K I L L B O R I NG —HA L L E NG L I S H 1A

T A B L E O F C O NT E NT S
College: Why Bother? Luis Aleman....................................................1 Corporal Education, Allysa Brickman.................................................4 Motivation , Aja Brown..........................................................................6 The Boring Truth on How I Survived School , Marvin Corro..........8 The Mark of a Teacher, Laura Dunn................................................10 Finding the Right Path, Brooke Girton............................................12 Spheres, Daniel Greene.......................................................................17 Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School , Alex Gromov....................19 Thanks for the Great Story, Mr. Rosenburg , Brittany Heintzen..22 My Own Motivation , Ann Jarrar........................................................25 The Bookworm I Never Knew I Was, Miyou Kanda......................27 The Beginning of my Educational Journey ,Kristina Kucinskaite..29 The Big Day , Deyssy Orozco................................................................31 My Early Education, Kin Leung........................................................34 There Will Always Be Something Better to Do , Debbie Luk.....37 My Road to Success , Denise Martinez...............................................39 House of Paper Cards , Ricardo Mata...............................................42 No Help, So I Turned Away , Summer Morrow................................46 Welcome, Freaky Freshy , Ariel Nazarian........................................49 School Life , Bryan Nocito...................................................................52 Educational Influence , Danilo Noguera............................................54 Final Draft, Matthew Pray.................................................................58 My Experience at School, Jennifer Samayoa..................................60 Desegregation, Gina Simas................................................................63 My Attitude Toward Education, Ian Thomas.................................65 The Difficulties of Change, Paola Toulet........................................68 Why I Both Love and Hate School , Roxanne Tuttle......................71 What School Meant to Me , William Viklund....................................74 Smiling Ambition, Mellicia Villareal..................................................77 My Experiences with Science Field Trips, Helen Yang..............79 Untitled , Zachary Strausbaugh............................................................82 Untitled , Nick Palaszewski..................................................................85

C ollege: Why B other ? Luis Aleman

When my dad made the move from El Salvador to the States he became an electrician. I, accompanied with a couple of my older friends, would work under my dad’s wing during summer. It was a way of earning money and at the same time to learn many useful skills in the electrical trade. Most of them if not all enjoyed working in the trade and they themselves, some which are married now, became electricians. I on the other hand wasn’t really fascinated by it. I didn’t enjoy all the long laborious hours, all the saw dust, dirt, etc. I would be fatigued by the end of the day. I knew that the electrical trade wasn’t exactly for me and I wanted something else. What career would I choose though? I was like many lost freshman in high school undecided, and bewildered in life. Ever since I was young I was unsure if I wanted to go to college. School never really attracted me so much but if I were to attend college I would be the first in my family to attend a higher education than high school. My parents never attended college and I am the oldest of three children therefore I would be the first attending. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school when college sparked an interesting in me. I still remember being in Mr. Walters, 5 th period, World History class. I remember that he was telling us stories about his college life and what all his favorite buddies did with their lives in college. The one that really attracted my attention was one of his friends that became an x-ray technician. I had never heard of it and it rose up a flag in me, my gut feeling told me to research upon it. Mr. Walter had initially told us that his buddy took only two years in college to become an x-ray technician and his friend was making more money than he was as a teacher. The idea of rather short schooling and relatively high salaries really caught my attention. After this incident, I started to do a ton of research in the medical field. I would spend hours on the computer surfing the net trying to collect as much information as I could about careers in the medical field. Radiologic Technology, aka x-ray tech, just kept grabbing my attention out of all of the different careers I discovered. Something happened though that 1



 somewhat discouraged me from pursuing it. My teacher, Mr. Walter, had mentioned it was two years in college, but he hadn’t mentioned it was two years in college, plus the general education completion. This meant that schooling would take a total of four years, something I wasn’t fascinated much about. I was unsure at this point if I really wanted to pursue Radiologic Technology. During all this career researching and job hunting, this country was suffering a recession at its worst. It was evident that just a plain high school education wouldn’t cut it in these severe economic days. In the back of my mind I knew I had to attend college to find a decent paying job. So I didn’t put college necessarily out of the picture. Last year, I really saw the effects of the recession in my family. Work was very slow for my dad and just in 2 years he had been laid off many, many times. We were practically living of his unemployment plus another income he was bringing in the house. It wasn’t much. We were living as they say “paycheck to paycheck”, which is not convenient at all. When we thought our situation couldn’t get any worse, it took an abyss straight to Hell. One ordinary morning in April of last year, while all the kids where at school, my mom received a phone call. It was my dad and he had luckily found a side job that day so he was at work. He was by himself but he told my mom he was feeling ill, not capable to drive. A couple minutes before he had fainted and now was very dizzy. Even worse, he had noticed large quantities of blood in his stool when he used the restroom. Something was seriously wrong. My mom quickly goes and picks him up and rushes him to Regional Medical Center in San Jose, Ca. Once at the hospital they find out the worst. The doctors realize my dad has a major hemorrhage in his small intestine and he is losing extreme amounts of blood. It takes them about a total of 8 hours before they find the root of the bleeding and they patch it up. My dad nearly died during this incident. He was in an unconscious state for two weeks and in the intensive care for about 4 weeks. Every single one of those days the medical bill was just rising like a skyscraper. We were extremely concerned about how we would all pay this. Luckily we applied for insurance which covered a lot of the costs. What couldn’t be covered by the insurance would have to come out of my Dads pocket, an amount that was a great deal of money in the thousands. This experience had really affected my being, not just emotionally but in many other aspects of my life. One of them being the views I had about education and school. It taught me that in case one ever goes 2



 through any type of emergency, money can many times, if not most of the time be a great deal of help. The only way to have that money is if you have a good job that you like and pays well. But in order for this to occur, education is the key. Thankfully, my dad recuperated fully from a near death experience. He has given me the chance to pursue a higher education, an opportunity to go to college and discover a great career. An opportunity I just can’t turn down.

3


C or por al E ducation Allysa Brickman

 

Whap! I can feel the wind behind the wooden stick they call a “paddle”. Principal Dottie wasn’t only going to stop with one, but give me three more. He told me not to be late to class again or it will result to this happening again. I replied with a “yes sir” and tears rolling down my cheek just to show how distraught I was. Which really. I was. This was the first of many things that led me to hating my school, education and everything in between. Here I was a California girl stuck in the sticky muggy south of Mississippi. I didn’t think my life could possibly get worse from their, wait, it could. My family had a job transfer and not an easy one. Not only is freshmen year ruff with a new routine, but starting over in a new state turned me for a winding loop. I remember my first day clearly walking up to that big concrete slab they called a building. When walking down the “Green Mile” of a hallway I had butterflies with sharpen hooks just shredding my insides. What made this place so unpleasant was the fact that when school administration talked to me it was almost foreign. There lingo was with a “yall, yes mam, No sir”, was just over my head. I knew this was going to be a brutal four years. I would pass students as they hurry with lockers clanking and shoes scuffling. I tried to be incognito and follow the heard as they go. I sat on the cold desk in the back of the room of course, and was ready for whatever came my way. Our teacher was eager to start with the “Do this not that” in my classroom or result into consequences. Now I thought at this point you would get a warning or stay behind in class. I was way off at that point. The result was Corporal Punishment which is infliction of pain to get a point across in the hopes that you will change. I had my heart stop and my stomach fall into the floor. I couldn’t believe what I just heard and how wrong I felt it was to have that done to someone, let alone from teacher to student. I went home baffled and at a loss for words and my mother saw the look in my eyes as and was very concerned. I explained to her and thought she would be on the same page and would go to the school to discuss how completely wrong this was. To my surprise my mother agrees with the 4



 school with the attitude that if you want to be responsible, do so or you will pay the price for it. At that point I would’ve liked nothing more than drop all I had in my hands and give up. My ears, eyes, and mind were shut off completely from school at that point after hearing the disturbing news of “If you don’t like what we do, will beat you till you do” anthem. I read that every morning on the front of the building instead of “Saltillo High School” and was bitter every day walking in. In my mind I processed the fact if they punish you by “paddling” you what are they trying to teach you in there classes. So I wasn’t interested in what they had to say. The result of it turned into coming into class late and it was on the list of “what not to do”. I was called into the office for my first lecture on structure and respect for the school mumbo jumbo. I had the “F U” attitude written on my forehead and could care less at that point. I sat in the office with the blank stare you would get when even a parent lectured you. This was the first of many office visits to Mr. Dottie and each and every time I cared less and less. But the first one stuck out in my mind because it was the first corporal punishment I received since I was five. How was I going to react to this? Was I going to laugh and say, “wow no big deal?” or was I going to be mortified at the fact that I was getting hit. He told me to empty my pockets, hands on the wall and lean foreword ever so slightly. At this point with my “care less attitude” I was laughing at how stupid this all was. Until I felt the turbulence for the first swing and it knocked the wind out of me. The hit was so hard it smacked the tears out of my face and I was at my lowest low. I thought i was done and had that smirk off my face from before and somehow transferred to him. I went to get my things and he said “Mrs. Brickman you still have to have two more before class.” I clinched my eyes and pretended I didn’t hear what he said. I tried everything to try and block out the next two hits I would get. But in retrospect I deserved it my attitude did not make things any easier; the fact that I closed everything off even my capacity for learning in my classes. I still to this day don’t agree with it, but I did learn something from it. Punctuation for classes, respect for others and for my education. I believe it still shouldn’t be in the school system and should result into other punishments. Because it scared me out of my desire to apply myself in my education and my attitude towards anything.

5


Motivation
Aja Brown

It’s happened too many times, to all of us. Walk into the classroom, sit down, and look at the teacher. See the bags under their eyes, the glazed over look, the venti coffee cup clutched in their hand. It’s obvious that they don’t want to be there any more than the students do. When a teacher doesn’t care, it makes it that much more difficult for the students to care. If the teacher doesn’t put effort into their teaching, why should their students bother to reciprocate by putting effort into their work? I feel that for many students who don’t do well, it’s not a lack of motivation but a lack of people who actually want to see them succeed. Over my years in the education system I’ve only had a handful of teachers that actually seem to care. One in particular sticks out in my mind, after 12 years and multiple classes. My world history teacher sophomore year in high school actually took the time to work with every student of his class individually to ensure their success. It was his first year at Fremont High School, and he wanted to make an impression. He was young, and his teaching methods may have been different that most, but because of this he was able to connect with students on a more personal level. Unlike most teachers I’ve had, he actually cared. His classroom was always open for students to get extra help, and we spent hours in class reviewing concepts and facts so that everyone in the class was able to procure a passing grade on the tests. What impressed me the most was the way he would pull students who were falling behind aside, not to talk down to them or attempt to use scare tactics to convince them to work harder, but to see what was actually going on and to try to understand why they weren’t doing as well. He wanted every student to have the desire to pass not only his class, but to graduate from high school. He honestly did everything he could to help his students, in and out of the classroom. Because of his efforts, nearly every student he taught passed world history. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve had far too many teachers who just didn’t care. They did their jobs day by day, doing what they had to do to get through everything and be finished. I feel like they didn’t respect students as individuals or actually have the desire to see them succeed. They saw teaching as a profession, instead of a passion. My British Literature teacher senior year fit this description too well. My senior year I 6



 had a major motivation problem. I just stopped caring. I stopped doing work, and I rarely went to class. After months of wasting my time not caring about school, I changed my mind and began playing catch up, trying salvage what I could of my grades. To do this I needed a lot of cooperation and help from my teachers. I needed all the assignments I’d missed and explanations on how to do them. Most of my teachers were pleased I had had a change of heart and went out of their ways to try to help me. However, my Brit. Lit. teacher refused for weeks to speak with me. She claimed she was too busy, and didn’t have time during, before, or after school to talk with me. When she finally did meet with me, she handed me a packet of papers and simply told me to do my best. The fact that she was so unwilling to help showed how little she cared as a teacher. It didn’t matter to her if I passed the class or not, I was just another ID number instead of an actual person. It frustrates me to see so many people, teachers and students alike, who just don’t care. It makes me lose faith in the education system to see so many adults working to teach students they could honestly care less about, and students only going to classes because the government forces them to. It hasn’t made me hate school, but I do have a more pessimistic approach every time I start new classes. I miss the feeling I had when I was a small child and I was excited for school and excited to learn new things. Every new class I have I wonder if the teacher will actually be good and make an impact my education, or if this is just another class I’ll have to suffer through and do just enough work to get a passing grade. Like most students, I live up to the expectation that is set for me. If I can get away with doing the bare minimum, I will. However, I want classes I enjoy. I want to be pushed to work hard, and I want to actually get something more out of my classes than just a letter grade. I just need teachers who actually care to help me achieve this.

7


T he B or ing T r uth on How I S ur vived S chool Marvin Corro
Since I could remember I could always recall a time in my educational career when a student would make a mistake and the teacher would tell the class in comforting words, “It’s okay we are all here to learn.” I have always had an interesting relationship with education, it was neither good nor bad but rather I struggled with the education system itself. Learning was never a priority for me at school, instead I did what many of my teacher referred to as “doing school” which was going along my classes and cramming all relevant information to ace my exam, then completely forgetting what I had learned later. My “doing school” habit gave me a bad outlook on the educational system, I figured why learn the material when I just need the grades to get me into a 4-year college. This habit worked successfully for my freshmen and sophomore year in High School, I had grown overly confident in this method and became heavily reliant on it. As my junior year started, my classes sharply increase in difficulty; it wasn’t helpful either that I over worked myself with 8 classes. I found it hard to break out of a lifelong mentality of “doing school”, although it was harming me academically, I still insisted on cramming rather then any real studying. At this point most students would look back and reflect what is causing their grades to fall, fix one’s study methods and maybe even talk to their teacher to see what they could do to improve as a student in their class. Unfortunately for me I was not most students, “doing school” had made me lazy, seeing as little effort was put into any long term studying and rather into late night cram sessions before a major test. In my eyes one miserable sleepless night was well worth the pain, then multiple dull study sessions, because of my laziness and the failure of my “doing school” technique I soon adapted to one of my filthiest habits, cheating. I never imagined I would resort to cheating, but I felt my classes were too rigorous and stressful that it seemed like the easy answer. I recall my cheating first starting in my US History AP class. We would have timed writes each week, were in class we would have to generate a thesis essay with a large amount of supporting dates and historical facts. I always seemed to finish first among my classmates, when asked how I did so well, I just smiled and said “good study methods” in reality the night before I had read at least 3 A papers with the correct arguments, and dates the teacher was looking for. As I became more comfortable with the idea, my cheating expanded to my other classes. I would ditch my Physics class on lab days, so I could later get the answers 8



 from a friend before I went to make up the lab, in my Chemistry Honors class I would always ask to be seated in a less crowed area in the class away from the visibility of the teacher, the instant she would turn her back I’d reach for my phone and Google everything I needed to know about Hess’s law. For the majority of my classes I would take the notes, homework, and test from students in pervious years, almost freeing me of doing any real homework or studying. I never grasp the reality of how serious the situation ever was. I had no life changing epiphany showing me how to correct my wrongs but instated a realization on how pathetic my cheating had become. It took some time for me to finally start cheating in my Spanish 2 honors, due to the fact that I was already fluent in language. It was not long after that I made the connection of how pitiful it was that I was cheating at a subject I already was knowledgeable in, it was distressing that I was cheating at all. I finally came to terms and understood that I looked at education the wrong way. I was never learning anything nor advancing as a student. I only cared about my letter grade causing me to sink to an all time new low. Now late into the school year and too deep into a system that was the sole reason for keeping my grades stable, I had no other choice but to continued doing what was working for me. As crafty and cunning a student could be on cheating, it’s hard to get away with it multiple times let alone once, my luck finally began to run out and I soon learned the hard way, cheaters never win. My teachers caught on to what I was doing, although they never had any solid evidence to my cheating, I never got in serious trouble. My teachers had become harsher on grading my assignment, labs, test, and were very strict about due date. The only classes where the teacher remained clueless was USHAP, by unfortunate luck I lost my backpack 2 days prior to the final along side all my homework inside causing a significant drop in my grade form a solid A to a C. By the end of the year I walked away from school having taken in a lot less then most other students. I left with mediocre grades, not having learned anything and an overall a sleepless stressful school year. These series of events change my outlook on my personal education and the education system as a whole. I fell into the stress of school due to “doing school” which effectively overall lead me to an utter downfall, imbedding a negative outlook on school. Ironically my failure gave me new found appreciation for leaning in class. My decisions were poor but the lesion was valuable, and because of that I don’t regret the things I did to get past that horrid school year. 9


T he M ar k of a Teacher Laura Dunn
When I was in high school my best friend was practically my twin. Not only did we look alike but we also loved the same movies, music, color, and stores. We even liked the same teachers and found science to be our favorite subject. This was until our second year when we had completely different teachers. While I had an interesting teacher who was willing to explain difficult concepts, she had a teacher who spoke in a monotone and often talked his class to sleep. I absolutely loved chemistry not only was I fairly good at it, but because my teacher made it interesting enough that I wanted to go to class each day. It didn’t feel like I was wasting my time doing pointless assignments just to take up time. My friend not only had a difficult time staying awake but she hated everything about the subject. She was constantly saying that if she had a better teacher then maybe she might like chemistry. It was around this time when it dawned on me that maybe the teacher can make a huge impact about how you feel about a subject or class. My thoughts started to solidify during my junior year in my physics class. My teacher, Mr. Goodman, was very knowledgeable about physics, but, he had a difficult time teaching the curriculum in a manner the class could comprehend. Everyday he sat in the front of the classroom and would drone on and on and on about momentum, Newton’s Laws, and various other topics. It was only the first week of class and I felt that instead of staying afloat, I was drowning in confusion. I would go to him after class hoping that he could shed some light on the topic at hand. But more often than not I was left more confused than before. My class continued in this pattern until one day we walked into the classroom and something was different. We had a visitor. But she was nothing like all of the other visitors that had previously been in our classes. Instead of wearing a suit, she was wearing a pair of jeans and sweatshirt. After taking attendance Mr. Goodman made an announcement that I believed may have changed my attitude reflecting the class. He had been diagnosed with cancer and in a month he would be on medical leave. He introduced Ms. Nichols who was there to train under him. Starting off she only observed Mr. Goodman to understand his teaching style and how he ran his class. When the time finally came around for her to teach the class we were all a bit wary. Mr. Goodman never made the class interesting so why would she? She 10



 immediately proved all of us wrong on the first day with a creative demonstration on static electricity. Not only was the lesson interactive, which kept us all awake, but the notes were organized and taught in such a way that I completely understood. She continued the semester with a demonstration each week which helped to keep class interesting and fresh. Although Ms. Nichols was a great teacher there were points when we still didn’t understand what was going on and would need some additional help. I once heard that the mark of an exceptional teacher is one that can explain the exact same concept two or three different ways. If I ever failed to comprehend the topic we were studying in class, I would go in on Wednesdays during lunch where she found new ways to explain the material. When explaining a concept to the student athletes she would often use sport examples to get them through the problems. My idea, that teachers make a huge difference in your education, was confirmed my senior year by Mr. Goldman-Hall, my English teacher. I realized that a teacher’s enthusiasm for the class they teach can be transferred to their students. They can spark or renew an interest in a subject you once thought was boring and dry. English wasn’t a subject that I struggled with in high school but it was one I often found boring. My teachers never really seemed to care about what they were teaching and you could always tell by the amount of effort they put into class. They would often assign essays, worksheets, or creative writing and then never actually read what we would write. More often than not the teacher’s assistant was reading and grading our papers. Mr. Goldman-Hall was a first year teacher when I walked into his class my senior year. He had never had a class that wasn’t overseen by another instructor, yet he was my favorite teacher by far. Many people would say that their experience with Shakespeare is not one they would care to remember. Not only is it difficult to read and understand but a lot of the English humor doesn’t make sense. Most of the time I could agree with them whole heartedly, but, Mr. Goldman-Hall helped many of us in class to see Shakespeare in a different light. For once we understood exactly what we were reading and I was actually enjoying the complex language and strange humor. I couldn’t say that I either love or hate school. I realize that, at least for me, my feelings toward education rest quite strongly on the teacher that is instructing the subject. Many of my teachers lead to either bad experiences or ones I can hardly recall because there was nothing that made them worth remembering. While a good or great teacher led to a positive experience. 11


