All posts by Cori O'Keefe

Manchester Breeze by Anna Walsh

I descend
knee deep
into chilly refreshing water.

Feet sink
into wet rocky sand.

Water splashes
droplets fall lightly on my face.

I walk deeper.
A tide so low
you could walk for miles still keeping your head above.

I wave my cousin on
urging her to descend deeper into the salty waters.
Water rises up my legs
reaching up
to touch my shorts.

Boats chug past.
The engines play a soft melody in my ear.
New adventures await
the content sailors.

Eyes stay focused ahead,
hands stay fastened to the wheel,
waiting for whatever the ocean brings.
Navigating the cold
wavy waters
breezy ocean winds.

I look back down
to water’s sandy surface,
to creatures below.

It’s not there.

I continue on until I see
small sand dollars.

My hand plunges into the crisp water.

Found one!

My sister and cousin come splashing over
to admire the small treasure
I have found.
They lightly hold the precious creature,
as if their lives depended on it.

I smile and hand them the sand dollar,
to add to the collection
and continue looking
in cool, salty water,
on this breezy day,
in Manchester.

The Call By: J. Anonymous

The phone rings.
It is 3 am.
“Hello?”
I can hear the dead silence;
the house is does not move.
It feels like years
before I hear my mom say
“What?”

The next morning there is luggage
at our front door.
The plane ride feels empty.

We are there
The white walls

surround us.
The rooms are filled with people.
A person in blue points us towards the room:
We see him,
his body limp, covered in scars,
he does not move,
in his white room
with a single light hanging over the bed
As I look, I wonder
what will happen next.

Top Ten Tropical Fruits By Jenna Brandaleone, Anna Walsh, and Jennie Rosen

For a little taste of warmer weather:

1. Dragon Fruit or otherwise known as pitaya is a fruit indigenous from the Americas tasting almost like a kiwi.

2. Coconuts are from the family of arecaceae! It is the only species of genus Cocos. Coconuts contain a very sweet interesting taste.

3. The Arkansas black apple was founded in the year 1870. The black apple is known for its juicy taste. It also grows very quickly and it is very tasty when you bake it in a pie.

4. Grapefruit is a tangy fruit with a hint of sweetness. The grapefruit is native to India, China, Thailand and Malaya. The grapefruit is also 90% water. It taste good and it refreshes you

5. Oranges are the fruit of the citrus species called the Rutaceae. One single bite of this tasty fruit sends a explosion of citrus on your taste buds.

6. Papaya is one of twenty-two in the species of genus Carica in the family Caricaceae. Papayas carry a sweet, melon like flavor. However the seeds are a bit more spicy.

7. Yellow passion fruit aka Passiflora edulis is a vine species of passion flower that is native to southern Brazil through Paraguay to northern Argentina. Its common names include passion fruit or passion fruit (English), maracuya (Spanish), grenadille (French), maracujá (Portuguese) and lilikoʻi (Hawaiian). Yellow passion fruits have a tart, fruity taste.

8. Mango is one of the most popular fruits in the world. Mango’s were first grown in India over 5,000 years ago. Mangos are very sweet . Just like mangoes are sweet they are also considered as a gesture of friendship.

9. Purple Mangosteen – The purple mangosteen, otherwise known as simply as the mangosteen, is a tropical evergreen tree believed to have originated in the Sunda islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia. It’s a sweet, nutritious, purple and white, odd looking fruit.

10. Black sapote is a fruit with many names. Such as, chocolate pudding fruit for its similar taste to the chocolate dessert we all love. chocolate. It is native to eastern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and into Colombia.

Bibliography:
Wikipedia

In The Dot by Daniejah Franklyn

The windows are down
and the wind breezes by my face.
The street is crowded by houses
that lie on top of one another.

I see rippling lights,
flickering to a rhythm
that is not heard.
The sky is pitch black
with small sparkles hardly seen.

I walk on the lumpy sidewalks
with gum stains chalk stains,
and my brain replays
scraped knees and our old swing set,
as I open the door to my childhood.

