Science Leadership Academy Learn · Create · Lead

Blog Feed

Humanities Project 2012

This has been a very interesting year with Mr.Block. I have learned a lot from him. Mr. Block’s class was set up in a different structure then most classes. His ideal of best learning is to watch videos, do paper essays, read, and do hands on activities. Strangely his idea is right and works. Through this year with him being our English and history teacher Mr. Block has taught us some important things. Which makes me grateful to have had him as a teacher.

One thing I learned is “The way to show you have power is to speak.” That is important because most people have the most life changing things to say, but they never be heard because they do not say what they have to say. Our poetry unit was the best one. Mr. Block had us writing something different that I found to be great. The Ode poem was really good because writing about an object is hard. That was one of my challenging poems that I had accomplished. My favorite lines from that poem is “having their necks bob to the ridiculous sound they consider a compliment But Incompetent To realize Originality is Self confidence" Another challenging poem was I was raised by poem. It was hard writing about my mom because she is so great and I wanted to put that all in one poem. Cutting it down was hard but I eventually got it.  One of my best lines I would have to say would be "God do not make life to waste it." When we had to perform our poem a few people told me that this line had them thinking more about themselves and their lives. I was surprised because I never really paid any attention to that line. It was not my favorite until I read it and some bought it to my attention. That is when I realized how powerful that line is. Also in my English Journal entry 31 when we had to write a rant about something we feel strongly about. When I wrote this entry part of my rant came from seeing people blame other people for their mistakes or their miserable lives. A line from my rant was “The black people are so ignorant they keep blaming the system, shut up get educated and be the system.” I understand that is harder on the black race due to the inequality and messed up justice system, but come on you have to take care yourself before you can blame someone else. I feel like if I read this to some of the people in my neighborhood they would get up and do something or at least think about it, sometimes it’s the thought that counts. Poetry is one of the most powerful ways to get a point across. Poetry is like rap and people like listening to cleaver word play. Once you put words together that makes a person always remember is great.

Another thing I have learned from Mr. Block is  “When you convince yourself you’re not creative then you block out all your creativity. Once you try and attempt to be creative you discover something new about yourself.” When we did our playwright unit I did not think I could do it. I never thought of myself being good with stories. Once I tried I must say I did succeed. A line from my play that I really loved was “I've been waltzing with the devil too long.” When we read it as a group people really loved this first line. A classmate of mine came up to me a few times saying this line teasing me. Also when we had to see who would be picked to do perform a scene from their play for the school. I was shocked that my scene seven of my play was picked. I knew I had a chance but I did not have confidence in myself that my play was that great. Once I seen that it was I discovered that writing this play was fun and I would love to write another one. There was so much creativity in getting us up to this. When we did the workshop at the armory was the best one. We were jumping off trucks and steps. Using the environment to create different scenes was so amazing. For this I learned that I like dancing the way Ms. Lea taught us.

Another thing we did was the Art in the Open unit. This is a weird unit that I cannot really say what it is because I do not know what it is. I know it was some sort of interpret dance mixed with feelings and a bunch of other weird things. This is was one of my favorite units. At first I was not thrilled because I cannot dance. Then when I saw what it was we were doing I was excited. My group we did our dance based on hide and seek. I think we had the best performance. Something I learned about myself during our performance is that I am a good stepper. I never knew that I was good at making a musical beat with my body. Once I applied myself this is when I discovered that.

            Overall Mr. Block is a great teacher. He has taught me so much through this year. He was an amazing teacher and I am glad that I had the chance to learn so much through the year.

Here are the links to my poetry and play. Also A picture of me during my performance at the art in open show.

Poetry Portfolio 





Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 9.26.02 PM
Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 9.33.01 PM
Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

     Now that the year is over, Mr. Block gave us the task of summarizing our year with our general understandings from the year. It can connect to how we learned or what we learned. I wanted to talk about expression and struggle. The things we did in class involved a lot of both, which made us better people and made our work better in the end. We did a lot of things in class that would help anybody open up and become more comfortable with themselves. Our classroom became more comfortable everyday and as the year went on people participated in the actives more. The quality of our work was able to evolve with the knowledge that we gained in class. The assignments 'weren't do this at home and then we are done', it was more like 'do a couple of more drafts, read and peer edit them'. We would have to read our drafts to classmates and start to listen to other perspectives. We always lingered, in a good way, on an assignment to make sure that we were proud of our final product. We made sure that our final product was something that we would be proud to have published on the internet. We learned to express ourselves better.

     Nothing is weirder than doing an art show outside for strangers to see. People develop this idea of school that it is just this certain way to do everything. That everybody learns the exact same way, which causes kids to hate school. Kids need to express themselves because expressions helps a person become more comfortable with themselves and the world around them. This year, in my classes, English and History, that is what we did. We were taught how to express ourselves through different creative things. In class, we were all allowed to write a play for Philly Young Playwrights. The play was allowed to be able anything and everything. We were able to write in whatever we wanted to, about anything we wanted, and for whoever we wanted to. The plays allowed people to express the things that we thought about it. The things in our life that nobody else knew it about, but we were having trouble with. We could write about things that troubled us in the world, but we didn't know what to do about it. My play, 'So Ghey!' was about two girls that are best friends and they are trying to keep their friendships together while one if the friends's parents hate the other family. They go through a lot of ups and downs to get to a good point of the friendship. There is a climax and a wrap up, but sometimes things don't alway wrap up well. The process of writing this play was tedious and strenuous. At first, I thought it was going to be very easy but, then they told us that we were going to need to do a whole bunch of different drafts and edits. I thought this was a one time thing. As we went along, the one or two scenes we had were being molded into plays. Plays that we then acted out with people in our class. Some people didn't want to do it because they were shy, I know I was. I didn't want people to get a part wrong and then I would have to correct them. After a while of doing this, people were excited to have their play acted out. People became more comfortable with picking people for the scenes. Everybody was able to see their play for what it really was and they could tell what they needed to work on. 


     Near the end of year, we started to invest our time in an event called Art in the Open and we worked with the Leah Stein Dance Company on the project. Dancers from the company and Leah Stein came a had workshops with us on how to open our eyes to our different environments. We had workshops on how to get comfortable with our environment enough that we knew how to make movements that were creative and intriguing. My group 'Hidden Indulgence' wasn't a group of people that would usually hang out together, we had our own different social groups. But, together we were able to express ourselves successfully. As the process went on, we became more comfortable with each other and in our site (our performance place). We had movements that we planned out but, the more we worked together and with the site, it was obvious that we were comfortable and confident about our piece. We learned how to use daily objects like poles or rocks to make noise together that were creative. The day before performance, Sasha (the videographer) interviewed our group together and asked us how was it working together. I said that "It was hard at first because we didn't know what to do with anything around us, but as the process went on, it got better. We were all able to express ourselves and we became closer because of it. We were comfortable around each other, we talked, and laughed about everything." 

     We didn't only did this with subjects in English, but we did this in History class. It was different though because we did Role play. We would research a major event in history and then, we were assigned roles that we had to act out for the class. Or we would have a discussion as the people from history that we are. Even though, we weren't actually being ourselves and we had to hold back some our creative juices. It was still a good way to express ourselves. We would take a night to look over our person and write an introduction about them. Then, the next day at class we would come and sit in a circle and act our roles. Mr. Block would ask us questions about the events that we had to answer as the person. it was great because we had to think hard and fully understand our person's view on things to make we made sense. But, we got to show our emotion and put our own spin on things. During the year, we did two of theses. It was funny because the first time we did, some people were unsure of themselves and didn't really talk. But when the next one came, everybody was excited because we knew what was going on and what we had to do. We knew the basics that we build off of. It was a way of expressing ourselves, but not really ourselves. In the spiritual role play (a role play where we acted as a person that we thought was very spiritual and inspirational to us), I learned about different religions and how people get connected to the higher power: "People meditate and pray and I think that makes them spiritual. Because you have to open your eyes and realize what is going on in the world around you. Then, for you to become one with the world and yourself." I found out how other people express themselves in spiritual ways and that made me more comfortable with the world around me. In the end, expression helps a person become more comfortable with themselves and the world around them. The ways of expressing themselves can be totally different for each person, like artwork, dance, or singing. 