F inding the R ight P ath Brooke Girton

Senior year of high school can be a confusing time not only are you trying to fit in with the “in” crowd but you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. Most people don’t want to flip burgers for ever so most of the time that means a higher education. When thinking of a higher education a four year university comes to mind for most people. This is a great path but there are also other paths that you can follow in getting a higher education that can be just as beneficial. Trade school is a good alternative to a more traditional schooling. The definition of trade school in Merriam Webster is “a secondary school teaching the skilled trades”. Some of these trades include Culinary Arts, automotive, Fashion and Graphic Design, Electrician, Plumbing, Cosmetology, Welding, Heating, Air Conditioning, and many more. When I was young and naive what would come to mind when thinking of trade school was training for a job that was better than flipping burgers but wasn’t as good as a job you could get if you went to a traditional college. When I would picture the types of jobs that you could get out of trade school I only thought of ones that where male dominated. A job site that was full of men in hard hats, boots, jeans, and t- shirts that would curse, spit, blow snot rockets, and a whole lot of other disgusting things. Also thought about having to use a Porte potty, those portable bathrooms that once you walk in your sorry that you did. Where the smell from the fecal matter sitting basically in a big bucket would make even someone with the strongest stomach want to run for one of those bags they have on air planes to vomit in. Where you were afraid that if a strong gust of wind came up the whole thing would tip over from the instability of the narrowing four walled pathetic excuse of a bathroom. My thoughts about trade school started to change in 2007 the summer before my senior year. I began to realize that not all trades are for construction that there are trade schools for things like Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Fashion and Graphic Design, and others. My high school had a program called Central County Occupational Center where you could sign up for a trade and go to another school for half the day and practice that trade. Right before the school year is over my school would give everyone a form to fill out that would determine what classes they would be taking the following year then mail it back to the school. Once I 12



 had received my form I took it home to go thought what my options were and what I needed and wanted to take. “Hey mom want to sit down with me and go over classes for next year?” “Sure go get everything you need and I’ll sit down with you in the dining room and we will go over it” “I already have everything it’s all right here. I’ve heard of some kids at my school who have done the CCOC program and they really like it. I think we should look into it more because they have a culinary arts program. I really want to be a pastry chef and this could give me an idea if I really like it or not.” “ It looks like you will still have to take classes at Oak Grove too.” “Yea but I don’t have to take as many and with how I’ve been doing in school so far I could technically only have to take two classes at Oak Grove and still meet all the credit requirements to graduate but there is a three class minimum so I have to take three not two.” “Ok well what classes do you want to take at Oak Grove? What do you need to graduate?” “Well I need an English class, U.S History, and Econ but the history and econ are only a semester so I still need another class.” “Ok what do you want to take an art class or an elective? “I was thinking more like a math class I can take algebra two this year and it will be better when I start college so we don’t have to pay for a lower math class when I can take it now.” “Ok sounds good I’ll send this into the school tomorrow.” When the first day of school came around I was very excited because this was a new experience for me, I had never done anything like this, I had always stayed on the traditional schooling path. It was nice to think that I would have a break from that for a while. In the morning I went to my three classes at Oak Grove and in my home room class got everything I needed to go to CCOC that afternoon where I would be taught Culinary Arts. Since I had my own car at the time I drove over to the CCOC campus and found my classroom. The teacher introduced herself as Christine Fahey and told us about her background as a chef and that this was her first year teaching. She then told us about the dress code and that we would have to wear chef coats and hats. We then took a tour of the kitchen to get familiar with where things where and what we would be using. The first month or so of the class was all about safety and how to be sanitary. I had quite a bit of knowledge about the kitchen before I had begun this program but I learned some interesting facts in this time. We 13



 then moved on to learning about the different spices and being able to name them with just looking, feeling, and tasting them. After that we finally started cooking in the kitchen. Every day when we would walk into class she would have a recipe written on the board for us to copy down on a flash card. First would be all the ingredients we needed then it would tell us all the directions on how to cook it. An example of this is one of my favorites which is for chocolate stout cake and it would read as follows: Chocolate Stout Cake 2 cups stout e.g. Guinness, 2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks), ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process), ½ teaspoon salt, 4 large eggs, 1 1/3 cups sour cream, 4 cups AP (all purpose) flower, 4 cups sugar, 1 table spoon baking soda Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line an 8 inch round cake pan. Simmer butter over medium heat, add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth and let cool slightly. Whisk flower, sugar, baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt in mixer. Beat eggs and sour cream together then add the stout and butter chocolate mix to the egg and sour cream mix. Beat until combined and add flour mix and beat briefly on slow and fold until combined. Pour into buttered and lined pan and bake about 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes then turn out on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Once we had written this down we would get into partners usually it was just two people to each group and go into the kitchen and start doing whatever the recipe told us to do. I loved this class, everything we made, we made from scratch we would even make our own mayonnaise, if we were making gravy we would first make our own chicken, beef or vegetable broth. Every day we got to make something entirely new and the best part about it was that when we were done we always got to eat what we had made that day. Taking this class had me convinced that I wanted to go to culinary school and become a chef. I loved cooking and I was really good at it too. There was maybe two or three days out of the entire year that what I had made didn’t turn out right. Towards the end of the year I sat down with my teacher on one of our breaks to talk to her about school for the future. “I really want to be a pastry chef and I love cooking could you tell me about what you think would be the best way for me to become a pastry chef? What do you think about going to culinary school?” “Sure I’ll tell you everything I know about it. First of all when it comes to the culinary field you really don’t have to do more school, the piece of paper doesn’t mean as much in this field. Yea it can get you a higher starting position but someone without the paper who is a hard worker and has a good attitude will go higher faster than someone with the 14



 paper who doesn’t have the drive. Your one of those people who wouldn’t need the school it’s really expensive and doesn’t get you very far.” “If I was to go to a culinary school what one do you think would be the best?” “The one I went to was in New York and it has the best ratings and is the most accredited.” I was one hundred percent sure that I wanted to go to culinary school and be a pastry chef. So I went home to tell my mom. “Hey mom can we talk?” “Yea sure what is it?” “I’ve decided that I want to go to culinary school. I want to be a pastry chef.” “Well they don’t pay well and you will have to work holidays and weekends and never have time for a family.” “But mom a pastry chef is different and if you’re really good you can make a lot of money and you won’t have to work nights so I could still have time for a family. This is what I really want to do.” “I don’t have that kind of money for culinary school so you can’t go if you want to go to school you can go to a community college then transfer to a 4 year university like your sister.” “But that’s not what I want to do I want to cook.” “If you get your degree in business first then I’ll send you to culinary school.” “Fine but it’s not what I really want to do but I guess I don’t have any other choice.” That fall I started school at Evergreen community college with my major in business. I was unmotivated and hated taking general education classes when I knew it wasn’t going towards something I really wanted to do. I was keeping up my grades but I still hated doing it so when I got the opportunity to go move in with my boyfriend and not have to go to school anymore I took it. I stayed with him for a year until he decided that the relationship wasn’t working out for him anymore. So I came back home to my parents. They offered for me to go back to school but not have to keep my major as business. I thought about all the different things I could do and decided culinary arts wasn’t for me anymore. With the amount of hours you would have to put into the job you would get paid very little. I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to support myself on a paycheck like that. I then decided that I wanted to become a dietitian. I liked the looks of this career because it still was dealing with food, had good hours, good pay, and there are a couple different jobs that you could do with getting your degree and being a dietitian. I could work in a hospital or schools 15



 making healthy well balanced meal plans. I could also work in an office where patients would come see me and I could help them with their diet and let them know what foods are good for them and which ones they should stay away from. I also like the thought of this job because I would be helping people and making their lives better and healthier. I still think that trade school is a good thing and it works for many people but it just didn’t happen for me. It wasn’t the right path for me to follow and I’m very happy with where my life is going and what I will be doing in the future. In a way I feel like this job will allow me to help and touch many lives and make things better for people. I also really like the fact that I can be involved in the lives of the youth because if you’re going to change something that needs correcting, like the way most Americans eat, you need to start with the youth. As for cooking I still love it but I just do it in my free time now, who knows maybe I’ll have a little side business and bake for all of my close friends and family.

16


S pher es Daniel Greene

I’d always gone through school struggling to find relevancy. To find a reason why I should give a crap about learning these trivial subjects, and cement them in my brain. There were the obvious reasons, of course passing these classes led to college, which led to money which led to not being homeless. But I never could figure out why I would ever need to know these things in the long run, when I would ever use them and what they meant.That all changed when Mr. Magee came along. A strong example of British fitness, Mr. Magee was a confident teacher who’s physical appearance and mental defied his age. He taught his classes with an abrupt bluntness which I found hugely appealing. If you were annoying, he’d make fun of you. If he thought something was crap, he’d tell you it was crap. I remember thinking, wow, finally a person who skips the sugar-coated bullshit and looks at things for what they really are. That was something even I couldn’t do, and I loved that. I latched onto that. And though he never really knew it, I was his best friend. I looked forward to his class each time I had it, especially the lectures. He was a brilliant story-teller, and his unique perspectives on various aspects of life were eye-opening. I never got to know him very personally. When we did talk, he never said much, but from his tone and facial expressions I got the impression he liked me a lot. Some of the most entertaining moments in class were his interactions with a student named Rutvig. Rutvig was a horrible combination of extrovert and socially awkward. He was the most annoying, arrogant know-it-all you’ll ever find, and seemed like he was trying to make up for his lack of popularity with a superior intellect. He’d shout out the most random responses to everything Mr. Magee said, questioning every fact he spoke with something that wasn’t even relevant. At first it was annoying, and eventually it became a joke. Mr. Magee was the first to admit it - he’d laugh at Vig, entertain his ridiculous theories just to knock them down. Yet, as funny as this was to watch, it was an interesting window into his personality. He always wanted you to understand. Even with Vig. He would always make sure to set the record straight, and explain concepts in plain english. I can honestly say there wasn’t a subject in that 17



 class I didn’t get. This dedication to clarity was a constant trait, and eventually I found out why. Mr. Magee was a nutrition freak. As a result, after our AP tests were done he began his own nutrition unit. Not because he had to, but because he wanted to. I probably learned more in those two weeks than I had learned the entire year. Everything you didn’t want to know about what you were putting in your mouth came out in all its ugly truth. One day, after watching one of the various films on the food industry, a student in the back of the class asked a question. “How can I, one person, hope to change the eating habits of the whole world?” The ensuing response was one I’d hold on to forever. “I only worry about what I can fix. If a thousand people in Africa die, yes, that’s tragic, but I don’t give a crap about them because I can’t fix that, and I don’t know them. It’s a simple truth of the human condition that we only truly care for those we know personally. But we all have spheres - spheres of influence. If you can take the knowledge you’ve learned here, and spread it throughout your sphere, you’ve made a difference. And if they spread that same knowledge to their spheres, then the message gets spread everywhere. You can’t take care of the world. But you can take care of those around you - and if everyone did that, the world would be fine.” That was the perspective I needed. Mr. Magee had managed to mix cynical thinking with mushy, world peace idealism, something that seemed impossible to me. That’s why this quote hit me in such a unique way. I’ve always had an inner struggle between realism and optimism. I could never seem to find a way to reconcile them, until this. I found that fascinating. Along with that, it also answered my question. The whole time, I had found knowledge pointless because there was no way that knowing random facts could change the world. This, however, broke it down into a much more manageable chunk. If something I know could help a friend someday, be it something simple or complex, the ripples from that could do something amazing. And even if they didn’t, the satisfaction from knowing I helped would be more than enough. So now I try my hardest to take care of those around me, by being as informed as possible. I struggle to focus in class and absorb every detail I can. Maybe some topics will never amount to anything, but if they do I’ll always have Mr. Magee’s words ringing in my head.

18


Jane L athr op S tanfor d M iddle S chool Alex Gromov

Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, or JLS, is a fine academic institution located in Palo Alto, California. The students are mostly from wealthy white families and the teachers come with the highest recommendations. Teachers and students are connected together with a thirst for education and a love for learning, but in reality this adorable little middle school in a wealthy neighborhood is no more than the devils dark, fiery hole where he makes a living torturing the damned that have sinned without knowing the consequences. The students that are sadly stuck in this prison just wonder and pray what they have done to deserve such a terrible path to what is called a “must have” education. On a brighter note, not all the teachers are bad, but most of them are. They set requirements that they don’t agree to and over their last 10 years of teaching they have lost the spark that ignited them to want to make a difference in students’ lives. Now all they do is take out their anger on these students that in no way have harmed them. The atmosphere in this suburban middle school is a tornado of anger and frustration that has somehow not yet destroyed the building in which the students spend every day learning the state assigned curriculum. To focus more on the teachers, most of them have just lost all faith in their jobs and their facial expressions show the sadness and anger that they have at the state, the federal government and the students. It is understandable why they are angry at the state and government because their wages are very low and the work they put in is only criticized by the parents that have all the wealth and extremely high expectations. But why do they have anger towards the students? This question drives the young, molded minds into insanity. They try and try in school so that their grades can improve, but it only seems that with every passing year the teachers in the next grade just want them to do more and more, the feeling of desperation and fatigue is all that these students deal with. The science department tries to inspire the students with “creative” project, which the students question and ask to why they are needed when all the hypothetical’s that they are asking will never happen, and even if they do no one is going to ask a mere student from a suburban middle school to figure out what kind of creature could survive on the planet Neptune and what qualities it would need to evolve so that it could deal 19



 with the extreme environment that is there. The questioning of the assignment angers the teachers and thus results in the teachers new curriculum which only focuses on multiple choice test and short response questions about things that the teachers just tells the rascals to read from there extremely large text books. What the teachers truly hate about the students is there voice, because there voice is honest. Kids don’t sugar coat anything, they say it like it is and the teachers are in no mood to hear the truth. Truth for these teachers is the most painful thing and the only way to deal with the truth is to be completely ignorant about it and to punish any student that dares to speak up. The 7 th grade English and Video Production teacher should be the Chancellor of this hell-like establishment. Her 300 pound exterior and her empty heart drives her to punish the students for no particular reason. The guilt that she should feel for beating on these kids is washed down by countless cans and barrels of Diet Pepsi that she makes the students bring to her when she feels it necessary. Her lack of interest in the students well being and their emotional state doesn’t bother her, she enjoys the fear that the students have toward her. With that fear she convinces the students from her English class to take her Video Production class and the students hate and fear her but do it anyway because if you’re in her Video class she is nicer to you, by nicer it means that she just doesn’t talk to you and picks on the other students. When you take her Video class essentially what you are doing is throwing someone under the bus, but in this school no one judges you for this because it’s all about survival and you have to save your skin before you save someone else’s. The truth is that’s its all fake that she’s nicer. This demon could not like, care, or respect anything in the world. The fear that she instills into the students kills any motive for being alive, let alone educated. Maybe not all of the teachers are bad but one like this is enough to make you hate anyone that likes and cares for education. The students start to branch off into different groups and the groups start fighting with each other because they don’t know how to let off their anger and frustration. All they ever hear from their parents is “keep working and good things are going to happen”, and my favorite, “you don’t want to get bad grades and ruin your life.” It’s extremely sad to think that these students don’t make any decisions for themselves. They are nothing more than cattle being pushed through a system that doesn’t care for their creativity and their natural, youthful essence that has so much to give to a world that seemingly doesn’t have a soul. Their development is stunted and they cannot think of what it’s like to enjoy school, this idea has never been present to them except when they were in elementary school and “expectations” and “good grades” were words that weren’t even pronounced by their caring teachers. 20



 The groups that are formed seem to be very different and have a unique style and view of themselves, others and the world around them, but in reality all the groups are based off the same thing and no one is really different, everyone is just angry at the school and at the work they have to do which in no way inspires them to want to get an education. Of course, there are those that do a great job in school and are so blinded by others forcing them to work that they convince themselves that this is life and that school is reality. “Why not work hard?” “If I spend hours on this essay and this project it’s not like its going to ruin my future?” In this middle school students that think like that are looked up to by the teachers, but the students that are fed up of being pushed around by this cruel establishment get mad at these “nerds” and “dorks” when really these students that work the hardest are the ones that hate school the most. I was a student that wanted to get good grades and I believed that if I did well in school I could do well in life. I wasn’t a dork or a nerd but I did care. Only years after did I realize that these assholes in this shitty, fucked up suburban school manipulated me to think that I was not special, that I wanted to spend long, tedious, hours doing projects, that I cared about grades. No one cared about me in this school. They said things like “I want to see you succeed” and “I care about you so you should try hard because it will help you.” It puts a tear to my eye to think that students right now are listening to this bullshit and believing it because they have been told over and over again that teachers are your friends and they are there to better your education and help you see the world. When people ask me what is my biggest academic achievement, I tell them that I survived. I may be wounded but I lived. My view of the world is my view. It may be wrong from whatever is the truth but it’s my view. I fought against this establishment and I won, or I just didn’t lose by a blowout. Every academic moment is one that changes you but for me the three years that I spent at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School were the years where I battled, scratched, and punched my way to be able to see the world with my own two eyes.

