecking because I had a feeling in my gut that something bad was going to happen between my mom and dad. I didn’t know, what exactly was the situation. I was curious about what was my mom doing in the living watching novelas at 2am in the morning. As I walked out, I heard my mom talking on the phone, I predicted it was my dad. My mom was nearly yelling over the phone, I was lost and confused. I slowly, hid myself under the kitchen table to hear my mom conversation. I stood under the table at least for 20 minutes straight, to hear my mom argument with my dad about hanging out with a group of friends at the bar. 

I  peaked over in the living room, to check upon my mom. When I looked over at my mom, I seen my mother seeing tears. It was heartbreaking to see my mom cry. I wouldn’t think that no one would like to see their mom cry, once in their life. Finally, my mom had hanged up the phone. My mom looked at the phone and threw the house phone across the room. The phone had hit the heater, then broke into pieces. At that moment, I was frozen and scared. I never seen my mother, angry or in tears before. I wanted step up my game and help my mom but I knew that she didn’t want any of her children to see her crying. I stood at the same place as I was in the beginning, under the table in the kitchen. I started into burst tears. 

My mom never noticed that I was by her side, the whole entire time. I wanted to be there for my mom, when in times come in need. That night, I remembered I stood in the corner being crawled up in a ball, waiting for my dad to come home. I was half awake and half asleep at the moment but I refused to sleep without seeing my dad. About a 30 minutes later, I heard a strange sound that came from the living room, I peaked over in the room and saw that it was my dad holding up a pizza box and white bag. My dad seem strange, he wasn’t himself that night. My dad smelled like alcohol, he was drinking with his friends at the bar. My dad dropped his stuff and went to go change into a different outfit, and there he goes again out the door. But keep in mind, this wasn’t the only time my dad had made mistakes. 

Years later, I became older and wiser about my dad’s actions. I was aware of every decision he made because I think it’s something that I needed to know. My dad had so much work days, that I wasn’t able to see him. I realized, that alcohol was a his biggest weakness. It explained a lot of absence at home and the answer to my question. Till today, when I see my dad, he would usually drink bottles of beer. My dad became addicted to alcohol, the alcohol is what caused him to make bad decisions. It took over his mind, to do wrong. I have other younger siblings, who watches my dad drink bottles of beer in front of them which is based upon bad influence. When I had the chance to help out, I failed to keep my dad to stay on track. I tried my best to keep myself positive and get rid of all the bad memories from the past, but suddenly it’s still attached to me like a demon. It kills me to see my dad struggle, but theres nothing much I can do about it. 

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From Master To Leader. My Life In A Year

Teion Ensley-Ellerbe

Fire Stream

It’s difficult for just one person to make a change in their life, let alone the lives of those around them. However, myself being the 2nd of my siblings to try to earn a college degree is doing just that. High school is not easy, especially when you transfer to a new school your junior year. The time that not only most people look at as the most important year of high school but the most stressful. During this time everyone is doing something different, trying to make themselves look like college material since for most students it’s the next step in getting that all important job that will land them in cushy living for the rest of their life. Overall, I know that the choice I end up making will affect the rest of my family for years to come from the adults to the younger siblings who look up to me.

This is where I currently sit in my life,  however, when this should be an exciting time in the life of any teenager living out his youth and having as little stress as possible for myself it’s the complete opposite. In addition to starting a new school and perhaps a fresh start my year has been plagued with the worst of the worst. Since the start of Junior year, things were looking up but this quickly changed. After finally getting into a school that accepted me not due to my test scores but due to my personality and what I could contribute to the community, I got into a SEPTA mishap before the start of the year. I was accused of not paying my token after leaving a band practice in the Northeast even though it was on tape that I had paid. This mishap lead to my family paying 200 dollars out of pocket for a class to get rid of the citation,  started what i now know as  my Junior year. A year of downturn and struggle I didn’t expect to get from going to a new school or a fresh start. It hasn’t really been a great year to remember so far.