     As we went on in the year, I learned another thing: When a person struggles for something they want, the outcomes will be greater and better than expected. We read a lot of stories about people that struggled through their lifetime to get where they wanted to be. Most of the time, the outcome was better than expected. In some cases, it didn't always work out because they are just unlucky. Together, as a class, we struggled through a lot of things. We struggled through projects, days where we just didn't want to anything, days where the work was just overwhelming, but look at us now! We are very versatile 10th graders. We struggled to get our ideas out on paper, but we also read about struggles with people in history or short stories.

     Finding Freedom was a topic that we did recently. We learned about how freedom doesn't always mean that you are able to do what you want to, but that you are in a mindset where you feel free. Jarvis Jay Masters is a man that is in prison and is on death row. He was given a life sentence, but he wasn't just drowning himself in his sadness. He let himself be free in his mind. He started to meditate and become one with himself. He was able to deal with his situation, with his past, and with his future. Even though, he was going to die in jail, he could die free. Masters struggled to find himself and couldn't do it. He struggled the wrong way and landed himself in jail. But, after all that struggle he was able to become free in jail. Sometimes, people don't become rehabilitated in jail, but Masters did. We read about his struggle in different portions of his book called Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row. Then, we took our favorite stories and wrote about them. They were called Jarvis Jay Masters Response. I learned about his struggles to be a person that was respected in the jail but, still a person that was watching out for people. I learned about how on death row, everything is put out in the open. He had to confront his problems and be able to deal with them. Masters had to be able to answer questions that he would never answer before. Within itself that was just a struggle. 

     The Holocaust was an event that we did a lot of work with. We learned about the struggle of everybody in that was involved in the Holocaust. We learned about Jewish people in the concentration that struggled to stay alive. The sons that abandoned their fathers because they wanted to stay alive. The Germans that became evil in a blink of an eye to keep their lives. The book Night by Elie Wiesel was a very powerful book that we read during that unit. It was very straight forward, but it was different. It was already known that the main character survived the Holocaust because he wrote this book about it, but it was just crazy to read about his experience. It was crazy to read about the struggles he went through with his father, but he lived through it. It was crazy to find out that if he just made a different decision that he wouldn't had to stay in the concentration camps. The journey was amazing. He struggled to stay alive but, he also struggled to keep his father alive. He kept his father alive as he could. Elie did anything he could for his father, Elie even let his sick father have his rations. While, other sons just left their fathers for death and didn't even look back. The struggles that he went through made me feel like that he lived the worst things in life. He went through hell and back. In the end, the outcome was amazing. He was able to live and see the world now. He was able to write a book and become famous. He didn't just write one book either, he wrote a collection of books. Books that are very well-known. He let the world know about what was going on in the concentration camps, he was able to share his struggles. 

     Sweatshops was also a unit that we spent some time on. We learned about modern day sweatshops, who worked in sweatshops, the condition of sweatshops, and their history. We watched a movie called Made in L.A. The movie was about a factory that made clothes for Forever 21. The workers were mostly immigrants that we treated unfairly. The conditions were horrific and so was the pay. The pay was barely even enough to live off of. The ladies in the factories struggles with everyday life, they struggled to keep food on the table for their children. They made a organization that was for the immigrants. They organized protests, spoke around the world, educated children, and told everybody or anybody that would listen to them. The strike lasted them three years to get the Forever 21 Company to even listen to them. In three years, the women changed the world. The struggle was very long and strenuous, but they won in the end. The outcome was great because not only did they get what they came for but, each women got a little bit more out of it. One women was able to get the job that she had always wanted. Another women was able to try and get her children to America, her children who she hadn't seen in 18 years. The organization that they had prospered even more than they thought it would. The organization gained more members before, learnt from their mistakes, and gained even more stability than before. In the end, through out history it is clear that when a person struggles for something they want, the outcomes will be greater and better than expected.      

     I feel like the year has been an success. I learned about people and myself. I learned that struggle and expression go hand in hand. People struggle to get through life and as they get through they learn about expression. People learn that expression is the key to a better life and that doesn't come without struggling. 

Screen Shot 2012-06-05 at 2.21.59 PM
Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

Main Understanding:
Working hard and full expressing yourself shows what one can truly do through all situations.

Click the image above to enlarge it. If it's not working, try refreshing your page.
​Throughout my tenth grade year at Science Leadership Academy, I learned many things that vary in many different topics throughout the year. These topics relate in some way, while others didn't relate so much. Although some of them didn't relate at all, and others did, all of this information gave me an understanding on how the world is constantly changing around me.

Out of all of the topics in my English and World History class, my favorite topics were, "Slavery" and "Education." Back in September the class was introduced to four essential questions...

1) All students have a right to an education.
2) No one has the right to deny anyone an education.
3) Everyone is responsible for her/his own education.
4) Everyone is responsible for the education of all students.

From there we were asked, "Which one do you agree with out of the four?" I had to agree with the first one because it seemed most logical. I made this decision because I feel like every student has the right to an education, because with out an education you will know less than
necessary to pass in society based off of todays standards.

This idea of everyone being applicable to an education is widely spread across the world, but in many places, education is not a necessity to succeed in life. It is not a necessity because an abundant amount of people feel as though all you should follow is religion, and power should be the overpowering system to a successful society.

"100,000,000 children will not even see a classroom in their life." (Global Education Worksheet)"

Click here to view my History Benchmark on Religion and Slavery
(Ideas of education not being an asset is not specifically brought up in this assignment, but this project doesn't signify how strongly Religion is/was believed.)

As the year progressed, many new topics of conversation were brought into play. For instance, we as a class learned about culture and how it differs around the world. Back in Mid-April to Mid-May, we read a book called, "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe. In the book, there was culture being displayed called, "Ibu", which was also their tribe. It was interesting how much the culture differs in my living environment, and in Africa (Where the tribe existed). In the book, it was explained that if one small crime was committed, there could be a punishment as crucial as being banned from the clan, or death. In my society, a punishment would be going to jail or being on probation. I found it very interesting how that were complete opposites.

Click here to view my add-on to the end of "Things Fall Apart"
(Originally the book had 25 chapters in it, but my teacher asked us to add on a chapter, a chapter 26. Based off of what I learned in the book, and what I understood the most, this was my chapter 26.)

Click here to view a Wiki-Page on "Things Fall Apart" to better understand what the story is all about, giving a little more insight to understand my chapter 26.

Click here to view my newsletter called, "The African Perspective." You can use this resource if you need a better understanding of what the lifestyle of people in the book was like. 

Back in January of 2012 or so, the ideas of racism and inequality began to harbor around the classroom, and it was main topic of conversation. I learned many things throughout this time that made me think about how racism was one of the main roles in life that actually gave the world some sanity, but in the same time, gave the world some insanity. It gave the world sanity because so many people didn't know what to do with their selves when they felt like an outcast because they were around a racial group, so they segregated themselves into small groups based off of what they do and don't like. But it also made the world a bit more insane because there are people who believe the whole world should be equal, but that's not possible because the whole world doesn't want to be equal.

"In life and society in the past, present, and possibly the future racism, inequality and, segregation have been some of the main standing grounds of life." (History Language Autobiography)

"I feel like people are selfish towards society. The reason people are so selfish is because they live their life, while their minds were played with through propaganda and advertisement." (History Journal #7)

Click here to view a poem called, "Oil of the Fire" that I wrote. 
(The main themes are racism and inequality)

Click here to view a letter I wrote to a fictional character in a book called "Passing."
(The book was mainly about a girl who was half black/half white, and she was trying to pass as a normal person in society, but she didn't know what race she wanted to follow because she didn't want to other race to feel betrayed. So I wrote to the girl Clare, giving her advice on what to do with her situation.)

Finally the last topic of conversation is behavior and law. This topic was debuted in the classroom in mid-May to mid-June. We discussed as a class the many amounts of prisons in the world and how violence is so bad, it's almost spreading like a virus.

Click here to view my thesis paper on Violence all throughout the World.
(This thesis essay mainly explains my point of views on Violence based off of statistics and factual information.)

I feel like violence is a way of life, and it's something people see as a culture and traditional and they find it necessary to pass on those bad habits to their children, grandchildren, etc. And how violence is mostly abundant in areas where natural resources to better life, are scarce.

"In your future and past you will make good decisions and some not so good decisions. Many people make assumptions the better choice is what will make their life go better than those who make the not so good choices. Well I’m in opposition with that theory. From my perspective I say it is always a good thing to make good choices because it helps you further on in life, but it is sometimes a good thing to make bad choices because you can learn from that encounter." (English Essay on Scenarios)

There was another assignment that was assigned to the class back in about December/January. We were assigned to write a play. When I heard those words come out of my teachers mouth, I felt like running away. I never thought I could get it done, and I would just give up. But luckily with some determination, it was completed. This play mainly revolves around the idea of how families of soldiers are greatly affected when their family goes out to war. There was some violence in this play too, so I thought it would be cool to add it onto this part of the blog post.