Memories are triggered by the smell of home
and they flourish in my mind.

Comfort waves over me
and I sigh a refreshing breath.
at home in the Dot.

Top Ten Facts about Groundhogs! by Jenna Brandaleone and Anna Walsh

1.. Did you know that groundhogs are rodents? I didn’t! Groundhogs are rodents because of their continually growing teeth. Thats right! Groundhogs have buckteeth!

2..Groundhogs=Woodchucks! Did you know that!? Many people have this misconception that groundhogs and woodchucks are two different animals entirely!

3. Groundhogs have a special diet! Groundhogs gorge themselves with food all summer to build up plentiful reserves of fat! Sound fun!

4.Are your flowers being eaten? Well, there’s a good chance that a groundhog is actually eating them! Groundhogs eat generally flowers, dandelions, garden vegetables, bark, clover, carrot tops, beans and peas, and apples!

5. Many groundhog babies! Groundhogs welcome a litter of about a half a dozen newborns in the spring every year! Thats a lot of Kids… and a lot of work.

6. Cousin Squirrel! Groundhogs when visiting their family actually visit squirrels! Why? Well because groundhogs are the largest species of the squirrel family.

7. Chirp, Chirp, Whistle! Nope, i’m not talking about a bird! Groundhogs make their own special chirping and whistling noises to communicate!

8. Bathroom best. Did you know that every groundhog burrow has it’s own bathroom chamber!

9. February 2, 2017! Be sure to celebrate groundhog day this year!

10. Groundhogs are not social! Can you believe it! Groundhogs are pretty quiet and only go out to find a mate! Groundhogs live near each other to protect each other, but they like their alone time a lot!

Bibliographies:
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/groundhog/
http://www.havahart.com/groundhog-facts#facts
animals.nationalgeographic.com/annimals/mammals/groundhog/

The Gem by Madeline Maurer

This is so cool! I thought. I examined it like a doctor does an x-ray. Michael is so lucky he found this. My then five-year-old brother had found a rhinestone on the floor of the dusty garage, right near the parked mini-van. It was shiny like a real diamond, and there it was in my hands. All mine. Well, at least mine until my older brother would have reclaimed his property. Let’s just say that my logic was impaired, so naturally, I marched my three year old self over to Michael and started to have my fun. “Does it go in here?” I asked, shoving the gem near my nose and giggling.

“No,” he told me. “Don’t do that!”

“Does it go here?” I said, putting the gem near my ear.

And that’s when it all went horribly wrong.

As I flung my tiny hand up to my ear, I let go of the rhinestone. I felt the small object land in my right ear before it disappeared into the void. (The void being my ear.)

At first, I was too shocked to cry. I mean, something was in my ear and I didn’t know how to get it out, and that something was incredibly precious. Thankfully, I was able to piece together an explanation for my dad, who promptly sat me down on his lap as he began to prod at my ear. Then, the panic (at the disco! I’m sorry, I had to.) set in. What if he couldn’t get it out? What if I have a gem in my ear forever? I thought as I began to sob, tears rolling down my cheeks. I stared at an ant crawling up the wall as tears filled my eyes.

“We have to go to the doctor,” said my dad.

Uh oh.

Fast forward to the doctor’s office, and I’ve been placed on crinkly examination paper to have doctors poke at my ear some more. I was being prodded with tweezers. These people meant business. This part’s kinda dull, so long story short, they couldn’t get it out either. It was worse than I could have imagined.

I HAD TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL.

My dad took me into the car and we drove quietly to the children’s hospital. The stoplights looked like smudged paint from my tears blurring my vision. Why did I have to put the gem in my ear? Why?

We arrived at the hospital, and a bunch of kids around my age were watching Dora the Explorer on the TV mounted on the wall. At least I could watch my favorite show now. I sat with them while my dad talked to the people at the desk. Soon enough, I was dragged away from the TV and brought into one of the hospital’s rooms.

