Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Indian Survival in a Peaceful Habitat: Uncas Slays a Deer

This essay was written by one of our students in the American Literature class, Ethan Jackson.  In this descriptive essay, note particularly the word pictures that he creates in the reader's mind.  I especially like the comparison of the light and the darkness.  Compare the painting to Ethan's essay and let us know what you think by commenting below.  
~ Scott Rowe

Indian Survival in a Peaceful Habitat: Uncas Slays a Deer

            As morning sunlight wakes up a peaceful forest, relaxed is the emotion that covers up the horrendous scene of a silent murder, involving so innocent a deer, performed by a skilled Indian warrior. This very detailed description is captured in the form of a painting by N. C. Wyeth. His inspiration for this master piece comes from a particular scene in a book written by James Fenimore Cooper entitled “The Last of the Mohicans” which contains a clip of professional hunting demonstration. N. C. Wyeth’s painting, “Uncas Slays a Deer”, is nothing short of pure and rich detail.
            Just as golden rays from the sun illuminate a mid-western plain, those same rays creep into this painting causing the vast expanse of the forest to awake from its sleepy state. The glowing meadow in the foreground is blanketed by the warm sunlight and effectively surrounded by nothing but deep woods on all sides. Although not clear in the painting, it can be assumed that the meadow is encircled by forest, but there is a possibility that the little field in the painting is actually the very edge of a larger ground. Notwithstanding the crisp meadow, two figures, one an Indian and the other a white hunter, draw the transition of focus into the lush background. Because night was previously ruling, a hazy blue mist still remains in the atmosphere throughout the distant, never ending woodland. James Fenimore Cooper accurately describes the scenery saying “The vast canopy of woods spread itself…and shadowing its dark current with a deeper hue.” Indeed, that very canopy of shadowing darkness possess a rich depiction of the sheltering tree tops, just as all its darkness halts before the meadow. However relaxing the scene may be, the space under the canopy does emit a power and sense of alert stillness. Adding to this effect are the trunks of aged trees as they help to echo every little sound that may arise. “Still that breathing silence…pervaded the secluded spot, interrupted, only, by the low voices of the men…or a swelling on the ear…”
            Aside from the background, two main figures steal the focal point of the entire painting. The first focal point’s front half beams in natural glory from the sun’s rays. The object, a deer, retains “a pair of the biggest antlers [Uncas had] seen [that] season…” The deer is muscular and wears a full twelve-point rack. Frozen in mid-leap, the creature holds still a position that can be compared to that of an agile beast as it rises toward the skies. All but the front half of the deer is wrapped in darkness as if to be concealed from the light of day. To fulfill the mission of its instincts, the animal is unnoticeably struggling as it tries to hold a collected and focused attention toward its escape.
             The second focal point, a strong Indian warrior, stands ahead of the deer. The Indian is strong with bulging muscles. Not a patch of skin is left uncovered; dark hair, yet not thick in all areas, creeps all over the figure. As can be seen, clothes, to the Indian, are not a necessary part of life. The Indian wears pants which have been torn so much by daily use in the woods that they almost began to look like chaps that can be found on a cowboy. In order to protect his most valued parts, he has, tied around his waist, a blue cloth which also shows signs of wear. Just as in the deer, a firm sense of struggle accompanied by adrenaline rush throughout his entire body. As mentioned, the Indian stands in the deer’s path with his dagger drawn ready for action. The stance of the Indian is that of one who is a skilled fighter with a crouched position that cannot be shaken. While remaining in this posture, the book reveals the order of events, stating that, next “…Uncas darted to his side…” With the position at its peak, the Indian’s hand enabled the dagger to breeze effortlessly through the deer’s throat.

            “’Twas done with Indian skill…” The scene in this particular painting was followed by an incredible sense of unawareness, both by that of the deer and the two people on the edge line. The side with which the deer was then punctured is not made visible. Continuing, however, past the scene of the painting, blood then pumps throughout the whole of the deer’s body and begins to blur the animal’s vision. After the climax of the event draws to a hastening close, the meadow and woodland, in all its glory, return once again to the everlasting dead silence. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hot Air Ballooning Essay

This outstanding narrative essay was written by Ellen Young in our CBB AP English class. CBB students could learn a great deal from Ellen's essay. In particular, she uses a variety of types of figurative language in her essay. She weaves them into her story with ease and grace. Leave a post and note any figurative language examples you can find.~ Mrs. Hempton

Hot Air Ballooning

The complex sensations during liftoff, the thrill of the sights below, and the adrenaline released throughout landing are all special memories from an incredible hot air ballooning experience. After attending the wedding of a family friend in Oroville, California, my family and I began exploring more of what California has to offer. Included in this exploration was an adventure high above the tree tops. This once-in-a-lifetime hot air ballooning trip brought many wonders and surprises that will be etched in my memory forever.