Click here to view my play, "The Deprived War Angel"
(The main characters in the play are Max Ledger and Johnny MacMannon. They are two boys who are both going to the same college for their future. They both have completely different views on their future, their personalities are complete opposites, and so are their backgrounds. When these two meet, they find themselves liking each other until many things come in their way, causing their "friendship" to end not the way they pictured it.)

To close up, I would like to say that although in the beginning of the year when I thought all of this information was completely irrelevant to everything I would learn in the future. While creating this portfolio, I was being able to dig deeper into my prior work and see how they all relate in some way, and they did... which was awesome! This final portfolio really has expanded my thinking area and mindset on many world related issues that I would've never known about if I hadn't have been given the opportunity to take this course in my high school career.
1 Comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012



Our 10th grade English and History classes lead by Mr. Block at Science Leadership Academy were everything but ordinary. We used literary devices and our own thoughts to come up with either broad or specific ideas. Along the way we were challenged, taught and questioned numerous times by our peers and teachers. With all of that input, all that was left was the outcome; the work we hand in. I’ve compiled three general understandings that I came to after looking over some of my work.

"Information from primary sources helps to develop a stronger understanding."


This year I worked on a project in History where the entire class reenacted the French/Haitian Revolution and we discussed the relationship between the two. In the process of reenacting we had to research. In this unit, I acted as the Bourgeoisie and I had to find a quote, or research, something that would give me background and enhance my knowledge of the revolution. One of the most essential pieces of information I found was, “the typical rural family of five required sixty bushels of wheat per year, “or with the triennial rotation of crops, about 15 acres of land for food.” However, the majority of French peasants— as much as 70 percent in the region of Cambrésis, for example— owned less than two-and-a-half acres of farmland. To make matters worse, France suffered several droughts and harsh winters during the 1780s, and French peasants were unaware of new, more efficient farming techniques; most used outdated tools and methods that dated back to the Middle Ages.” This was a crucial piece of evidence in our reenactment because I played the Bourgeoisie and this piece of information allowed me to know exactly what it felt like to be in that class in that time period. Given the fact that even after reading that quote I had to delve deeper in my research to find out exactly how much a bushel was worth. My research definitely allowed me to have a better understanding of the unit. I was able to take note to what other people were saying during discussions and explain to their group why they were in the wrong, using fact based evidence.

During English we approached research and collaboration also. We had to complete a full podcast with a real guest and ourselves, as the host, leading the discussions. Everyone focused on crossing boundaries, and I decided to talk to my guest about the boundaries that she crossed. What I thought was amazing is how with every sentence, my guest would change the questionnaire and I would learn something different as we continued. It begins with, “Certain boundaries are just, not to be crossed. Certain boundaries, no matter how hard we try not to cross them, we will, but with a consequence at the end.” When one of my guests said that it made the entire piece, which was the most essential part of my podcast. What I’ve come to realize is that information from primary sources helps to develop a stronger understanding.



"The most powerful words are those that relate to you."


            A piece of work that pushed my understanding and allowed me to have a stronger grasp of the assignment was the Religion Study where I related religion to music. Looking through the assignment, I realized that the most powerful words are those that relate to you. At one point in my research I found this quote, “Music in its purest sense is religion and religion in its purest sense is music” (Sri Chinoy, Music and Spirituality/Religion). This quote made me realize what my entire project was about. And it also changed the entire outcome of the final product (the brochure). I came to a conclusion, making my final piece a lot stronger because I found a deeper connection; music is my life.

            I remember one day in English where we had a renowned poet visit us. She made us write a paragraph in our English Journals about the way we feel about words. I chose to write about the word “technicality”. I wrote, “The sophisticated way they think they speak, is literally their blatant ignorance, to me. How dare you tell me my emotions are just a technicality? My emotions are my soul. They are me, don’t you dare speak of taking that away from me.” After reading over my work I found that those words were powerful solely based on the fact that they were my own words and I meant it.

For another one of our English projects we wrote a play, my play was titled Arts & Crafts. In this play I reflected on India, the social changes, and myself. At one point, where I was concluding the play, I found myself talking about the way the life of one of my main characters was being intruded and somewhat changed in a decent way but while writing it I was thinking about the way I would feel if I had someone to listen to me. I wrote, “You're here. We're speaking. That's all I really want, someone to listen. To understand, Samajha mēṁ āyā?”(Arts & Crafts) I was suddenly intrigued and in that moment that play meant more than just play to me. Throughout this year I’ve realized that within my work, the most powerful words are those that relate to me.


"In the process of grasping freedom, one finds creativity"


We recently completed a dance; yes a dance for the Art in the Open Festival along with help from the Leah Stein dance company. In the beginning of the unit I was completely confused, asking questions like, “Do the dances have meaning?” or “What is the purpose?” We were given the opportunity to work with the environment and create a dance using the environment. We were allowed time to be outside and working with our groups to complete the project. The process was very tedious but in the end we were able to create amazing dances that we will never forget. After finishing that unit I came to the conclusion that in the process of grasping freedom, one finds creativity.


  Overall, this year’s English and History classes were filled with its ups and downs and mishaps that lead me into a new direction within my work. I was given the opportunity to learn, to create and to lead. And the best part about it all is that I wouldn’t give back a second of it all.

Screen shot 2012-06-06 at 9.25.27 PM
Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

Over the year, I have been taught a multitude of things.  However, I wasn’t just taught the proper way to write an essay, or how to spell a certain word, I was taught to be creative and to use that creativity to my own advantage.  For example, when Mr. Block told us to make a poetry wiki(Click Here), only a small portion of it was dedicated to famous poets.  This struck me as cool and different, I was never asked to do something so personal for such a large project before.  Most of it was to show off our own poetic skills, like how we were taught to embrace our own style of writing and then to improve on it. As an example this line is written by me, and in my own style, “Everyone knows that state that you get into were nothing matters except the next page, and where the book uses your mind as a canvas to paint its masterpiece onto.

In the poetry wiki, we were told to create our own poems, and the only guidelines were about the type of poems we had to write like an ode, or an imagist poem.  The line, “Walking through rose bushes/The sharp thorns grabbing at the pants/Like an army of sharp fairy hands,” really shows the level of creativity we were expected to show.  Where else would you get to use such an abstract metaphor?

            You would think that with all of this creative writing going on, we would learn a flimsy amount of history or proper writing skills, but somehow we managed it.  Our history lessons encompassed everything from  Apartheid to the Holocaust, from the problems in Haiti to the French revolution, all which taught how our society came to be today.  The history of how Haiti struggled through its own civil war so recently really enlightened me.  It opened a window into the world of a poor worker and how they are oppressed and segregated constantly.

            We were also given time to look over what we had done over the year and to draw some conclusions from it.  I noticed that the multinational corporations and poor countries ruling elites were generally selfish people who were doing their best to destroy the environment and their people completely. “The Elites would have to grow a spine and stick up for their people, and be more insistent on things like child labor laws and fair treatment of workers.”  This line comes from a mock trial analysis(Click Here) where  the poor country ruling elites were prosecuted by the rest of the world.  The trial revealed that the poor country ruling elite could easily change labor laws to be morally acceptable, with only a small cost to the corporations in charge.  This selfishness is what is holding the world back from advancement in technology and quality of life.  Even more so than that, I realized that poor leadership leads to most of the worlds problems, and if every leader did what was truly in their countries best interest, the world would be an amazing place to live in.

            Throughout history class, I realized that whenever change occurs, struggle shortly follows, and the struggle may lead to more chaos, or it could end with serenity and peace. Throughout history, groups within society have tried to change the structure of that very society, and a group of people would always strongly oppose them, but that is not always a bad thing.  In WWII, the Nazi’s tried to completely exterminate the Jews, but the rest of the world rebelled against them and eventually won the war, but not before it had affected many people.  6 million Jews died, and I realized the survivors had their souls "Scorched with the fire of oppression.”(Click Here) These brave survivors had to fight to regain their place in the world, while getting over the frightening things they experienced.           