Shortly after the citation was issued, I was shocked to find out that my father was cut off his unemployment checks after only receiving them for a short amount of time and while he was actively searching for a job. Considering the fact that he doesn’t live with me, I didn’t see how much that would change my situation, but sadly, this individual action would affect me. However this is set in motion a chain of events that would shape the year for me greatly. After this, it fell solely on my mother to provide an entire house with 4 people in it. Myself,my mother, my younger sister and my oldest brother who also lost his job and didn’t have any intention on trying to get a new one. This set back what I’ve been wanting to do with my college life. Instead of thinking about where my grades would allow me to go, I’m constantly thinking about how much it’s going to cost my family day in and day out pulling my hair out over the situation I even considered attending community college just to save the money which I vowed never to do after the way CCP had cost my family so much money and not giving my sister credits when she graduated.

At this point in my life I am at the ultimate crossroads, making bigger decisions that will not just affect me but many others in my life. I have been offered  the opportunity to pick up an extra job at 2 food restaurants in order to pick up the extra slack that my brother or father could be covering. This would come extra hours taken away from my school work, such as this essay. Considering the fact that the rest of quarter three and all of quarter four will determine my new GPA which had to be converted from my old school will definitely see a change in my grades. If I continue to focus my efforts on just school, I have no doubt that I will end up in college earning a degree in something that I will spend massive amounts of time on. The only problem is, I can by no means pay for this all alone. I would need my parents and families help to pay for it. I’ve never really gotten anything or honestly been able to count on my father’s side of the family just off of the fact I am never really around them and it’s awkward when from. My mother’s side it would be struggle since everyone is so proud that my older cousin got into Bloomsburg University and is currently there as an Undecided major. Asking them to help would be asking them to split their funds down the middle, and considering the fact they just throw her money and care packages whenever she wants or her mother asks it would be next to impossible to get anything.

So those are my two main options putting my parents through more and more stress, mostly my mother to help me pay. or start to put some school on the back-burner in order to be able to afford a liveable life and not have my parents be so stressed. This is at least how I see it through my eyes as the individual. Either one of these options will cause a ripple effect on my family. Not necessary for myself for my younger sister since she has definitely decided to not to go to college believing that my parents will take care of her for the rest of her life. This will effect my younger siblings the ones that my sisters have that look forward to college who are in younger grades looking into high school’s such as SLA. Although they don’t know much about the process they do realize that it costs and costs a lot of money that we simply don’t have. In addition, to that my younger nephew doesn’t want to go to masterman because of the fact that he doesn’t think he will have the money to be “up there” with his peers in middle school and in High School. It’s one of those sad things that a younger child should never have to worry about. He doesn’t want to feel like he’s less inclined or anything less than his peers just because money is a little bit tighter on his family then his classmates

Overall, I think that it is difficult to make a change individually you must find something you want to change then make a commitment to that certain thing. The unknown part of this is how it will affect other people around you. For me it’s simple, the classic go to college or work to help story of every high schooler that doesn’t have the GPA of a Harvard accepted or the greatest test scores in the world. But what I do know is that no matter what i decide it’s going to have a ripple effect on the rest of my family. Whether that be good or bad is up to speculation of the person who is viewing what I’m doing. The thing is, no matter what I do it’s gonna help someone in the long run. Whether that be myself for the guy who is getting the food from me has yet to be seen. But who knows, I always have time, right ?

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“Are We Food? Or Are We Hunters?”

Year 875 : “What are they?!?” 