          At 5:30 am, as I stepped out of the car from the hour long drive out into the country, the initial wave of anxious excitement hit me. Until this point, I had been half asleep, but the cold nip in the air snapped me out of this drowsiness. As I surveyed the serene launch site, I noticed the sun hinting its arrival into this currently dark morning. When the pilots began their explanation of what we were about to experience and the many dangers involved, a wave of numbing fear washed over me. This emotion was soon replaced by an eagerness to be up in the air, once we began taking pictures in front of the inflating balloons.

          My eager anticipation was assuaged when the pilot motioned for us to board the basket. As efficiently as possible, Caleb, Mrs. Ezzo, Mom, and I completed the challenging task of climbing into the basket. What happened after that was one of the most memorable moments I experienced that morning. The blast of fire released into the balloon by the pilot propelled us upward. As I peered over the side of the basket, I witnessed the ground falling away beneath us. The horizon broadened before us as we steadily ascended. Then a new sensation took over.

          When we reached our traveling height of 2,000 feet, I felt like a feather. Any perception of movement was gone. It was as if we were dangling motionless from a string where the slightest puff of air could push us a thousand miles. There wasn’t the slightest hint of noise coming from outside of the basket. Silence. Though from inside the basket, the whooshing of the fire, hushed chatter from the passengers, and the pilot radioing to base could be heard. As the sun made its glorious entrance into the day, the rolling hills spread out before us acquired a coat of gold. A distant mountain range loomed ominously above the plains. Small lakes and farms were sprinkled throughout the rural landscape. Interrupting the relatively flat horizon, stood skyscrapers so far away they seemed like tiny black smudges against the hazed sky. As I stood drinking in all the breathtaking sights, the pilot interrupted my thoughts with the announcement that we needed to prepare for landing.

          The pilot went on to explain how and where we ought to stand inside the basket during landing. Back to back with another passenger, each of us grasped the “landing” handles producing many white knuckles. Due to rocky terrain and unexpected forests, we had to postpone the landing until we could find an appropriate landing site. We relished the unforeseen extended ride. As soon as a clearing was spotted, we all hunkered down into our positions for landing. Thud! Our first encounter with the ground nearly sent the basket on its side forcing us to tighten our grip on the handles. After the first bounce, the basket sailed a few feet in the air and came down even harder the second time. The third and final contact with the ground sent the basket completely sideways as it plowed large skid marks across the terrain. Dangling from the edge of the basket, facing the sky, with my back against my brother I painfully waited for the pilot to give us the “OK” to crawl out of the basket. Fully realizing the obscure position we were all in, many of us burst out laughing. Our post-landing chattering included the sharing of emotions and challenges we faced during the rough landing. The exciting landing was definitely a highlight of the flight.

          Bringing countless moments of admiration and amazement, this hot air ballooning trip will not easily leave my memory. This exploration of a new experience was a morning well spent. From the moment we pulled up to the dark launching site to when we completed our adventure laughing at the predicament we were left in, I soaked in every sensation possible. As Oscar Wilde accurately states, “memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Overcoming Procrastination

As we begin the school year, make sure that you plan and prioritize your schedule.  If you don't, everything will quickly overwhelm you.  This post gives several great ideas for overcoming procrastination. ~ Scott