I believe that we were able to cope with the amount of work we were assigned because of the highly structured but flexible style of teaching Mr. Block employs.  He makes sure that even when we have multiple projects going at one time, we keep everything organized and together, while meeting all of the time requirements for our assignments.  The skills that have been reinforced in this class, such as perseverance, hard work, organization, and dedication, have large impacts in other areas in every day life, and that is what I truly learned this year in History and English.


Wordle final portfolio
Be the first to comment

Humanities Thesis

Traumatic events come in many forms, but whether in the form of the holocaust or the wars overseas, these events always leave a wake of people affected by them in different ways and to different extents. However, everyone deals with this animalistic reaction to trauma in various forms.  People who survive traumatic events are people who can overcome personal discomfort.  Survivors are people who steel themselves against the horrors they face, but sometimes those horrors cling to these survivors like a wet article of clothing.  The survivors who end up living better lives are the ones who can look into themselves and except their fate, or can simply shut the suffering in a little box inside of them, in order to get over the emotional pain.

Holocaust survivors had to deal with the posttraumatic stress disorder brought on by their horrible experiences, and the PTSD is sometimes as bad as the actual experience itself.  Holocaust survivors also had to adjust to how they were treated.  These survivors went from being treated like rats to being treated like human beings, which is not an easy transition for anyone.  Modern day warriors also have this problem.  Many surviving members of our military come home to experience PTSD and survivor’s guilt, which is to think that they somehow could have saved their fallen comrades.  Warfare and struggle change a person, and the new person is usually a shocked shell of their former self, ready to be shattered by the casual cruelty of the obscene world.

The people who usually deal with extreme levels of stress are the ones with a strong support system.  The people with strong cohesive family units, or a group of friends or coworkers that support you are the ones who have the support necessary to get over these sensations of despair.  In modern day warfare the warriors that lead normal lives after their wartime horrors are over are the ones who have something to distract them, like a team of some sort, or the people who are able to shove all of those feelings into a box and push it away from their conscious, so they do not think about it on a daily basis.
         In Maus, by Art Speigleman, the characters are all portrayed as different animals.  The Jews are mice, Polish people are pigs, and the Nazis are cats.  This further shows how, at that time, Nazis literally preyed on Jews, like a cat preys on mice.  The Nazis purposely lowered a class of people below them, therefore justifying genocide to their larger public, as being nothing more than taking care of a rat infestation.  This social degeneration being used against a society is despicable in every way.  The Nazis took all of the Jews’ rights away and left them, as a race, depleted and thoroughly flabbergasted by the treatment they endured.
         After the Jews were so completely mentally demolished, the survivors had to survive after that with all of that terrible information in their head.  The mental images of hanging Jews, burning Jews, starving Jews, always haunted them.  The Jews were treated as rats, except rats got more food and nourishment.  Everything that people took for granted was a shock to them.  Showering in hot water, eating until our stomachs are about to burst, exercising by choice, all of these things were foreign to the shell shocked Jews after the holocaust.
         In Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, Marji left Iran fleeing from the war.  She grew up in a country that didn’t care about the war, and who had never known true hardship.  They had never been bombed and forced to bunker down in a basement with their entire family.  They didn’t have to wear a veil so that they wouldn’t be shot.  They didn’t have war at their doorsteps.  This meant that Marji was a great deal more mature than her peers.  She needed to grow up fast, or she would be lost in the chaos of a country going through civil unrest.  
         Since Marji was forced to grow up so fast, it made finding new friends difficult because she already had an idea of what was truly important, and what she shouldn’t worry about at all.  She tried to find people who understood her predicament, but no one could to relate to her.  She eventually had to compromise and make friends with people who didn’t really understand her, but they couldn’t really hold a decent conversation with her.  This lack of companionship is a big problem for most people after a traumatic event.  When something takes up your entire life, you live it, breath it, and then you have to flee from it, it leaves a hole that needs to be filled with something, whether it is a sport, or a good friend, but that takes time to accomplish.  

         When people go through traumatic events, their very souls are scorched with the fire of oppression.  These people need time and effort to heal that burn, and while some people have the willpower to completely shut themselves away from the pain, most people need to talk about their experiences in order to recover.  There is no “better” way to deal with stress; the whole goal is to just alleviate the pressure being put on you.



Satarapi, Marjane. Persepolis.

Spiegleman, Art.  Maus.

Luttrell, Marcus.  Service: A Navy SEAL at War.

Kyle, Chris.  American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US History.

Be the first to comment

2012 Baseball Captain - Ian McClendon

For my Capstone project I am writing about being SLA’s Baseball Captain for the 3rd year. I played on the team for the year before and this year of, sadly, my senior year. The reason why I wanted to focus my capstone on Baseball was because I felt that I had/ still have a strong relation with the team and vise versa. It is sad that this is the last year I can play as a kid in high school but that won’t stop me from coming back next year to assistant coach. 

Here is the LINK to my video voiceover media. (Download .zip file)
Be the first to comment

Mock Trial Analysis

Sweatshop Trial Analysis:

As we all know, mock trials are extremely useful teaching tools.  It forces us students into the mindset of an unbiased observer, and makes us search the internet for sources both for prosecution and defense purposes.  But some mock trials don’t capture the true essence of a real trial, and there were definitely some points that were said in this mock trial that would never have been said in an actual courtroom.

            As an example, take a look at a quote from the U.S. Consumers closing statement: “We have been trained by the corporations and the system.”  This statement would never have been said in court.  It implies that the Multinational Corporations and the System have complete control over the U.S. Consumer’s life, that the average consumer is weak and simple minded.  This quote is a sign that the consumers are ready to roll over and whimper because they have no real excuse for what is happening under their noses.           

            This sort of information flowed throughout the trial, another example of this is a quote from the poor country ruling elite.  They said, “We do agree that the conditions in the sweatshops are bad.” In a real trial they would give no ground, saying that the conditions were good, until some outside source came up with some information to contradict them.  Their goal would be to try to get out of the situation as quickly as possible without suffering any collateral damage.

            The eternal struggle to try and change the sweatshop system would be accomplished much faster if everyone banded together.  The Multinational Corporations would have to be willing to produce less revenue so they could afford to make the working conditions for their workers better, give them higher hourly pay, and dispose of their waste in a more efficient and sanitary way.

            The Elites would have to grow a spine and stick up for their people, and be more insistent on things like child labor laws and fair treatment of workers.  This would make the general population much happier in their daily lives, as well as make them happier in the workplace.  In turn the workers might not get the instant, huge change from terrible to good as they might have expected.  They might have to make do with small changes at first, so they can give the corporations time to adjust to the novel experience of not making such a ridiculous amount of money.

            If the world bands together and does these simple things, the potential for sweatshops could be endless.  There might be a point in the future where working at a sweatshop could be a prestigious job.  That would be a huge achievement for the world, and it would solve much of the major problems in our society.  There would be less civil unrest if everyone was treated better and given better wages, and the environment would be at less risk with everyone using their money to protect it, and many more improvements would be possible.  These are just two examples in a sea of options.  It’s a wonder people haven’t changed these sweatshops already.


Be the first to comment

Jarvis Jay Masters Response

For A Long Time

"I began to get up early to try to calm my mind so I wouldn't panic. It was as if my whole life was being displayed on a screen during the death penalty case. Things I had never realized about myself and my life were introduced to me and the jury at the same time. Questions I'd never asked my mother - like how long she'd been abused, on the street, an addict - were being asked now. Through meditation I learned to slow down and take a few deep breaths, to take everything in, not to run from the pain, but to sit with it, confront it, give it the companion it never had."

 It is like he is free when he meditates because he is free to be inside of his thoughts. Masters is able to deal with things and become one with himself. I think that his incarceration changed him into the person that is able to get to a place where he can deal with his problems. Incarceration turned him into a changed man, which is what they want to happen to them. He turned in a person that would be able to succeed in the world after he got out, but he was on death row. He came to terms with his problems and in that sense became free. He was free even though, he was in jail.


The Dalai Lama Hat

"Man!' he said. "This picture makes me look a lot more human, don't you think so?" He handed me the picture. "Yeah, it does. But I think you've always been human. You just have to feel it." I gave it back to him. 

The key thing is this section is that fact that he says 'look a lot more human', that part stood out for me a lot. I questioned about what it meant, I interpreted as that prisoners aren't treated like humans in jail. Or they aren't viewed as humans, they are just animals. Animals that decide to do the wrong thing and go to jail to be reformed back in humans. While reading the rest of the vignette, I tried to think of the title The Dalai Lama Hat and how that connected to the man. I thought that the hat was the freedom and hope that he would get out of the jail. He would get out and see his family again. The hat gave him hope and you could see it in his smile, which made him look and feel human. Humans have hope. 


