Friday, October 24, 2014

"On Cake and Haikus: A Re-Cap of our National Day on Writing Celebration" by Jaiden C.

After attending the CAPTA Tutor Leadership Conference in September, Junior tutor Jaiden C. proposed that the HWC celebrate the National Day on Writing with a cake and haiku party. Jaiden planned and publicized this event with the support of her future tutors, and she is a HUGE part of why this day was such a success. Below are Jaiden's thoughts on the day.

Can I have three cheers for the Herndon Writing Center? HIP, HIP HOORAY! Yesterday, the Herndon Writing Center successfully concluded their first ever party! Why the celebration? The National Day on Writing, of course! It was the Writing Center’s obligation to celebrate this wonderful holiday, and we celebrated in style. We had students write a haiku, turn it in, and then they got a piece of cake. Simple enough, I know.  Before I keep rambling about how awesome the Herndon Writing Center is, let me give you a quick summary on how it all went down. 

The cake, moments before it was devoured by 97 hungry poets.

First, all of the tutors showed up to the writing center to pass out cake and collect haikus. The beginning of it all was a little rough because we were totally mobbed, but we persevered through teamwork. I guess bringing cake table-to-table became a little too tedious for the tutors, so they just started an assembly line. It’s amazing to see what people can do when they work together. As students filed in through the small door, Lennon, our “bouncer,” collected their haikus. We even got a haiku on a banana! Crazy, right?

A haiku that's good for you heart

As the cake left, more haikus came in! By the end of just 13 short minutes, we had a whopping 107 haikus from 97 students and teachers! That’s so cool!
The mob of hungry poets
Look at all of them! 

A very big thank you to everyone that showed up and submitted a haiku! The HWC looks forward to making this an annual thing! Look out for any other parties we have and sign up for a tutoring session with one of our SUPER cool tutors!


Haikus and Cake: Part 1

On Thursday, 10/23, the HWC celebrated the National Day on Writing. This year, anyone who wrote an original haiku and brought it to the HWC got a piece of cake! We received 107 haikus and served an entire sheet cake in exactly 13 minutes. It was thrilling.

Thanks to tutor Jaiden C. for planning this day!

We'll be publishing the haikus we received over the next few weeks.

 Herndon Powderpuff
Class of 15 won both years
Hashtag legacy
-Mr.  Kim

I have better things to do
than to do this po.....
-Sahj S.

Striker straight ahead
goes for a shot, goal denied.
Great save, goalkeeper.
-Luis A

Said, « Let them eat cake ! »
No PRIDE card for empathy
Marie Antoinette
-Mme. Rosenthal

Turtles are so cute
I would want them as a pet
Now I want some cake

I love crunchy fries
It reminds me of candy
They both taste like life

The rain is falling
There is not anyone near
The silence is bliss

My bed is so warm
My clock is so very cold
I think I’ll sleep in

Cake is really good
I am writing this for cake
Cake is so yummy

There you are, with me
You are the reason I wake
Poptarts for breakfast!

We run everywhere
We brave all the elements
This is cross country

Is this a haiku?
I’m bad with syllables
and I give up

I will try again
This is not working at all
this haiku is dead

"Smelly Days" by William Shakespeare

Walking down the street, minding my own business, and suddenly, something overtakes my senses.  I smell something so horrid that it overwhelms my body and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  It smells like wet dog, a fish market, and vomit all wrapped into one.  Just getting one whiff of it could be deadly and leave you paralyzed for all eternity.  I try to cover it up by putting my shirt over my nose, but it still seeps through my clothes and I can still smell it.  Holding my breath only works for a limited amount of time before I need to breathe again.  I try to walk quickly, but that smell just follows me wherever I go.  My one question is, where is this smell coming from?  Looking up and down the street, I see nothing out of the ordinary except for this big fence I’m walking next to.  What sort of place or thing could be so vile that it actually smelled like this?  The scent of spoiled food and bad body odor fill up my nostrils as I keep walking.  I smell myself to make sure it’s not me.  And, silently thanking the Heavens, it isn't.  Wouldn't that be embarrassing?  My only mission right now is to locate where this smell is coming from so I can get as far away from it as possible.  I take one quicker look around before I realize something.  Behind the huge fence I have been walking next to is a huge dumpster site where all the neighbors throw away their trash.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Save the Crazy Dreams" by Cadence Sinclair

Why do people write? What exactly compels us to pick up pens and write mythical tales, or current event papers, or little scraps of poetry? I wanted to dive as deeply as possible into this often overlooked premise, so I deferred to one of my favorite books. Quoting John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, “There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught.” Essentially, despite the inevitable fate of all beings, the world powers on, and writing carries out the role of consoling the busy humans within it.