“Procrastination is the thief of time” – Edward Young

Procrastination affects everyone in life at some point or another.  But what is procrastination?  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines procrastination as “to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done”.  Most people only think of procrastination as waiting longer than you should to work on something.  However, it can be more than that.  Rushing to finish assignments, hurried work, and stress over school work can all be symptoms of procrastination.  This can cause bad grades, unneeded stress, and feelings of anxiety.  So how can procrastination be stopped?  While it really comes down to the effort and the determination that you have, consider the following tips for help overcoming procrastination.
  •      Make a list of common things on which you procrastinate.  This is as simple as it sounds.  Some school assignments are just more fun than others.  Write down the ones that you have trouble completing.  Your list can include assignments from difficult or boring classes, or even chores that you dislike.
  •         Schedule your time.  This is a very important step.  If you skip this step, you will continue to procrastinate.  Don’t just mentally assign deadlines or state times that you will work on your assignments.  Write it down.  Write everything down.  Schedule times for school, chores, and other activities.  Make sure to prioritize things that you tend to procrastinate on.  Then stick to your schedule as much as possible.  Continue to tweak your schedule as necessary.
  •         Break difficult things down into smaller portions.  Obviously, (unless you procrastinated) you are not going to write a major essay in one day.  Your schedule needs to reflect that.  Break large assignments down into smaller parts.  For example, in the case of the essay, perhaps write one paragraph one day, two paragraphs the next, and edit it the following day.
  •         Eat your big frog first.  Pick the assignments that are the hardest and most boring to you to work on first.  Completing your hard assignments first will encourage you to work on other assignments.  Also, you are usually the most motivated when you first start working on your assignments.
  •      Reward yourself.  This step is vital to keep yourself motivated.  If you do not practice this step, you will quickly burn out.  Rewarding yourself can take any form you desire. For example, after completing a task, reward yourself by spending fifteen minutes on Facebook, reading a chapter in a book, or eating a snack. 
  •      Have others keep you focused.  Sometimes just knowing that someone is keeping an eye on you can motivate you to work.  Ask friends and family members to occasionally check up on you to see the progress you’ve made.  You will find yourself working harder to show them your progress.
  •           Pray.  Procrastination is a major challenge to overcome.  Family, friends, and schedules all can help, but only you can defeat procrastination.  Praying about it will encourage you and enable you to continue.  If you do nothing else, at least pray and try your best.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Student Viewpoint: Common Core Essay Part 2

Here is the second part of the essay by Ethan Jackson on Common Core. ~ Scott

Government Founded Common Core: Not the Answer (Part 2)

          What about privacy? Isn’t that an American right? In fact it’s all over the Bill of Rights. However, along with the proposed standards of Common Core, a mandated tracking system has been put into place. Actually, not only will the child be tracked but also his/her teachers and the child’s whole family. As far as schooling is concerned, the government greatly exceeded collection of the normal school records with implementation of the Longitudinal Data System. In this system, every child is classified as a number, not as their name or their name with a student identification number. The students of America have been reduced to nothing but a mere number to the government. Is that how the free people of America should be viewed? It would seem as though the students aren’t free when one looks at the type of information that will be stored. Not only all academic records will be stored but personal and health records will also be tracked. But most startlingly is the fact that the entire family’s financial status and credit history will be tracked! Not only is this a major raid of privacy, which Americans are entitled to, but it’s also going way out of the supposed limited power of the government. In the end, the government would end-up knowing more about the child than the parents. And this brings up the question: whose child is it – the government’s or the parents’?

          Race to the Top, another government attempt at improving the educational system, is also a part of the stimulus package that simply wants to make better assessments and standards. It also seeks to make teachers more effective. This is actually a great idea. The only problem is that the government is going about this the wrong way. In my opinion, since the government became a part of this pondering quest, it feels obligated to succeed, even if that means forcing all of Common Core’s tactics on the school systems. In Common Core or in any other system, there will never be 100% excellence. The government refuses to understand this though and that is what’s causing the standards to be lowered. Common Core doesn’t provide enough education and learning opportunities, to those that are able, in order to get into STEM colleges. STEM colleges deal specifically with science, technology, engineering, and math. That fact takes out the “college ready” portion of the government’s proposal, since math is a major factor in successful college life. To clarify, common core is ideally a simplified version of the previous curriculum, like Spark Notes, so that every student can “get it”.

          All this talk about Common Core introducing new methods and assessments into public schools might have homeschoolers and private school students thinking that this whole topic doesn’t even apply to them. However, the sad truth is that it does. In 2012, College Board recognized their new president, David Coleman. In 2013, David Coleman was already working with the government on simplifying the material on the SAT and AP curriculum in order to match the Common Core standards. It’s interesting that the AP curriculum are being matched to Common Core standards because AP course work already exceeds the standards. Why would the government want to disable students who already exceed their standards? With Common Core every child must know the same thing; standards are set low so that every child can meet them. Even if the student is schooled another way, other than public schooling, the SAT is required for everybody before high school graduation in order to get into college. Homeschoolers and private school students are now trapped, trying to decide what to do next. In order to do well on the SAT, it’s necessary to know the methods of problem solving, which are being changed by Common Core. In short, the government is trying to take away the freedom of schooling options, forcing everyone into one mold.