21


T hanks for the G r eat S tor y, M r . R os enbur gY ou'r e F inally G ood for S omething Brittany Heintzen
An English lover all of my life, I’d always been blessed by the classroom-assigning Gods with great English teachers all throughout High School. Lo and behold, senior year finally cemented my beliefs in the Buddhist concept of karma. Thinking I had the mind, and academic record to prove myself in English AP as a senior, I decided to enroll. Imagining AP would offer more enthralling literary choices and hopefully a higher caliber peer. Upon my first day of class I found myself staring into the eyes of sheep, and bowing at the mere mention of Mr. Galen Rosenburg-our teacher, shepherd, and messiah. Expecting a group of diverse, enlightened thinkers, I came to find I had just joined a cult. The students not only respected and adored their prophet, but relished in every word, breath, and grain of spit expelled from his mouth. At that point, I looked around for cameras, because this site was beyond believable. Was I really here? What had I gotten myself into? I felt a shock close to that of a plane crash survivor, disoriented and traumatized, seeking answers by aimlessly ogling around the room in which I found myself a prisoner. He rose from his desk and floated over to the board as a preacher would to his congregation. He stood a tall six feet four inches, wearing a knit maroon turtle neck which supported his small bulbous head. His beard was fighting for territory of his face, but still kept short and neat, probably to deter attentions from the budding bald spot on the northern latitude of his skull. He had the intellectual-scruffy exterior of an IV League professor and a tone as arrogant as one. While lecturing he actually gazed at least a foot over our heads, as if he was talking to a grand stadium instead of our small class of 23. The first month or so of class carried on similarly, mostly lecture, and not one question posed to the class without being told what he wanted us to say. One fine morning, he actually addressed the class with an opened-ended question about Dickens’ style of writing. My opportunity had finally presented itself- his error, my chance. The moment had finally come, I had been watching my adversary’s movements for almost thirty mornings now, I had him read, it was time to activate and reveal myself as the sleeper cell of classroom 401. My hand shot up, seizing the opportunity, looking at me like a new fresh sacrifice he eagerly called on me, “Dickens style is colorless, he strings fifty five too many adjectives together all in the purpose of… I lost track…He actually makes me forget about what I’m reading about all 22



 together…”With my answer came the loudest silence I had experienced to date, his mouth agape and eyes glassy, he collected himself, and then acted if I hadn’t spoken a word and continued on with his lecture. I suppose by not acknowledging my answer he could pretend I wasn’t there, at least for the time being, until he could figure out what to do with me. The year unfolded into something that can be summed up into the events of that day although sometimes he’d grace with me with the invitation of a duel that would carry on for a few moments. It forged on similarly until the month of April arrived, the month of writers’ week and parent teacher conferences, where he thoughtfully divulged his insightful prophecies of my life with my mother. Basically summing up to her that my “ideas are outlandish, and unless I learned to take direction I wouldn’t be successful at anything I tried to accomplish.” His tactics were working, and I was actually starting to believe it might have just been me. Why am I the only that has problems with Mr. Rosenburg? I started questioning my very experience, and had the thought of my wrong-doing at least once or twice. I had the argument with myself at least a dozen times, until that fateful Monday we started Writer’s Week. A week where the English Department hosts journalists, writers, and anyone who makes a living off of their writing to come and speak to the students. Our first guest was a local news reporter, who had worked numerous years as a premier journalist in Washington along with others, but had settled down and was working out of the bay area. By the time she had finished summarizing her experience and showing some samples of her work with our class, Mr. Rosenburg had organized his mumblings into some comment he decided to share with us. “Wouldn’t you say that newspapers and even some journals are more relevant and factual about current events than an over-sensationalized news bit on our local news station?” I knew he had an inflated sense of self enough to talk to his lowly subjects that way, but an outsider? WOW. For the first time all year I felt a member of my class, sitting in astonishment, frozen in time, you could have cut the tension with a knife. “Well…” she collected herself, “I’ll agree with you Mr. Rosenburg, that there are bad reporters but I’ll have to go on to say there are at least an equal amount of bad teachers.” Following more screaming silence, she stormed out of the room. I had spent the remainder of the school day in a daze, not really sure what I had witnessed that morning. How could someone just put someone else to the guillotine that way? He really had no sense of humility or guilt. This man was actually instructing students on creative writing, but he didn’t have one ounce of emotion in his body, he was a cold robot made of the harshest of metals. The air of the classroom hadn’t changed much since the day before, you could feel the weight at the doorway, but still I journeyed on to my 23



 desk only to find a curious scrap of scratch paper. After little explanation, all I could retain was that it was a ballot, a ballot? Mr. Rosenburg was polling his disciples, polling the class about who was right from the day before. The results of such poll were undoubtedly in his favor with the exception of one or two, which went unaddressed. Needless to say, any internal debate I had been having in regards to him was put to rest with these series of events. He was exactly what I originally thought he was, but I had to remind myself of something my dad had always said about putting up with teachers you don’t like, to make the ones you love all that more special. My high school career summed itself up come June; and I couldn’t have missed a man less in my life. As I look back to this day memories of that class still make me shake with anger, but then I started taking English classes again. With the teacher-assigning gods on my side once more, I finally was able to hit the refresh button on creative writing. Hilariously enough, I see my path at this point in becoming a high school history teacher-and I can only hope I can make up for some of the damage done.

24



 


M y O wn M otivation Ann Jarrar

 
 
 Until I got into college, I absolutely hated school. It was a waste of time and a bore to me. High school felt like an utter joke. Each year they talked about preparing you for the next and how you’re going to need this, this and that to be in middle school and high school and college- a bunch of crap! I never used half the stuff they said we would need. I felt as though they were just pushing up along. Like Gerald Graff said in “Hidden Intellectualism” it seems like we were never learning anything that we could apply to our everyday life. Or even recent issues that we could debate on. We never learned just common sense things. I found a quote that sparked a lot of this essay. “The funny thing about common sense is, it isn’t so common.” One thing that still angers me is that when I was in elementary school they made us learn cursive and told us that we would never make it if we didn’t, as a 5 th grader, that’s very stressful to hear. So I would stay up late and practice cursive and make sure I had it down perfectly, I’ve haven’t used cursive since 5 th grade and I’m a junior in college now. This is just one example of the many things they did to almost stall us. I feel like a lot of the things we studied and learned in middle school and high school were just space fillers. Most of it was just busy work that they never even graded! College has been great; I choose my classes, the times and even the teachers, granted there is enough space. I feel like I can learn what I want to when I want to and I’m not just being shoved along in the system. I’m learning so much more about myself and my way of learning. The things I’m learning in my classes are also way more beneficial than what I was learning in high school. I feel much more educated on relatable topics. Being able to choose what classes to take and what times to take them makes it so much easier to continue doing the other things life demands. Since high school I’ve always had a job, not because I needed to have one, I just felt like I should have one. So with all that, I now have 3 jobs so finding the right times for school and study time gets tricky but I’m able to maneuver my schedule around and do what’s best for me! I didn’t try as hard in middle school and high school, because I just didn’t care. Io felt like they didn’t care to see us actually succeed so I didn’t see a point. It was its own little bubble and I hated it. Most people were there because they had to be there, I was. In college it’s very different 25



 because the people here want to be here, they even pay to be here! Peoples attitudes have a big impact on what the outcome will be, so being in college now and having a better perspective on school, I’ve been doing much better in all my classes. I apply myself more and want to do the assignments because I know they will better me in many ways. I never really found motivation in myself before college, I always used outside recourses to get myself going to do school work which rarely ever worked. Now, being the one that gets me to do things on time and the right way is so much easier than what I was doing before. Its so much more powerful being in control of what you’re doing. So in the end, there was no specific experience that changed my attitude, it was just the academic system as a whole that changed the way I look at things. Grade school was just another way to push people along instead of educate them. Throughout being in college I’ve learned more in these 2 years than I really have in the 12 years I was in school. If school was more relatable and comparable I think a lot more people would be inclined to go and want to succeed. 


26


T he B ookwor m I Never K new I Was Miyou Kanda
I have always been a hands-on student, and until about third grade, this was not so apparent. If you think about it, it makes sense that no one caught on to this little fact until third grade. I mean in preschool, you play a lot, and learn a letter a day. Kindergarten is four hours of Sesame Streetlearning as you play. First grade is a transition into grade school. By second grade, you start to get a hang of school. And by third grade, you should be ready for some loads of work- you learn cursive, how to read time, how to spell five-letter words, and math. So really, school does not start until third grade. I guess both my first and second grade teachers just thought I was energetic and figured it just takes me a while to get used to school. I was somewhat annoying, but it was not super disrupting compared to some pretty A.D.D.-bouncing-off-the-wall classmates I had. But once I got to third grade, it was clear that I had not gotten the hang of school. Your parents drop you off at school. You run to class and chatter with your friends while waiting for the teacher to open the door. The bell rings, and the whole class walks in together. All around you, classmates chatter with excitement for school. The whole class waddles to their cubbies like birds in a flock, and returns to the desks. The teacher calls roll. I am a good student until maybe thirty minuets after the national anthem is sung and we recite the pledge of allegiance with the lady over the intercom. I start to fidget and look around like a dog brought into a new environment. I yearn to go outside, but recess is not for another 40 minutes. I decide to turn to my neighbor and chat about anything to take my eyes off of the clock (which now looks as if it is ticking backwards). Turns out my neighbor is equally bored of just sitting as I am, so we chat for a while. It is all good until the teacher asks me what she had just said. I smile nervously, hoping my dimples would get me out of this one- it does not. I apologize and promise to zip my lips, fold my hands on my lap like a bronze statue, and listen carefully. Only, I was a pretty curious child. I quickly forgot what I had promised to do minuets ago as my mind wonders around; I am back to where I was five minuets ago. I was not opposed to learning (in fact I liked to learn); it was just that I could not sit and listen without getting bored. A week into school and I get smarter. I did not like detention during recess, so I played pretend. I pretended to listen and I act quiet. But my mind is set on overdrive; thinking about the wonderful world of “what ifs” and make believe. Meanwhile, my hands are busy drawing. Now, how does a girl like me with habits like mine learn? Well I do, barely but I do. I 27



 listen to see what the teacher is teaching to the class. Once I got what she was teaching, I move on to doodling and day dreaming to kill the void. Likewise, I finish enough work so that I get the concept of the subject and stop. I figure why waste my time doing the same math problems if I already understand the concept the first time around? Yup- I was a hellish student who did not do things if it made no sense to do them to begin with. As ten years pass, I learn to be a better student- I do my homework and assignments on time (even though I thought it was dumb). I still talked in class while doodling. I still looked at the clock every now in then. And I also could not help but get bored in a classroom. Then, high school was over all of a sudden; I had to pick a major. Any major would have done. I just needed an easy degree. Math was boring. Grammar was more confusing than a going through a labyrinth. I disliked science because it involves math. I did enjoy art, but art school seemed too intense. I came to the realization that all I can do was theater. In high school, all I did was stage manage the shows my school did, so naturally a theater major would be a great fit for me (plus it was an easy major as well). But a theater major required no thinking. I learned nothing new. I went to UCSC for a year where the classes there helped me sit and learn. However, I dropped out because I was not sure what I was doing there; for a year I work while contemplating what to major in. While I was contemplating what to major in, I decided to read to keep my brain alive. The literature I picked out consisted of writers like Vonnegut, Camus, and Murakamai. Not only did I love to read, I loved to analyze the books I read. In high school, I was a natural at writing analytical papers. I reached the conclusion that maybe I could do well as a literature major. Out of all the things I could have been, a bookworm was the last thing I thought I would become. I never wanted to go to college because my major was something I did not take seriously. I was never content with paying thirty grand a year so I can get a degree in theater. I only considered college because without a degree nowadays, you can not get anywhere in life. So here I was thinking college was mindless, just like high school. Here I was thinking I was not good at school. I may have been somewhat artistic, but the artsy people are way more skilled than I. So I settled or a theater major. But I realized going through college and paying lots of money for a schooling that I can go through with half a mind filled me with discontent. Now that I realized that a literature major may be the major for me, it changes the way I saw college. It made me think that spending a significant amount of money on my schooling was not such a dumb idea. I might learn a thing or two. And who knows, maybe I might enjoy sitting in a two hour class and not even look at the clock once! 28


T he B eginning of my E ducational Jour ney Kristina Kucinskaite
My journey toward education began a long time ago. I believe it started in my parents minds before I even came into this world. I used to wonder: can importance of education be inborn? Can it be transmitted with other genes that you get from your parents? Now, I strongly believe that my parents experience and hard work toward education goals in their lives brought me a strong and powerful opinion about education and its importance in people’s lives. Now I see education as a key that widely opens the door to better, wiser, and more successful tomorrow. Moreover, I am very thankful to my Mom and Dad for opening me those powerful doors of education, for letting me start my big and endless journey toward education, and for walking me through the first heavy steps of educational road. What can I tell now? I love my journey! The first and the most influential part of my educational journey took place at my home in Lithuania. I was seven and a half year old girl. I still believed in Santa Clause and his promises to come every single Christmas with a bag full of gifts to those kids who were good all year long. I was still wondering why Santa Clause always brought what I wanted. Did he know me so well? Did he really fit through the little window in my room? I kept asking my parents for the answers to all those questions I had in my little silly head. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear what I expected and wanted to hear at that time. My Mom kept telling me that I have to be older in order to understand about Santa Clause. If anybody only knew how bad I wanted to be older and smarter, how bad I wanted to learn more about Santa Clause! At that time my little brain, of course influenced by parents, understood one thing: I have to go to school to learn about Santa Clause. Winter, seven in the morning, dark, my Mom slowly opened my room door, and I heard that lovely morning message: “Kristina, time to get up, get ready for school. What do you want for breakfast?” I hardly moved my head, looked at Mom with one eye open and told her my favorite morning words: “Five more minutes, Mom, please.” She closed the door, went to the kitchen, and made my favorite scramble egg breakfast. I heard her slow steps coming toward my room again. She opened the door a second time: “Kristina, breakfast is ready, get up, you will be late.” It took another five minutes for me to get up. I kept telling myself: get up, get up, get up! I finally got bored of those words and got up. Breakfast smelled so good! It was my favorite part of the morning. I looked through the kitchen window. White, cold but cozy, monotonous but fascinating. It was 29



 snowing! I was so excited! My Mom interrupted my thoughts with her warm smile and curious look at me: “Do you see the man cleaning snow from the street?” I looked through the window again and saw that man trying so hard to clean the snow from the street over and over. It seemed endless. He looked tired. His clothes were covered with snow and he made the same bored movement over and over again. The man looked unhappy and exhausted of his white enemy – the snow. My Mom interrupted that sad picture: “Do you see how hard that man is working? Can you imagine getting up at three in the morning every day and working outside when it’s freezing, cold, windy, and snow is dripping on you all over?” I woke up completely. My eyes probably had never been so widely open. I felt scarred. My Mom kept looking through the window and suddenly she looked at me: “Kristina, you have to study hard and learn a lot of things at school. Otherwise, you will end up like this man cleaning streets from the snow all day long.” It sounded so scary and sad. I had never felt so good and happy about school then that morning. I took my books, looked at the mirror and told myself: no, I don’t want that kind of life, I better go to school and do my homework than get up every morning to clean streets from the snow. Next morning my Mom opened the door with the same morning message, however, this time it affected me differently: “Kristina, time to get up. Breakfast is ready.” I jumped from the bed, and I didn’t even think about five more minutes in my warm and cozy bed. That morning I felt even happier and more motivated about going to school then day before, when I saw the man cleaning snow from the streets. Today I am 27 years old, and I reached my educational goal. I graduated from University of Medicine and obtained my dentist qualification in Lithuania. Now I am continuing my educational journey at Foothill College in order to reach a new goal – to become a dentist in the U.S. What can I tell now? I still love my journey!

30


T he B ig D ay Deyssy Orozco

It all started in San Jose CA, back in August of 2002 when I thought school was one of the greatest place for me. It’s important for us to educate our self’s, it’s a place where we will meet new people as well as wonderful teachers and counselors that will always have the time to motivate you. High school for me was one of the hardest levels of education I’ve experienced. It wasn’t only bad experiences, but great ones I enjoyed. My four years of high school were always motivated by all the caring people that helped me, first of all the amazing parents I have, then the teachers and counselors. They always made me think education was the greatest step in I should take and was never going to regret it and take good advantage of it. In high school there are certain requirements in order for the students to graduate. In all high schools credits were require, as well as other expectations. Even though I had plenty of motivation from everyone I was scared not to make it to the “Big Day”, which was graduation. I thought of it that way, because some classes were really tough. In some classes there were teachers that would not motivate the student to stay focus in class and think and make it a place where the students will learn and enjoy. Though we knew it was our responsibility to stay focus and try our best on getting a decent grade it was complicated without any motivation or help from our teachers. Thank to god that I always try to stay on track and asked questions on anything I did not understood. High school was not only the place to learn and prepare our self’s to a higher education and to reach our goals, but it was an environment to enjoy the years with classmates and friends before the “big day” came and we would all take our life somewhere else. When that time came we would feel proud of our self’s and ready to take the next step. When the first day came as freshmen I felt supper excited and at the same time thinking of the day I would walk on stage from Del Mar High School. I could not imagine how many years I had to wait to have the honor to complete my high school years. Freshmen, sophomore, and junior and senior year were coming out great. I was not a straight A’s student, but always try to stay focus in class and have good grades, passing all my classes and making myself proud and the people that supported me. When sophomore year began everyone started to talk about “CAHSEE” which was the California High School Exit Exam. Which most 31



 of you may know what this exam meant or means to all high school students. The first class to take this exam was class of 2006. So everyone counted on us to do a great job on it and be able to graduate, and give the example to all the following classes. Well when the time came to take the exam I was really nervous about it my legs were shivering and felt something cold going through my body with the beats of my heart I could not handle, but always believed in myself that even with the feeling I had and feeling nervous I knew I would be able to pass the exam. I thought it was going to be an awful exam and complicated one, but after thinking about how this would make a difference I started to relax and concentrate. Some students took it as a joke others didn’t it was up to the student if we wanted to put effort in it or not. Months later each student received a letter saying if we passed or if we didn’t pass the exam. When I received the letter in the mail my legs started to shake and I started to feel something weird in my body my heart beat so fast it seem it was going to walk out my body, it felt horrible started to feel even worse than the day I had to sit in the school cafeteria and take the exam. I took a deep breath and opened the letter. When I opened it and read I have passed the English part, but failed the Math part I did not feel great, but didn’t give up and thought at the second time I would pass it that it was not the last chance I had. I had until senior year to pass the exam. I had a lot of motivation from my family, teachers and counselors. I believed in myself and knew I would pass it and would walk on stage the day of graduation with my class. The time came to retake the exam feeling nervous and thinking this would be my opportunity to pass I took the exam had faith in me believed I would pass and walk with the class on “the big day”. After taking it a second and a third time I passed the exam not with the most fabulous score, but with a decent one and making myself proud of all the effort I had put in to the exam, going to after school tutoring and getting extra help from people I had pass the exam I relived. Also, I felt supper proud of myself and was just waiting for the “big day” to come. Time was getting closer until the end of the year and I was already feeling that emotion of happiness and would imagine myself wearing the black gown and cap and walking with the class hearing the audience congratulating us and being proud of class of 2006. After this we would take our life to a new goal in our life going to college or working we all knew what we wanted to do after graduation. I was getting ready for prom, grand night, and of course the “big day”. A couple of days before graduation I was having some pain in my stomach some really bad stomach ache and did not know what It was causing it. I try not to care much about it and just thought of something nice well the horrible pain would not go away. I told my mom about and we decided to see a doctor for it. We went into the 32



 doctor’s office and he took a look at me did an ultrasound and found I had some stones in my gall bladder and that it had to be remove I said it was fine if the pain was going to go away he said okay, but this was an emergency and needed to have the surgery right away, I was shocked I cried and refuse myself could not believe this was happening to me. I asked myself why if I was always a healthy girl nothing had ever hurt as much to have a surgery I asked are you sure about it? The doctor said, yes darling. I still refuse and cried until the doctor and my family made me understand that my health was important that even if I wanted to be at graduation this was more important that they were still proud of me because I was going to graduate just not be at the ceremony. That this was not my last chance to walk in stage and be with the people I loved that I had many goals I would complete in my life that college was my next goal. My parents and school staff made me feel better. June 15, 2006 was a day I would never forget, but thanks to all my friends that people that made it special. This was when I felt school was important, but that there were other things that had most importance for me to meet my goals having my surgery on the day of graduation made me stronger and confident of myself. That the “big day” was also great being in a hospital, but supper proud of me as the others felt waking on stage of Del Mar High School. This impacted my education, because things can happen and we would not be able to make it to that special moment, but those things won’t make you stop to reach your goals.