Stop! A Buddhist Is Here!

"According to the laws of prison life, none of this was suppose to be any of business of mine. but it was. This time it had to be. For all the life in me, I couldn't look at this gay person, sitting alone against the back wall of the exercise year, and not see an innocent human being. Yet I could not summon up the courage to become a snitch and risk my own life to warn him off this yard."

I thought this section was powerful, Masters went into this whole background about what happens if a homosexual comes to the jail. He talked about how they are viewed and what people will do to them and to people how help them. Masters says that would die if he helped this man but, if he didn't  anybody that would try and kill him, would die also. This is highlights the fact that some people view prisoners as animals. Anybody would do anything to kill this homosexual man because they wanted people to know that they hate homosexuals just as much as the next person. They would risk their lives just to get this one man. Masters showed that prisoners aren't animals. They are just trying to survive, like Crazy Dan. He was trying to show that was tough too. While Masters was trying to save him life, he wasn't being an animal. He risked his life because he could've been caught as a snitch. He would have been tortured by everybody. He showed his humanity. 

Be the first to comment

Summer Reading Recommendation

The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon 

This story is very suspenseful with twists and turns all over the place. When you think things have already been at its worst and it'll get better, something else happens. The suspense in this story is never dull and you never know when one of the characters is really as trustworthy as it seems. In this story, you can't trust anyone. If you do, you have to be wary. The truth is distorted by the town. 
Screen Shot 2012-06-07 at 9.06.19 AM
Be the first to comment

Briana's Descriptive Essay

Who am I? That has always been an essential question for incoming freshman to SLA. I never really understood why we had to answer that question along the way, but I’m now a sophomore and I still have no idea who I am. It really bothers me that for 15 years I still haven’t figured out who I am. Constantly going from class to class and making new friends I still can’t pin point who the “real” me is.
Which takes me here, to Mr. Block’s class, writing a 3-page essay about our memories. Sadly, the ones that I can be really descriptive on are the sad ones. Leading up to this was 2 scenes, a revise, and a “hot words” is what Mr. Block likes to call them. While I was writing I couldn’t really think on what to write until he announced, “ Everyone put ‘Free Write’ on top of your Google document. You have ten minutes.” I had no idea what so ever to put on my Google doc. I sat in class, during last period for about 4 minutes pondering on what to jot down. Words of any kind, non-stop about anything that my two scenes reminded me about a larger part in life.
I stared and stared until I finally thought of a good idea. “Who am I really?” That was a question that I was trying to answer. While trying to haul all my thoughts and words on this page quickly I finally knew what to say and how to say it. For some reason, I’ve always felt sad, the little things I picked out, and sometimes I even feel as though I’m not confident enough in myself.
I know that not everyone is going to like or approve of you but sometimes I just feel this way.  Other times, I feel empty, just as hallow as a log. I feel like I’m hiding behind a mask most of the time. Who am I really? The darker thoughts reminded me of how it all started like a punch to the face. I remembered how I first felt like I was lost in myself trying to find my true self out. It all started when my friend had called my name in technology class during the 6th grade, “Briana?” he asked.
That’s all I could hear through the thundering of noise of voices echoing off the technology walls. My best friend David had showed me a picture of this fallen angel with it’s back facing the screen and her left wing broken and crippled but the right wing folded in. The picture was very alluring and it drew me in like the smell of a fresh homemade apple pie. I couldn’t help but understand the picture so well. With constant friends leaving, and promises broken, I understood the pain and sorrow that screamed through the picture.
With my speechless eyes I stared at the picture. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was if my eyes hunger for the understanding of the photo. It felt as if I needed the reassuring judgment that the photo brought to it self. The power in the photo was overpowering that everything I was supposed to hear, was closed and pushed out.
After being suck into the vibe of the photo I soon heard, “It’s time to go. Everyone line up.” I soon realized that it was time to go back to class with my homeroom teacher. And with that, I pushed in my chair with aching noises of yelling and got in line. We then as a class, left the technology room. Having this whole flashback moment I realized how many bad things must have happened when I was little.
I’ve always had friends leaving me from my side. And I’ve always been so trustworthy, believing everyone that was nice to me. Always being lied to and having to chose over friends, I’ve never really knew who was telling me the truth and who wasn’t. The constants “I’ll always be your friend” or “You can tell me anything” had always been a lie for me. Now I don’t know who’s really being truthful, and who’s not.
I guess you can say I kind of just gave up on people? I still have things to strive for, but now people are just an obstacle for me. I sound like a horrible person to others when they read this, but I’ve always learned that there's a story behind every person. There's a reason why that they’re the way they are. They aren’t just like that because they want to, something in the past created that.
But knowing that, I still feel as though I would be hated for being the me that I think is my true self. Sometimes not caring is the only thing that saves you. But if you think about it, I’m not the one completely at fault. Because others didn’t like the way I was, I changed. I learned how to control my tears. I mold myself into the person that everyone wants me to be.
To them, I was the backup. The one everyone looks to in time of need. But what if the backup needs a backup? I remembered one time when I tried to pour out all my thoughts, my feelings onto paper. “Why” was the only word on the page of my spiral notebook.
Somehow I couldn’t think of anything to say. I somehow wanted to get all the pain out. Sitting there on the farthest of my couch I thought about the happy times that used to be fun and made everyday seemed as though the sun was out and smiling down on us. That’s when I quickly snapped back into reality. I didn’t notice at first, but I soon felt a small marble like tear jump from my cheek and onto the pants of my leg.
I wiped my face with the quickness. I was angry with myself. How could I possibly cry over something that happened so many times already? With my thoughts filled with rage I finally begin to write. When I was done, I still didn’t feel any different.
I was confused with how my coping skills had failed me like my 5th grade teacher tried to do. How could I still be feeling upset if I just poured out all of my feelings on the paper that was trying to keep it hostage? After a while I just sat, and pondered on what to do next. I then noticed that all I could do was just accept all of it. Accept the pain, happiness, sorrow, everything.
And after my friendship of 8 years ended with one of my closest friends, I told my self to shut down completely. Now I can’t tell my feelings from real to fake. I just go with the flow of my life. I follow what people want from me. I smile when I feel it’s a need to, and I try to be sad when everyone else is too.
I’m numb, and I don’t know how to fix myself yet. Maybe it’s better to leave the broken pieces of glass where they are instead of trying to put them back together. So I continue to find out who I really am. Searching for the chance when that one faint light shines to lead me out of the surrounding darkness of my own shell. But until then I still look for the answer to my question, “Who am I?”
Be the first to comment

Summer Book Recommendation!

​I'm going to recommend the Hunger Games trilogy. I know, 3 books but it's not as bad as it sounds. All three of these books are very well written and paced well. Either you are a polished reader or wanting to pick something up, these are the books for you! Suzanne Collins brilliantly writes about Katness and her life before, during and after the Hunger games. In the first book, Prim, who is Katness's sister is chosen for the Hunger games. Katness steps in and volunteers herself fearing her sister's life. In the books following, there are many twists and turns. You won't want to put the book down.     
Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

“Hard work leads to a lifetime of accomplishments”  (Jessica Marorano)

Throughout the year in History/English I have learned many different things. The topics I studied varied in subjects and made real world connections. Each piece of work that was done in both classes was a continual process. Nothing was just done and over with. I worked hard with my peers in perfecting and editing my work to make sure that it was the best. I think I deserve a gold star for the completion of each assignment.

The most memorable topic of study in History was the playwright. I joined the school in the middle of the semester and when I came one of my first assignments was to write a play. This was one of my biggest challenges that I faced. I had no idea what I was writing nor did I have any ideas for a topic. Over the weeks I began reading my peers plays and began working with a play expert who helped me with a idea and sort of gave me a guideline of what to do. I worked hard and thoroughly for months and with dedication I eventually created a masterpiece. This project gave me an opportunity to express myself and display my creativity to everyone.  I think this play was one of the biggest obstacles that I overcame and succeeded with during this year so far. Click here to view the entire play.

One of the most memorable pieces in English was the Poetry Wiki. Each class period we learned about a poet and analyzed their poetry and got ideas for our own. We expressed many of our life stories and circumstances with our poems. Some poems like our found poems were totally made up of phrases and sentences that we heard throughout the day. This was one of the most unique poems in the entire wiki.