           Because every child will have close to the same unlocked intelligence as another, the students who actually want to learn, will have to work extremely hard. Those students will have to endure major suffering as they spend all their time learning the standards and then stuffing in extra work with what little time they have left. But this extra work is their future profession. The government thinks its standards are “rigorous”, but it won’t even tell the people what makes for a rigorous standard. Dr. Jim Milgram, a math professor, and Sandra Stotsky, an English professor, were the only educational specialists on the thirty person Common Core validation committee. They both disapproved of the standards saying that Common Core is not internationally bench-marked and is not adequate to make a student "college ready". At least they can explain why Common Core is not the answer. David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, and Jason Zimba are major supporters and developers of Common Core; however, they declined the opportunity to defend Common Core either because they don’t know its well-rounded aspects or because they know themselves that Common Core is not the answer. The government wants to make everyone the same; but God made each and every individual in America and all over the world different and unique. It’s time that the government turn this subsiding educational system over to God so that the United States of America, as a whole, can find the proper answer for education with no strings attached.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Student Viewpoint: Common Core Essay Part 1

Here is the first part of an honors essay written by Ethan Jackson in the CBB Essay Styles class last year.  Note particularly his use of facts, and interesting and little known history to make his points.  ~Scott (CBB Intern)

Government Founded Common Core: Not the Answer

Every year more and more helpful resources are added into the lives of the people in the United States. Sometimes these resources, such as electronics, may sabotage a student’s desire to learn and potentially harm his/her valuable education. Numerous times others have tried to help these students learn to stand on their own two feet with programs such as after-school learning aids or curriculum updates. As a matter of fact, in 2013, it was estimated that one in five ninth graders, or 22%, wouldn’t complete high school. Many organizations search long and hard for various ways that will make the material taught in schools easier for the students to understand. To do that, without taking out the vital parts of education that prepare the students with adequate knowledge for both college and career, is extremely difficult. Like many other organizations, the government tried to seize the opportunity with a hopeful desire to turn the students of America into a national success. While it is not yet fully clear what the government has in mind for the future of America, it is clear that the government’s involvement in the educational system and the development of Common Core is not the adequate answer for this failing educational system.

Common Core was written by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in such a rush that it seemed a little suspicious. It has been talked about and debated for nearly four years. In 2011, without any official rules or guidelines available, forty-five states adopted Common Core. But in 2013, after the package was approved, 62% of Americans said that they had never even heard of Common Core. With 90% of the US states already on the bandwagon, something must have been going on behind the scenes. In President Obama’s stimulus package, chopped into little sections and hidden in different places of the package, Common Core squeezed its way past Congress with little concern. With the stimulus package approved, it was time to go to the states and literally bribe and threaten the states to adopt Common Core, which is unbiblical. Deuteronomy 16:19 states:

“Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.”

Also, with 6.8% or 53.6 billion dollars of the money from the stimulus package going to win over the states, the government clearly did not have the welfare of the people in mind. You see, the government scared the states into adopting Common Core by making them choose between No Child Left Behind (NCLB) or Common Core. If the states didn’t choose Common Core, then the government would set penalties on that state. These penalties included shutting down that particular district and building a new one, which uses Common Core of course. The fact is, Common Core is the industrial school and it’s not being done “for” the students, it’s being done “to” the students. To the government, the future of America is an item, not a client.

Before it was struck with the idea of forming a national standard, the government was involved in very little of the educational system. On the first of August in 1889, a group of men completed the nation’s third largest monument. This monument is called the “National Monument to the Forefathers” and is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It tells a particular story of how the founding fathers of the United States wanted the educational system to be run. At the top of this eighty-one foot, solid granite monument stands a gigantic female figure. Her name is Faith. She towers above four smaller figures sitting on all four sides of the monument to represent God’s sovereignty and supremacy above all things. Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty are the names of these four figures. You see, the very men that built this country had declared that from the beginning, God should reign over government. Also, Law and Education sit separate from each other. This meant that the government originally had little to no part of the educational process. The parents and mentors were responsible in educating their children and apprentices. So where have the founding truths of the United States gone? They are all in the powerful hands of the government. Faith was kicked off of her omnipotent podium and Law forcefully claimed it.

With the binding terms of Common Core came the issue of accountability. In the past, school districts and states could trust that the results coming back from various standardized tests were accurate. But now that the federal government has taken this job into its own hands, everything is confidential and students don’t really know how to interpret their actual score. When scores are received back, the results don’t have the exact number of scored points. Instead, along with not going into much detail on how the student did, such as which questions they got wrong, the results simply say either the student exceeded the standards, met the standards, or scored below the standards. No longer will the tests be precise. The government doesn’t only put itself in charge of scoring, it puts itself in charge of the entire process. This process includes creating the curriculum, delivering the curriculum, defining successful performance, developing the assessment tests, administering those tests, scoring the tests, and reporting the results of those tests. Not only is that giving the government more power, but it’s also taking away many hard working Americans’ jobs. Doesn’t that contradict the government’s proposed plans for the “growing” future of America?