33


M y E ar ly E ducation Kin Leung

I was tearing an admission letter apart and throwing the debris out of window from the eighteenth floor where my home was located. An excellent all girls’ Catholic school didn’t accept me as their new junior high student. I was upset and frustrated. Then my elder sister stepped in and said that she could handle it. I trusted her because she was an alumni. But I didn’t hear back from her since then. She might be too busy at work as she’s a successful businesswoman (she’s 14 years older than me) or she forgot, or she kept the bad news away from me. She always wears black to go to work. The suits make her smileless face looks more serious. I once asked her about her career choice and she replied as long as her boss earns money, she’s satisfied. Therefore, I learned that there’s no short cut in life. So I started my junior high at another all girls’ Catholic school for 3 years. Finally, I received a high school admission from that excellent all girls’ Catholic school. I not only studied hard for 3 years in junior high in order to get into that high school I always wanted, I also prayed. I prayed a lot. I prayed before I went to sleep. I prayed about the test I was going to take the next day. I prayed to get into the high school that I always wanted to go to. And it worked. it really did work. At least I thought so. My father insisted in providing good quality education to my sisters and me. He was a salesperson and worked very hard to become a partner of the firm that he worked for, for many years. He always reminded us about the positive relationship between success and learning. He hired an afterschool instructor to overlook our homework and to prepare us for tests. He purchased the best stationeries that were made in Japan for us. He required us to practice Chinese calligraphy 4 pages a day during summer holidays. He wanted us to go to an all girls’ school to concentrate on studying to avoid the distraction from boys. He tried to shape a path for us to succeed. One day, I was reading an authority regional newspaper, Ming Pao News in the dining room. My father was drinking his favorite Woo Long Tea and said to me “I want you to become a Margaret Thatcher.” He pointed his finger at an article about the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong to China from United Kingdom. Everyday my father picked up his subscription and started reading it in the dining room and I later joined him. I enjoyed reading the daily columns, editorials, and world news. I was amazed by some cultures and the differences we had. I liked to cut out some interesting articles and put them in a box. But I just wanted to be a 34



 journalist at that time, I guess. I like the idea how knowledge can change one’s fate and this is a popular Chinese idiom. In fifth grade, I stopped seeing my after-school instructor when I found myself managing my studies pretty well. I thanked my mother for trusting in me. My grades were even better without an after-school instructor’s companionship. My mother was a homemaker. She woke up early to cook breakfast for our family every morning. When I locked up myself in a room to study, she prepared snacks for me in case I was hungry. When dinner was ready, she knocked on my door. I knew I was a baby girl in her eyes forever. I always told her my dreams, my future plans and she only showed support, no objections. I was a self-motivated person who wanted to finish things but I still needed her spiritual support. Especially when you are young, study is probably the most common thing for people to judge you by. I was glad and excited when I was selected and elected by high school classmates to participate in the debate team. People always say that school is a miniature society. If you look good and act smart, you’ll definitely become popular. I loved school life and this didn’t mean that I was a kind of student to stand out. Quite contrary, I was usually an observer, quieter in high school. Occasionally I gave a surprise answer because I thought differently than the majority. Life couldn’t be any better than having a chance to speak to the public, to express yourself loudly, to influence someone’s thinking and sharpen your original thought. At my first debate, I was nervous on the stage and spoke too fast. Sometimes they couldn’t understand what I was saying. It was bad but I didn’t think it was a failure. I should have improvements. However, we couldn’t have an opportunity to continue our debate activity. It was our senior year and we had to take the review courses in order to pass the university entrance exam. The principal, a nun, prohibited all the senior year’s extra curricular activities, including athletics. One of our classmates, an Olympic candidate had no choice but to transfer to another high school to continue her athletic career and to keep up her schoolwork at the same time. Education should adapt to individuals, not be confinement. The first time I cheated on a geography test was in junior high. I was a “good girl” until our teacher assigned me to sit beside a “bad girl.” It was supposed to help produce some positive effects on the bad girl’s study. The bad girl and I became friends. I followed her to go to the printing store to copy the past paper questions and answers in a minimize size in order to read them during the test. It was fun at the beginning until the teacher caught a student cheating. Luckily, the teacher did not notice us. I knew immediately that it would be my last time cheating. It’s simply not worth the risk. I still had to spend the same amount of time to study the test 35



 content for the final exam. So I learned how to make less wrong decisions in future. I visited the bad girl’s home and met her elder sister who was a drop out. She was only 2 years older than us and had a daughter in a baby walker. I was stunned and pitied her situation because I already knew the power of education. Before you are scheduled for an interview, the potential employer can only know you from reading your résumé. And because she had to take care her baby, she could not go to school to continue her education. Real life experiences make you tougher and stronger. Education prepares you for the future.

36


T her e Will A lways B e S omething B etter T o D o Debbie Luk
As a kid, I played sports. I started judo with my sister, but it was too much for me. They say that it is a sport where one uses its opponent’s strengths against them. I never could master the sport. My dad wanted us to play sports because he knew that the exercise we did during physical education class was not nearly enough. He could tell I did not like judo very much and gave me the option of either staying with judo or picking another sport, like swimming. Since I could not think of any other sport I wanted to do, I decided to go with what he recommended, which was swimming. I enjoyed swimming very much, and rain or shine, I was in the pool practicing; even if I did not want to, my dad made me go. It was a whole body workout but it barely tired me out. Every day I went to school in the morning until three in the afternoon, then went to an afterschool program until six, then went straight to practice until about eight o’clock. I would shower at the pool and by the time I would get home, it was almost nine at night. By that time, I was already too tired to do anything else. All I wanted to do was watch television until I dozed off to sleep. In the end, I would never do my homework. During elementary school, I was always the kid who had to sit out during recess and lunch to finish my homework. It eventually became a habit for me to not do any schoolwork outside of school. When I hit high school, my dad pushed me into playing water polo, as sort of a conditioning for swimming. Water polo ended up being a lot of fun but it was a lot more intense than swimming. Although I had stopped swimming outside of school, I had polo practice early in the morning before school started along with afterschool practices. Still, I never made the effort to do my homework. By not doing something for such a long time, I became habituated to not doing any homework. Not only was I too lazy to do my homework, I also felt that it was a waste of my time to do it if I already knew the material. All throughout high school I was more concerned with sports, television, and books than my grades. School itself was never really that bad. It was just what came with it: all the long hours of studying and homework and reading of books that no one truly cared about. I hated having classwork that was based off of the previous night’s homework. I felt that the days were already so limited, so why spend all my time being bored? Every class I took gave out homework every night. Every night I would not even so much as glace at it which eventually resulted as a 37



 problem with my teachers, so I ended up having a problem with my teachers. “Why don’t you just do your homework?” my friends would ask me. “I’d rather spend my time doing things I like,” I would always say. I remember thinking that once I hit college, there would not be mandatory homework assignments anymore and I would enjoy school. Teachers and schoolmates older than me would always say that homework was not usually counted towards one’s grades college, but it was a tool to help students study. I was always excited about college life. I just got by in high school so I could get to college. It was the one thing I was always looking forward to. Once I attended college, all my classes required homework as part of the grade. I was disappointed because I had always had my ideal college life, and it was not like I had thought it would be like. College is a little different though. If you choose not to do the homework, no one chases after you to let you know that you should do it. I did not do any work and it showed in my grade. I never discussed my grades with my teachers. The only times I would talk to my teachers were when they called me up first. Even then the conversation would not get very far. They wanted to know why I failed to complete my assignments and the only answer I could give was that I was lazy and did not want to do it. I was always the type of kid that puzzled most educators. Never am I disruptive in class, I do pretty well on most of my exams, and if called on in class, I usually have a good response. The only thing that pulls me down is homework assignments. Now I am trying my best to do the homework before it becomes trouble for anyone. So I am doing my homework every night and, surprisingly, it is not that bad.

38


M y R oad to S ucces s Denise Martinez
“If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying. “Here comes number seventy-one!” Richard M. Devos

In elementary school, I had a teacher in fifth grade that had a lot of good teaching skills and techniques. I loved being in his class even though the whole school was praying since first grade not to have Mr. Rivard as a fifth grade teacher. I got the opportunity to be taught by one of the most spiritual teachers I have ever come to meet. I just wish that I were actually into getting a good education at that time. Fifth grade was my first time doing a lot of bad things, which included cutting school for the first time. After that I was placed on academic probation and along came a tough educational life. In middle school, I was more focused on sports, music, dancing, boys, and recreational drugs. I had a lot of older friends that influenced me to do so many different wrong doings that I had become the influencer to my other friends. Frequent trips to juvenile hall began in about my sixth grade year. I had a few teachers that actually had tons of confidence in me but I still did not have a positive outlook on education. In my seventh grade year I got kicked out of my middle school (where all my friends were) due to the fact that I had moved to Daly City during that year and my probation officer (at the time) told my school where I resided. I had to go to a school in Daly City, which I was dreading. I only attended about one quarter of my whole enrollment there, only because my old middle school was offering to take me back since I was moving back to Redwood City. They said that they would only accept me back if I attended the school by my house in Daly City. They also told my mom that I had to do extremely well in school to be able to stay there for my eighth grade year. This made me give my all in the other half of my seventh grade year. This attitude continued into about three quarters of my eighth grade year. I ran for president of my school and won that title and everything that came with it. I had to set a good example for my peers and show all the people that did not believe in me that I was a changed person. Since I did not have a “normal” middle school record, I was a great example of a student that did not do excellent 39



 in past years but never gave up on my education because I began to truly care about my education. I was also a great example for a lot of my friends that were not doing so well in their own academic situations. About two months before my eighth grade graduation I had got in trouble with the law again. Although I knew better, I was involved in a fight where the victim was injured pretty seriously. I was suspended due to this situation and was stripped of my title as president and all the activities that came with graduation. I was extremely upset with my slip up but that was not good enough for my school or my probation officer. I ended up having to turn myself in (to juvenile hall) right after I walked at my eighth grade graduation. I can now see that that situation helped me realize that my out of control temper and not caring personality was only doing me harm. I tried straightening up. During that summer, I got myself into trouble, which lead to incarceration once again. Gateway was a continuation high school that was located right next to juvenile hall. A short, mustard yellow bus would pick me up for school and drop me off from school (which I found extremely embarrassing.) This school was designed for students that had a history of fighting at school and/or trouble with the law. I hated the idea of not being able to see my friends from middle school in high school but I know it only made me a better person in the long run. When I was at Gateway I met a lot of teachers and staff that I felt honestly cared for me and my education. They encouraged me to do my best and taught me that it was okay to be smart. I was placed in a mediocre class but I wanted to be in the top class, the class that all my fellow classmates strived for. I tried my absolute hardest and within a few months, I was placed in the highest group. This was a huge deal for me because I had not felt smart since I had to go to that school in the first place. My tenth grade year at Woodside High School was pure freedom for me. I had a teacher in particular, that saw my potential and would try to encourage me to do my best but I was too busy catching up with friends and enjoying the loss of structure. I started picking up my old bad habits again and I was basically passing with half a brain. At that point I was satisfied with doing average work and getting through it only doing what was expected of me. Once junior year came I was so excited about the fact that I realized how to manipulate my schools attendance policy and that most of my teachers wouldn’t even notice if I was not in class or not. The classes were so big and teachers had seven different periods with seven different groups of students, which made keeping track of everyone almost impossible. During this time my closest uncle, that had lived right down the street from me at the time, had passed away from a gruesome battle with the AIDS disease. My grades plummeted and my probation officer 40



 cared but was not at all pleased. Needless to say, I failed my entire junior year. In the beginning of my senior year, I promised myself that I was not going to do only mediocre work but do work that would surprise my teachers. What I was not prepared for was the fact that since I did not pass my junior year, I was not at all prepared for the work that was given in my senior year. My teachers were not at all compassionate for teaching. They did not have any type of sympathy for someone in my predicament and I felt that my classmates were getting all the material without even thinking twice which made me feel less than average. I was not encouraged, guided, or pushed toward my goals like I had been in previous schools so I felt I never really had a fair shot at graduating from a regular high school. I tried my hardest to stay and graduate from Woodside High School but my grades did not show my hard work or effort. I was pushed to switch schools midyear and attend Redwood High School. Redwood High School was a continuation school for students that were lacking the credits to graduate on time. I was about a year’s worth of work behind when I got to Redwood so I was not in very good condition. The classes were way smaller and the teachers knew all their students by name within a week they started. I loved that my teachers knew me personally and knew my strengths and weakness’. I felt as I did when I was attending Gateway, confident and encouraged, which made me extremely comfortable. The small class sizes and close relationships with teachers made me want to achieve my goals while knowing my teachers wanted the same for me. While I was attending Redwood High, I was terminated from my years of probation (after completion of a program for girls.) I was working so hard at Redwood High that I would end up graduating about two months earlier than my class did. I graduated with honors on April 2, 2007, which was the exact day of my birthday. The next week I was attending my first week of my college career at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. At first I was doing mediocre work and getting by with about half a brain until I passed the easy courses, then it was time to get serious about my education. I now realize that with the recent recession there is no easy way for people that do not have jobs or poor paying jobs. I realize how truly important education really is to me. I had to step back and ask myself, “Do I want a life full of struggles or do I want a life that I can enjoy?” The answer to my question was easy and it was up to me to make it my reality. If I had a chance to take away all the tough issues that went on in my educational life I still wouldn’t because it made me the person and college student I am today.

41


Hous e of P aper C ar ds Ricardo Mata
Being separated from my parents at a young age left me in a dark bubble where everything I saw was flooded with negativity and anger. As a child, I longed dearly for the affection of a mother or the guidance of a father, but in my case, neither was present. It was as if one day they decided to get up, walk away and disappear into the cold air leaving me to deal with the aftermath of their disappearance. While my grandmother did her best to raise me as a mother would, she wasn’t able to give me the maternal love I needed. I grew angry and depressed thinking of the day when I would face my parents and confront them for what they did to me. When I came to this country, nothing was like what I expected. People of different colors walked around me, speaking different languages, sharing past experiences and laughing randomly at anything that crossed their path. Even for the smallest thing, people of this country would laugh and manage to find joy in anything. Where I came from, people were always miserable. Children would cry tears of pain as they longed for their parents, and adults became monotonic robots that followed a simple routine: get up, eat, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. And in the morning, the same thing would be repeated, day after day with no one giving this dull lifestyle the desperate shake up it needed. This lifestyle was the representation of the industrial age and the desire of people to better themselves at whatever cost, even if it meant losing or hurting their loved ones. As a young boy, I was very shy and extremely quiet. When it was time for school, my parents weren’t sure if I would fit in. Afraid to see me fail and scared to see me alone, they submerged me in a world of knowledge, where a new language and various school subjects waited for me with a vengeance. Spelling and vocabulary formed a shield around me that protected my frail being from being hurt. Whether it was in numbers or through the process of photosynthesis, I always had something on my mind to prevent me from seeing the obvious. I knew I was hiding from the truth, but to me, hiding behind lies was much easier than facing my demons. In my earlier years, I always did poor in school and my parents knew if I was gonna have a chance of making it, I needed to be “thought” the right way. For the next couple of months, I went to school like a robot never complaining, never stirring up a problem. However, when it came to learning at school, I only had half a mind. While the teacher would babble about the importance of Columbus’s discovery of the Americas, my mind would be in different places far away from Columbus’ grand discovery. Even when I didn’t pay attention, my 42