On a melancholic day, it didn’t seem like an ordinary day in the City of Epsilon, the weather was different. It felt humid, but did not stick to the skin. It was hot but no one was sweating. It gave a distinct feeling, as if something was going to happen. It was another day making of guns and swords for the armies. Jake Jaeger was the son of a well known blacksmith in the city, making weapons for the royal guards and the entire army force of the city. Jake was a bit of a blacksmith himself, but lacked patience. He would complain when doing his work due to the way he would hit the swords and it would be too brittle or sometimes too hard. Jake was only skilled in the art of swords making, but one weakness he did have was fighting with the swords. He lack the balance and aggressiveness that is required for sword fighting. Violet on the other hand is the talented one of the family, she depicts the “Warrior’s Spirit”. She practices with the weaponry that she can get her hands on, from guns to swords and hand to hand combat. She was more on the practical side then the theoretical.  Their eldest Brother, Gerard Jaeger, is the Commander of the Royal Army fleet that lives on the outer city limits. He is the one that is assigned the most dangerous job, to scale the city‘s wall to see if there is any danger afoot. On a regular assignment, Gerard was scaling the wall, he seen these two towering creatures. This was something like no other. The stretched out mouth reaching from end to end on their face giving off a freakish smile. Their body formations one similar to humans except they have no flesh. Muscles, tendons, and blood in sight. They seemed to be following a heard of cattle in which one picks up a cow and rips it in half to drink it’s blood and devours it whole. The other screams which echoes like a banshee’s screech, deafening the ears of Gerard. He hurries towards the alert bell and rings it. Doing that alerts the people of the outer city, but also alerts the creatures at the distance. They scream and begin to charge the city’s wall. 

From that fateful moment, that was when humanity had changed. Jake and Violet Jaeger were teenagers when they first encountered this unknown menace. Their eldest brother, Gerard Jaeger, was kill by one of these beasts. Gerard was trying to save civilians that were cornered by one of the beasts on the outside of the wall in which he sacrificed himself to save the civilians. Jake seen his brother get eaten, the beast chomped down on the lower part of Gerard’s body. Gerard yelled to Jake with his last words, “Kill... kill them to protect the people.” After his last exchange of words, the creature chomped the connection of his neck and head. Gerard’s head went flying towards Jake. That was then when the Jaeger’s life had changed. 

Jake and Violet’s mother died of a heart disease when they were younger, their father was barely around due to the absence of him gathering new materials for blacksmithing. Their father was never around a lot. Threfore Gerard took the fatherly figure to both Jake and Violet. Now that was all gone. 

Jake and Violet had to go without a guardian influencing their life for a long time after Gerard’s death. Their father was no where to be found and they didn’t know how to take care of themselves. They knew the needed necessities but the emotional comfort was something that kept them on their feet. They didn’t look at their friends the same way, their smiles slowly faded into grins of shame and regret. Jake still remembers when Gerard died, haunting him at night in his dreams, blaming himself for not doing anything. Violet crying silently in hopes that she can see her older brother again, that hope is long gone. Jake looks to Violet and says “ It’ll be alright, we have each other. You heard what brother said. He would want us to join the military so we can take vengeance on those god forsaken things. We must kill them all or die trying.” Jake said that with much rage in his eyes, as if he was looking through Violet’s soul and gripped it in a fiery chokehold. Violet took on Jake’s words and agreed, “Lets do it... for Gerard.” 

For the rest of their days, they began training with the weapons that were in their father’s abandoned workshop. Toying with the weapons and made their very specific own. Jake made a large sword that has a weighted tip for little resistance when swinging, and Violet a specially balanced rifle that can only fire titanium shelled bullets for maximum damage. Their baptism of vengeance has happened, now they are ready to fulfill their brother’s wish. 

Year 886 : “It is Finished.” 

It’s been 11 years since humanity was on their verge of annihilation. Now, Jake graduated from Military School and rose in the ranks of soldiers. He has been emotionally scarred ever since that day and kept in his mind what Gerard said to him. Violet on the other hand has been very quiet, like she took the Vow of Silence ever since Gerard died. There isn’t much communication between the siblings, but there is an understanding when things go wrong. Jake and a couple other soldiers were on a routine mission to go outside of the wall to kill the 2 creatures that attacked the city a while back. The creatures would be heard screaming at the distance at night, then try to rush the wall in the mornings, but is fended off with gun fire. Now it was Jake’s turn to finally take revenge on the creatures for killing Gerard and the civilians. It was a group of 10 soldiers, 4 took the front flank to distract the beasts, 4 soldiers went to the left and right of the creatures to set the rope trap and Jake and Violet followed behind the creatures after they were to be distracted. 