In the long run, humans have the choice as to how they will spend their lives. People write to fill up the space between now and the end. We write to save the crazy dreams inside our heads, maybe preserve them for future centuries. But the best writing happens in the moment, not necessarily with the intention of sharing it with the world. It is the rawness of humanity that exists in those “madman” writing moments, where we pour out endless, wild thoughts onto paper, without regret. We finally catch a glimpse of our inner voices, and that is maybe why writing matters.

But also, in my personal life, writing acts as a means of thoughtful contemplation of the world around me. I discovered that analytical literary essays were a strongpoint for me. Thus, I write for fun about books. I extract thoughts and ideas from them and elaborate with my own insight. I am a reader, so I love dissecting books. Essentially, I write about what other people write. Writing is like a telescope, shifting my perspective to whole other worlds.

Ultimately, writing matters in my little bubble of existence for countless reasons. Without it, life would be devoid of meaning. I would have no way to scribble down the overflowing well of ideas within me. Restlessness would settle in. Insomnia would occur nightly. I am not just speaking for myself when I say that the world would go crazy.

In terms of academics, I love when my teachers incorporate writing into a more unlikely subject, such as chemistry. I can reveal the more subdued layer of meaning. The underlying purpose emerges when I sit down and write what happened, what I think, etc. If writing were not a part of my academic life, I wonder if I would even be a successful student. I certainly would not be a reflective learner. More precisely, the process of learning would lack inventiveness and a deeper sense of purpose.

You can gain such greater perspective with writing. No matter the class, writing digs deep into the virtue of “Why?”, and acts as a brain-stimulator. Writing challenges students to a higher level of thinking that is not always achieved through mindless math exercises. Additionally, it serves as the bridge between the untamed thoughts within our heads, to a cohesive insightfulness ready to catch fire to the world.

On a global scale, writing promotes interconnectedness among societies. Whether it is utilized as a form of communication, pastime, entertainment, archive, or knowledge, writing reaches vast expanses of the human population. For instance, as a culture, we read our children bedtime stories that were written to soothe restless, juvenile minds. Therefore, writing fulfills the dimension of man that seeks to help. Broadly speaking, anything, from novels to newspapers, contains small, but meaningful universal truths. Across the ages, writing has represented, and continues to represent, the wisdom of mankind as a whole. It reveals the depth of our worldly insight. In essence, do we have the ability to view the universe through a camera lens that is not always so flattering to the subject? Writing plays the purpose, internationally, of exposing the rawness of man.

"Gray" by Catfish

As big as an elephant, as small as a fuzzy bunny. Spelled with an "e" or an "a", it is the common ground between the most opposite of spectrums. Fade in, fade out, it is subtle yet appealing. It's a silver without the distraction of shimmers. Ancient in statues, but hardened in armor; it is most powerful in pencil, yet gloomy in the skies. It is like a stone that has been washed so far. While the hues may fluctuate, and the canvases change, my favorite color is always the same. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Where I'm From" by Victoria Lemmings

I am from the Grand Canyon painting in the foyer inked with smoky oranges and royal purples
From crackling fireplaces and smooth, dark marble countertops
I am from emerald green window shutters and warm brick home exterior
From lemon scented dish soap
I am from the busy butterfly bush teeming with life in the backyard
The crimson Japanese maple out front

I’m from eating Peeps before breakfast on Easter morning and stubborn opinions
From Sydney the dog and Dad
I’m from Eddy burping at the dinner table and Joey falling asleep watching football
And from Mom playing opera music too loud

I’m from “Wear your helmet” and “Just read a book”
From the upbeat Old Dan Tucker song
I’m from Fairfax Hospital and Czechoslovakia
Creamy mashed potatoes with melted butter and crumbly gluten free bread
From the time my dad surprised my mom with opera tickets
She was so surprised that she cried

From the thick, worn photo albums in the dusty dining room preserving all our memories

"On Travel" by J.K. Rowling

After getting off my fourteen-hour plane ride I was feeling anxious. I had no idea what to expect, but whatever it was I was ready to hate it. The smog of the city hit me like a wall with the sun beating down on me. The humidity of the air surprised me, because it finally hit me that my family and I were nowhere close to home. Resistant to any change that would take me away from the summer with my friends, I was mad at my parents. Little did I know going to China would be the best experience of my life.

Immediately after walking around the city I noticed the cultural difference: for one, the amount of people-after arriving in Beijing, China, I found out there were twenty-one million people living in the city; New York City has seven million. Everywhere I went, people would stare at me with big eyes like I was some kind of foreign mystery they had never seen before, and most of them probably hadn’t. I was told before the trip people would not be used to the way I dress or carry myself, but I had no idea it would be to this extent. Some people would even ask to take pictures with my sister and me, making us feel like celebrities.  I could only image what they would do if I had blonde hair and blue eyes. I learned how fortunate I am to grow up in community with so much diversity.