 mind would absorb the information like a sponge helping me to keep my goody two shoes persona in check. Coming home from school was worse because my parents would force me to memorize all the timetables till I could say them in my sleep. If I memorized them with ease, they would turn to vocabulary, grammar and English in order to keep me busy. They would force feed me information hoping to make a better me, a smarter me, a STRONGER me. However, in their failed attempt to make me a better person, they turned me into the one thing they wanted to avoid the most. Slowly, their constant pressure and bombs of information turned me into a helpless bookworm afraid of social interaction and my social skills withered and slowly died away. Rather than going out like any normal 10 year old and enjoying the carelessness of being a child, I stayed home and tangled myself in a web of questions and ideas that could never be answered. In constant hope of one day finding those answers, I stayed inside and read. My parent’s desire to make me smarter and stronger created a gap between all of us. While all they did was done in hopes of protecting me, it slowly showed me how different I was from my parents and how little I shared with everybody in my family. Whenever they wanted to go to the park, I always brought up an excuse that would keep me inside. One day it was homework, the next a sickness and the days rolled like that as my lies grew bigger and stronger. “Let’s go out and play soccer” my mom mentioned as she carried her white and black Nike sneakers to the door. Holding on for support on the side of the wall, she began putting on her shoes. When she noticed I didn’t respond, she looked up, “Umm…I have homework” I murmured as I looked down at the ground to hide my lie. “Oh, come on! We’re not going to be there all day you know!” she said as she rolled her eyes and picked up her keys. “Are you going or not?” she asked with anger in her face. Her posture had changed from warm and welcome to rude and demanding. “No,” I quietly mumbled as I buried my nose in another book. The small dust particles swarmed my nose as I waited for an angry response or maybe some swearing but all I heard was the slam of a door. While the thought of angering my mom didn’t bring me as much joy as I thought I would get, I was happy to have the whole house to myself for a little while. Quietly, I walked to the living room opened the cover of Ezperanza Rising and began reading. As I held the teal colored book, the torn and glued edges of the book caressed the tips of my fingers. Skimming through the lines, my eyes got lost in a sea of words as the story captivated me and I read without stop. For me it felt like nothing, but in the blink of an eye, I 43



 heard my parent’s voice in the driveway, and I ran to my room and pretended to be asleep. “Ricky! Estas Despierto?” my mom yelled from the kitchen. Her calm and sensitive voice flew through the house and left my ears in a buzz. “Esta Dormido!” my dad answered as he walked to his bedroom. “Siempre se paasa leyendo sus libros. Nunca quiere hacer nada!” he added with a sour tone as he closed his door. It was typical for my dad to get angry about my preferences. When I didn’t bother him, he supported me in whatever I did. However, when I refused to do something he wanted, he judged me and criticized my actions. “Si, pero el no quiere haer nada mas. No lo podemos forcar que haga algo que no quiere!” my mom responded as she walked over to my room. The strong and valiant echo of her voice soothed the strong thud of my heart that never seemed to stop. I lay very still and I closed my eyes hoping to fool my mom. I cringed my feet, locked my hands and turned my neck sideways to face the small white cracks that ran from the bottom of the ceiling to the bottom of the floor. “I know you’re not asleep,” she said as she walked over to my bed. She sat on the corner of my bed and waited for me to turn around. “Que pasa?” she asked as she grabbed my hand. Her voice echoed kindness and sincerity, but my heart refused to believe what she was saying. “Nothing mom!” I said. As I stood up, I pulled my hand away with anger and walked to other side of the room where a small black chair sat on the corner. Sitting there, I began to realize I was tired of always being judged as the weird one, the over achiever, the one that didn’t belong. “Why didn’t you want to go with us?” she asked fiddling with her keys. The small but strong dingle of the keys echoed in my eyes. I looked at her and shrugged. I knew my reasons for not going, but they were my reasons and I didn’t have to explain myself. She never explained why she left me so why should I? I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly and looked deep into her eyes. There was one thing my mom hated and right now, I was doing it perfectly. “No! Tu sabe porque. Que te pasa?” she said with a harsh tone. Immediately, those sensitive brown eyes turned into harsh and fiery brown holes that threatened to destroy a soul. As I stood there waiting, I looked down at the ground and realized how separated I had become from my mom. Every day in Mexico brought the same longing for the absent mother I never had, but now that I had her, small stupid fights tore the bond I had long wished for. “Nothing! I just don’t want to go do something I don’t want to do!” I proclaimed as I kept walking in circles hoping that all the reading I had done would help me come up with even a better excuse. “I like reading 44



 okay! Is there something bad in that? I mean, you made me this way! You wanted me to be a bookworm well here I am!” I screamed. This time, I knew I had gone too far. My mom said nothing but her face spoke for her. Up to this point, I was so tired of always keeping everything in that I could no longer keep acting like nothing was wrong. I could no longer live this lie and it was about time that everything I felt, everything I needed to say finally came out into the open. Always being alone brought anger over me that I never knew I had inside me. My parents always thought something was wrong with me but they never wanted to admit it. They thought that by ignoring the problem, the “beast” would kill itself and everything would be all right. However, what they did not expect was for this whole situation to get out of trouble and that’s exactly what happened. For so long, they had tried to shape me and mold me into what they thought was appropriate for their eyes. They thought that by giving me the opportunity they never had, I would forget everything they had done. However, they failed to see their error and forgot to put into consideration my feelings and how I would react to this new situation. For so long, I wanted to hurt my parents for everything they caused, but undoubtedly I got lost on the road to getting there. Instead of hurting them, I found myself being isolated, lonely and unaware of what was happening. I thought that by separating myself from their company, I would hurt their feelings and make them suffer the same pain I had experienced for so many years. Unfortunately, my anger blinded me into an absolute isolation that left me more lost than before unaware of what I had and what I was losing. The only thing that I found close to me and promised to not hurt me was books and that’s why I buried myself in them. Life was hard but being given the opportunity to escape all the troubles and live a better life gave me the happiness I was never able to fully grasp in real life.

45


No Help S o I T ur ned A way Summer Morrow
Teachers should teach according to how their students learn, or should students learn based on how their teacher instructs? We all have learning styles and as well, teachers have their way of teaching. However, somewhere the two should clash, in sort of a 50/50 fashion. Now, should teachers direct their lesson to majority of the students, or should they make sure each student is receiving the information fairly? In doing so, making sure no student gets left behind. The teacher may have every student in class learning at the same pace and understanding things at the same level but two or three students. The teacher then focuses on the majority, forgetting that the minority of students need a little more explanation on a lesson. Unfortunately, those students not capable of picking up the teacher’s teaching method fall behind. Teachers assuming that every student’s thought process are advanced and forgetting that individuals hold different characteristics can be dangerous. Making such an assumption can lead to the teacher expecting more than what that student can bring forth through intellect. It’s been suggested that those not so advanced students should set aside time after school or between breaks to receive the attention they don’t receive during regular class time. However, the feeling of being singled out and viewed as inferior lead those students further astray and they begin to have negative insights on their education as well as the school’s system. My high school experience was tortured because of a situation similar to this. Being placed into an honors chemistry class where I felt like an outcast to all the returning honor students changed my view on education slightly negative. It all began when my sophomore biology teacher determined, based on my A grade in her class, that I was advanced enough to learn at the honors level the following year in chemistry. Although she initiated the situation, it wasn’t her assumption that changed my mind. In fact, if she would’ve been the chemistry teacher maybe I would’ve been fine in the class. Why? Because of her teaching style. In her class, “not getting it” wasn’t an option whether you were advanced, intermediate, or slow. It wasn’t until my junior year in the chemistry class that I recognized “no student left behind” wasn’t a value that all teachers lived up to. This honors teacher only taught honors classes so she was only familiar with the honors way of teaching, which appeared to be fast paced and lacked a thorough explanation on assignments. She wasn’t prepared to break down instructions step by step and didn’t leave room for questions like “does everyone understand what the lesson is?” or “does anyone need a little more 46



 explanation on what I’m asking you to do?” Instead she kept the class flowing at their regular fast pace so she can get her introduction over with and get back to her own personal work. This brings a classroom memory to mind. One day, of course at the beginning of class, while giving her vague instructions I sat and tried so hard to let the directions penetrate. And yet just like every day no matter how hard I tried it was almost as if everything she said came out tongue tied. I politely let her finish and then raised my hand and asked, “I’m sorry Ms. Bellengee, but I don’t quite understand what it is I am supposed to do to solve the equation.” “Summer, what do you mean you don’t understand what to do?” “Well I know what to do but not how to do it. I always have a hard time with these equations Ms Bellengee.” “Summer I went over it on the board yesterday, so if you’re not getting it like the rest of your classmates, maybe you need to come see me after class or during break for a one-on-one. The rest of you get to working.” Embarrassed, infuriated, and fed up I sat and stared at all the inhabitants of this honors chemistry class hoarding through the assignments, not paying attention to me as I sat like one of the scientific props that decorated the room. They seemed so accustomed to her fast pace that it almost seemed like they were moving in slow motion, no sweat breaks. For most, this method worked for them. I don’t know if the Asian ethnicity of majority of the students had anything to do with this and at the time I will admit that I did believe this was the case, but whatever the case was they all picked up quickly leaving me to look like the “slower” kid when the year before I was so used to being advanced. Therefore, I knew my mind was capable of understanding the knowledge but I felt like my teacher wasn’t reaching out to my way of learning, and when I reached out to her and went to her desk for help she asked me to come after school so that she could give me a one on one. At that point I really didn’t understand and I was filled with bewilderment because I didn’t understand why she couldn’t give me the one on one in the classroom when that was the time the education board gave her to tend to her students learning. Unfortunately, that pushed me further away and it resulted in an F grade that year in chemistry. Now that I have matured and attend college, I am not so bitter towards the education board. However, that year did change my perception on education itself and what it means to some people. I understood from then that some teachers are only there to receive an income and don’t dedicate their desires to insure each student obtains the right amount of knowledge they need to succeed. At first I felt like there was no point in dedicating myself to learn if the teacher wasn’t going to make it possible without making me feel less. That was slightly the beginning of my education 47



 downfall because I started to miss a lot of days in that class and the result of that was my truancy record. My mind frame expanded and I grew to understand that I can still get a lot out of education by self motivation and dedication and I wasn’t going to let that teacher’s lack of effort ruin my education and all the things I can get out of it. Instead I start thinking of a counter method to her fast pace. If they would’ve had a designated hour to get extra help during class and offered it to every student, not singling out one, then maybe going to get help or what she called a “one-on-one” wouldn’t have been so discouraging. Like me, being put on the spot about not getting it thoroughly the first time made me feel inferior, and coming during after school hours was even more discouraging when regular school hours left me exhausted. However, if they teacher would have set aside half of her class time to be designated to “extra help” time where she met with these students who need more explanation, or better yet, obligate those fast paced students to be tutors to their class mates, it would have made it more engaging for me to reach out. I wouldn’t have felt insecure about falling behind and the help I needed would’ve been granted. To add to that, a lot of teachers should try to have a versatile teaching method throughout the year to satisfy everyone’s style of learning. For instance; movies/notes, group assignments, artwork, music, etc. Keeping in mind that we all are different and hold different learning characteristics as well as teaching styles, the two will meet.

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Welcome F r eaky F r es hy Ariel Nazarian
Chapter I: The Decision It was the summer of 2006, it was time to make one of the most important and influential decisions of my young life. My parents thought I was a person that would be a lot more successful if I were to enroll in a boarding school in Los Angeles California; rather than go to Mountain View High School. At first when I heard the idea I was a bit scared, yet thrilled. At the time many thoughts were flowing through my mind. If I were to go to this boarding school in Los Angeles I would open a new chapter in my life. A chapter of: Freedom, independence, success, and most of all a fresh start in a new environment. But on the other hand I would start from scratch. I would have no friends, and I would be alone with no family. I knew that I was in for a tall task at the age of only fourteen. Once again life presents another daunting challenge. My parents and I had countless discussions about this dilemma. I remember there were long and eventful nights when we would take out a sheet of paper, and write all the pros and cons for the two schools. Most of the times we would do this activity, the pros and cons of the boarding school in Los Angeles would outweigh the pros and cons of Mountain View High School. It was about mid August, were we came to the conclusion that I was going to be shipped off to a boarding school in Los Angeles. You’re all probably saying to yourselves mid August, isn’t the school year just around the corner? How could you wait so long to make this decision? The answer is short and simple. When it comes to decisions, especially important ones my family always finds a way to make the decision just before the clock hits midnight. So the following day my father and I flew down to Los Angeles for the interview; and to take all the placement tests. We land in Burbank Airport and after about a fifteen minute taxi ride we enter the school. I said to myself, “Wow I’m really uncomfortable. I have never really been put in a position like this, were I have no idea of my surroundings”. I felt much more comfortable after the interview than when I first walked into the building. One of the administrative faculty members took me to a room, and proctored me while I took the placement exams. The principal and much of the administrative staff said to me, “We should have the results for you’re exam within a week and you should receive a letter soon to determine your admission”. Finally after about a week a large orange postal envelope comes in the mail. My family gathers around the table, and were all highly anticipating the results. Both my parents take a deep breath, and open up the envelope. After a 49



 couple of gut wrenching moments with a big smile from ear to ear say, “Congratulations Ariel on your acceptance to Valley Village High School!”. At first I was thrilled, but then as I looked around the room I said to myself, “I won’t be spending too much time with you guys soon”. Chapter II The Big Day On the first day of school I walked in and felt out of place. I felt like I was a woman entering a men’s bathroom. The students all looked at me and gave of this negative vibe. It was almost like they were welcoming me to planet earth. At this time I said to myself, “Give it some time it’s only the first day”. It came time to go to my first high school class Geometry. After a couple of classes I realized that if I wanted to become a successful student here, I would have to hit the books. The level of education here was much higher than I had ever anticipated. At the time I was a student that was: Irresponsible, mischievous, and uninterested in education and studies. It was almost as if I was going to have to do double the amount of assignments just to catch up to my new classmates. Yet I was determined to turn my life around and become a successful student in the class. After about a month I made a few friends that really understood the situation that I was facing. They all offered me help in and outside the classroom. At first I was a bit shy and not really interested in their offer. But then I realized; if I wanted to achieve my goal and turn my life around I would have to study with these guys. So the next day I walked over to them and said to them in an undertone, “Can I still take you guys up on that offer”? They all said “Sure”. I learned never to take this opportunity for granted. I was so thankful, that I not only was spending time with my new classmates and bonding, but I was also becoming more knowledgeable. After a couple of weeks of this tutoring program, I began to have more confidence with my studies. I didn’t have that terrible feeling of; oh I am so behind? How am I ever going to keep up with these guys? At that moment I felt that my interests in life changed drastically for the better. I had now become a student that would never give up in the classroom. I would always try to make sure to stay on top of things, complete all my assignments, and participate in class. Something that I had always had trouble doing until that year. When I told my parents all of this they were very proud of me. They told me that you have just accomplished one of our goals. I said “What goal is that”? They replied “The goal of becoming a responsible, mature, and serious student”. At that point I felt that I had defeated a big and tall ferocious gladiator. I felt that I had not only made my parents proud, but at the same time I had strengthened my attitude towards life and education in an indescribable way. 50



 Chapter III: I M ade The Team Towards the end of the school year I felt that I had made the team, I felt like I was one of them. At the time I honestly didn’t know how I did it; because it just seemed like I was never going to be able to make it here in this new environment. All these guys only hung out with their cliques, all those difficult classes, and most of all being away from my family. Of course there were obstacles, and times that I felt overwhelmed and said to myself, “I can just pack my bags and check out”, but I wanted to receive that unmatched level of education, and knowledge that I would gain over here rather than go to Mountain View High school. There was always a quote that I had wrapped up in my mind so cautiously; as if it were a priceless diamond. The quote was told to me by my grandfather as I was making this transition to this new environment. “Those who go away and study independently are the ones who become the most successful in life”.

51


S chool L ife Bryan Nocito
My attitude towards school started in my elementary school years. These years include first grade through fifth grade. I liked my first grade teacher, but thought the other teachers were not as good. I remember liking my first grade teacher because she was very involved with the class. She was friendly with her students, worked individually with us, and gave us fun activities. I don’t remember specifically what the activities were, but they were a fun way to help us learn and I enjoyed school. The other teachers that I had at this school did not seem as good because they didn’t motivate or involve the students. It was probably in second or third grade, I had trouble with an English assignment we were working on in class. At the time students were sectioned in English groups. I called the teacher for help, but she just told me where the answer was and left. I didn’t like that she didn’t take the time to help me. She should have walked me through the steps to find the problem and explain how to do it. Spending time with students by working through the problem together and explaining the steps are ways for teachers to motivate and get involved. Unfortunately, this caused me some frustration with school in general and not be a fan of one subject, English. My attitude towards school changed a bit during these years because I enjoyed school in first grade, but the teachers in the other grades were not inspiring or motivating. I did do the homework, learned, got decent grades at this school, and had perfect attendance a few years here. I just wanted to be a kid. Being a kid meant that I wanted to have fun by playing outside and socializing with friends. As fifth grade came around, one activity in which having fun was part of was sports. It didn’t matter if the sport was football, basketball, baseball or recess games. Going outside playing one sports and the camaraderie among friends were reasons for fun. Entering sixth grade was a new, scary and bit nerve racking experience because I went to a new school. I got accepted into a private school. This school was first through sixth grade, but I went there from grades six through eight. Entering a new school was like starting over because I had to get used to this new environment and make new friends. One thing that helped me through this was participating in the sports during recess and the team sports offered after school. I seemed to do well in this area, breaking the barrier with the other students. This helped me make friends with my classmates and make friends with students in the higher grades and some in the lower grades. In my first year here during 52



 recess, the yard duty actually told that I could not play with the eighth graders because they thought I would get hurt. Although this helped me adjust to the new school, the classroom setting was also positive. The teachers were actually good. They were involved in the class with techniques to explain the subjects. The teachers also took one on one time to students who had questions or needed extra help. Not only that, they started slowly to treat us like mature people and try multitasking. These few years of experiences at this new school improved my attitude towards school. I found a school with teachers who cared about the students and classmates who took in someone new. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy where I was at and have an even more fun with friends, in sports, and enjoy school. Somewhere in between elementary and junior high, I learned how to read people and developing good common sense. When it came to high school, I was accepted to a very good private high school. My attitude towards school changed in which I did not like school. Most of my friends went here and got along with the other students. I think not liking school was due to the fact that high school was mostly about social games. The social games are typical in high school including becoming popular, trying to get into the best clicks, peer pressure, and trying to fit in. I was not into these games and thought this was a bunch of crap. Not wanting to part of these games, I kept to myself. I thought people should be themselves rather than trying to fit in. Although this was happening, I wasn’t motivated to excel in academics. I did graduate high school, but unfortunately did not work at my full potential. Looking back, my attitude towards education is different now than as a kid. It went back and forth from liking to not liking school. My overall attitude as a kid was that I did not like school. After working all these years after high school, I have learned that receiving a good education is an important necessity in our world. This realization came from working jobs that were neither high paying, had no advancement, or both. I now appreciate educational opportunity I had as a kid, but disappointed that I did not take advantage of it. Understanding the importance an education and working hard at it brought me to start taking college courses. Not only taking course, actually working at them compared to high school when I didn’t work at school work like I should have.