The room was small and had pastel pink walls. They must have intended to make this a calm experience, but it felt like doomsday to me. I lied down on the examination table, disrupted ear to the ceiling. The nurse wet a cotton swab. Thankfully, there was a TV and VCR system in this room, too. “What do you want to watch?” asked my dad.
Of course, I responded with “Dora!”

Unfortunately, my dad denied me the opportunity to watch the show of my choice. “No, you’ve been watching a lot of Dora, let’s watch Blue’s Clues.”

UGH.

The nurse stuck the cotton swab in my ear. Here come the waterworks. Now, I don’t remember it hurting, just feeling a bit weird. But, as you can tell from the story so far, I was an incredibly dramatic toddler. Plus, my dad made me watch Blue’s Clues instead of Dora the Explorer. I was having a rough day.

The nurse was able to remove the gem with ease. The whole ordeal probably took about two minutes, but it felt like an eternity. I rolled off of my side and stood up onto weak, shaky legs. My dad and the nurse walked me out of the examination room. The nurse proceeded to ask me what is surprisingly not the strangest question I have heard in my life:

She held up the rhinestone and asked me, “Can I keep this? We like to keep things we pull out of ears and noses.”

And guess what I said…

“Yeah!”

Hey, I was three!

Top 20 facts About Abraham Lincoln by Jennie Rosen and Jenna Brandaleone

1. Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States
2. Abraham Lincoln had a son named Robert
3. Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865
4. Mary Todd Lincoln married Abraham Lincoln
5. Lincoln was a lawyer
6. Abe Lincoln was a licensed bartender
7. Lincoln’s assassin was a famous actor
8. Abraham Lincoln was the first leader that thought women should be allowed to vote.
9. The brother of Lincoln’s assassin saved his son, Robert, from a train accident
10. Abe Lincoln is in the wrestling hall of fame
11. Fido, Lincoln’s dog was assassinated
12. Abraham Lincoln did not have a college degree
13. Lincoln dreamed of his own assassination before the actual event occurred
14. A girl convinced Abe Lincoln to grow his beard
15. Lincoln was a part of the republican party
16. Abe Lincoln’s mother died when he was nine
17. Lincoln is one of the most regarded presidents in the U.S
18. Important documents of Lincoln’s could Be found inside of his hat
19. Abraham Lincoln went into office on March 4, 1865
20. Abe Lincoln lost two campaigns
Bibliographies:
http://www.factslides.com/s-Lincoln
losseshttp://us-presidents.insidegov.com/stories/11648/25-facts-abraham-lincoln#Intro
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln

Pay to Play: The Problem of Youth Sports Fees by Abby Gavron

I don’t know about you, but when I first learned not all kids have a chance to play youth sports I was furious. I know I’m lucky, my family has always been able to afford the registration fees for sports. Knowing that there are kids like me that don’t have the resources to play sports makes me feel bad. My time on the field and court with my friends make up some of my best memories. I believe all families should be able to send thir children to sport even if they are on a tight budget.

Charging families for youth sports is blocking kids from learning important things including sportsmanship and teamwork, preventing kids from building friendships, and the fees create barriers between kids.

The score was 2-1. We were losing as the whistle blew my teammates all wore frustrated faces. Having arrived at the soccer field at 8:00 that morning, tired but ready to play, this loss was very disappointing. We lined up to shake hands. Even though we were all angry, there was a silent agreement between the team to be good sports, like coach always says. So, we shook everyone’s hands and thanked the referees, because that’s what we were taught. Sports are an opportunity for children to learn important skills including sportsmanship and teamwork. All kids should have the opportunity to learn these skills because later in life you will need to be able to work well with other and show sportsmanship in your everyday life. Don’t you want all children to have the chance to learn these skills?