 Along with working with peers, we also collaborated with others. For a couple of weeks everyone was working with the Leah stein dance company. This workshop was during our freedom unit where we analyzed prison stories, read graphic novels, and most importantly worked with Leah to create expressions of art. This ongoing process was very different and quite interesting. We worked with the environment and with things that we see everyday to perform or tell a captivating story through our dance moves. Click here to view our process.

 “Creativity is the reason of ones work to express the power of ones mind.” (Sean McAninch)            

That is the general understanding I get when I am working. I am creating masterpieces to express the power of my mind. “Without struggle there is no thrive to work harder.” Everything during this year wasn’t so easy to accomplish. I think one if the most difficult projects for me was the Revolutionary Guidebook. Over a period of time we studied different revolutions then it was our turn to teach all about a revolution. I had the chance to apply all the knowledge I obtained and teach it to someone else as if they had no clue about the subject. That was a struggle for me because I had such a hard time getting my ideas across. I had a hard time explaining what I learned in a way that made it easier for others. Eventually I overcame that challenge, passing it wasn’t so easy.

In English we studied about crossing boundaries and passing. There were a lot of fun activities within that unit. My favorite was the Passing reenactment. We read the book passing then it was our job to reenact the scene and present it to the class. Making the video was really fun it was my first time collaborating with a group. (Click here for the video.) I worked hard with each assignment and I succeeded, each piece is wonderful. These classes has helped me get a better understanding of myself and the world. 

Screen Shot 2012-06-05 at 1.58.36 PM

SLA Philadelphia "Inquiry"

The Inquiry

The Philadelphia newsletter

Employ and Empower Yourself. Thats the message that 18 year olds, Anthony Torrance and Rashaun Williams were trying to get across to the public on June 2nd, this past Saturday. These young ambitious African-American gentlemen are co-founders of a non-profit organization focused on community empowerment, development, and integrity, that goes by the name of Phresh Philadelphia. They have been running this non-profit for more than two years now, and show no signs of slowing down. They feel that they “moved the crowd” with their sermons as well as their panelists that spoke to the youth (which were focused on ages from 15-18) about starting a business while still in high-school. The two young men felt very adamantly about starting a business at such a young age, and feel it has been their biggest crutch as well as their greatest asset. Nevertheless, they feel that starting a business early has more pros than it does cons.

The “Employ and Empower Yourself” conference that took place this past Saturday was done in partnership with OIC of America, which is another non-profit that helps to support and facilitate business. It was also done under the label of the F.L.A.S.H. initiative, which was created by OIC and revitalized by Phresh Philly. F.L.A.S.H. stands for Future Leaders Advancing Self Help. It originated as a group name in 1984, and was  positive message to the youth at that time, but didn’t get much recognition. With the promise to get F.L.A.S.H’s name out to the public, OIC gave the ownership of it to Phresh Philly in hopes to gather more youth to their cause. 

Going back to the event, it would be considered a huge success. At first the seats were empty, which worried the two gentlemen because they had put a lot of time and effort into making sure they were prepared to teach their audience. But after half an hour, the crowd started rolling in, and by the time the panel was getting started, the room had pretty much reached capacity! Three of the focal points on the panel was how to get a job and make money, how to start and maintain your own business, and how to get more involved with your community, all of which were thoroughly addressed throughout the seminar. The majority of the kids walked out with a new F.L.A.S.H. t-shirt to show off to friends and other members. 

When asked if they would do it again, Anthony responded “Certainly, this was only one of many events that will help our youth and get more young people driven and focused. We won’t stop here,” For more information, you can check their website and, send them an e-mail at phrehphiladelphia@gmail, or just attend one of their many meetings on wednesdays at Broad and Master.*

-Anthony Torrance

Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

Main Understanding: Hard work and struggle can lead to creativity


Throughout the year I have learned about many different and controversial topics. Some of which I believe aren't part of the normal curriculum. Many things that we did included our own original play that was part of a controversial topic and many other things that are interesting, In the beginning of the year I walked into Mr. Block's History and English class thinking it would be a regular boring class and we would do what I did in a regular high school class. Instead of that I had a different experience. It was regular assignments and research but it was a hands-on experience to different things, like being a part of the Art in the Open festival.


Some of the topics that struck me as interesting were the lesson that we learned about the different rights to education, and the boy that refused to say the pledge of allegiance. We asked different essential questions about each of the topics that we were discussing in class. When we started the process out making our own play, I struggled because I had never done a thing, in actuality I never wrote much until this year. The first thing we did before we wrote plays were that we were to read plays written by the classes from before. After we had read plays and talked about different controversial topic that our play had to include. Throughout the process of writing it, we had much help by doing several activities that would immerse us into the characters that could be in our play. I had some trouble thinking about what topic I wanted to pick during the period that we were choosing. During that time, Kim Jong il died so I decided to do something with the country of North Korea. I strived to create a play following a couple with mixed feelings about the Leader of North Korea dying. I tried creating a story that could’ve been possibly be happening at that very moment.


Second Understanding: Change can only occur when there is support


            Throughout the year we’ve had many different assignments and most of those assignments required us to as another student to peer-edit each other’s work. Most of what I am proud of writing wouldn’t be what it is. This year we wrote a language autobiography on how language affects us. Seeing that I am Vietnamese, I know two languages. The difference from knowing an Asian language and English in my eyes is a big leap from knowing Spanish and English, or English alone. It’s a big leap because of the structure of the Asian language and the difference it makes. In my language autobiography I talk about how when I was younger I felt like an adult. I felt like any adult because of the responsibility that I had as the best English speaking person in the house. Another thing that we did that I help finishing up was the Poetry Unit. Inside this Unit we wrote different poems, with each poem having a different requirement, and constantly had our peers editing posting feedback about the specific poems we wanted. We asked our peers to support us we wrote poetry and made a specific page where we stored our different poems that we wrote at that time.


Third Understanding: Listening can help immensely


            Although I have listened for most of the school year, there are some bits and pieces here and there where I started to space out momentarily. One moment was when Mr. Block was talking about the Final portfolio, which is what you’re reading, I spaced out because I was reading different vignettes from the book “Finding Freedom” Another instance where I wasn’t in the zone was when we were introduced our podcast interview which was part of our Crossing Boundaries unit. This project was a group one where we all interviewed people outside of our school.


            This year has been very interesting, it has been weird but in a good way. I feel satisfied with what I produced this year


William H. Felinski: Rainwater Collection Unit, Capstone 2012

I built a rainwater collection, filtration, and storage device.  It is an innovative engineering product designed with a humanitarian focus.  The water collection unit is collapsible; capable of folding together into a small waterproofed backpack.  Made from weather resistant tarp, covered with a durable mesh netting, and suspended by rope tie offs the device is highly adaptable.  As a product the water collection unit provides access to clean water sourced from rain for campers, gardeners, and other sustainable activities.  However, the greatest purpose is as a combatant against water scarcity.  Applying knowledge from my service experience in the Dominican Republic, I decided my capstone was an opportunity to better the availability of safe drinking water to those in need and greatest effected by water scarcity.

Provided below is my keynote presentation used to defend my capstone.
William H. Felinski, SLA Presentation, Rainwater Collection Invention, Capstone 2012
Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

Learning in challenging ways can help a person learn not only about ideas, but also more about themselves. This year in Mr. Block’s class there were many challenges that we had to overcome. I learned a lot of new things about my self because of that. When I think back, I realize that the whole year has had tons to do with challenges as well as identity. In many ways, the two topics were tied together. 

One big challenge was the language autobiography. That was probably the most challenging thing for me to do this year. The quote that started off my paper explains it all. “When I learned that I was going to have to write a language autobiography, I thought I was never going to be able to do it. I thought that I was doomed because I was taught to speak properly and correctly my whole life. When we were reading about people who had large opinions on language identity and what language was, I couldn’t relate to any of them.” This project challenged me a lot. However, while I was completing the autobiography, I discovered many things about myself that I had never thought about. This was the last bit of my autobiography: “Before this assignment, I never thought about any kind of language identity. I’m still not positive what mine is quite yet, or if I even have one. But I know that I am in the process of figuring it out. I might even have multiple ones. I do know one thing for sure though, I once thought I didn’t have a story to tell with language but now I know I have a huge story. It’s just still in the process.” As you can see, this shows how much I learned about myself while doing this project. I learned tons more about my background and even about my own opinions. 