53


E ducational I nfluence Danilo Noguera
There is no question about it; I have always been able to excel in all academic areas. School has always been easy, something I thoroughly enjoyed. I remember receiving numerous awards as a kid, I remember all the praise I would receive for my intelligence, and I remember how natural academic excellence was to me. When I reached high school, my rigorous course schedule and equally intelligent peers quickly humbled me. For the first time I was not the best, and boy did it rock my world upside down. Growing up, I was always the smartest kid in school. I did not have to spend hours at night studying, it was all-natural. I was able to achieve a firm grasp on a concept faster than anyone else could. In the third grade, I was tested for a special program called Gifted And Talented Education (GATE). I still remember it as the hardest and strangest test I have ever taken in my entire life. GATE was a program that allowed me to leave my elementary school campus and bus over to a local middle school. At the middle school, I was taught basic algebra and had a choice of an elective. I chose a class about clock engineering. GATE followed me into middle school where I was placed in honor classes because of my “gifted” status. I breezed through my honor classes, and accumulated a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) for three years. At the end of my middle school career, I had received the United States history award, principal’s award, and best writer award, became associated student body president, and was named valedictorian for the graduation ceremony. When I entered high school, I was confident and charismatic. I took as many Advanced Placement (AP) classes as they would allow. For the first time in my entire life, I struggled in school. I my schedule did not allow for any free time. I had to go to school all day then, study all night. I felt stress for the first time, constantly worried about due dates, tests, and time management. It seemed as though there was never enough time in the day for all I wanted to do. I felt burned out after my freshman year, so I decided to enjoy life a little more and not completely submerge myself in schoolwork. My sophomore year consisted of making friends, playing on the football team, and having fun. I joined the football team, and was on the varsity team as a second string running back. I became increasingly popular, especially with the ladies. I was finally enjoying myself, consequently school among other priorities fell by the wayside and my grades began to decline. I went from a 3.83 GPA to a 2.8 GPA. I went from an A student to a C plus student in one year time. 54



 My junior year I became the starting running back on the football team, and was focused on dating girls and going to parties. By my first progress report, I had a 1.3 GPA. That meant I was failing just about every class except Football. I was in shock, how could I go from a star student, to a dumb jock? I felt as though I was throwing away all my potential; all my intelligence was simply going to waste. I had not only given up on school, but on myself as well. I decided to make a change. I worked at balancing my one-sided life. I had to rededicate myself to school, but make time to maintain healthy relationships with friends. I began managing my time more wisely, using lunches and breaks to work on homework. I turned my grades around and even passed my AP exams, giving me college credit. I learned a valable lesson no one could teach me, one I had to learn the hard way. To this day, I believe in a balancing life, enjoying every moment, but making achieving your goals a top priority. Even though there seems like there is not enough time in the day for all you want to accomplish, I always remember what a friend once told me, “you have just as many hours in a day as Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, and Tony Stark did.”

55


E ducation and M otivation Nick Palaszewski
Throughout my whole educational career I never felt unmotivated or in a loss for education. There was a series of events that did make me lose a bit of motivation, and those events happened in the beginning of high school and at the end of high school. In between those times I had great time learning and doing the whole high school thing. When I first entered high school I was already in the process of transferring to a private high school. I had almost perfect grades at Carlmont, which is the school I had originally started out in. I had met all the requirements to transfer already, and my dad was totally going to help me out. When I had presented this idea to my mom (my parents are divorced) she flipped out and didn’t feel like it was going to be a good use of money. In that case I wasn’t going to transfer to Saint Francis which isn’t even the most expensive of private schools, and honestly I felt that I would be a little more motivated to do well in school. Becoming a freshmen at a high school that was known for drugs, fights, riots, and tom foolery just didn’t seem to be the school I wanted to put my 4 years into. Keep in mind I was 14 years old and probably around 5 foot nothing. So that school looked like a death trap for me, I know some others will have to agree with me, luckily I never got beat up or made out to be a fool. I ended up sucking it up and trying to make the best of the situation, by making friends with the older bigger students, which is always a good thing, and by just continuing in class like I had done in the past. Later Freshmen year I tried out for the soccer team, it ended up being coached by my clubs rival club soccer team, and my clubs original coach before he made the switch. So right then I knew there was tension for all the players from my club in the tryouts. I was giving all heart in the twoweek tryout period, running like no other, giving 110% and being the most aggressive player on the pitch. It came down to the point where we all had to meet in his office with him alone to tell us if we had made the team, or what we could improve on to make the team the year after. As I made my walk in there I had such a great feeling, until I was finally sat down and told by the dick of a coach that “I was to small” to play on the team. I was pissed, I asked him “come on how can anyone be to small?!” I wasn’t going out without a fight, I kept all my anger against him bottled up to long. I gave him a piece of my mind, it was a little graphic but well deserved. At the end of the conversation I walked out without a thank you for your time, by the coach. The moment was pretty depressing, some of my friends made 56



 the team, needless to say I didn’t think they were too great, maybe they had some height on me but I could have totally schooled them all. After I got over the anger of not making the team, I had made a promise to myself not to try out for any more high school sports, why you might ask? Probably because the area I grew up in was so damn political, a stupid, plastic, small suburban town where if you don’t have money, you’re a nobody, I’m not saying I was poor, but there was no way in hell I was rich. Not only that but your parents could also pay for you to get out of all your problems. So not only was I not wealthy but I didn’t feel too in place in the this town, all though the friends I have made since the start of school happen to be in a similar situation as I, so all fought this problem together. Reflecting back on the last paragraph, where I said I didn’t have a ton of money really hits hard especially in this subject coming up. It came down to senior year, I saw a ton of my close friends travelling and checking out schools all around, different cities, states, even a few out of the country. I never really had terrible grades in high school I ended up maintaining around a 3.4 cumulative gpa throughout my 4 years attending Carlmont, (which became an accredited/distinguished school, while I was attending) I thought that I would definitely be going to one of the 3 schools I had picked to venture off to after high school and those were: University of Buffalo, San Jose State University, or Santa Clara university, that is If I had scored well on the SAT’s. Three weeks before the big test, my dad didn’t ask if I wanted to go to a community college, he told me I was basically stuck going to one for the first two years of college. I was quite upset and got into a heated argument and stated that I wasn’t pleased with the decision HE made! We weren’t really on the same page for the remaining amount of senior left. I had to suck it up, and it kind of showed in my last years cumulative gpa, as of now I have a 2.5, which isn’t so great, and I know I can do better, but I need a little more motivation. If I continue doing better I will end up at one of my choice schools, which is my goal up until this day!

57


F inal D r aft Matthew Pray

 
 
 I have always been a person who literally could not stand to read. Every time I would be forced to read I would either find the movie for the reading or have someone else who Is in the same class read it out loud. Though I hated reading it greatly impacted my education in a negative way. I grew up in a decently wealthy family of highly intelligent people who loved reading. I just did not understand it. I of course failed the entrance exam for Notre Dame elementary school, and made me repeat the 2 nd grade. So they decided to send me to Fox Elementary school where they had a personalized literature tutor which I hated. Since my sister was attending Notre Dame Elementary, they decided to send me too. From there, I have always barely or even did not pass any of my classes that had to do with reading. This later started to affect me greatly when it came around through 8 th grade where I had to start applying to different high schools. After applying to almost every high school I could think of, there was only one high school that I did not put me on the waiting list, which was Junipero Serra High school. I thought to myself “Oh my god” what is happening. After hearing this I tried going to a public school but my parents wouldn’t have it. So during my years at Junipero Serra high school I had never received over a 3.0 GPA. Not only was it a college prepatory school but it was also an all guy school which brought my motivation down and mostly known for sports. [So you tell me? does that really sound like an academic prospering school where guys can act like themselves and not have to worry while playing sports year round and be good at it? I didn’t think so.] Though Serra was known to have good academics it excelled in sports more than any other high school on the peninsula. Of course this did not help my reading problem it only made it worse for me. Freshman year all my concentration was on sports, sports and…… even more sports. I tried out for the football team and even went to football camp that summer, I played baseball until I hurt my arm pitching and then I moved onto crew. Crew was not the best bet for me because of the late night and early practices. After receiving about a 2.3 freshman year I had to step up my academic side and get my grades up. First semester sophomore I did a little bit better with receiving a 2.6 but when it came around to second semester I was back in the boat to around a 2.1 average GPA. I had to retire from crew and focus on my academics. This depressed me very much, but I did what I 58



 had to do. So, junior year I confessed my reading problem to my parents and they went to have me tested. Surely enough I had a reading disability. The therapist said I had excellent knowledge retention when it came to memorizing pictures and things I did by hand. When it came to reading it was more of a torture for me then most kids you would find for me. Supposedly my brain can’t process or retain the information I read which causes me to read really slowly. When I do end up reading really slow I have a short memory loss which causes me to literally forget the whole line I had just read. Having this problem killed me with almost every reading assignment, because I would be reading the same page over and over and over again. After being tested I was medically diagnosed as having a learning disability. Because of this I was enrolled in to the ARC at high school (Academic Resource Center). This help a little throughout my senior school year at Serra but I had to step it up if I wanted to get into a good college. So senior year came around and it was that time to start applying to colleges. Not only was this a factor either but I had just broken up with my girlfriend that I had been going out with for 2 ½ years which made my senior year really hard too. I ended up applying to Fresno, San Francisco, San Jose, Long beach, and San Diego state. I only made it into San Francisco, San Jose, and Fresno but that was okay because I already had set out with a plan for my major studies. I’ve been wanting to study mechanical engineering, not only was it based in science and math but it also could take place in my dream of contracting with the Marines. About near the end of high school I was already signed up into the Marine Reserves 92 day program and had just chosen that I wanted to go to San Jose state because they were strong in engineering. But because San Jose state was so late on signing off on my 92day program with the Marines my contract got screwed up and was put into the regular reserves. Because of this tragedy I had to go to boot camp in June, then straight to MCT (Marine Combat Training) and then to my MOS school (Military Occupation Specialty school). This made me miss my whole first year of college because I was straining for 10 months straight. Since of my return I quickly enrolled into whatever school I could that could start me as quickly as possible which was Foothill because of their quarter system. So not only was my learning disability a factor my making my education difficult but also my career path.

59


M y E xper ience at S chool Jennifer Samayoa
Studying for a long time, since kinder garden, it hasn’t been too easy. There will be always something that complicates our feelings toward education. I have gotten good and bad experiences during my years of education, but I have more good ones than bad ones. Something that changes my opinion about studying, it was in Guatemala. It was in my 7 th, 8 th, and 9 th grade. I was studying in a girl’s school, in which was prohibited to play any sport using a ball. I think that the school had that rule because it is supposed that we were all girls, and basically they thought as “girls do not play games with a ball,” that was pretty bad thought. I had met friends who also liked to play soccer, just like me. We used to break the rule of not playing soccer at school; we always find a way to enter the ball into the building. There was one time that we kicked the ball from the street to get it into the building. We used to run away from the teachers, once our counselor made us sign a paper, and if we sign it three times we were exposed from the school. My friends started to lie to our counselor, they told her that I was no playing, that other classmate lied to her. My friends knew if my parents known that I was making trouble, I was going to have problems at home. My twin sister was in my class, she and her friends told the counselor that we were playing soccer in the classroom; then all of us who signed the paper told her that my sister was mad at me and that she was lying and that we didn’t have a ball. We told her to ask them for the ball and to give it to her; we had already hidden the ball in the restroom; so they were never going to find the ball. The ball was never found, so we told the counselor that wasn’t fair that she made us signed the paper, and she has to through them away. With my friends we used to play soccer during our recess that last about thirty to forty-five minutes. One time, in my 9 th grade, the last year at that school; we started to play and like fifteen minutes later somebody scream: “the counselor,” we turn around to see where she, then everybody run away at the moment that we all run away, I didn’t know where the ball was; then somebody called my name and through me the ball. I catch the ball and run away with my other friend who was next to me. The counselor didn’t see who had the ball by the end of our recess, and she not even got time to see who was playing because everyone run away and then was acting like nothing is happening. That year I failed four of my eight classes; I was able to take a test for each class so I can graduate to transfer to another school and start to study for my major. 60



 My dad let me take my four test at the private school where I was supposed to study architecture, I don’t know how but I passed my exams, I was so happy for that, it was all I wanted. In that private school all students studying for different majors were separate, never taking a class together. My class was known as “The drawing class,” each major has his nickname. I think that going to that school was the worst choice to make because we were always bothering; we were outside of the class, always making trouble. As a class we were friends with “The electronic class,” there were only boys because it was a class for those who wanted to study electricity; we were neighbors. However, I still being a bad student, but this time it wasn’t only me, it was almost all the class; but most of us were failing English, Mathematics and Statistics. In Guatemala, I have to recognize that not all the teachers are bad, but there are some that are really bad. These three teachers asked for money in order to pass us, at that time it was a great option for those who were able to pay, but not for those that doesn’t have money. Some of my classmates paid, but others didn’t; it was the right time to analyze and think about starting to be a good student and study. It seems that as a teenager, we don’t thing about the consequences, but next semester we had failed the same classes, and again the teachers received money to passed us, and again the same that didn’t pay before…didn’t pay this time. Nobody said anything about students paying to pass their classes, I failed that year of classes, and basically I didn’t pass any class, and I dropped from school because it was also my father’s choice to take me out of school. Until today I still not knowing of why I didn’t tell my dad about all the problems that were at that school, I think that it doesn’t matter at all even this professors can still acting that way. I’d been able to talk with some of my classmates, they said that some of the students transfer to another school, and others graduated from it, and we think that the teachers still teaching there. I have been living four years here at The United States, and it was really difficult to start high school not knowing English. When I came I had the opportunity to think about my life as a student back in Guatemala, and how my life would be in The United States. I started at my junior year of high school, I had two years to complete my credits and graduate from it. I have found great teachers; my ESL teacher helped me a lot, not only me but all ESL students. It had become really easy to get into a class, pay attention, and kind of understanding the teachers. All ESL students were known by the professors, and it was comfortable and easy to go to school, I did great at school, I really like to go to school, it had become interesting and excited to go and learn more English each day. I had gotten better in writing, speaking, reading and listening. I feel good for moving to a new country because it changed my view of studying. In Guatemala I never 61



 study for a quiz or test, and I didn’t pay too much attention in class. Now I am a different person at school, and I have a major to complete. Sometimes I think about how dumb I was when I didn’t put an effort on my education, now I have to study and look for somebody to help when I don’t understand something, while in Guatemala I had my older brother or my father to help me. I tried to do my best in each class, and I have decided to have a part time job, and to be a full time student.

62


D es egr egation Gina Simas
It was summertime in the 80’s, and I had just finished my elementary school years. One evening my single mother sat me down to discuss a change ahead, I listened intently she explained my middle school destination. I felt confused and didn’t quite understand her reasoning for changing its destination. I had my childhood friends in place and it was a well-known fact those in my circle would be going on to our next phase together. It was her choice to send my away to a middle school outside our area. At that time, I remember being open to the idea because the school I was to attend didn’t have the best reputation. At that point there wasn’t an option, the decision had been made. She sold me by sharing my best friends mother agreed this experience be shared jointly, I would not be alone. I’d be with my best friend. My first day of school was not my first visit to the well-manicured immaculate clean campus. Rather, it was a visit, a social of sorts to bring new student and faculty together to soften or prepare us minority students for a new experience to intertwine. This process I was place in is known as desegregation, which has long history going back to 1960 but that’s another story in itself. The basis is that in 1980 desegregation came to mean “reshuffling” disadvantaged minority students. In my life at that time, little did I know my being a participant of this program would prove more positively of all my educational experiences. It would take years for me to explore and reprise the days I spent as one of the girls who came from far away to go to school. In each of the back flashes that surface I can pick which I choose to visualize and explore. The place I return to I see myself as the girl who appeared different but found her way in a time and atmosphere where there continued to be difficulties in getting races to interact. With good memories bad followed and it happened at the end of my first year at my new school. The bus ride to school was a long trek for a girl my age. The direction was far west from where I lived, to get there we took what we called the shame train also known as the bus. It was on these bus rides I met several kids reaching the same destination I coming from farthest away. We found commonalities in likes and dislikes from that time such as fashion to electronics, it was 1984 and I was 14 years old. I was pleased in my new school life with my newfound friends in this new environment. I was also engaged in my studies but my best friend was changing. It seemed she was distancing herself from school and we found ourselves growing apart. While I had developed new friends, she was showing less interest in school from associating herself with my new circle of friends. One day before years end, 63



 just like that. She was gone. She had not said a word to me and before I knew the circumstances a rumor mill was in full effect. On a memorable day I remember standing in the quad waiting to meet my friends, as they approached me with clinched arms to not loose grip on the bags and books they held. One of them asked me, “So, are you like her, like your friend?” I immediately realized something happened to her. What followed was a known fact to all except for me. She was pregnant at 14. The rumors and attention on the subject was more then I could handle at that time and age. It was hard for me being judged by everyone. I was viewed as the friend of someone who got pregnant, she was considered promiscuous therefore my person was in question. The focus and attention was more than I could take. At that age being able to respond to each of the comments or glares seemed like a bad dream. My studies and engagement was over- shadowed by a thick shield I created to protect from judgment. The girl back in 1984 could read in the eyes of faculty and mature students a message of disappointment and concern. I then delved into acceptance and worked hard to change the perception of the reputation I developed and I succeeded. The best part of it all was that my new friends remained true and helped me along. My teachers were instrumental in my progression. Since this was the first teen pregnancy that happened in this particular school, the entire faculty in someway was engaged in the schools handling of the matter. The memory I hold close, while a difficult part of the desegregation chapter of my life. The topic of pregnancy in youth at that time very well may have personally affected my educational pipeline. My reason for stating this is because it has. When Graduation time came, I decided not to attend. The question remains why I did this. My course turned another corner. The good and the bad that followed my path ahead taught me to look back, the experience has shaped the person I became. In my life, a milestone such as this, I take and ponder back accepting all things happen for a reason.