The 4 soldiers in the front sounded horns. The creatures were aware of their existence and ran towards them. The soldiers criss-crossed so the creatures would be disoriented, while the left and right groups of 2 circled with the ropes to tangle the creatures feet. Violet shot her blunderbuss at both the creatures at the time, the metal pellets were incased in titanium shelling and the force brought both the creatures to the ground. Jake followed through with a clean slice of his blade on one of the creature’s head but the other still intact. The neck did not cut cleaning off and so the creature got pissed and began to roll around, crushing the left flank of soldiers for they were caught in the ropes. The creature began to scream and yell, until Violet severed it’s head with 2 more shots of her blunderbuss. The creatures were dead. It was Jake and Violet’s first kill ever. They didn’t understand the feeling going through their bodies. They knew what they did was right, and it will change who they were for the rest of their lives. The siblings return to the city. Multiple screams were heard coming from all directions...

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Formula For Love

“Change, the meaning is simple. To make the form, nature, content, future course, exstora, of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be, if left alone.” (Dictionary) Many things need to be changed, many things don’t; many things have changed, and many things haven’t. Change is hard to control. You can’t pick it up and shape it. You can’t move it from one place to another and you can’t just ignore it. Change happens for reasons whether they benefit a person or not. What about changing something about yourself? Sure you can change your looks, weight, and the way you think, but can you change the way your heart works? The feelings that come with it? Can you really change love? And if so, someone must show me the formula for that.

Taking my current relationship, no matter what happens I will always take my boyfriend back. My boyfriend, Michael, of three years. Now, three years is a long time, many things can happen in a matter of days so what about a matter of the years. Over the course of our relationship, Michael started to hang out with new people and with those new people, came new habits. Michael became a drug user. No matter what drug he took, he didn’t care about the effects. He didn’t care about losing his life, he didn’t care about losing me. Over and over again I would tell Michael to stop because he was going to hurt himself. He didn’t care and continued to do as he pleased. Breaking up with him did nothing because after every apology, I would take him back. The thing is, he still did the things that were tearing us apart. My relationship is like a roller coaster, there are always ups and downs, nothing goes as planned. Over the three years, I’ve been with Michael. I’ve been in situations where its either to stay or go. Because I care so much about Michael and I’m not ready to give him up, I continue to stay. Because of this I’ve taken people calling me a pushover. Though I’m not a pushover with everyone, when it come to Michael I’m a total different person.

“Im done!” No matter how loud I say it, how many times I say it, nor how I say it.  I'm never sticking to it. I do see how I am a pushover. I continue to say “last chance” but I always give him chances more than he deserves. Michael knows me by now, and if I say “last chance”, he knows what to say to pull me right back into his trap again. And yes, I fall for it every time. Michael has me wrapped around his finger and he’s been playing a good game with that. The bad thing about this is, because I always take him back, he is always going to walk all over me.

It’s sad to say we broke up for many reasons, some important and some silly. In many situations, he was the person to do something wrong. Where I had my heart broken. No matter what, I would always try and push the situation in the back of my mind like nothing ever happened and try to move forward. It is like a cycle. I remember one time I told him to go home after we were hanging out one night. The last words that came out of my mouth were, “I love you, call me as soon as you get home and DON’T stop and talk to anyone”. Him being his normal self, tells me exactly what I want to hear and goes off. I waited up till four o’clock in the morning finally realizing that he’s out and not going to call. He calls me the next morning and tells me his mom fell asleep and his phone wasn’t charged so he had to sleep at his friends house. That was not the first time he used that excuse. I cried and complained and he said “I’m sorry I won’t do it again okay.” The following night I told him the same thing, and what does he do, leaves with a promise and “sleeps” over his friends house.