While some people could argue that kids can make friendships at school and that, sports aren’t required to make friends, I disagree. I have had many friends throughout my life and a majority of them I made through the many sports I play. Playing sports with people for hours builds a certain type of friendship. You understand each other better. You win and lose together and that makes your friendship stronger. I can remember times I would not want to play sport. Then I’d remembered that I would get to see all my friends, it wouldn’t matter the time or day, the thought of seeing them would make me excited for practices. The bonds you make of the through sports extend far off the field or court. The current system that is not allowing all kids to play sports and develop these friendships can cause kids to be more shy, less friendly and less outgoing, the system of fees should be abolished. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to build strong friendships. No matter if the family is struggling financially.

Lastly, I feel that the cost of youth sports has created a barrier between kids. One day I was talking to my mom about sports, and that was when  I learned about the expensive fees in youth sports. I had asked my mom more about the sports fees,  she told me that we were lucky, not everyone can afford to play sports. Anger boiled up inside of me, I couldn’t believe that some kids are not allowed to play sports because they are not doing well financially. The fees represent a barrier of who can and cannot afford to play sports. I feel like this barrier will cause children who cannot afford to play sports to not interact with children who do play sports. It is sending a message of financial inequality. Is that really the message and values you want to be sending to kids?

21% of parents spend more than $1,000 on child sports. Some people can afford that easily but for others with many children the price of sports add up quickly. I believe that the fees on youth sports act as a barrier that are separating kids, preventing children from learning important lessons, and restricting kids from forming friendships. Do you honestly think it’s fair that not all children can play sports?

 

Homework Hell: How Homework Impacts our Children’s Lives by Allen Zou

The school bell rings. Freedom! Free from the stressful workloads during the weekdays. Freedom to spend time with family and friends… Everything is fine until I remember the homework. I puff out a long, frustrated sigh, and start to work. I bunch up in my room like a hibernating bear, surrounded by endless textbook pages, google classroom assignments, and essays to write.

When teachers assign homework on the weekends, it stresses out students. Like all the students that procrastinate, they’re gonna keep off the homework until the last day due to having a full schedule so that they have to stay awake much longer than they’re supposed to and scramble to finish the homework. Studies from the U.S. National Education Association says, “giving homework over the weekend leads to a buildup of stress during a time when students are meant to relax and unwind. The same is true for giving students homework over the holidays, such as winter break.” But doesn’t stress help you focus? Yes, it does. However, it also makes the outcome of your work much, worse than without stress. I recently watched a TED-Talk about procrastination about a man who had a 90 page thesis to write throughout a year and procrastinated until the last three days, having to write 90 pages in 72 hours and you can already guess the outcome. A study of stress in teenagers shows that 56% of students consider homework as a primary source of stress, while only one percent of the students report that homework was not a stressor. This analysis proves that homework is a major key role in creating stress among our students and children. 43% of the students put tests and good grades to add onto the stress so that it becomes a competition of whoever has the better grades. Schools in Finland have shorter school days and little to none homework, and instead of competition between the grades on the standardized tests (which don’t even exist) and grades, there’s cooperation from helping each other out with each other’s problems and struggles. This makes the students less stressful and that can help with memory, relationships, a healthier heart, a better outlook on life, and more benefits. A focus group of students reflected that a majority of them said that their homework load led to sleep deprivation, among other health problems. The researchers concluded that the massive amount of homework impacted the health of the teenagers through headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems. Weekends aren’t just for de-stressing, it’s also for relaxing and spending time with loved ones.