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I an T homas My Attitude Toward Education

High school is where the first time that I can recall having given much thought towards my feelings for education. I grew up going to a Montessori school. I had the freedom to help guide my learning. This was something I wouldn’t realize how helpful this was for me until my arrival to public school and most notably high school. High school is a ridged structure that is incapable for flexibility in educational styles. High school tends to be organized towards auditory and reading/writing learners. Only in some elective classes will one find the class geared more towards the visual and tactile/kinesthetic learners. As it was I was not an auditory or a reading/writing learner. This was not a problem when before high school as Montessori education tends to avoid focusing on just one style. High school was when I started to struggle. High school was broken up in my mind as core classes (with P.E. the exception) which where the classes I was required to take and noncore classes which where most electives. Core classes consisted of Math, Science, History (the one set of classes I enjoyed from this group), English which would be the blight of high school education experience, and a handful of other classes. Going through my freshmen year I started to form an attitude towards education and by the time I graduated from this mandatory government institution I had an attitude towards education like a reinforced cement wall. Besides my conflicting notions of how I wanted to learn and how high school wanted to teach me there would be one other necessity that would plague my learning and that was home work. Like most kids at that point in life I was a world class procrastinator and had the notion that school was for school and home was for home and that there should be no mixing of the two. If I had done more work with home work the crushing wait I felt in high school would have been lessened. English would be without a doubt the hardest class for me but with everything there is a silver lining. Many people claim that what makes the core of a person is what they produce and their final destination. That belief is for the ignorant. What makes a person great is not that end result but the journey to the end the challenges and the falls and how they handled themselves and persevered to reach that goal. This was the silver ling that I came to believe in while spending those long hours listing to the lectures in class. Writing was and continues to be one of the hardest things 65



 for me but my high school had teachers who were willing to help and work with you and if not for that I don’t know what would have happened. My freshman literature class was taught by a teacher named Mrs. Moore. Mrs. Moore stands out in my recollection of high school due to actions she took during one of the finals. The multiple choice and true false sections of the final where a breeze but as it appears in all literature classes there has to be an essay question. At this point my test came to a screeching halt. The main issue I have with writing isn’t ideas but getting these thoughts onto the page. My mind moves to fast and I can’t process and keep up transcribing my ideas onto the paper. As this happens I tend to get frustrated and overwhelmed and then eventually shut down. But I digress. Mrs. Moore knowing the issues I had with writing and seeing the problems worked with me to find a solution and what was settled upon was an oral dictation. I can spew forth information when I’m free to talk and not try and find the best way to get the thought onto paper. Due to the actions Mrs. Moore took I ended up completing the easy and doing well on the final where otherwise I would have failed. The sciences and Mathematics where dull and I moved through them in a lifeless state. Sitting through lectures and doing homework is all that made up these classes and I did their bare minimum that I had to do. To offset these classes I packed my schedule with electives including computer programming woodshop and photography. These where the class I enjoyed and looked forward to. This is where I found that school can be fun. My senior year I took advanced Photography. In the advanced class you where given almost unrestrained creative freedom. There was a list of project objectives that had to be met but how and with what was completely up to you. This class would end up probably being one of my favorite classes in my whole four year high school experience. I ended up spending virtually all my time for the class in the darkroom. I was enamored with trying new and untraditional was of printing. I was able to be very hands on and learn on the fly a wide range of techniques. I ended up finding that a lot of my passion with black and white film photography rested in alternate processes. In high school exploring these where encouraged. This ability to chose and explore new things and work hands on was what appealed so greatly to me and was lacking is so many of my other classes. Unfortunately most other darkrooms I have had experience with since high school don’t like people experimenting and using alternate processes. I took all but my senior years worth of history classes in summer school. Being one of the only people in the class who is not repeating taking it helped give incentive to not fail. Having the schedule for summer school I 66



 found much more compatible towards a way that I would work in. History was the only core class that I had no problem with whatsoever. Perhaps because I have been interested in history it helped make it easier as it became more like an independent study. All of these events have slowly shaped my attitude towards schooling like how an artisan would slowly shape there sculptor out of a slab of marble. Education is by no means a perfect thing. It rarely caters in individual preferences and it could care less towards your feeling towards your own education. However there are people that are willing to help you and that a sign of wisdom is to know when one should swallow the pride and ask for help. It is worth completing assignments (like this one) and trying hard to do your best in all your classes regardless if you like them. In the long run you will be well of and be able to do what you want if you can buckle down and take care of the stuff you don’t necessarily like. Education can be tough but it necessarily and you should never stop trying to learn as life its self is class room. There are some things from high school I’m not proud of but I wouldn’t change any of it as all of these events have shaped my attitudes and made me who I am today.

67


T he D ifficulties of C hange Paola Toulet

"Paola! Paola!" I heard as I was playing outside. I ran into the living room and saw that my parents were sitting on our tree-green sofas like statues. They are never still...so I knew this was going to be a "serious talk." I thought to myself, "Crap! What did I do now? "I was a good kid...a little out spoken but never the less obedient. I quickly said, "What?" But when they told me to sit down I thought wow, I will never hear the end of this! As I sat down I noticed a small smile on my parents faces. "You are going to have a little brother!"They screamed! I was now the statue, frozen, waiting for them to say something. I don’t really know what I was waiting for them to say. In fact anything would have satisfied me but it was only giggles I heard from my parents. When I finally came out of my coma I was thrilled! I have always wanted to be a big sister! But the next five words that came out of my parent’s mouth were like bullets to a Nobel Prize. "Oh and we are moving!" I personally think that "Oh" can only be used when it is a small detail that is forgotten. Meaning when it isn't really a big deal, when no one cares. I guess we needed to move into a bigger house to fit our "new family member" but this was a huge deal to a third grader! From the East side of San Jose to the South. Although I didn’t know it then, this was going to be the difference between a children’s book and a well developed novel. Every aspect of the two sides of the city were different. They each had different ethnicities, stores, school districts, and most of all, different academic levels. "Paola Toulet?" asked my new fourth grade teacher. "Here" I said still surprised by my own presence in the classroom. As the list of roll continued I thought to myself "This might not be such a bad thing. People seem nice, I like my teacher... I might not have to complain about this for the rest of my life." A few days went by and we starting getting into review. Review in everyone’s mind was a vacation before the actual work started. Since we already knew the concepts this was going to be super easy. First thing we reviewed was long subtraction and long addition. So I didn’t know long addition or subtraction... so what? I thought. I could catch up. Second was sentence structure. Sentence structure? I had no idea what that was. Maybe they are just seeing what we know...not what we already know. Reading was third. Instead of reading "Skip ran home" like I was...they 68



 were reading more complex stories, some stories even had chapters in them. This was not a vacation for me. Everything that seemed so easy to them was a mile and a half away from my reach and understanding. I was so far behind and I did not understand why. A school is a school. A teacher is a teacher. So why don't I know these concepts? I was too young to understand that every school, teacher, and district had its own learning strategies. Different schools were strong in different areas. According to the area you live in, you are assigned a school. I guess they do that to even out each school with the same amount of students. I personally think it is better to choose your school according to your knowledge of it and its education level. Just like you do when you choose a university or a college. You choose the one that best fits you. We were finally done with our "vacation" and ready to learn. Well, at least everyone else in the class was. Multiplication and division. Then Long division and long multiplication. Then with decimals. It seemed as if every time I learned the concept my classmates had learned two more. It was a never ending race and I was losing. "Why am I so stupid? Why can't I get this! "I thought to myself. I was afraid to turn in papers. I was afraid of raising my hand. I did get "extra help" from the teacher. She always had a concerned look on her face whenever she helped me. I felt hopeless, embarrassed and most of all defeated. My report card came. My first grade below an "A". My very first "D". The first time I cried over a grade. Both my mother and teacher put me in extra reading classes. Reading, writing, and comprehension. I had caught up in Math but could not catch up in English. It was too hard to battle it on my own. I needed extra help. At first I did not mention it to anyone. I kept it to myself like a secret a best-friend tells and you pink swear to seal your lips. I was embarrassed. How could I need extra help? I guess I thought very highly of myself at the time. I've always had a problem with pride. As the year went on though I noticed that I was getting better and my confidence rose once again. Although I was still frightened to read out loud, I would actually raise my hand in class and contribute! Finally my presence was noticed. Until a few years ago I was still embarrassed of this. I now know that it was a mountain I had to climb in order to grow. I am willing to climb over mountains and through seas to learn what I need to. I am more than ever eager to learn and adapt to what I am given because of my fourth grade experience. Learning is a never ending process. You learn throughout your whole life. Through books, teachers, experience, through basically everything. My third grade teacher did not teach me as much as my fourth 69



 grade. And my fourth grade didn't teach me as much as my fifth. But we, as students' should learn to teach ourselves. Education varies on the city, state, and even country we live in. Although we can’t always see the difference right away, it is very noticeable when compared face to face. We should not settle on what we only learn at a wooden desk in a blank classroom, but we should go out and learn for ourselves. Why let someone tell you what you need to know or what you should know? I think we should be in control of our learning. This experience has taught me to push myself harder than my teacher does, because you never know when you will need that extra knowledge in the future.

70


Why I B oth L ove and Hate S chool Roxanne Tuttle
Two events/situations occurred during my senior year that changed my aspect on the public educational system. I enjoy school because of my senior year at the Central County Occupational Center (CCOC), but I despise public school because my principal at Westmont High School was not involved in his students. Up until senior year I hated high school. My grades were at an all time low, I had little to no friends, and I was trapped in a relationship that damaged my emotions and trust in people. My mom was so concerned about the risk that I would not graduate; she tried to do anything she could to encourage me to do better in school. Before senior year started, I decided to sign up for Forensics at CCOC, because one class there offered more credits than one at Westmont. If I passed all of my classes and took CCOC, I would graduate with my class. My first day at CCOC, felt like the first day to a fresh start. I did not know a single person, and not a single person knew a thing about me. I am not sure if it was the motivation from my teacher to do my best, or maybe the fact that every time I stepped onto campus, all of my troubles disappeared. But because of the second chance I was given at CCOC, My grade point average went from a 1.8 to a 3.9 at graduation, I made friends, and my relationship with my mom improved throughout senior year. I also received the achievement award from CCOC, and began to look forward to class everyday. What made it different from Westmont was that we were only in our seats for about twenty to thirty minutes everyday, the rest of the class was spent doing hands on work like mock crime scenes that my teacher had actually worked when he was a police officer. Since I’m a hands-on learner I did well in class, and realizing I could do well in school motivated me to try harder in my classes at Westmont. Going to CCOC made me realize what I am capable of and how much I truly love school. In mid-may my Forensics teacher, Mr.Eryavec, informed me that I had won the achievement award from CCOC, which meant it would be announced at my home school during an award ceremony. Sure enough, I received an invite to attend the Westmont award ceremony one evening. I remember feeling extremely blissful because before senior year, I never did anything great academically. The night of the ceremony I sat in the front row, looking at everyone who had come to honor a high school student for achieving something at school. Some had perfect grades all four years, 71



 others wrote an exquisite paper, the boy next to me was the only student in the entire school that qualified and joined the Navy. After the majority of the awards were acknowledged, I started feeling awkward and tense. Had they sent the invite to the wrong student? Was I skipped? Right when I looked back at the projector screen, a flash of my senior picture and the award I won appeared, but then it vanished. I looked back at my mom sitting in the audience, we both made eye contact, and I could tell by the look on her face that she was going to raise hell after the ceremony. Because my first time being recognized for success was ruined. After the ceremony ended, my mom came down from the bleachers and hugged me. I tried my best to not cry, but I looked like a fool sitting in the front row, at least half of the audience saw my picture flash by. My face was hot from humiliation, and my mom was outraged with the administration in charge of the award ceremony. She walked up to the podium where each award was announced and demanded to speak to the principal. I had already walked to the car because I did not want to be seen. A week later during graduation practice, our principal Mr.Hege called my name and another students to walk up and speak to him. Mr.Hege told us that our awards that were missed last week would be announced at graduation to make up for the mistake on award night. It made me feel better, that I would still be recognized, but an apology did not fix the embarrassment I felt that night. But announcing it at graduation was better than nothing at all. Graduation day came, and before we started the cycle of receiving our diplomas, Mr.Hege asked three students, including myself, to stand up. He started by telling the crowd that our awards had been skipped on ceremony night, and apologized for the mistake. When it came to announcing my award, Mr.Hege said, “We’d also like to recognize Roxanne Tuttle, for receiving the achievement award at CCO.” All I could think was, “What the hell? CCO?” I was disappointed that my principal could not even say the award correctly. I just wanted to be acknowledged for finally doing something great in high school, and my principal messes up by one letter of the alphabet. What made me hate public school was the fact that Mr.Hege didn’t know my name until the school administration had made a mistake, and my mother hunted him down. If it were not for my mother, I would have been just another face in the crowd all four years at Westmont. If our principal had been more involved in his students, maybe I would have a more positive opinion on public school. As much as I despise public school, my experience at CCOC made me look forward to the upcoming years at college and being as successful as 72



 I can be. I did not spend too much time being angry with Mr.Hege and Westmont, because it was my senior year, and I would never have to attend there again. A bright future was ahead of me and I look forward to school everyday.


73


What S chool M eant to M e William Viklund
Don’t really know how to start this essay, but I guess I have to start you off with how I am and where I am from. I was born in a small town in northern Sweden along the coast. It is a typical small town where everybody knows everybody and life has the slowest of paces. The people here believe and have always believed that authorities can cram it up there a-s, we take care of our own and we do it with our fists. And leads to a lot of different problems when you bring in a whole new group of people into this society so built on bonds that have been established for generation and in this town I was born and raised. A white boy growing up in a neighborhood that one side was all immigrants and the other side all white. I grow up learning, Arabic, Albanian, Finnish and Swedish words among others, in this melting pot we were a group of kids just getting in to trouble and playing sports. I used to love school when I was younger; I was always a good student despite the fact that my school was strange place. My school had problems in every area, not enough money, teachers who just didn´t care and always fights, every day people were fighting, mostly the different immigrants groups vs. the racist and Nazis groups. I remember the day when this guy I knew got his scull cracked in school, we were just playing soccer as always even the dark days when the sun doesn´t come up or the hottest day of summer just when school stops for summer when it starts up again. This day was no different, this fat short white guy from the richer part of town actually managed to dribble away one of the really good player who lived in the immigration camps just a few blocks from my home. Johan, the name of this fat kid was a guy who was bad at everything could off course not keep his mouth shut and started to shout out a lot of stuff. Racist remarks and taunting him and this guy just picked him up, threw him to the ground and jumped on his head. After that we always had at least two cop cars at the school so that nothing like that would happen again. I got in as much trouble as my friends but since I could keep up a good grade point average despite being absent a lot this didn’t affect me a lot in the beginning. When I came to the 10th grade which in Sweden is when you start high school you do your first choice into what area you want keep on studying and work in, you can chose between going more for like Humanities, Science or maybe a program if you want to be a carpenter or something. These 3 years are extremely important since it is the grades that 74



 you will apply to Universities with. As I was one of the best in my class and had been all through junior high I chose the widest and the hardest which is the Science program because I actually liked math, thought that it would not be to hard I mean I was good in school and that the other wide programs had a lot of foreign languages in them and except for English I am dreadful at them. As I came there the first day of high school I felt really misplaced, I only new one or two in my new class, but not really well. And I that was use to an integrated class room steeped into an almost all white class room, the second shock came when the first class started. This was chemistry the teacher started to go through what we were supposed to know before the class started. Except for one girl that I knew came from my school but didn´t know, two guys I kind of knew from the north side of town and me everybody seemed to know what the gibberish the teacher in front of the class was saying. I had never heard or read almost anything she said and I had an A in chemistry in junior high and this was the stuff we were suppose to know. I sat at the first lunch break with my new class and my friends from my part of town walked by said hi and moved on, and I heard one of the girls say when they were out of reach, I did not that their lived black people in our town, she looked kind of terrified. I was not smart or mature enough to realize what I have since then done and that is that my home town is dived by walls, but they are not walls of stone, they are walls of education. The poor and the immigrants are being kept down by a system that the rich people of the town have set up giving all the problem kids and all the immigrants to two school leaving their two schools who happen to have the same teachers as the high school and more funding, and off course a reputation of being a safe and good working conditions for the teachers leading to the best teachers going to these schools and making the problem even bigger. The high school was a safe place, but somehow despite not seeing fights every day this was worse, I was too far behind to get good grades because I had to spend like half of my time learning things I was suppose to know, and since I had never learnt how to study and to go to class everyday was something that I had never imagined in my wildest dreams, so I ended just passing my way through my three years and know I am here, in part because of my bad grades. Sure I wanted to come check the United States out and get to play soccer at school is lovely I can’t say that my choice was not affected by this, I had no chance on getting into the Universities that I wanted or the programs that I wanted to with the grades I had. Here the story for a lot of my friends and me changes, my parents aren´t poor like most of my friends 75



 were growing up, they could actually afford to send me to college here in the US, even though Sweden has a really good system of loans and scholarships to allow you to study abroad this is based upon the fact that you haven´t committed any crimes and that you finished high school, most of my friends didn´t. When I look back at my friends group I kind of feel like I am part of the song The Kids Aren´t Alright by the Offspring: “When we were young the future was so bright (whoa) The old neighborhood was so alive (whoa) And every kid on the whole damn street (whoa) was gonna make it big and not be beat. Now the neighborhood's cracked and torn (whoa) The kids are grown up but their lives are worn(whoa) How can one little street Swallow so many lives?” Sitting here finishing this paper off as I look at division 1 schools my coach has recommended for me hoping for a full ride and good grades I feel that there didn’t have to be a lot of things changing to make one of my friends that are in prison, unemployed and stuck living the life their parents lived, what made me different, did the fact that my new class kind of made me leave my old friends at that life behind save my life as much as it hurt it, all these questions but no answers.