No matter what he does to me, my feelings will never change and I am starting to see that he may not be the best thing for me but I can never push myself to let go. I didn’t know what it is, I mean I'm a young girl who has a job, who is still in school and focusing on her studies and future. He’s the total opposite! Michael is not in school, because he dropped out at 9th grade, he does not have a job and is currently in a juvenile jail since August of 2013. Since day one, he pushed every button I had but I won't let him go. Since he was sent away a few males have been trying to talk to me.These boys were intelligent, handsome and well behaved, but nothing changed my mind about Michael. I don’t know what is going to change my feelings towards Michael.

It is time for me to open up my eyes and see what the world can offer me. So far life seems to help me out. Now lets see what else it can to. Though this didn’t happen yet, I need to find a guy that I see is worth my time. I need to find that guy who wouldn’t hold me back from my dreams. The guy who my parents actually like, although it doesn’t matter what they think because I’m the one who is in the relationship, but it still counts. Someone needs to show me good times, similar to what Michael and I had. Someone needs to walk into my life and show me the right way of being in love. And I need to let that person in!

Relationships can be very hard to handle. In my opinion, a relationships are not suppose to be perfect, nothing is perfect. There should be arguments, tears, and sometimes regrets. The way I always looked at relationships is that if its really meant to be. The two people will always come back to each other no matter what situation happened a day, a month, or a year ago. Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes someone has to get hurt for them to learn. But what if they never learn? At the end of the day I don’t think I will never really be able to end it with Michael, no matter who comes into my life. Not because of how much love I have for him, but how much we’ve been through with each other. I have learned an existential amount of things about both myself and Michael and I hope one day I will be able to use all of the knowledge.  


"Change.", n.d. Web. Mar. 2014.


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A Brief Encounter

Part One

We always thought that they would find us. We always thought that they would come out of the sky and either hail or annihilate us. But that was sci-fi material. In fact, the first contact occurred just outside of the orbit of Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star in the constellation Centaurus. Imagine our surprise. The search for extraterrestrial life took us further than we had dreamed, and yet the answer lay not four and a half light years away. We thought it would be Hubble or Maximus or any of our other long-range telescopes that would discover some blip on the surface of a planet on the outskirts of some solar system and then, suddenly, bam, we would have discovered alien life.

But, in 2137, a research team sent to collect data from our neighboring dwarf star was astounded to find an oblong, deep black device etched with slender markings lodged in the webbing of their spacecraft. It was unlike anything they had ever seen. Certainly it couldn’t be natural. No environmental condition or mineral forming could have created the complex patterns and glyphs that were carved into the artifact. There was only one explanation: something else was out there, and we were not alone.

Once news of the discovery reached Earth, chaos of biblical proportions shook the foundation of societal laws. The planet split in half, one side wishing to pinpoint and contact the aliens, and the other wishing to hurl the device into the sun, never the wiser to its origin.The latter group decided that, to ask the questions of where and why the object had been sent, would be to risk the safety of the entire planet. They established their borders along the equator, forcing their counterparts out of the Northern Hemisphere in the largest land-exodus in recorded history. They colonized the now half-abandoned cities of the Northern half of our planet and began to amass resources, communication technologies, and, eventually, armies. There was no way they could stand by and let the one thing that was keeping them alive dissolve. The extraterrestrials didn’t know we existed, and they intended to make sure that never changed.

Those who wished to search for answers formed new borders along Central America, Northern Africa, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. But countries no longer needed to exist. Within the confines of both the North and the South there was no need to distinguish differences that had plagued humanity since the Middle Ages. Black and white, gay and straight, only intellectuality was favored above all other traits. Now there was a greater goal. They attempted to resolve the issues between the two sects, but to no avail. Tensions rose steadily higher.