Another challenge for me was the art in the open dance. When I first heard that we would have to dance, I hated the thought of doing it so much that I wished I could be absent those days. In my art in the open reflection, I explain my first and last thoughts about the whole process. “I was confident I could do something really good by the end of the weeks. Before going to the armory, I really did not want to do what we were doing and felt super nervous. After the armory, I felt confident enough to know that I could do it. I also was a bit more excited. The whole process happened in a way that was easy yet challenging at the same time.” The art in the open experience taught me a lot of things about myself. I learned that there are some things that, even though they seem impossible, I can accomplish. 

The other big challenge was the religion benchmark. We had to research two religions. I looked at the after-life in Buddhism and Christianity. When I reflected on the whole religion unit, I realized I had learned a lot about myself during it. Here is a part of the reflection I did: “I learned a lot in this unit. I basically did not know anything about religion before when we first started the unit. This unit taught me a lot about the differences between religions. I had no idea that many religions believed in reincarnation. I really enjoyed learning about different kinds of religions.” I have never really had a religion that I followed. I always hated being told what to believe. In a way, I have always had my own religion. Even then, before the religion unit, I wasn’t sure exactly what I believed. After the unit, I started to sort out my own beliefs. That let me discover much more of my identity. 

During my tenth grade year in Mr. Block’s class, everything was a challenge. Some were bigger than others but nothing was easy. I realize now, that to learn you have to overcome challenges and connect things to yourself. In doing that, you learn not only about the world but about your identity. You have to keep an open mind. Most importantly, you can not be afraid of challenges. You need to challenge yourself to learn about yourself. If you do that, your learning will expand in many ways. That is what I learned to do this year and I think that it will help me through out the rest of my education.

Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 6.06.23 PM
Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

            In the beginning of the year, I walked into Mr. Block’s English and History classroom unaware of the amazing things that I would get to experience. This class changed my mindset about many things. I have had so many wonderful opportunities in this year. The top three things that I have learned this year is that hard work really does pay off, it’s okay to make mistakes, and there is art in everything. I really got to experience hard work and determination in this class. Along the way I made some mistakes. However, I got through them and found out that it would be all right. That is just a part of growing up. Then, I learned to see the art in some things that I would normally overlook. Mr. Block’s English and History class is a place where I grew as a person.

            I had never experienced the workload that I did in Mr. Block’s class before this year. I have high expectations and many goals in life. I plan on doing a lot with my life. I always say, “Make your life something that you will be proud of” (Roles, Rules, and Responsibilities Poem).  I wrote in the first poem for the year “Is it true that you can do anything you put your mind to”(Theme for English B remake). My work ethic has grown throughout this entire year. Mr. Block has really taught me that hard work pays off.

            With the large workload, I have learned that it is okay to make mistakes at times. While I was learning this we had to write poems for our poetry unit. We made an Ode to anything we wanted. I made my Ode to Erasers. I stated in that poem, “Erase the mistake you make”(Ode to Erasers). Later on in the year, after learning this valuable lesson, I wrote a thesis paper. I stated in that paper, “Erasing the past is key to finding the freedom that one seeks; but managing the past gives one the strength to move forward and find a new way of being free (History Thesis Paper).

            After I learned to calm down and understand that mistakes are made all the time, I learned to enjoy the art in everything. We did many projects involving art in Mr. Block’s class. The first project that we ever did was describing a picture. I decided to write about a picture of my family taken by me in Jamaica. At the end of the essay I wrote, “ I sat in front of the resort with one eye close and a camera up to the other. I realize what a beautiful moment with my family this was. And then, I took the picture”(Descriptive Picture Essay). This really taught me to see the art in something so minuscule that I would normally overlook.  This lesson came back to be when we danced for the Philadelphia Art in the Open Festival. I states in my reflection, “There were poles and walls that we thought we could work with” (Art in the Open Final Thought). With this project, I really learned the value of art.

            It is amazing how you can walk into something so blindly and come out with amazing experiences. Mr. Block’s class has taught me many things that I will use throughout my life. This year leaves me thinking of the amazing experiences that I have to come. 

Worlde-Final Portfolio

Humanities Portfolio 2012

Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 12.27.17 PM

This year in my 10th grade English and History classes at the Science Leadership Academy, we covered a wide variety of interesting subjects. But out of all of these, the ones that stood out to me the most were the ones that focused on revolution and rebellions. I thought these were interesting because they really gave us a new perspective on how the world changes. Through these units I finished the year with a few different basic understanding. The first is that power is bought, not earned. The second is that human rights are often treated as human privileges. The third is that the needs of the many will always outweigh the needs of the few. 

When we first touched on rebellions, it was in the French Revolution unit. The French Revolution was possibly one of the bloodiest wars in all time and resulted in the people of France rising up together and killing the king and tyrant, king Louis XIV. We had one of our class’s famous historical role-plays, where each of us assumed the role of a key figure in the French Revolution, I personally got to play the part of Robespierre which I found very interesting because I got to be the villain. Here is a sample from some of the in role-play work.  “Hello, I am Robespierre I am a founding member of the committee of public safety. I was born and raised in Arras, France, and I grew up to join the Committee of Public Safety. I am a die-hard supporter of the revolution and will do anything to make sure it stays in motion. I think that if you are not for the revolution then you are against it. The grey area is for loyalists and cowards. Also discipline is mandatory for a peaceful society. While I looked at myself as a heroic leader, some of my people look to me as a tyrant.” When we each went around to introduce ourselves, this was the paragraph that I used. I feel like taking on the role of one of the characters really helped me to get a sense of what the French Revolution was like. As the Role-Play continued, people gave input from the point of view of their character. The Role-Play ultimately concluded that the politicians of the time were extremely corrupt and that the people of France had every right to rise up the way they did. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. 

This was not the only role-play that we had; another favorite of mine was the “Sweatshop Trials”. In the Sweatshop trials, we all assumed the roll of one the participants in the system of the economy. The goal of the sweatshop trial was to help decide who in the system was the guiltiest. The accused parties were The CEOs, the system itself, the factory workers, the U.S. consumers and the local governments of the countries that hosted a factory. I played the role of The System. Following is a sample of our work and was used as the opening statement for the trial “We are going to try to pin the blame on the C.E.O.s, we are also going to try to make examples of other companies that make a profit. We are also going to try to point out that we only suggest that a profit needs to be made, we don’t say how much or how to make it. And we can’t say how they spend it.” – Sweatshop Trial These role-plays were also great because we didn’t learn only one point of view, we got a good chunk of each side of the argument even the ones that are generally thought of as the bad guy. It also let us take a more in depth look at how manufacturing works and why factory workers are paid so poorly. The trial ultimately concluded that the CEOs were the guiltiest since they stripped people of their human rights and refused to accept any of responsibility or blame for it. We also learned that those who become super rich almost always start well off, buying their way to the top instead of earning respect.

In our English class, we read Lord of The Flies. In my opinion this book also shows allot about revolutions and rebellions. For our Lord of The Flies project we had to make a political ad campaign, and write an essay about the book. I chose the character Jack. I thought he would be the best leader since he actually has the best overall survival plan. Rather than sitting and waiting to be rescued he takes a pro-active stance and teaches the boys how to survive for themselves. However, the plot takes a dramatic twist late in the book and he goes from a leader to a tyrant. Here is a paragraph from my essay on Lord of The Flies  “Fear is one of the most powerful emotions humans experience, it has the ability to do everything from disrupt a relationship to destroy a civilization.  This is a common occurrence in both real life and in literature.  One of the strongest examples of this is in William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies, which depicts the downfall of innocent children into power hungry monsters.  By looking at Jack’s tribe, one can see any civilization will become uncivilized when its leader uses the peoples’ fear of something to control them.  It is important for one to notice this so that one can guard against it, and stay rational in the face of terror.” I enjoyed this project because we got to take a look at Lord of The Flies in terms of society forming and going through changes as opposed to just the survival of boys on an island.

Overall I think that my English and History classes really helped me to look at the world in new ways. We learned to look at things from everyone’s perspective. I think this is one of the most important things to do both as a student and in real life. Mr. Block’c classes changed the way I look at the world drastically and his lessons will stay with me for the rest of my high school career if not my life.

Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

Looking back at my writing from this year, I really see my growth as a person. I formulated many opinions about how I view things and really solidified them with my research and classwork. I’m proud of every opinion that I have formulated from my work this year, and with this portfolio I hope to show some of the things i’ve learned.
Coming out of your shell, being open about your opinions, and getting out of your comfort zone really help you become more confident. One of the things that taught me this was a project called Art in the Open. Art in the Open was an incorporative movement project that we were assigned to do, we were given professional choreographers from the Leah Stein Dance company to work with. We had to make an incorporative dance in a specific environment, and I could tell by the lack of excitement and the mild annoyance on the faces of my group members that our project was going to be uncomfortable, but I was far from right. Stepping out of your comfort zone in front of people you aren’t familiar with, or people in general seems to be the worst possible situation for a 16 year old, But after a few days with this project my expectations totally changed. I felt proud to say my group had grown immensely. We all just sort of jumped out of our shells and began doing crazy dances and sharing our ideas, and much to my surprise we didn’t argue much, we worked really hard. The Leah Stein Dance Company members really helped expand our imaginations and took us into a new world of art. I remember thinking to myself “wow, this is really great” while finishing up our incorporative dance in the peaceful garden with people watching us. I was so confident with the movements, we all were. After our performance, I decided that people are afraid to experience foreign things; but if you never step out of your comfort zone, you will never know.
One should never be afraid to show who they really are. Whether through poetry, or writing, or singing, or speaking up. Marjane Satrapi’s book Persepolis was a huge contribution to my thinking in this way. The book Persepolis is not only a completely original autobiography of what it was like growing up in the iranian revolution, but it really gives you a feel for what Ms. Satrapi is like. One thing I noticed about her writing is that she seemed completely open about every mistake and detail that had happened in her life, which made her brave in my eyes. She was proud of what she’d been through to become the incredibly talented person she is today. She and Suheir Hammad really taught me what it means to be an independant woman.

We studied Suheir Hammad’s poetry in class and I was completely taken aback by her presence when reading her poems, and the flare she added to her writing that distinguished her from other poets. We were given the opportunity to meet Suheir Hammad in school and have a private session with her, and I signed up to go. I can only say that she truly inspired me to keep creating, and writing, and expanding myself throughout life. She told us that whatever we felt, we should turn into writing. That anything could be turned into writing, and even if we ever had to start from scratch it didn’t mean that we should ever give up. I was truly inspired.

What I ended up realizing was a quote that I found in one of my earlier journals in which I said “Originality is when everything has been done before. Then you become free to be whoever you want.”. Basically, what this means to me is that you should be comfortable in your own skin because life is too short to worry about being the first to try something, it’s a good thing to let your creativity shine through.

One of the major opinions I formulated was from our many global studies this year, which always made me question the systems/situations we have going on in the world. “Everything we do impacts the earth in some way” was a quote from one of my journal entrie. I remember when I was younger, I always cared about the earth to a large extent. Looking back at myself when I was younger I realize just how little I knew. One of the assignments that really educated me about the things being done to the environment was something called “The Pipeline Monologue”. This assignment was about an oil pipeline that would go through Canada and into the U.S., but was not necessarily safe. Me and a partner made videos and wrote monologues from the perspectives of different people involved with making the pipeline. In doing this, we got to formulate our own perspectives after having tried to have seen the situation from approximately 5 different perspectives.
One of the perspectives I wrote from was Hilary Clinton who was for the Pipeline. I personally was not, yet I wrote my monologue from her voice. “We need this oil, we need this fuel to ramp up our economy” I said from her perspective. (monologue link) Writing through someone elses perspective can help change or solidify yours, it helps you weigh different options before choosing one. Overall I was really proud of the work I did this year, I hope to continue expanding my learning throughout my years of highschool in the same creative ways we had the chance to do this year. To check out some of my journal entries from History and English click Here, Here, and Here. To check out my poetry portfolio click here.

Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 4.12.41 PM
Be the first to comment

English Journal 40#

"Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then is starts pouring and if you aren't careful it will drown you." -Edwidge Danticat,  Breath,Eyes,Memory.


Yes, Pretty Much. It's like living in a well too. Or it's like your love bieng in the well. If it overflows, Your love is dead. If it rains, you have to hope it doesn't overflow. you have to calm it by taking buckets of water out. I guess love is a losing game. You play for the rare beauty and chance of it working out the way you wanted, but you can likely be hurt. Love is pain.
Be the first to comment

History Journal 34#

Define progress: Progress is moving forward and improving a system.

In your opinion was the industrial revolution a time of progress?

The industrial revolution was in some ways a time of progress but only for certain people. Racism played into who got the better cut of the progress. It also defines who begins working as a machine, and who's living to die. Many people had to live and work hard for someone else's happiness because they were told they had to.
Be the first to comment

Humanities Portfolio 2012

At the beginning of this year I was given an idea about a descriptive essay. In order to be descriptive you have to study the object or scene and say each part using the five senses. This year in general has been a great experience it helped me figure out that everything is not handed to you. You have to earn what you can’t have. In order to be accomplished in life you must work. My teacher Mr. Block is both my english and history and he helped me understand a lot about both courses.

Throughout the entire year my work has been hard to understand. I wasn’t able to comprehend the new information that I was learning. So through the months I used deeper analysis. This analysis allowed me to  help understand things that we never thought were possible. Later in the year we learned about the renaissance, we has to discuss renaissance art and one statement I remember is, "Art existed just not on paper". This quote shows that If you think about art, art is something you can explain deeper than you thought you could. Even though a person could name colors or what’s on it, you can say how the person feels you can relate the picture to something in real life. An assignment that also stood out was Lord of the Flies. Leadership had a lot to do with the book. “A leader can only be one person but you need people to help you further”. Basically this quote shows what a leader is. A leader can not be multiple people. There could be different Leader(s) with an s. The reason why I say that there can only be one leader is because it does not consist of more than one person. The other people that you may feel is in power could be assistants but not at the same rank as the LEADER.

A lot of my work has been expressing how I feel. In order to express how you feel you need to know what you feel and telling that is  a challenge. Expression is used to show how a person feels without saying it. It’s like reading the mind but this time you read the body. This means expressing yourself without words could be stronger than expressing yourself with words. I wrote a letter to my parents about how I felt at times. "Certain things you say to me hurt my feelings throughout the day". This was to show i felt, but this was stated in words when I could have showed it. Certain are not meant to be shown because it makes situations worse. Anytime you express your self make sure it is meaningful so it makes a change. Back when my class did the French Revolution Role Play we began to thing people were cruel and that they showed respect for the cruelty. “he showed honor”. Honor, the way honor is expressed it to be bold out going showing your boss that you could do what no other man/ woman could ever do. To show honor means that you give respect not to earn but because you honor that person. it is possible that you look up to that person. The more honorable things you do the more respect it given.

Screen Shot 2012-06-04 at 10.34.34 AM

Mr. Block taught me a new way to write and speak and I think the effort that I put into the work really helped me. The only thing I had to do was try. Trying new things allows the person to feel accomplished after doing what they thought they couldn’t. In the beginning of the year we did some trial work like a court case and I quote that I have picked up from it is "But we would have also been imprisoned". Speaking on this quote, this could have been a new thing tried. Not everything your friends do is something that you have to do. It could get you in some trouble that you are able to get yourself out of. Back in 2011 Mr.Block gave us  a paper to do and it was the Language Auto Biography. I knew this was new to me because I actually got to discuss where my mom is from and how she speaks. “you feel the rhythm in the words coming out of your mouth”. This quote shows that you notice new things to. If you have never written about a different accent or dialect try it because it makes you want to speak in a way that everyone could understand. The only way to do that is to feel that rhythm in the words that are coming out of your mouth. Then you have to remember that rhythm.

Be the first to comment

The Andormeda Strain and the Science Behind It.

​In our science class we took on the concept of a 10% project. Where an individual spent 10% of their time making something that interests them. For my 10% project I read a Sci-Fi book and looked at the scientific concepts behind it. The book I read was "The Andromeda Strain" by Michael Crichton. The book was about an extraterrestrial bacteria strain later named Andromeda comes to earth and devastates a town. Luckily a program was organized for this specific incidence called "Wildfire". Scientists then work hard to figure out what this thing is and how it works before it can cause public panic or devastation. After finishing the book I made a Powerpoint looking at the scientific theories and processes in the book. One of the most notable is the process of identifying, processing, and curing an unknown illness. One of the theories that played a big role is the odd man hypothesis. Both explaining the process of doing efficient scientific research and various forms of testing and experimentation. I furthered my knowledge by exploring the realm of biological warfare and incidences. This included the bio-chemical attacks rainbow agent attacks on Vietnam and the Anthrax Scare in 2001.

Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 12.11.42 PM
Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 12.11.50 PM
Be the first to comment