We all know adults who work usually get the weekends off to relax, but it’s not the same for students. Adults get time off to spend with their family only to find out that their kids are up in their rooms or at the library doing homework or studying. They may not be working in school, but they would be working in their rooms or at the library. I believe that weekends should be a time to relax and spend the time with friends and family. Kids should be kids, spending their time being filled with creativity and wonder, not moping with frustration around because of their homework. Alfie Kohn, author of “The Homework Myth”, told the Huffington Post, “It’s one thing to say we are wasting kids’ time and straining parent-kid relationships, but what’s unforgivable is if homework is damaging our kids’ interest in learning, undermining their curiosity.” The amount of homework schools give is too much, and our relationships with their own families are being damaged due to the lack of time spent together! The piles of homework distract students from their real lives – lives of creativity, fun, adventure. Homework sucks away all of that. Survey data shows that the students are “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills,” according to the researchers. Due to the heaviness of the homework load, students are forced to drop activities like sports, time with friends or family, and pursue hobbies they enjoy. In high performing schools, too much homework can reduce their times to foster skills of personal responsibilities, the analysts concluded. “Young people are spending more time alone, which means less time for family and few opportunities to engage in their communities.” This says that their time focused on homework, can be turned and used to spend time with friends and family and their personal hobbies. Weekends are also to unwind and breathe a bit.
Weekends are not just for fun, it’s also to slow down and take a break from schoolwork and breathe. It gives us more time to sleep and that alone can influence our entire day or even the entire week. The time assures students that there’s time and no need to rush all the time. In my school, we have C.U.B. weekends which stands for Catch Up and Breathe, it happens every other week. As a student, I can tell you that I look forward to it. Every other Friday, I start to pack my backpack with binders, folders, books, and I complain about the homework, but I realize with a sense of relief, that it was a C.U.B. weekend and I happily put everything back. I could finally spend some time without schoolwork. I’m not saying schoolwork is bad, I’m just saying that to have an excessive amount is bad. Kids in Finland, the country with the best schools and education system, have NO homework, and they use their free time to use their imagination, to have a sense of wonder and creativity. With long breaks students are given time to relax and take in all the information given to them. In the US, we have class after class. Only sometimes do we go out for a break after lunch, and it’s usually not longer than 5 minutes. The schools in Finland don’t just care about the academics, they care about the entire well being. They care about what they do in their free time, about their habits etc. Of course, you can argue that homework is to remember what you learned in school that day, but it really doesn’t help. In Finland kids don’t have homework altogether and they still have the best education system in the world. Do you want to know why? Because they want their students to go out into the real world and explore without stress or anything like that. This makes them remember things a lot easier. Have you ever had to do something under stress and you couldn’t do it, but you could do it when you’re practicing or reciting? This is pretty much the same thing.

This goes the same for a lack of sleep. If teenagers sleep for less than 8.5 hours of sleep (the recommended amount of sleep for a teenager), they can have some major side effects in their heads throughout the day. Lightheadedness, tiredness, being unaware of the current situation, dizziness all results from sleep deprivation. Studies prove that sleep deprivation can influence your ability to pay attention, creativity, abstract thinking, decision making, remembering long term memories, and overall mood and motivation. All of these are required during school and without these, you wouldn’t be able to function the way humans are supposed to. Although sleep is one of the highest priorities for learning, it’s the thing that is most lacking in students. One study showed that less than 15% of the teenagers get at least 8.5 hours of sleep each night. To balance out the lack of sleep, teens sleep a lot more on the weekends which takes even less time from doing homework. A survey given to 1,000 k-12 teachers has shown that students are now spending upwards of up to 17.5 hours a week on homework if they typically have 5 classes with different teachers. This is around 3.5 hours a 5 day week for each teacher and 2.5 hours in a full week in high school, in middle school, it’s about 3.2 hours a 5 day week and 2.3 a full week, and in elementary school, 2.9 hours a 5 day week and a bit less than 2.1 hours a day in a full week. By comparison, a 2011 study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that in 1994, only 39% of 17 year olds said that they did at least an hour of homework each day. Also, the National PTA recommends that there should be 10-20 minutes of homework per night in the first grade, and add an additional 10 minutes per grade level. That means a senior in high school, should be doing roughly 120 minutes (2 hours) of homework a day, but may do more depending on certain courses they take.

Due to this abundance of stress and lack of sleep, socializing, exercising and extra curricular activities. Homework is the number one priority in students’ minds and can really mess up the body and habits. Teachers can relieve the students and ease their studies by giving time in class to do work, give less homework and stick to the recommended amount, or not to give homework on the weekends. Although students are only 20% of our population, they are 100% of our future.