The conflict reached a boiling point in November, 2155, when the second greatest discovery of the century was made. A team of researchers working on decrypting the artifact’s etchings made a landmark breakthrough, managing to decypher almost half of the entire set of markings through a computer algorithm. Some of the characters depicted stars we had seen in our own night sky. The others pointed to a massive planet the size of three Earths, their home. If we could find the astrological locations of the surrounding stars, we could find the planet they so desperately wished to share.

It was a map, and it led us right to them.

A Brief Encounter

A bright green light flashed for a brief second on the dashboard and then was gone. The radar swept slowly from sector to sector, detecting nothing but the emptiness of space and a few small asteroids that quickly passed. Outside of the long glass cockpit window, tiny lights shone brilliantly throughout the dark sky, both closer and further away than seemed possible. Annabelle had travelled for seven months, stopping for neither obstacle nor repair. At speeds a hundred times that of light, the ship had travelled nearly eighteen parsecs from its port on Earth, the farthest any ship had been from the motherland.

In his small crew’s quarters, the sound of Lukas’s slow breath traveled across the cabin and filled the silent halls of the ship. The health monitor displayed a steady heartbeat that rose and fell, noting the rhythm of his sleep. His boots and suit hung just by his feet next to the bed. Lukas had settled in ten hours before, and was just now beginning to stir.

The heavy olive eyelids that held back his sight slowly separated. Lukas stretched his arms out to either side and twisted his back, feeling the tension of a long rest leave his body. He rose to his feet and slipped inside of the deep crimson spacesuit that he had worn a thousand times before. He admired the fit in the mirror opposite his dormitory. Though it was well equipped for any environmental challenges, it was made of only a thin composite material a mere half-inch thick. Even so, it was lighter than cotton and more breathable than any shirt Lukas had worn back on Earth. A golden insignia of two meteors fleeing from a sleek spaceship embroidered the center of his chest. The boots he decided to leave behind. He wouldn’t need them; he wasn’t going to leave the ship today.

Feeling a slight dryness in the back of his throat, Lukas slunk slowly out of his quarters and down the hall to the bathroom. The glass door slid open as he neared, and he reached just inside to fill a cup of water. The cool taste of the liquid filled his mouth as it slid down the back of his throat. He walked to the galley and opened a vacuum-sealed container of beef, bread, and dried fruit, staples of a modern Earth diet. He would need his energy for the day to come.

Lukas heard a soft click and a sudden rush of air as the halls filled with fresh oxygen. The environmentally-controlled ship left nothing to be desired. Temperature and toxin-monitored water flowed from every tap and spigot around the crew’s quarters, and nuclear heating tubes kept him safe from the almost negative one-hundred degrees celsius temperatures that crept just outside the spaceship’s hull. The whole system was run by a super-computer stored away somewhere in the ship’s many engineering rooms. Sometimes, when the Annabelle would pass too close to a star, it would have to enable carbon-conduction cooling methods to keep its sole passenger from baking alive. Lukas was happy for the protection. After all, space is a dangerous place.

The LED screens of the pilot’s monitor flashed bright blue for a second and then flicked fully on as Lukas approached the cockpit. He settled into the deep, leather arms of the captain’s chair and turned to face the bay window that lay before him. Almost immediately he shrunk back away from the emptiness that lurked outside of the thick glass wall. It was too much. For months he had stared out at the black and found only black staring right back. Now as he approached his destination he felt a knot form in the pit of his stomach. All of his preparation, all of his thoughts and imaginations about what he was about to discover were about to be reaffirmed or swept away with the alien winds.

Setting out from Earth, he knew he would be lonely. He had no delusions as to the distance between his flying tin-can and the orb of rock that he called home. After he switched to post-light speeds, he was no longer to contact anyone on Earth. Their communications simply could not reach him fast enough. But it was not without cause that he now flew through the vacuum of space. He flew for discovery and wonder and everything that had ever made a person stare breathlessly up at the night sky. But more importantly, he flew for peace. He flew for the end of the war that had raged for thirteen years between the North and the South.