76


S miling A mbition Mellicia Villareal

The moist stench of sweat and grease filled the kitchen as sunlight seeped through the cheap curtain. My eyes peer up at him as I sit on the other side of the counter and watch him routinely make his turkey and cheese sandwich. He had washed his hands but the grime around his cuticles was still visible, he wore dark navy mechanic scrubs that still managed to flaunt blotchy grease strains in various places, his name tag rested on his left breast and read "DAVE", but I knew him more casually as "DAD". He smiled over at me, that same familiar smile that I display as well. That's one thing I've always appreciated that he gave me, our naturally perfect smiles: no braces, veneers or caps just naturally straight envious teeth. He was without a doubt my biggest hero; no one could convince me of any different; not even the biggest, baddest, jerkiest bully on the playground. However, those deep bags he wore under his eyes told me his story; he was twenty-four, a high school graduate with a nine to five job with a kid and wife to support. His adolescence was cut short, thanks to me, and he had to grow up quick. Even though I was just a kid, I remember him always being tired, exhausted from working. My mom was pretty much in the same situation as my dad but for some reason I didn't glorify her like I did with my dad. She was a dental hygienist and I felt like her job was far from glamorous; don't get me wrong though, I didn't see my dad's job as anything sophisticated either but there was something about my dad that I have just always admired. I now realize that quality I praised was called "ambition". My dad is what you would call a "go-getter", always trying to do better. I believe he is the reason I act and think the way I do. Most kids shy away from giving their parents credit for the way they ended up but I've learned to accept that they have shaped me into who I am today. This "ambition" that my dad possessed however, is what has changed my view on education. Actually, I'm not quite sure it's been changed, more like shaped or molded, into how I see my education today. My story doesn't end with my dad being a mechanic, if it did then what kind of go-getter would he be? When I was about five my dad enrolled in Mission College's firefighting academy, this is where I feel like he began to have an impact on my work ethic. I've never seen anybody work so hard, even to this day. He would work all day; long, grueling, stressful days. Then he would come 77



 home and study. Study like nothing I've ever seen before. Then he would take a test, and another test and another. It seemed like this process would never end, but I was proud of him. So proud I would brag daily on the playground, especially after he took me to one of his classes and I got to be a volunteer. It was a mock-emergency situation and they pretended I had a punctured abdomen. I laid there with my eyes closed, listening intently to the pretend chaos in the background; the whole time I just kept thinking how cool my dad was. My dad finally passed all of his exams and was initiated as a firefighter, he chose me to pin his badge on him. I wouldn't realize this later in life but it was all for me. Everything he ever worked for, strived for and accomplished was for me. He wanted me to have a good life, one where I was comfortable and taken care of. His sacrifice has meant a great deal to me and has taught me multiple valuable life lessons: things won't just come to me, I need to have a positive mentality if I want to succeed, take school seriously, in the long-run things will pay off and set a goal and reach it, don't just "give it a shot", do it and do it right. There has never really been one defining moment in my life, so far, that has altered my view in education. Its been a small lifetime of lessons and observations I've inferred from those around me, most specifically my dad. Without him I would probably be another punk kid without any idea of what it takes to succeed. My dad hasn't only showed me what academic success can bring, but also social. People skills have always come somewhat naturally to him, and I've mimicked that ever since I was a kid. I had to be the leader and my voice had to be heard. Overall, my dad has helped not only shaped my views towards educational importance but has helped form the way I see the world. The other day my dad and I were having lunch outside The Counter in Santa Row, it was a bright sunny day and sunlight dripped through the over head umbrella. He was asking how school was going and I told him I was enjoying myself; learning a lot and staying focused. He began to ask where I want to transfer to, I replied, UCLA. He gave me that same old smile and told me I was too ambitious for my own good, I sat there and mirrored his smile back to him.

78


M y E xper iences with S cience F ield T r ips When I Was A K id Helen Yang
Growing up I have always had quite a lot of difficulties in school, starting from when I was really little. In elementary school I always seemed to learn slower than the other kids in my class. And of course that was frustrating for my teacher, my parents, and me. I was always more of a visual learner and so, subjects like math, and English were definitely my weakness. There were times when I felt like it was a struggle to get through school every single day, and this was when I was only 10 so I knew that I still had many, many years of school left. I knew I was still little at the time, and I kept thinking to myself: If school keeps on making me so miserable and I still had to go through middle school and high school and college how hard my life would be. I tried my best and asked for help when I needed to, and I became a better student in middle school and high school. One subject that always interested and fascinated me when I was a kid was science (and still does). I think it was all the hands-on experiments that we did. It was never just reading a textbook and having to memorize all the information –we always got to do a lot of really fun experiments. And a lot of times we got to go on field trips. I like science because it teaches us a lot about ourselves, plants, animals, and how we live our lives. Some of my favorite science field trips would be the Exploratorium in 5 th grade, science camp in 6 th grade, and Great America (we studied physics) in 8 th grade. I remember whenever there was a field trip I was always too excited to sleep the night before, and I would get up super early in the morning. I absolutely loved the Exploratorium the hands-on exhibits made it easier to learn, and it made learning fun. My favorite part was the Traits of Life/Living Laboratory. It teaches you the similarities we all share. My favorite exhibit (I can’t remember the name) but it was about cells and DNA. There were lots of enlarged diagrams of different cells from the human body, animal bodies, and plant cells. I learned that cells are the smallest living organisms in the world, and that small dot on a piece of paper is the space that can hold about 500 cells. And humans have about 100 trillion cells in their bodies. I don’t remember exactly everything I learned that day but I remember that every cell has a nucleus. And that a tumor is when cells begin to multiply and divide rapidly out of control that’s what cancer is. It was also my first time learning about DNA we all 79



 got to do a little art project; we made models of DNA out of candy. We each got a few red vines, toothpicks, and gummy bears. What we did was put the gummy bears on the toothpick lengthwise, and then poke the toothpick ends through the red vines to make a ladder, and then we twisted it to make it look like DNA. It was a lot of making them, and eating them. I remember at the end of the day I didn’t want to go home but I knew I had to. And I’ve been back there a few times since 5 th grade. Science camp was a mix of highs and lows; it was an overnight camping trip. The whole 6 th grade got to go, and we stayed there 2 nights and 3 days. The good part was that I got to share a cabin with my best friends, and we spent pretty much everyday together. I really liked going to the lake to collect water samples, and looking at the different types of plankton under a microscope. The bad part of the trip was that on the first night it rained on us, it wasn’t that bad. It was just sprinkling a little but, that made it really cold and the cabins don’t really have heaters that work well. We also had to do a lot of hiking so that made everyone tired. Although, we always had a lot of food to eat it was just typical camp food. For breakfast we would have cereal, scrambled eggs, bacon, waffles, etc. I remember for lunch, we had a barbecue with hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, and soda pretty much all 3 days. And for dinner we had pasta and salads with sodas. We were definitely really hungry so we ate a lot of the food, and it was tasty at the moment. But after awhile it can really give you a bad stomachache (at least it did for me) sometimes I felt so nauseated, I felt like I was going to vomit. But luckily I didn’t. By the time the 3 days were up I was definitely ready to go home. I was also sad to be leaving because despite the food making me sick I felt like I really enjoyed the trip. It was a really great learning experience. My absolute favorite field trip would probably have to be the Great America trip I took in 8 th grade. It was toward the end of 8 th grade and we were studying physics, and as part of the physics unit and part of the end of middle school celebration my whole 8 th grade class and all the teachers got to go. I had a lot of fun learning how roller coasters work, and I love amusement parks. At the entrance gate I found $20 on the ground, I showed my friends and asked them what should I do with it. They all told me to keep it so that’s what I did. Okay, at first I felt a little bad about it but I got over it. When we finally got into the park I was excited. There were lots of other kids there from middle schools and high schools all over the Bay Area. It was crowded but I didn’t care. I spent the whole day with my 2 best friends (at the time) Alexandria and Kassidy. We went on many roller coasters, and shared popcorn, drinks, and cotton candy. Two of my most memorable moments of that day would probably be riding Drop Zone for the first time. Even though I like roller coasters I’ve always had 80



 somewhat of a fear of heights. So when Alexandria and Kassidy told me they wanted to ride Drop Zone I was not sure if I wanted to go. But I waited in line with them for more than 2hrs because I didn’t want to be alone for that long. As we got closer to the front of the line I began getting more nervous because it was really loud, and it seemed very high up. When we got to the front of the line I was still thinking whether or not I wanted to go. But then Alexandria just pushed me in one of the seats (in a nice way) and told me it should be fun and my fear of heights would go away. I just sat in that seat nervously Alexandria and Kassidy told me that whatever I do, I definitely shouldn’t look down. They said if I keep on looking just straight-ahead, I should be fine. And it worked I wasn’t as scared when we dropped as I thought I would be. The whole thing just happened so fast. The other thing I remember about the trip was playing this carnival game where you have these little red rings and you have to try to throw them around empty soda bottles from a distance. To me, it looked almost impossible. But we decided to try it out because we had some extra money and it looked fun. We tossed a few and they landed pretty far from the bottles, and then I just randomly tossed one of the rings and somehow it landed on a bottle. The next thing I knew was that I won this extremely huge teddy bear that was almost the same size as me. It was cute and I was definitely really excited at the moment. But it was really heavy and hard to carry around. Luckily it was near the end of the day because if it was sometime in the morning I don’t I would have been able to carry that bear around all day. That teddy bear is still in my room today, and I definitely plan to keep it forever because it’s a good memory. Both Kassidy and Alexandria moved away in high school. I haven’t seen or heard from either one of them in years. I remember them well, and miss them. Hopefully they remember me, and also miss me. This teddy bear reminds me of that day and all the fun we had. Overall, I like science because it gives you the chance to do handson experiments. Of course in every science class I’ve ever taken I’ve had to read textbooks, and take tests, that wasn’t much fun. But I got through it. Even though I’ve always had an interest in science I wouldn’t say I’m exactly “good” at it. I always did okay on tests, writing research papers. Now that I’m in college I’m still fascinated by science, but it’s not something I would ever be able to major in, because of the workload. And I don’t think I could write that many research papers. But I have lots of other interests. I’ve always been really creative and the first thing I developed a passion for when I was really little is drawing. And I still love to draw and paint during my free time. So right now, I’m looking into different majors in the art fields. 81


Untitled Zachary Strausbaugh
I had a lot of memorable experiences from my junior year in high school. The birth of my little brother Paxton, playing in the state championship game, the memories shared with childhood friends; the kinds of great things that I will live with and remember for the rest of my life. But there was also a particular event that taught me an important life lesson. I am the stubborn son of a stubborn, hard working single mother of 4, who busts her ass to support us and do her best to spoil us with everything that we want, all of this without a college degree or a husband to help out. She is the best mom I could ask for, unconditionally loving for all her boys. I just wish I would have listened to her advice before I paid for it. For years I had heard it from my mom and pretty much every adult figure in my life, “Work before play.” Unfortunately, it took something to come and slap me in the face for it to really register. I was a part of one of the best football teams in the state. The Union Titans, ranked 2 nd in state all year long and ran over everyone they played, made up of kids that had been rivals since youth football. Obviously we had a lot of talented kids, but we were also given every opportunity in the world to succeed, the areas best coaches, state of the art weight room, and one of the states best campuses. There weren’t too many kids that were fortunate enough to be put in the situation we were in. How could we fail? We brought recognition and respect to southwest Washington that had been lost for years. Combining kids from three different high schools in the area and brand new equipment equaled Union High School; the pride of Camas and one of the top schools in the state. It was late September in cold, wet Camas, Washington that I experienced two of the toughest weeks of my high school career. I was always a smart kid, scored high on all my tests, an exceptional reader ever since I learned how. Problem was that I never took school seriously. Homework was never on my to-do list, which probably stemmed from my elementary teachers who really didn’t seem to care that I didn’t turn in any take home work. I’m sure they figured that as long as I could nail every test I took and participate in class discussions, it didn’t really matter that I turned in unnecessary practice work. After all it probably wasn’t any skin of their back to have one less assignment to grade. If only high school teachers saw things the same way. Sure, I could still record a pretty solid test score, but I forfeited 1/3 of my grade for choosing not to do my homework, a sacrifice that I deemed necessary up until that September day. It was week three of my football season and the 82



 thing that had me worried wasn’t the team we were playing, it was the potentially more devastating grade check. I knew that my grades couldn’t possibly be good enough; I’d purposely avoid even looking at them to avoid any ounce of stress that it may cause me. I had known they were coming for a month but it still hit me like a sack of bricks. Up until then, I had always done what I did best, scrape by. I was to be put on academic suspension by my coaches until I could get my grades above a 2.0, devastating news to a kid who had played a football game every single week, every season, without fail since the fifth grade. Hurt or healthy, rain or shine, thick or thin, I’d always been out there with my guys playing the game that we love. And now it was the aspect of my life that I really took for granted that was going to get in my way. I couldn’t believe what happened, why couldn’t I just had listened to my mom, who had always had faith in me even through the parent teacher conferences in which the teachers preached every time, “Poor work ethic is holding Zachary back.” I’d always get a talking to after but never took it to heart. My response was always the same, a nod of my head and an apology. But this time was different, I couldn’t help but feel that I let her down and was taking all the work that she would do for me for granted. All of those bizarre hours she would work to put food on the table and get me and my brothers everything that any other kid in a two parent family would want. That in itself was beyond difficult, but to find out that her kid wasn’t taking school seriously and just throwing all of his opportunities for a good life away must have been heart wrenching. But after I told her what had happened, instead of responding with anger and/or ground me for months, she just reminded me what I already knew which was that it was all my fault and it is my responsibility to fix it. She knew how much football had meant to me and figured that having to sit out for two weeks of football was plenty punishment. She was absolutely right. I was finally being punished for my poor choices and they were taking away something that was extremely important to me. Probably just as hard as telling my mother, was what I was going to have to tell all my best friends on the team. I was extremely embarrassed and when asked how I let it happen, I would make excuses like “the teacher doesn’t like me” or “I have no time to do my work” though I doubt that I fooled anyone. In the end, the hardest part was the deep sense of shame that I had in myself. As much as I wanted to blame someone else for my situation, I knew that what had happened was my own fault and that I had to do something about it. It’s hard to describe the feeling in my gut watching my brothers play those two games from the sidelines. It was a lot like sitting at the kids table, watching the adults eat. 83



 I’d go to practice every day and work as hard as I could knowing that I wasn’t going to get to play, something that until then I had never had to deal with up until that point. It was hard even looking at my teammates or coaches in the eyes without getting a sense of regret that made me want to break down and cry. The amount of shame that I felt was drastically more powerful than the enjoyment that I got watching TV and doing whatever I could fill my time with except for homework. I knew that I had let my team and my mother down and that it was nobodies fault but my own. For a couple days I was depressed, my days consisted of going to school, sitting through class feeling sorry for myself then going home turning on the TV lying on the couch and feeling sorry for myself. I could hardly talk to anyone. But after those couple days I realized that sitting around sulking in my own misery wasn’t going to fix anything. I was going to have to face the music and work harder than I ever had before to earn my way back on to the team. I’d go to class and work intently for all the time that was allotted, skip out on my lunch period to make up work from weeks before, struggle through practice, go home and finish that nights homework plus all that I had so conveniently avoided for the past month, then I’d get a night of deep sleep and then do it all over the next day. I had no time for friends or any other potential distractions, if I was going to get back as soon as possible, I had to devote every single ounce of energy toward school. It was like going from standing still to a solid sprint for two weeks straight. Two extremely tough and draining weeks were extremely difficult but I was rewarded when I was finally able to return to the team and play not only the remainder of the season, but the next season as well without any more academic issues that kept me off the field. For the rest of high school I was able to focus at least enough to never be put on academic suspension again. I finished high school with a 2.3 Grade point average. Still, I should have finished with a better GPA but if it weren’t for my two weeks of academic suspension, I wouldn’t have cared at all about school. It’s very possible that I wouldn’t have even graduated, and I definitely wouldn’t have been here at foothill college playing football. At the time, it was one of the worst things that had ever happened to me. But now I can see that it really changed the way that I viewed not only education but life in general. I now better understand that in order to do things that you enjoy doing, most of the time you will have to do things that you don’t necessarily want to do. You have to practice before you can play in a game, you have to go to work to get paid, and you have to work hard in class in order to get a good grade. 84


Untitled Nick Palaszewski
Throughout my whole educational career I never felt unmotivated or in a loss for education. There was a series of events that did make me lose a bit of motivation, and those events happened in the beginning of high school and at the end of high school. In between those times I had great time learning and doing the whole high school thing. When I first entered high school I was already in the process of transferring to a private high school. I had almost perfect grades at Carlmont, which is the school I had originally started out in. I had met all the requirements to transfer already, and my dad was totally going to help me out. When I had presented this idea to my mom (my parents are divorced) she flipped out and didn’t feel like it was going to be a good use of money. In that case I wasn’t going to transfer to Saint Francis which isn’t even the most expensive of private schools, and honestly I felt that I would be a little more motivated to do well in school. Becoming a freshmen at a high school that was known for drugs, fights, riots, and tom foolery just didn’t seem to be the school I wanted to put my 4 years into. Keep in mind I was 14 years old and probably around 5 foot nothing. So that school looked like a death trap for me, I know some others will have to agree with me, luckily I never got beat up or made out to be a fool. I ended up sucking it up and trying to make the best of the situation, by making friends with the older bigger students, which is always a good thing, and by just continuing in class like I had done in the past. Later Freshmen year I tried out for the soccer team, it ended up being coached by my clubs rival club soccer team, and my clubs original coach before he made the switch. So right then I knew there was tension for all the players from my club in the tryouts. I was giving all heart in the twoweek tryout period, running like no other, giving 110% and being the most aggressive player on the pitch. It came down to the point where we all had to meet in his office with him alone to tell us if we had made the team, or what we could improve on to make the team the year after. As I made my walk in there I had such a great feeling, until I was finally sat down and told by the dick of a coach that “I was to small” to play on the team. I was pissed, I asked him “come on how can anyone be to small?!” I wasn’t going out without a fight, I kept all my anger against him bottled up to long. I gave him a piece of my mind, it was a little graphic but well deserved. At the end of the conversation I walked out without a thank you for your time, by the coach. The moment was pretty depressing, some of my friends made 85



 the team, needless to say I didn’t think they were too great, maybe they had some height on me but I could have totally schooled them all. After I got over the anger of not making the team, I had made a promise to myself not to try out for any more high school sports, why you might ask? Probably because the area I grew up in was so damn political, a stupid, plastic, small suburban town where if you don’t have money, you’re a nobody, I’m not saying I was poor, but there was no way in hell I was rich. Not only that but your parents could also pay for you to get out of all your problems. So not only was I not wealthy but I didn’t feel too in place in the this town, all though the friends I have made since the start of school happen to be in a similar situation as I, so all fought this problem together. Reflecting back on the last paragraph, where I said I didn’t have a ton of money really hits hard especially in this subject coming up. It came down to senior year, I saw a ton of my close friends travelling and checking out schools all around, different cities, states, even a few out of the country. I never really had terrible grades in high school I ended up maintaining around a 3.4 cumulative gpa throughout my 4 years attending Carlmont, (which became an accredited/distinguished school, while I was attending) I thought that I would definitely be going to one of the 3 schools I had picked to venture off to after high school and those were: University of Buffalo, San Jose State University, or Santa Clara university, that is If I had scored well on the SAT’s. Three weeks before the big test, my dad didn’t ask if I wanted to go to a community college, he told me I was basically stuck going to one for the first two years of college. I was quite upset and got into a heated argument and stated that I wasn’t pleased with the decision HE made! We weren’t really on the same page for the remaining amount of senior left. I had to suck it up, and it kind of showed in my last years cumulative gpa, as of now I have a 2.5, which isn’t so great, and I know I can do better, but I need a little more motivation. If I continue doing better I will end up at one of my choice schools, which is my goal up until this day!

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