The preparations for Lukas’ departure were made long before the location of the alien planet was know. They would be ready, they thought, so they could finally have the answers when they needed them most. But, after the map had been drawn, it was only a few short months before the first bullet left its chamber. The North couldn’t stand by while its southron brother destroyed the one thing keeping them safe. The South couldn’t let the opportunity go to waste. They launched their space shuttle, and the fighting began.

Annabelle was a capable ship; her top speed was one hundred and fifteen times that of light, and it relied on a warp drive system well ahead of its time. For the Southern scientists, however, that wasn’t fast enough. They wanted to be alive to see their ambassador reach the alien planet and peaceful encounter on a much different scale than had ever been seen before. So, much like its pilot, the Annabelle Lee was not the first choice for the mission. That honor went to the Red Baron, a highly advanced project that boasted some new technology sure to revolutionize space travel. But in the midst of a military skirmish surrounding the research base in Sao Paulo, the Baron was incapacitated, its navigation system ripped from its skeleton and the uranium cores that powered it stolen. There was no choice left. The launch had to go on.

Lukas was the third best astronaut in the lineup. Out of ten applicants, he was the second best navigator, the third best translator, and the worst fighter. But instead of succumbing to the pressure and dropping out of the ranks, Lukas stuck through the training and came out on top. He knew something the others didn’t. He craved something they hadn’t even begun to consider. They were not traveling sixty light years to conquer or to invade. They were going as ambassadors. Lukas understood that the only way to stifle the effects of war on Earth was to ask the questions that nagged at humanity’s heart. He alone could bring the message of peace to the aliens, and he alone could bring it back to Earth.

“What is our ETA?”

Lukas’ question rang about the steel walls of the cabin. A soft click of machinery swiveled the front-facing monitor to his eye level and a soft feminine voice answered his call.

“Approaching Gemini 3 -7 from rear-orbit. Acceleration negative one thousand kilometers per second. Arrival in 13 minutes.”

He stood and turned off the monitor, shutting down the cockpit lights as he went. Before he left he activated the automated external defense system linked to his spacesuit and designed to protect him from harm. The mission was to prevent violence, but he was blind against the unknown species, and he had no way of knowing what was out there.

Lukas made his way to the back of the ship where the loadout room was located. He donned a set of black composite gloves. They could withstand heat up to three thousand degrees Celsius and stood against cold just as vicious. He attached a small micro computer system to his back that would give off environmental readings and detect life forms within a thirty foot radius. A helmet of impenetrable diamond glass covered his head down to his shoulders, with a display that showed toxin levels in the air and the amount of oxygen left in his tank. He would be fine, he reasoned, thirteen hours of air was enough to get out and explore and then come back to the ship. Thirteen hours and he would be back on the ship, he told himself. All he has is thirteen hours.

His heart was racing inside his chest as he reached for the leather holster strapped to the wall. The clasps fit snugly around his waist, and he adjusted the belt so his laser gun would be just next to his hand. He lifted the gun from its place on the rack and looked it over twice. The carbon fiber handle fit nicely in his hand. It held enough power to level a house, if he needed it. For his life and the thirty billion back on Earth he prayed that he wouldn’t.

“Arrival in one minute at landing zone Alpha. Conditions stable. Wind speed thirty miles per hour with heavy sediment.”

“Doom. Doom. Doom” his heart seemed to scream at him. “Don’t open the door. You don’t know what’s out there. You don’t know what could be waiting.”

The Annabelle buckled under its own weight as the landing gears struck the hard alien ground. Three hundred and fifty to trillion miles, and he had made it. He took a deep breath to try and calm his heart and untie the knots in his stomach, but to no avail. His fingers shook as he raised his glove to the bright orange release button on the steel door in front of him. His hand fluttered nervously around the hilt of his laser gun. Annabelle shuddered and the door fell from its hinges to the ground below.

Ffffwwwwwwwwwww. The wind and dust howled into the ship as Lukas stumbled forward. The alien sediment trapped in the wind blew around his helmet, and he could not see but fifteen feet in front of him as he walked down the ramp. His feet found the rocky soil at the bottom of the ramp first, but his knees were soon to follow, digging into the cold, tan ground. He wasn’t sure if his eyes had seen what lay before him or if his imagination had conjured it.

A pale grey, muscular creature ten feet in length lay unmoving on the ground below. In its four seven-fingered hands it clutched sharpened poles made of the same black material as the artifact Lukas had studied to prepare for his mission. Its feet were like solid blocks of stone, dauntingly huge like its massive arms and torso, and callused from intense use. A surprisingly sophisticated face sported a pair of tusks that grew from just behind the alien’s jaw in the place of teeth. A long flat nose pointed up at the sky. Quiet and blank were its three blue eyes as they seemed to stare into the space in which Lukas had been standing. From its chest leaked a clear red liquid which had stopped flowing some time ago.

Lukas climbed shakily to his feet and stepped over the body. Tears now leaked from his face as he walked, but he pressed on. An alien hill loomed before him, but he could not find the capacity to climb it. Strewn across slope were dozens of other alien bodies, thrown about like ragdolls. Their tusks shown proudly in the light of the two suns. Their blood ran cold in the tan dust around them.

Taking a deep breath, Lukas turned and began walking towards a small shadow at the

edge of his vision. He strained to see a metallic looking object floating a few feet off of the ground. He picked up his pace and the object grew larger in the distance. His boots slammed one after the other on the hard rocks below his feet. The metal began to take form. Lukas slowed down to a walk as he realized it was the wing of a ship; his hand dropped to the pistol on his thigh. Slowly he walked left and ducked under the wing. The ship felt cold to the touch as he brushed his hand against its side. He took a step back and looked up. His knees buckled and his eyes watered as he stared at the side of the spacecraft. If his mission was to protect Earth from the attack of the aliens, it was complete.

The red letters on the side of the ship read: The Red Baron, Earth.


Captain’s Log

Captain Robert Stark II

May 25th, 2180

The Red Baron

Our destination was Gemini 3 -7, and we were to arrive on the 20th of May. We flew the Baron out past the orbit of Pluto to a location safe enough to test the new engine. Spirits were high as we knew we would be the first on the aliens’ doorstep. A ship was sent out some years before us, but more as a last minute resort than a full attempt at mission success. It was piloted by only one pilot, with no crewman or defense teams. By creating a wormhole in space-time we would be able bypass its travel speed infinitely. With this new technology we could go where and when we wanted in a matter of days. It took the Baron thirty six hours to prepare for launch and thirty minutes to create a wormhole. We entered not knowing if we would return, but without a single trial run, we were successful. We entered Gemini’s orbit and landed safely.

For a few days the aliens were nowhere to be found. We sent out search parties every six hours to check the surrounding hills. The rocky crags that overlooked landing zone Alpha were covered in thousands upon thousands of dark green bushes which we later attributed as the aliens’ primary food source. We found no animals on Gemini for the first couple of days, but eventually a couple dozen grey snake-looking creatures approached the ship. That was it, until we made first contact.

The aliens are a brutish bunch of foul-smelling creatures. Ten feet tall, skinless, and greyer than the London sky, they have three eyes bluer than the rivers that streamed around the landing zone. Two ugly, sharp tusks protrude from their mouths, and they have no teeth at all. They are quite primitive, and when we first discovered a small group huddled in a cave, they were brandishing long spears made of an unknown mineral. Seeing us at the mouth of the cave, they quickly grouped together and pointed their spears at our throats, shouting in some incomprehensible tongue. We made quick work of the lot and carried one back to the ship in a bag for DNA analysis. But it was not long before more, a force of about one hundred, quickly followed. They surrounded the Baron and locked us in the cockpit, forcing us back with their spears. Here we await what, death? Triumph? We hold our breath.

God save our souls.